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CEDU Educational Services Inc
CEDU Logo.jpg
TypePrivate therapeutic boarding schools
Motto"See Yourself As You Are and Do Something About It"

CEDU Educational Services, Inc., known simply as CEDU (pronounced see-doo), was founded in 1967 by Mel Wasserman and his wife Brigitta. The company owned and operated several therapeutic boarding schools and behavior modification programs in California and Idaho.


CEDU origins go back to Synanon,[1] a cult founded in Santa Monica, California in 1958 by Charles Dederich.[1][2] According to Paul Morantz, JD,[citation needed] Synanon ..."went from the first ever no doctor involved self help drug rehab (Synanon I), to a building of a new society in Synanon cities to lead the world into the 21st Century (Synanon II), to becoming a self-claimed religion (Synanon III)."[1]

The troubled teen industry[3] today largely consists of Synanon and/or CEDU offshoots.


Original CEDU period (1967–1985)[edit]

The average time a student spent at a CEDU school was 2½ years. The school year was year-round. The original CEDU program did not believe in use of medicine. Three times a week for four hours students would attend Raps, pseudo-psychology group sessions led by untrained staff. Students and staff were incentived to "indict" students for minor rule infractions in the name of emotional growth. Yelling was appropriate and expected.

Expansion (1982–1990)[edit]

In 1982, a small group of students and staff, including founding headmaster Dan Earle,[4] left the Running Springs campus for Bonners Ferry, Idaho to open Rocky Mountain Academy (RMA). RMA's curriculum and philosophy were identical to the original school, CEDU Running Springs. On rare occasions staff and students were transferred between schools. The staff generally transferred campuses for promotions, students were transferred because the staff felt a "fresh start" was the best (and usually last) option for the student.[5][6][7] Rocky Mountain Academy was one of the largest employers in Boundary County during the period, diversifying its timber and agriculture economy.[8]

Around 1990 the facilities began to accept that some of the teenagers could need medications.

CEDU Education - Brown Schools (1998–2005)[edit]

CEDU Education was sold to Brown Schools while it was at its peak in the market; all the schools were full and everything was going well. Two years into its ownership by Brown Schools, the staff turnover was extremely high, no one with any time or stability in the company was left, and CEDU Education went backwards.[9]

Started Name[6] Location Closed Fate
1967 CEDU High School Running Springs, California 2005 Campus sold to Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles[7]
1982 Rocky Mountain Academy Bonner's Ferry, Idaho 2005 Property purchased by Universal Health Services[7]
1984 Cascade School Whitmore, California 2003 Campus sold to River View Christian Academy
1992 CEDU Middle School Running Springs, California 2005 Campus sold to Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles[7]
1993 Boulder Creek Academy Bonner's Ferry, Idaho 2005 Re-opened by Universal Health Services[10]
1994 Northwest Academy Naples, Idaho 2005 Re-opened by Universal Health Services[10]
1994 Ascent Wilderness Program Naples, Idaho 2005 Re-opened by Universal Health Services[10]
Milestones Transitional Program 2005 property in litigation[7]


Brown Schools operated 11 boarding schools and educational facilities in California, Idaho, Texas, Vermont, and Florida. Facilities in Austin, Texas and San Marcos, Texas were sold to Psychiatric Solutions Inc. in 2003.[11] CEDU closed in early 2005 due to financial problems.[11][12] Several CEDU employees reported to Lake Arrowhead Mountain News, however, that pending litigation against CEDU for abuse and violation of rights as well as citations against the schools contributed to the downfall.[13] In March, 2005 Brown Schools declared bankruptcy, in part because of legal costs related to lawsuits filed by the families of several former students. The same year, Universal Health Services bid $13.5 million for the Brown School properties in bankruptcy.[14]

Idaho Educational Services[edit]

Universal Health Services Inc.,[15] a public company focused on hospitals and behavioral health centers, subsequently reopened three of the former CEDU facilities: Ascent, Boulder Creek (located on the former Rocky Mountain Academy property) and Northwest Academy. These operate under the new name of Idaho Educational Services. Each program is overseen by individual directors.[16]


The history of CEDU is largely the history of the development of parent-choice, private-pay residential programs. A significant number of the schools in the Emotional Growth/Therapeutic schools industry were developed or strongly influenced by people who were originally inspired by their CEDU experience.[17]

CEDU Offshoots[edit]

A number of behavior modification facilities/CEDU offshoots were opened by former CEDU staff and students, including

Celebrity and CEDU[edit]

The first facility was located in California — not far from Hollywood. The busy life of the persons in the entertainment industry meant that some of the known celebrities had less time for their children and outsourced the upbringing to CEDU. In relationship with the closure of the facility as local newspapers stated:[19]

Tuition at CEDU schools was about $5,700 a month. Actress Roseanne Barr and broadcaster Barbara Walters are among the rich and famous who have sent their children to the academies, according to a Spokesman-Review report in 1998.

In the news[edit]

1993: A 17-year-old boy disappeared from the Campus. He was never found.[20]

1994: A 14-year-old boy disappeared from the Campus. The family believes that he was abducted. He has not been found.[21]

July 1994 - Jon A. committed suicide in one of the dormitories of lower Camelot at Rocky Mountain Academy.[22]

1997 - Five persons were injured in a riot at Northwest Academy.[23]

2002 - CEDU Educational Services, Inc. pays settlement to former client on charges of abuse.[23]

2004 - Parents search for their son who ran away from CEDU Running Springs.[24]

2009 - A police investigation is conducted into the unsupervised presence of the convicted killer James Lee Crummel on the CEDU Running Springs Campus in connection with the two disappearances in 1990s.[25]

2012 - The first book about CEDU is published by Waxlight Press. The Discarded Ones: A Novel Based on a True Story by James Tipper marks the first detailed account of life at the school in literature.[26]

2015 - Dead, Insane Or In Jail, a CEDU Memoir[27] written by Zack Bonnie was published

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The History of Synanon and Charles Dederich". www.paulmorantz.com. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  2. ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (1997-03-04). "Charles Dederich, 83, Synanon Founder, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  3. ^ The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry
  4. ^ "IDSOS Search Results; ( R.M.A., INC. ... ROCKY MOUNTAIN ACADEMY, INC. )". Idaho Secretary of State. Idaho Secretary of State. March 14, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  5. ^ "Tribute To Mel Wasserman - Essays".
  6. ^ a b Ditz, Liz. CEDU timeline, I Speak of Dreams blog
  7. ^ a b c d e "CEDU Properties Sold".
  8. ^ http://www.spokesmanreview.com/tools/story_pf.asp?ID=61576
  9. ^ "BILL LANE".
  10. ^ a b c http://www.uhsinc.com/hospitals.php?type=behavioral
  11. ^ a b "CEDU Closing: Reaction from Running Springs Area".
  12. ^ CEDU Education Announces Closure of Rocky Mountain Academy, Press Release brought on strugglingteens.com, the homepage of the industry marketing firm
  13. ^ CEDU School Declares Bankruptcy, Lake Arrowhead Mountain News, 31 March 2005.
  14. ^ "A Business Built On the Troubles Of Teenagers; Schools Are Popping Up to Deal With Drug and Behavior Issues". The New York Times. 17 August 2005.
  15. ^ "Universal Health Services Inc".
  17. ^ "Out Of The Sixties - Essays".
  18. ^ "Ever unconventional, long controversial". The Bulletin. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  19. ^ Hansen, Dan and Drumheller, Susan. CEDU shutting down, Spokesman Review, 25 March 2005.
  20. ^ Good, Meaghan Elizabeth. "The Charley Project: John Christopher Inman".
  21. ^ Blake Wade Pursley at The Charley Project
  22. ^ "Spokesman-Review excerpt".
  23. ^ a b CEDU Sued for Abuse and Fraud, International Survivors Action Committee
  24. ^ Father endures 2-month search for missing son, International Survivors Action Committee
  25. ^ Wyatt, Chuck. "Death Row Serial Molester Connected to CEDU", Apenhorn News, 13 November 2009.
  26. ^ Tipper, James (18 September 2012). The Discarded Ones: A Novel Based on a True Story. Waxlight Press. ASIN 098824330X – via Amazon.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
  27. ^ "Dead, Insane or in Jail : A CEDU Memoir This is the right place for you, you are special!". www.deadinsaneorinjail.com. Retrieved 2016-03-17.

External links[edit]