Anyone there?

One stroke to midnight for children...

Anyone care?

“These [children] must grow up with a feeling that they have a real home.” — Milton S. Hershey
Milton & Catherine Hershey mandated that MHS children live in natural and homelike settings under the care of houseparent couples. The Hersheys insisted on plenty of play and open spaces for their MHS children, in homes spread throughout the community. This allowed MHS children to avoid any trace of “institionalization” and gave them a feeling of having a “real home” in Derry Township. The MHS Board of Managers is seeking to end this.

“If the wrong people or organization get control...”
Rendering of prototype showing child housing facilities proposed by current MHS Board of Managers. This compound would house 160 children in congregated and segregated “institutional” facilities, “buffered” from the community. Below is a prototype of one 40-child “block.” These congregated “blocks” will lack play space, open space, and natural diversions and will be staffed by caretakers “dormitory-style” rather than by houseparents in a student home “family.”

“If the wrong people or organization get control, they can spend or give away more money in a short time than I have made in my life, to build monuments unto themselves, for their own financial gains, ego and recognition — whose heads would swell and hearts would shrink, who would give to those who had plenty and take away from those who had little or none.” — Milton S. Hershey

One stroke to midnight for children...

Anyone There? Anyone Care?
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S Preface: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong I. Imposing “Institutionalization” By Force II. Fact & Fiction: Phantom Graduate School Degrees & Other Tall Tales III. Pattern of Incitement: “Why Do the Alumni Hate Us?” “Manager Experimentation on Children” “They want to hurt MHS!” IV. Enrollment, Politics, & Child-Crowding: How NOT to Run a Childcare Charity! V. Shifting Positions When Convenient: Flip-Flop-Flip-Flop-Flip-Flop... VI. “Springboard” to MHS Presidency: O’Brien Sells Out Childcare Reforms, Supporters, & MHSAA VII. Bitter Chocolate: What Becomes of a Candymaker’s Residential Childcare Philanthropy When “The Wrong People” Get Control 1 4 27

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This essay is dedicated to every bewildered child who has ever needed a home, every loving parent or guardian who has ever needed help, and Milton & Catherine Hershey who graciously cared about both. While responsibility for the material presented here is solely and fully mine, this essay reflects the tireless efforts of several individuals toiling away for weeks, but who have asked to remain anonymous. Where the essay succeeds at all, a large part of any credit due belongs to them. I humbly acknowledge their roles and thank them for their kind assistance.

Anyone There? Anyone Care?
Preface: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong The Milton Hershey School (MHS) was created by Milton & Catherine Hershey from the Hershey candy fortune, now valued at $7 billion. In a singular act of charity, the Hersheys gave virtually all their wealth to provide a home for needy boys, now boys and girls. Many of the children in residence at MHS have experienced grief and trauma in their lives, with MHS as a refuge for leaving these behind. The criteria for admission today include poverty and lack of adequate parental care. For the poor orphans in the days of Milton & Catherine Hershey, the refuge was called the Hershey Industrial School. MHS was to provide a loving home with houseparents to care for the children along with educational and career opportunities that the children would otherwise lack. All this was in the countryside of Derry Township, Pennsylvania — a place of pristine natural beauty, abundant play space, and vast open fields that allowed children to forget they were ever deemed “needy.” Most of those who experienced this refuge counted it a blessing, whatever shortcomings it may have had in comparison to a childhood without family loss. Milton & Catherine Hershey got it right when they rejected the crowding and congregation of typical orphanages for the children in their care, insisting instead on family-like student homes dotting the countryside. With houseparents as care providers and the normalcy of these homes, the Hersheys were determined to avoid any trace of “institutional” settings. The Hersheys studied the matter carefully and wanted to create not an orphanage but an “anti-orphanage,” i.e., not a facility with a “campus” or congregated settings of any kind, but instead “family-like” dwellings staffed by married couples and integrated right into the community — so that MHS children could live like normal children everywhere in what might broadly be described as “mainstreaming.” Visitors to Hershey would later have difficulty finding the school — until informed that there was no “school” because the entire community served as the children’s home. It was as pioneering and successful a residential childcare initiative as was Mr. Hershey’s introduction of mass production chocolate to the candy business. No Hershey child would be placed in dormitories nor in the cold care of any congregated residences segregated from the community. Instead, surrogate family units would be created for MHS children to give them “the feeling of growing up in a real home.” Only by this could MHS shatter the Dickensian image of the orphanage, making MHS a place where desperate guardians actually wanted to place their children — free of the shame or stigma associated with placement in a typical children’s home. For the only time in childcare history, the children of a charitable facility — residents of the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” — would actually come to be envied. And why not? These children were given only the most beautiful of settings together with family-like care. The Hersheys had assured MHS children only the best — like lottery winners lifted from the depths of poverty to enter a life brimming with opportunity and promise, clean clothing, square meals, medical care, and all of their other needs fully and abundantly met. Nowhere else would this ever occur. Only Milton & Catherine Hershey could achieve 1

this degree of natural and homelike nurturing for children who required residential care. This is why today so many MHS alumni do not hesitate to declare Derry Township “home” and Milton & Catherine Hershey “family,” because that is what they are to many from this background. Few people would ever say this about foster care or inferior “orphanages.” This anti-institutional mandate and the Hersheys’ vast community-wide land donations allowed MHS to survive the orphanage-closing trends that eventually swept away most American children’s homes in favor of foster care. MHS’ survival was due solely to the Hersheys’ unique model and the family-like environment that the Hersheys’ had assured MHS children would always enjoy. But on a recent spring day at MHS, grief was imposed on a group of a dozen or so children residing with loving houseparents in one of the school’s student homes, in a harbinger of what is in store. This grief was not the result of the children’s economic circumstances, behavioral problems, mistreatment by their houseparents, nor any of the other childhood traumas experienced in their pasts. Instead, it was deliberately inflicted by MHS itself, when an MHS Administration pulled the children apart and scattered them throughout the school to other student homes — disturbing perhaps the first loving and comfortable setting that these children had known and disrupting the stability they had found. The children’s houseparents had just been summarily removed from their positions. This was ostensibly for minor rule infractions, but truly due to the houseparents’ questioning of troubling and dramatic changes looming in the future of MHS. The houseparents had been respectfully vocal in opposition to new child-crowding policies that are known to be harmful to children, but that are nonetheless the single-minded goal of the MHS Board of Managers (“Board” or “Managers”). The Board’s policies are being implemented by an MHS Administration prepared to steamroller any opposition in its path, including that of loyal and dedicated care providers raising proper safety concerns. The proposed changes constitute a radical shift at MHS from the family-style “anti-orphanage” model established by the Hersheys to an “institutional” facility marked by congregation, crowding, and segregation. Its centerpieces are dormitories and 30/40/80-child “block” housing units repugnant to the Hersheys’ childcare vision. The children forced to leave their student home, with their houseparents abruptly removed, were thus early casualties of a large-scale Manager offensive that will soon claim many victims more, including the very heart of the Hersheys’ family-like residential model. What was it that caused these houseparents to risk the well-paid jobs that they loved to speak out? Why would the MHS Administration be willing to pay handsome six-figure golden parachutes, money intended for childcare, to silence these houseparents after their departure and prevent their alerting the public of what is transpiring? Why would the Administration bring in grief counselors to comfort children for the Administration’s own grief-inducing conduct? Is this a pattern of behavior under this Administration? And where in all of this are the Managers? What do they stand for? Who are they? And how have things gone so terribly wrong under their stewardship? This essay is intended to examine these matters with emphasis on the role of the Board. This is a Board that operates within a governance system so secretive that a Pennsylvania Supreme Court jurist recently expressed surprise to learn that the Board is self-selecting and self-perpetuating, minimizing the chance that dissenting voices will be added or that Managers who go against the grain will speak out. This is a story of administrative bullying, mistreatment of children, smearing of dissenters, cronyism, gross financial waste, and steady Administrative ineptitude tolerated and condoned by the Board — and all enabled by historically compromised Pennsylvania oversight authorities. This is a story of misdirection of assets intended for needy children and how efforts to stop this misdirection were thwarted at the last minute by a cabal of the local “old boys network.” The problems for the current regime — following 15 years of sustained MHS Administrative failure — began when the Managers ignored glaring credential misrepresentation in the latest senior Administrator they had hired. The Managers then looked the other way when this Administrator’s implementation of their directives led to a series of manifestly improper acts. The Board was willing to ignore what would ordinarily have been disqualifying credential misrepresentation and a less than stellar childcare background to select an individual so desperate for the MHS President position that he would support all of the Board’s non-child agendas — a person willing to impose by force the Board’s child-crowding wishes, 2

speak not a word of dissent, and crush the only party in the Managers’ way, the Milton Hershey School Alumni Association (MHSAA). The only person who could accomplish this alumni-defeating task was a fellow alumnus himself, a popular figure in alumni circles trusted by the masses to do right by the school and alumni. He had gained this trust by claiming to support MHSAA goals to reform the Board and thereby end MHS childcare failure once and for all — but he soon changed his views to suit Board wishes. So newly-installed President Johnny (as he prefers to be called) O’Brien made his pact with the devil; and the policies of secrecy, bullying, and crushing dissent — first implemented by the Board against its own members — became an endorsed way of doing business. An MHS childcare debacle has followed. Grief counseling has been required repeatedly to deal with trauma deliberately inflicted on children by an Administration ruthless in squelching dissent, including crucial safety warnings from loyal veteran staff. The Administration is so obsessed with control and punishing anyone who challenges its decisions that it seems not to care if children are “collateral damage” in its war on all who so much as question Board policies. Children are being removed from the school in unacceptably large numbers as inadequate programs fail them. The Managers greenlight the Administration’s every act, indulging even personal misconduct. The Managers are in essence trapped by their own past decisions and the non-child agendas burdening them. The latter flows from a flawed MHS governance structure that allows the Board to put commercial interests above the interests of needy children. That this is improper has been recognized by virtually every governance expert who has reviewed the matter, including ones hired by the Managers themselves. As in the past, the Board’s structure is yielding infrastructure decisions that disregard children’s interests. Child-crowding is increasing in a way that contravenes a century of residential childcare best practices, violates Board promises, and ignores the advice of virtually every expert in the field — all to introduce the very “institutionalization” that Mr. & Mrs. Hershey abhorred and that childcare professionals condemn. The person primarily responsible for implementing the Board’s harmful child-crowding policies is an individual who claimed a master’s degree in psychology that he does not have, but who has, however, written a thesis on prison education. Not surprisingly, the proposed residential configurations bear uncanny resemblance to certain detention facilities — including an “H-Block” unit for housing 40 children under one roof, 160 children in one compound. This child-crowding, not coincidentally, permits conversion of vast amounts of MHS childcare land to development purposes, though this is forbidden by Milton & Catherine Hershey’s original Deed of Trust. Major infrastructure spending otherwise puts outside non-child interests first in a way that would never occur if Managers were not simultaneously pursuing competing non-child agendas. Even the purchase and bailout of a failing luxury golf course by the Board is rationalized as being “for MHS children,” who ostensibly “need” this golf course as a “buffer.” The more likely reason is an effort to maintain a fixed acreage of land “owned” by MHS though the vast majority of the land is used for non-child (commercial) purposes — such as the recent leasing of 135 acres of childcare land to the Hershey Medical Center for a research park. Or perhaps it was simply to help local business. In either case, the improper influence of non-child entertainment & resort industry considerations is glaring. This is also evidenced by the recent giveaway of prime downtown Hershey real estate for a transportation center and museum. All of the locally-residing Managers serve on the museum’s board too thus making the giveaway a trifling matter for them, regardless of what it means for needy children short-changed again by the Board. Because of the manner in which local authorities reconstituted the current Board in 2002, the Managers lack any residential childcare expertise and MHS children are suffering for it. MHS employees and alumni who seek better childcare policies are also suffering since child-centered disagreement with Board decisions is greeted with Administration bullying, fully condoned by the Managers. The abuses by the Administration include incitement and manipulation of raw emotions to provoke anger. Millions of childcare dollars have been spent and wasted to silence and dismiss critical employees, including the head of the school’s Human Resources Department who could tolerate it no further. Children are leaving MHS in staggering numbers as multiple problems combine to create a spiral in the overall MHS climate. Yet, these breakdowns could have been avoided if local oversight authorities had simply implemented a set of MHS childcare 3

reforms that the Pennsylvania Attorney General himself had deemed essential and publicly touted, only to later jettison without any credible explanation. All of this has created a moral imperative to bring these matters to light even if disturbing, and though umbrage may be taken by those who bear responsibility. But lest there be any misunderstanding, the purpose of speaking out is not to demean nor embarrass anyone, but only to improve MHS as a refuge for children — which otherwise will not occur. For if we are to right the historic and current MHS wrongs we must first untangle and comprehend the circumstances that brought us to this disappointing state of affairs after the promise of late 2002. What happened to erase a set of matter-of-course MHS childcare reforms? What happened to turn alumni who were once friends against each other and to dash employee hopes? Why are irrational child-crowding proposals rashly being pursued? If we do not answer these questions soon, more MHS children will be hurt and we will lose our last best chance to see the Hersheys’ child-saving dreams fulfilled, their “anti-orphanage” residential model honored. It is one stroke to midnight for the Hersheys’ childcare dreams and the children they sought to save. I. Imposing “Institutionalization” By Force MHS Administrators are given free rein by the Managers to traumatize children in their care and workers in their employ. So insular are the Managers that they fail to respond to or even acknowledge written alerts of danger directed to them from frontline houseparents and alumni. The latest trauma came from the deliberate breakup by the Administration of a student home where the target was a 15year veteran houseparent couple (Chester & Carol Ross), who had an exemplary record of child-centered conduct. The Rosses’ devoted and loving care included taking their MHS boys on trips to Canada, developing creative wilderness programs to help children build self-esteem, countless weekend skiing and hiking trips, and otherwise creating a model student home environment. Chester was the President of the Houseparents Union and his integrity in this leadership role brought Administration wrath down on him. These houseparents had “dared” to lead other houseparents in voicing respectful concerns about child safety and the predictable dangers of increased crowding, including from 30-child and 40-child “block” housing that the Managers are seeking to impose on MHS. This was not the first time that grief counseling was required to deal with trauma deliberately inflicted on MHS children removed from the care of quality houseparents; e.g., houseparents Kent & Karen Mummau were fired last year over the infamous “mushball incident,” when these houseparents misread an intramural athletic schedule and thus neglected to show up for an inconsequential game of “mushball.” The Mummaus had run afoul of the Administration by having been willing to point out politely, including during staff meetings, some of the harmful trends increasingly prevalent at MHS. The “mushball incident” gave the Administration the excuse it had sought to fire the Mummaus. This was even though the Mummaus — like the Rosses — had devotedly served MHS children and created a loving, stable, and caring student home environment. When this jarring decision was disclosed to the girls in the Mummaus’ care — with grief counselors present in anticipation of the shock — all of the girls sobbed uncontrollably, together with the Mummaus, in a manner that should have been unthinkable at a residential childcare facility. But no excuse to remove a “troublemaker” is too transparent at MHS today even if grief counselors must be called in to deal with “collateral damage” visited on MHS children. Houseparent “Cowards” The MHS President has made explicitly clear his complete intolerance for any efforts by houseparents to try to persuade the Managers to abandon irrational child-crowding proposals. Indeed, the MHS President recently labeled a group of middle division houseparents “cowards” for sending a collective letter to the Managers in this regard. 4

The Manager proposal that triggered the houseparents’ letter will in essence put 30 middle school children under one roof, in a kind of “block-style” housing unit that moves MHS to an “institutional” setting. The proposal will utilize two houseparent couples and one other employee to staff the 30-child “block” and thus will erode the very concept of “houseparents” — turning them into mere dormitory staff, married couples or not. Surveillance cameras to monitor the children have also been discussed as a purported “solution” to safety problems inherent in the proposal. The following are excerpts from the houseparents’ letter: “We, the houseparents of middle-division of the Milton Hershey School, are writing to express our deep concern about the planned change in middle-division housing. [...] At the forefront of our concerns is the physical and emotional safety and well-being of the students at MHS. [...] Putting a child in a group of 24-29 other kids all but ensures that some will fall victim to acts of at-risk behavior. We are also quite concerned with the housing model in light of the upcoming addition of 5th grade students to the middle school. Currently, the middle division has several 15 and 16 year-old 8th graders. Even in our current model, this disparity in ages could very well lend itself to difficult and possibly dangerous situations, which would be exponentially worse in the 25-30 child model. [...] “There will be significant amounts of time during which there will only be 3 adults on duty in order to accommodate necessary adult off-time. [...] Basic management of the home under these conditions may not leave much time for building relationships with kids. This will not only negatively impact their emotional well-being, but would also leave the students much more vulnerable to peer aggression, intimidation and bullying. [...] “There will also be a greater likelihood that students will become polarized into different cliques or gangs within the home. In this very large group scenario, it will become increasingly difficult and dangerous for positive but smaller or weaker children to stand up to stronger, more negative students. We fear that too many of our children may ‘fall through the cracks’ and not succeed at MHS. [...] “[It] is the current family model that has been the single greatest selling point of the school. Employing this new model may make enrolling new middle division students a difficult task. Retention may also be adversely affected. [...] We feel that facing the drastically different structure of this middle division program may prove too difficult for many of our 10 year-old students to handle. This could have a significant negative impact on the retention of this age group. [...] In the new model the need for communication among five people before even simple decisions can be made could seriously impede the effectiveness in meeting the daily needs of the children. [...] The students would suffer immeasurably in such an environment. “[...] We believe the proposed program limits the opportunity for us to create meaningful and loving relationships with Mr. Hershey’s students. [...] We are hoping that perhaps you and your fellow Milton Hershey School Board members will reconsider the approval of beginning to take the middle-division of MHS in this direction. We truly appreciate your further consideration in this matter.” (A full copy of the letter can be found at: Why “cowards?” Because this respectful and compelling letter was signed on behalf of all Middle Division Houseparents without individual names. It was signed this way because all involved (Administration and houseparents alike) were aware that retaliation would follow instantly for any who let their names be known. Retaliation is fully expected at MHS today because the Administration regularly targets “uncooperative” houseparents with things like “surprise” student home inspections or other varieties of “gotcha,” leading houseparents to walk on eggshells. The atmosphere of intimidation and fear was confirmed by the President’s epithet. His frustration was that, without names, no one could be punished this time — and he knew that if names had been required, no one would have dared dissent. MHS staff are in a state of constant fear today lest they too misread a “mushball” schedule or commit some other “transgression,” permitting retaliatory removal from their positions. So instead of addressing the issues the MHS President went into his darkest attack mode. Other than retaliation against their leaders and being labeled “cowards,” the houseparents received no Board response whatsoever to a thoughtful letter seeking to alert decision-makers of dangers to children from the proposed move. Not one
For convenience, a single Internet web page listing all hyperlinks contained in this essay and identified by page and subject matter can be found at A full set of all supporting materials can also be downloaded there, similarly arranged.


Manager manifested concern. Not one Manager acknowledged receipt of the letter. No Managers met with houseparents to discuss the issues nor intervened later when the MHS President called them cowards and vindictively targeted the Rosses. The total disregard of the letter by the Managers can be read as total disregard for the safety and care of MHS children. This is the state of MHS today. The dissent-chilling retaliation, “surprise” inspections, and general harassment directed at quality houseparents who raise safety concerns are in stark contrast to Administration treatment of certain other houseparents whose conduct is at times egregious. In many instances the latter are indulged — or even rewarded — because they pose no threat to Board goals. It is more important today to be on the Administration’s good side than it is to be a good houseparent, and the phrase “get on the happy bus” is openly used to describe going along to get along. Immediate interests of children and quality childcare are subordinated to Board non-child agendas at a staff level — and to Board desire to demonstrate “solidarity” with the MHS Administration, wrong or right, at a Board level. By ignoring dissent, the Managers take the heart out of all dissenters and foster silent acceptance of bad practices. This creates a climate where frontline care-providers remain silent while dangerous policies are imposed, no matter what the consequences for large numbers of at-risk children. This dissent-stifling climate is a mainspring of how the Managers are imposing their child-crowding goals over every rational objection. Desperate guardians scattered far and wide and without the wherewithal to organize are in no position to press for better treatment of their children — or even necessarily to grasp what is happening. The Managers take advantage of this dynamic to ignore ongoing harms, at times permitting children to be bounced from student home to student home rather than admitting that the Managers have Administration, frontline staff, and program problems that must be addressed immediately. Many guardians are in any event leery of seeming to “make trouble” lest they put their children’s status at risk. An infinite pool of desperate applicants is always waiting to replace children who leave, and the Managers have not hesitated to keep tapping this pool rather than address ongoing MHS problems. There is simply no accountability on the part of the Board when it comes to childcare. But if the Managers dare to upset the community’s economic interests, they know there will be the dickens to pay — as witnessed by the attempted sale of the Hershey Company. Weight of Expert Opinion Fully Supports Houseparent Positions While Administration bullying seeks to ram through ill-considered child-crowding proposals, the weight of professional opinion is decidedly in favor of the brave houseparent dissenters. The Board’s own outside experts advised against child crowding. These experts include a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” that studied a child safety crisis in 2002, and whose anti-crowding recommendations were incorporated into a now-rescinded July 2002 MHS childcare Reform Agreement (discussed below). In fact, the Task Force recommended housing only eight children per student home, with an additional adult per home to assist houseparent couples. The Managers’ recent decisions are thus in complete disregard of their own safety experts’ recommendations. Importantly, the Task Force also warned in 2002 that until MHS programs were improved, a moratorium on increased enrollment should be instituted too, lest MHS childcare problems spiral. This warning has proven particularly prescient, as described below, because the Managers have ignored it as well, with grave consequences for MHS children. For one of the many authoritative childcare advocacy groups also warning against the congregation being pursued by the Managers, see, “A Return to Orphanages,” a July 2004 white paper produced by Children’s Rights Inc., and available at: There are simply no credible residential childcare professionals who would endorse the Managers’ proposals while the houseparents’ warnings are fully backed by the weight of expert opinion. Of equal importance to the MHS Trust, the Managers’ child-crowding proposals also violate a core principle of Milton & Catherine Hershey, who were explicit in seeking to create a natural and homelike “anti-orphanage” setting. The Hersheys definitively rejected congregated, segregated, dorm-like, or other “institutional” environments, requiring MHS to avoid these 6

evils of inferior children’s homes. This is arguably the single most important reason why MHS for decades provided needy children with a better option than what they faced elsewhere — and among the only reasons that MHS constitutes an exception to the general rule disfavoring “orphanages.” MHS was able to avoid the harms of typical orphanages solely because of its vast land and cash endowment and the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust mandate directing how this is to be used, i.e., exclusively for MHS children. (See, “A Factory for Miracles” for an essay treating the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” model and earlier MHSAA reform efforts intended to protect it, available at: MHSAA reform efforts followed decades during which conflicted Board decisions caused near-total abandonment of the Hersheys’ childcare wishes, as commercial interests ate away at the MHS childcare mission and nearly cannibalized it entirely in the 1990’s. At that point, MHSAA declared “enough” and began mobilizing a counter-struggle, seeking to protect the Hersheys’ childcare goals. “Standing:” Who Speaks for Desperately Needy Children? MHSAA reform efforts ultimately yielded a historic July 2002 childcare Reform Agreement that was ordered by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) on pain of litigation. This followed a two-year investigation driven and funded by MHSAA — initially resisted by the OAG — and that conclusively established the overwhelming need for Board and MHS childcare reforms, just as MHSAA had insisted. After all, this is a childcare charity that grew by nearly $7 billion during a period when the number of children served shrank — going from 1,600 children in 1970 to 1,200 children in 2002. A low of 1,034 children was reached in 1997 as the Managers hoarded cash to direct to a research institute, until pressure forced the Board to use these funds to increase enrollment. During the same period, land used for children also shrank and was diverted to myriad non-child uses, as competing local and business interests flourished at the expense of needy children. The Reform Agreement, among other things, ended the practice of Managers earning millions of dollars for serving nonchild interests (e.g., the Hershey Entertainment & Resort Company (HERCO), private banking, local real estate development, the Hershey Company, and more) — while the Managers receive no compensation whatsoever for MHS duties; i.e., MHS has operated within a governance structure that creates perverse incentives to disfavor children’s interests.2 Given the strong temptation to let childcare resources be used for non-child purposes, successive Pennsylvania Attorneys General simply turned a blind eye to decades of MHS childcare failure — when not openly assisting in childcare asset diversion; e.g., the OAG actively participated in the 1963 diversion of $50,000,000 in cash and over 500 acres of land from the MHS childcare mission to build a medical school for Pennsylvania State University (the Hershey Medical Center). This was in disregard of the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust and OAG duty scrupulously to protect the rights of needy children. That act ushered in a practice of public officials and “cooperative” Managers jointly altering the Hersheys’ childcare mission. But no one had any motive to oppose this joint OAG/Manager conduct other than desperately poor children, who could do nothing about it — and MHS alumni, who resisted acts that might have seemed ungrateful to a school that had provided them with so much. MHS was thereby set on a course to become the biggest waster of childcare resources in history, ignoring the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust. If MHS resources were used strictly as the Hersheys’ directed, MHS today would be serving as many as eight thousand children. If resources had not been squandered and misdirected historically, MHS could have ended Pennsylvania foster care as now known, saving Pennsylvania taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and with MHS serving children on a different order of magnitude. This is how large the misused resource base is. But the Reform Agreement intended to ameliorate childcare failures was rescinded within months (in June 2003). This was after politicized events surrounding the proposed sale of the Hershey Company led to childcare reform cold feet on the
The Hershey Trust Company (HTC) is the trustee for the children in the care of MHS. HTC (on behalf of MHS) owns 100% of the stock of HERCO and a controlling interest in the Hershey Company. HTC has a private banking business and a real estate development division, including golf properties.


part of the OAG. Today, among other things, Managers again receive vast compensation for non-MHS duties such as those related to HERCO, the Hershey Trust Company, and the Hershey Company, while still receiving no compensation at all for MHS duties. As described below, the Managers have otherwise reverted to overall policies favoring commercial interests above MHS children — led by a core who appear motivated in large part by non-MHS agendas. This core was installed by the OAG itself at the end of 2002. This was done in a manner whose rationale has never been explained and that contravened the MHS Trust’s residential childcare mission. This is the only known instance anywhere of this type of governance reform “reversal” (e.g., restoration of conflicts of interest) for any similarly large organization faced with this degree of historic and sustained failure. It is also the only known instance where an OAG has acted to impose on a charitable trust board a core of trustees politically connected to the OAG in a way that impedes the charity’s sole purpose. This is also happening in an era when healthier corporate governance is deemed a matter of course, after successive corporate scandals have rocked America, awakening public officials to the imperative for meaningful governance reform measures. If the consequences for needy children were not so tragic, the OAG's conduct here would be almost comical, including its lame after-the-fact rationalizations. But unlike shareholders bilked of their savings and thus able eventually to secure governance reforms in areas affecting their interests, the unprecedented MHS reform rescission harms groups powerless to protect their own rights, i.e., needy children and their impoverished guardians. These groups are required to rely on OAG “protection” under the general rules of charitable trusts (as distinguished from private trusts). This quirk of charitable trust law that forces powerless groups to rely on the OAG except in rare instances is why the Hersheys’ children have historically had their interests ignored, as successive Pennsylvania Attorneys General have constituted part of the problem afflicting the MHS Trust. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in the 2002/2003 rescission of matter-of-course MHS childcare reforms. This action unconscionably took back from needy children the only protections ever put in place for them by the authorities. It also followed decades of whittling away protections originally provided to children in the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust itself. Because no one else would question rescission of these vital MHS reforms, MHSAA took legal action against the OAG and Managers in September 2003. MHSAA asked the local Orphans’ Court to enforce the July 2002 Reform Agreement on behalf of indigent children, and to appoint guardians to protect these children from immediate harms, including from ongoing poor residential childcare policies. In a stinging rebuke, the local trial court judge — who had participated in the changes that led to reform rescission — “dismissed out of hand” MHSAA assertions. The court admonished MHSAA for what it deemed an “improvident” filing and labeled as “preposterous” MHSAA requests for immediate protections of children. The court refused to hear evidence on MHSAA warnings that children stood to be hurt, describing these as “extravagant.” The court ruled that MHSAA had no right to be heard, i.e., that MHSAA lacks “standing,” no matter what it alleged — and that only the OAG could speak for the general public’s interest in MHS Trust enforcement. The language of the ruling wounded MHSAA and is possibly the only time a childcare advocacy group seeking protection of indigent children has been described this way by any court. The MHS President immediately made 5,500 copies of the ruling and mailed these to all alumni, together with a letter deriding MHSAA leaders, in the hopes of discouraging appeal. MHSAA nonetheless did appeal — and a seven-judge appellate court stunned the local power structure, OAG, and Managers, by reversing the trial court and reinstating the case. In a landmark 4-3 ruling that cited unique circumstances and emphasized MHSAA “special interest” in MHS childcare reforms, the appellate court designated MHSAA to speak on behalf of needy children in support of the Reform Agreement — among the only times this status has been afforded to a group like MHSAA. The appellate ruling is now under review by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. While the case has thus languished for three years on the “standing” question, the MHS tragedy described here has unfolded. The best summary of the legal issues can be found in the appellate decision now before the State Supreme Court. (See, In re Milton Hershey School Trust, 867 A.2d 674 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005), available at: The State Supreme Court heard oral argument on May 9, 2006 and a decision could be delivered any time on whether the appellate ruling was correct — or, instead, if the OAG and Managers are correct, i.e., that they indeed are entitled to 8

rescind the MHS childcare Reform Agreement without any open-court explanation as to why this was purportedly acceptable. $7 billion in childcare resources, the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” model, and the lives of countless needy children will be dramatically affected by the outcome of the case — though it is virtually invisible to the public eye. As described here, the case is far from invisible to the Managers, filling their vision to the detriment of their MHS childcare duties. Since the case was filed, MHSAA has faced a scorched earth campaign by MHS to “starve out” MHSAA from funding, shut down its programs, and harass its leaders. The goal is to make MHSAA cry “uncle” and abandon childcare reforms. MHSAA has weathered this, refusing to succumb to bullying and intimidation, including from its own members recruited by the Managers and their agents. Child-Crowding, Conflicts & Costs As concerns the proposed child-crowding, the Board’s own 2003 sworn affidavits before the Orphans’ Court represented that children would be housed in student homes that averaged only ten children per home. These affidavits were filed with the court when the Managers were arguing that binding childcare reforms were “no longer essential” and that MHSAA had no right to seek reform enforcement. These sworn court statements are now belied by the Board’s introduction of: (1) 40-child dormitories for 80 seniors; (2) the increase in size of senior division student homes for the remaining seniors and for grades 9-11 children to 14 children per student home (though the student homes are only built for 12 children); and (3) the intended introduction of “ultra-congregated” 30-child, 40-child, and possibly 80-child “block” housing.3 These child-crowding proposals are totally irrational particularly for a facility that boasts over 9,000 acres of land remaining in its endowment. (Thousands of acres of childcare land have already been improperly removed from this endowment and diverted to non-child purposes by a historically conflicted Board favoring non-child interests.) Examining the numbers, it is clear that the Managers are intent on “proving” that they can quickly “grow” the school to 2,000 children by the year 2013 — recognizing that increasing student numbers is a superficially effective “counter” to the charge that Board problems remain acute. But the Managers seek to generate this superficially appealing statistic even though: (1) MHS has failed to create true “absorptive capacity” to care for the increased number of children (i.e., the requisite staff, student homes, and childcare programs necessary to “absorb” and nurture additional children properly); (2) the Board refuses to recognize the known harmful consequences of “institutionalization” and increased crowding; (3) the Board is seeking to use as little additional land as possible for adding MHS children (i.e., the Board is “growing” student population but shrinking land dedicated to housing children while segregating them from the community — the latter of which is also emblematic of “institutionalization” and violative of the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” model); and (4) disturbingly high numbers of children are forced to leave MHS annually as inadequate programs and inappropriate infrastructure fail to meet their needs. The Board is not ignoring all this and pursuing child-crowding because the Managers are bad people seeking intentionally to hurt children. Rather, the Managers are trying to balance commercial goals against MHS childcare needs, lack the residential childcare expertise necessary to recognize their mistakes, and are simultaneously pursuing broad non-child agendas that distract them from MHS childcare problems. The Managers also lack accountability for childcare mistakes and otherwise face a bundle of pressures that encourage congregation and invite ignoring of childcare best practices. For instance, putting more at-risk children from impoverished and in many cases urban and minority backgrounds into affluent Derry Township has potential political consequences for locally-residing Managers mindful of the reaction of
The Managers have not provided definitive statements on how the “block” housing will ultimately be configured. Prototype drawings leaked in 2004 showed 40-child “H-Blocks” (renderings of which are reproduced on the page following this essay’s cover page). Harrisburg Patriot-News reports later indicated that it might be 80-child blocks. 40-child dormitories have already been introduced. It is difficult to be certain what the MHS Board is pursuing because of the secretive manner in which the Board conducts all business, with no genuine advance scrutiny of Board decisions, however questionable.


certain local segments. It is one thing to have the vast wealth of the Hershey childcare fortune in Derry Township — the Hershey Company, the Hershey Medical Center, the Hershey Country Club, the Hershey Trust Company, and HERCO (which collectively represent an employment base of over 20,000 local jobs) — but it is another thing entirely to have residing throughout the township thousands of at-risk children looking for a home. This tension cannot be ignored and the OAG itself explicitly informed MHSAA in June 2003 that the community “would not accept” MHS children in numbers that the school can serve, in the OAG’s view. Additionally, conversion of vast tracts of MHS childcare lands to non-child use means that the property loses its taxexempt status. This subsidizes lower property taxes for everyone else and makes the Managers popular locally — while “invisible” needy children foot the tax subsidy bill. This too makes it easier for a locally-controlled and politically sensitive Board to gravitate towards congregated MHS quarters. Further, when Managers engage in land-related “generosity” that benefits the local community, e.g., seeking to give away over a thousand acres of land to create a nature preserve in 1999, carving out 41 acres of MHS land to build local athletic fields (“Founders Park”) in 2001, setting aside the most beautiful MHS campsite (“Camp Catherine”) for the Girls Scouts of America instead of using it for MHS children, ceding large tracts of MHS land to construct a community hiking/jogging path, and other similar “gifting,” the Managers become very popular local figures. It never occurs to most people that each giveaway costs needy children somewhere. Needy child beneficiaries of the MHS Trust of course never raise any objections. The OAG and local Orphans’ Court have also taken the view that there can be “enough assets” used for needy children, endorsing the legal fallacy that needy children are not the MHS Trust’s sole and exclusive beneficiaries. Finally, the now-restored pre-Reform Agreement Board structure compensates Managers for outside non-child commercial goals while making all Manager childcare duties fully volunteer. This too gives Managers financial incentives to disfavor MHS children’s needs in areas that affect land-use and child-crowding. Thus, every influence, subtle and otherwise, contributes to encouraging Managers to move in the direction of congregating MHS children — and with Managers lacking any of the residential childcare expertise to know better. Under these conditions, needy MHS children don’t stand a chance. This is not to say that Derry Township residents are necessarily biased against MHS children as the OAG’s comments would suggest. On the contrary, MHS children have historically been understood by many to be a part of the community. This understanding is profoundly meaningful to many local residents mindful of the Hersheys’ charitable wishes, even those who in athletic or other competition are part of a sometimes fierce “cross-town” rivalry. Local institutions too, such as churches, have also demonstrated exemplary compassion for MHS children over the decades, with church members regularly “signing out” MHS children for Saturday or Sunday “visiting privileges,” or taking these children into local homes during vacations when the children might otherwise have had nowhere to go during holidays. Further, the community has produced champions for these children, steeped in the traditions of Milton S. Hershey and revering the Hersheys’ philanthropic childcare mission. MHSAA’s pro bono attorneys, in fact, are anchored by a powerful Pennsylvania law firm — Dilworth Paxson LLP. The two lead attorneys, John W. Schmehl and Victor P. Stabile, are from Central Pennsylvania and both have made tremendous personal and professional sacrifices in this effort.4 Certain community leaders have also stood with MHSAA in fighting for shared goals, though some local interests (primarily HERCO and developer ones) have sought to discourage this cooperation. In sum, nothing prevents the local community from being predisposed to accepting MHS children in the Hersheys’ community-integrated “anti-orphanage” residential model that has historically been followed, if only the Board did not disfavor this. The Board’s “solution” to land competition tensions is to create segregated and congregated compounds where MHS children can be corralled away from the community proper, even where this is bad for MHS children.
Dilworth Paxson was also the pro bono law firm that assisted minority children in their decade-long struggle to gain enrollment to Girard College, the nation’s second largest K-12 residential childcare charity located in Philadelphia, PA and founded by philanthropist Stephen A. Girard. Dilworth Paxson in both cases demonstrates the bar’s finest in public interest contributions, representing indigent children otherwise without legal champions. Mr. Schmehl’s late father was a revered HIS/MHS Class of ’38 alumnus, William L. F. Schmehl, who served for two years as MHSAA President and was a co-recipient of the Association’s first Alumni Service Award, in 1971.


This is no solution at all. It is unhealthy for children and ignores the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” wishes. A proper Board would pursue reintegration of the Hersheys’ children into the community that the Hershey childcare fortune built, pursuant also to residential childcare best practices. But the current Board structure, compounded by politicized oversight authorities, invites the elevation of non-child interests over childcare, in derogation of the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust. “Ultra-Congregation” & “Institutionalization:” MHS Lurches towards the “Orphanage” Model Adding the numbers for the Board’s newly-introduced child-crowding decisions — i.e., (1) dormitories for seniors (80, so far, with the remaining 80 seniors to join them soon, or 160 children), (2) 30-child block housing for middle division (about 1/3 of the school, or 700 children), and (3) 40-child (or 80-child) block housing in “intake facilities” (for about 10% of an MHS population projected to reach 2,000 children and thus yielding about 200 children in intake facilities) — the total is about 1,060 children. In other words, more than half of the school’s projected 2,000 children will be forced to live in “ultra-congregated” quarters. This should send chills down the spine of anyone who understands what this will mean for children intended to be housed in these retrograde “orphanage” facilities. The school will thus indeed “grow” by increasing student population — though shrinking the amount of land dedicated to housing these children, i.e., freeing what could be more childcare land for commercial and other development, the historically favored goal of Managers and local authorities endorsing their non-child diversions. But these decisions turn back the clock on residential childcare practices to the bad old days of crowding, congregation, and segregation, moving MHS in the wrong direction, i.e., towards the classic style “orphanage.” Thus, the school’s historic maximum of 1,600 children served may indeed be “surpassed” when the Board “achieves” its much-ballyhooed “2,000 children” projection, which the Managers tout at every opportunity. But this ignores the fact that narrow focus on this single figure in isolate is a dangerously misleading report card of Board performance. The increase will also be achieved by crowding the approximately 940 children who will remain in the traditional MHS “student home” (family style) format into smaller quarters than is advisable, including against the explicit recommendation of the school’s own Blue Ribbon Task Force. This will be by increasing the number of children within each student home and by crowding the student homes together — i.e., by taking away play space and open space and creating unnatural “compounds” comprised of only dwellings that house needy children, segregated from any wholesome community setting. The current student homes will be far more crowded together than were the homes when the 1,600 children earlier maximum were served in 1970 — a time when all children were served in the “student home” format. But that was in the spacious, natural, “anti-orphanage” and community-wide model required under the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust and endorsed by childcare professionals. This “anti-orphanage” distribution throughout the community was the only reason that the model worked — anchored in Mr. & Mrs. Hershey’s explicit 1909 decision on this. When student homes are crowded closely together and removed from the community, ball fields, open spaces, soccer fields, basketball courts, and simple natural settings like ponds and woods are removed. These are replaced with more student homes piled one on another in a manner that is inappropriate for children in large numbers. It is simply unnatural, unwholesome, and unhealthy to create an ocean of about 1,000 similarly situated at-risk children congregated together in one large mass, with group home on top of group home — and lacking any genuine integration into the community. This is even if the residences purport to remain in the traditional “family style” student home format. Simply calling the residences “student homes” does not imbue them with the true conditions of being a “home” pursuant to the Hersheys’ wishes — and this includes normality in location within the community proper. The crowding of all these student homes into one compound moves MHS over the line into the “institutional” territory that the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust prohibits and that childcare best practices reject — as authoritative childcare advocacy groups like Children’s Rights Inc., warn.


These “ultra-congregated” proposals will indubitably hurt children as empirical studies have long demonstrated. (See, e.g., “Definitions of Crowding and the Effects of Crowding on Public Health,” White Paper for New Zealand Ministry of Social Policy, available at: (“A number of studies suggest that crowding can be stressful for children, leading to behavioral problems. These include hyperactive or aggressive behavior...poor academic achievement...socially deviant behavior... [and increase in] severe behavioral and cognitive development problems...”).) The Managers thus have nothing to tout if they understand what they are pursuing. Shattering the Hersheys’ “Anti-Orphanage” Model If the Managers are indeed serving children who require substantially year-round residential care (as the Managers claim to be doing), then child-crowding and segregation from the community are the precise opposite of what competent residential childcare professionals would advise or what the Hersheys themselves wanted. The policies are thus indefensible. It little matters that the facilities will be constructed from the most expensive materials available or that they will have a superficial visible appeal when seen by visitors making perfunctory tours. The “look” does not reflect the childcare reality. To pursue these new proposals (i.e., congregation, segregation, and institutionalization) while ending the natural and family-like aspects of MHS (i.e., student homes, community-integration, and natural and play-abundant settings) is in essence to strip MHS of the only reasons it could run counter to residential childcare trends in the first place. It is the equivalent of taking the engines out of a jet — the jet will no longer fly. As for the “look,” MHS spending has been notoriously profligate under “spend-as-much-as-possible” policies of successive unaccountable Boards. In fact, a grand jury was convened in 2003 to investigate some of this. (See, e.g., Patriot-News, July 31, 2003, “Milton Hershey aid rebuked by grand jury.”) While it is true that expensively-constructed facilities can look nice and can even seem dazzling if enough money is spent to enhance that effect, the crucial point is that children raised in such facilities will bear for life the psyche-deforming impact of their unnatural quality, should the crowding plans be completed. The quality of houseparents, a limited number of children per student home, the amount of play space available, and the natural placement of the homes within a community cannot be compensated for by mere “bricks and mortar” — no matter how expensive these are, and even if the Managers pay local construction companies $2,000,000 per group home to create “nicer” crowded facades (which sums the Managers are in fact now paying for new student homes). The negative consequences of trying to do this include difficulties faced by these children later as adults in forming wholesome and healthy relations, familial and otherwise — to say nothing of simply knowing how to live within a normal community, i.e., a place where not every home in the “neighborhood” is a group home housing 14 at-risk children (or an “H-Block” housing 40 or 80 such children). This is all solidly established by 100 years of residential childcare evolution and learning. Poor grasp of fundamental residential childcare principles by Managers who have superior loyalties to competing nonchild interests, and who are led by a core of Managers with distinct non-child agendas, has led to poor childcare policies. This is just as MHS has already witnessed in the past, e.g., under former President William L. Lepley, who instituted “multi-age housing” over the advice of residential childcare professionals. That act of recklessness by the Board ultimately led to scores of incidents of abuse and bullying while Managers refused to intervene, so ill-equipped were the Managers in residential childcare.5

“Multi-age housing” was introduced by the Managers in the late 1990’s and continued for several years over the strong objections of groups like MHSAA. This consisted of housing the youngest and most vulnerable of these at-risk children in group homes together with the oldest and most aggressive ones, leading to a completely predictable spate of incidents of abuse. Eventually, the Managers’ own outside experts advised that the practice be stopped, after these experts documented over 60 incidents of physical and sexual abuse caused in part as a result of the policy. Throughout, the Managers refused to budge on the matter, at times claiming it constituted a “cutting edge” practice followed elsewhere. The OAG, for its part, refused to intervene though it conceded at one point (at a meeting with MHSAA Directors in December 2001) that, “We know the hours from 10 PM to 6 AM pass very slowly for some of these kids.” This concession


The Managers have failed to learn any lesson from their past mistakes and this is at the expense of the children in their care. The oversight authorities too have refused to learn from all this, in continued disregard of their duties to MHS children. Disturbingly, the move towards congregation and institutionalization appears to have been a firm policy goal of the Managers from early in the current Board’s tenure. This is not surprising in light of how this Board was constituted (described below). That the crowding described here was an early goal of the current Board is reflected in the Managers’ having refused to disclose the MHS master land-use plan (promised in the fall of 2003 and still not disclosed). Board leaders would surely have known that alumni and employees would oppose this “institutionalization,” hence the non-disclosure appears deliberate. This is underscored by the fact that the MHS President made public representations in 2003 to the effect that “all 9,000 acres” of MHS land would be used for MHS children — at a time when he and the Board surely knew this would not be the case. (Recordings of these representations are available at: Indeed, Managers and the Administration seeking to woo alumni supporters made a special trip to Florida this winter for a “mini-homecoming,” using childcare resources for their travel. During this trip, they again misrepresented the number of children who would be placed in the “block” housing, denied such housing was even being proposed, and later went silent when media reported that MHS zoning permits were being sought in a manner that flatly exposed the falsity of the Florida statements. The Managers have thus been hiding the ball on their child-congregating intentions — particularly from alumni who otherwise will not be lulled into believing that MHS childcare reforms are no longer necessary. Alumni should pay close attention to the actual housing proposals, because these completely belie the misleading representations disseminated by the school’s public relations specialists.6 That this increased child-crowding was an early goal of the current Board is also reflected in the deletion of anti-crowding recommendations from the MHS childcare Reform Agreement when reform rescission occurred in June 2003. It now appears that the deletion of those recommendations was well thought out and deliberate, and that the increased childcrowding was already being planned then — at least so far as the Managers who control the Board are concerned. This group effectively sets virtually all policy within a Board governance structure that permits outside-interests to trump childcare concerns, through “control group” decision-making that has historically plagued the MHS Trust. MHS Board meetings are all closed. No agendas for the meetings are ever provided. No public notice of what the Board is doing is ever given. “Self-selection” by the Managers (they choose their own replacements) assures that only likeminded persons will serve on the Board and that dissenting Managers can either remain quiet or resign. Promises in 2003 of open Board meetings were immediately broken (after one such meeting). Decisions that are at times inexplicable are then simply implemented without any advance scrutiny, sprung on employees and the public alike as fait accompli. These are often coupled with dubious after-the-fact claims that they are actually intended to benefit MHS children, though this is virtually never in truth the case. The current control group was put in place by the local authorities themselves in late 2002. This group appears to have a clear mandate to favor commercial interests — and this may explain the set of decisions witnessed since that time and
notwithstanding, the OAG refused to act while children were hurt. In contrast, within days of learning of the Board’s 2002 proposed sale of the Hershey Company, the OAG was in the Orphans’ Court seeking an injunction, arguing that “irreparable harm” to local economic interests necessitated immediate action. In a hypocritical twist, during the Florida “mini-homecoming” the Managers and Administration conducted a Sunday worship service around the theme of truth-telling, replete with scripture readings and a sermon — all to imply that MHSAA has been making these things up. Attendees were thus quite surprised later to learn of the vast chasm between what was represented in Florida and what was revealed by local zoning applications.


OAG endorsement of these. One must assume that the OAG, when permitting the 2003 childcare reform rescission, did not understand that the deletion of the anti-crowding recommendations would open the door to things like dormitories and 40-child “block” housing. The OAG knew that the Blue Ribbon Task Force — which made the anti-crowding recommendations — included at least three highly credible residential childcare professionals. The Task Force’s conclusions thus ought not have been treated lightly for a childcare facility that already had witnessed a shocking degree of breakdown in child safety. This is among the reasons why the OAG and Board should have been required to appear in the Orphans’ Court to explain reform rescission, because this item in particular is glaring. Now observing what has in fact occurred with the latitude gained by the Managers from reform rescission, the OAG itself should be joining MHSAA in trying to reinstate the Reform Agreement and its anti-crowding recommendations. By no means should this core of Managers be permitted to pursue this ill-advised child-crowding policy shift at MHS without demonstrating to the Orphans’ Court how this could even conceivably be in the best interests of the MHS Trust’s child beneficiaries, including with credible expert testimony to endorse these irrational moves. Alumni Managers too, surely opposed to current child-congregating policy shifts, nonetheless fear speaking out, lest they risk removal from prestigious positions on the Board of the world’s largest childcare charity (however poorly it has performed). The Board is supremely effective in keeping members in line — impeding outside communication and offering a lucrative Hershey Company board seat here or a lucrative HERCO board seat there, in order to encourage complacency. This is all within a governance structure that invites childcare hubris, since the Managers answer to no one and — as friends of the OAG — cannot be removed, no matter how unsound childcare decisions may be. The Board’s current control group even determined its powerful chairperson successor for an unprecedented seven-year period at once, changing Board rules to do so and installing two of the Managers handpicked by local authorities to represent local interests as back-to-back chairs. The control group thereby assured see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil leadership for nearly a decade, denying the chair to any Manager who might have broken with the control group on core issues during the time necessary to accomplish the child-congregating policy shift now being pursued. Managers also understand that oversight authorities themselves are nonchalant so far as childcare is concerned and that only local economic interests will trigger aggressive enforcement action. Thus, even were a Manager to desire better childcare decisions today, he or she would be up against the entire local power structure — including the very oversight authorities who are supposed to monitor the charity and assure its childcare purpose, rather than enabling and abetting efforts to elevate commercial goals above the needs of children. There is simply no avoiding the fact that the MHS Trust’s problems today include “oversight” by an OAG that — rather than scrupulously enforcing the Hersheys’ child-saving charitable intent as the OAG is required to do — has claimed a purported right to redirect the Hersheys’ charitable assets to the “general public” and larger economic goals. The OAG appears to be endorsing a Manager agenda that favors the growth of commercial interests and the local economy.7 Any Child-Crowding Excuse Will Do! While the child-crowding proposals being pursued make no childcare sense whatsoever, among the rationalizations offered by the Managers for the retrograde changes is that MHS is “no longer using an agrarian model.” This is a meaningless and empty statement lacking substance and failing in any way to address the known harmful consequences of congregation.
OAG conduct arguably constitutes Fourth Amendment “taking” violations because fair compensation itself is denied to the Hersheys’ needy child heirs, who lose property from all these state actions. The closest analogous characterization of OAG conduct here can be found in a United States Supreme Court case where compensation was at least paid, though the taking still triggered a heated dissent from four Justices. Writing for the dissenters in Kelso vs. New London, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stated: “Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process [and taken from] owners who, for whatever reasons, may be unable to protect themselves against the majority's will.” In the case of the MHS Trust, needy children “unable to protect themselves against the majority’s will” are facing a steady and continued pattern of taking. This is aided by an OAG that believes that commercial development is a better use of the MHS Trust’s land and cash childcare resources. The OAG is thus allowing transfer of charitable assets from one discrete group (needy children) to the general public and to other charities, substituting its own judgment for that of the Hersheys. This conduct also violates the constitutional right to enforcement of contracts, in this case, the Deed of Trust.


It is simply stunning that child-harming crowding is being sold under the guise that it constitutes some kind of “modernization” trend, supposedly “advancing” MHS out of an “agrarian” state — as though the crowding of 40 children under one roof is “progress,” and as though ample play space, natural settings, a homelike environment, family-like student homes, personal care provided by a houseparent couple, and non-segregation from the community are somehow “quaint and antiquated” or “agrarian” notions. This absurd suggestion passes muster only with a hopelessly conflicted Board serving myriad competing non-child interests, now including political ones. This Board will clutch at any excuse, however transparent, to rationalize cramming children into smaller and smaller quarters — and to introduce to MHS the very evils that made congregated orphanages so disfavored in the first place. Thus, while the rest of the childcare world progresses rationally and steadily towards smaller numbers of children in each residential home — and towards more natural and more homelike community-integrated settings akin to “mainstreaming” — the world’s largest childcare charity, with thousands of acres more land than any similar childcare facility even dreams of possessing, is by itself “blazing a trail” in precisely the opposite direction, going back in time to the bad old days of “institutionalization” — and claiming that this is a “modernizing” trend to take MHS out of its “agrarian past.” The Managers are going back in residential childcare time and characterizing it as moving forward. They must be stopped. Recipe for Childcare Disaster To make matters worse, the Administration’s relationship with houseparents is abysmal. The Houseparents Union has seen its leadership attacked ferociously, its policy recommendations derided, and its best and brightest picked off with buyout offers (to assure docile acquiescence of houseparents who do remain). Houseparents are essentially told that poor policies must be tolerated as a condition of being paid what virtually all houseparents acknowledge is a good salary — good enough to keep many of them at MHS, though they are heartsick at what is happening. But this turns MHS houseparents into something akin to dormitory advisors instead of parental figures in a home, while breeding staff despondency. To speak with many houseparents today is to get a sense of people living in a state of constant insult to their intelligence, motives, and abilities, no longer trusted to make the discretionary decisions that are the essence of a family-like environment. This is compounded by divisive tactics utilized by the Administration to impose policy, turning houseparents against each other and encouraging, for example, “snitching” for minor infractions committed by the Administration’s “targets.” A consistent concern of houseparents is thus an increasing inability to recruit new houseparents due to plummeting morale, in spite of generous compensation. Meanwhile, Administration conduct drives more houseparents away. These combined factors lead to more student homes being closed, with children formerly in those homes then distributed elsewhere — and leaving some student homes sitting empty simply because there are no houseparents available to staff them. As a result, homes built for 12 children are now going to house 14. This is all a recipe for childcare disaster. It is especially reckless because of MHS program failures and an inability to meet the needs of children the Managers purport to seek to serve in larger numbers; e.g., MHS has failed to create the therapeutic counseling component necessary to handle increasing numbers of troubled children. MHS is instead simply “shedding” hard cases and retaining children who manage to get by within the infrastructure and programs provided. The plight of these children is being ignored and it will be survival of the fittest rather than care of the neediest, as only those children who can “adapt” to the conditions remain. In an example of Manager Orwellian “Newspeak,” the attrition rate for MHS children is now referred to as the “retention rate” and calculated in an utterly dubious and misleading manner. This is because it is more palatable for the Managers to claim a “90% retention rate,” however dubiously derived, than it is to issue candid statements about unconscionably high attrition rates that reveal disturbing MHS dysfunction. The euphemism is of no consolation to the large numbers of


children being removed annually, however they are described. If anything, those concerned should choose language designed to emphasize how grave each child removal is, not to alleviate qualms over it. To elaborate, last year alone 170 MHS children were removed of their own volition or at the request of the MHS Administration. The number in the prior year was 208 children. These numbers are astounding and unprecedented. If these children are in fact “the neediest children ever to set foot on MHS” — as has been publicly represented by the MHS Administration — then something awful is happening when 170 and 208 of them in the last two years respectively have had to be sent back to whatever environments they left to enroll at MHS. Even discounting for Administration hyperbole in degree of need faced by these children, a childcare facility that boasts over $7 billion in total assets ought not be losing 170 to 208 children annually when its massive resource base is already serving so few children. What becomes of the children removed? This is certainly not what Mr. & Mrs. Hershey envisioned. A Board willing to play word games about how child tragedies are measured obviously has grave inadequacies.

“Spin” + Growth Fixation + Poor Programs = Childcare Spiral & Architecture of Failure
The following graphs illustrate the reality of MHS “retention” rates. They do so by examining the number of children actually retained at the end of each school year, the number of children admitted in order to increase “total enrollment” (the Board’s single-minded focus), the number of children withdrawn (a key number), and the number of children graduating — and all over a four-year period. The graphs therefore provide a meaningful picture. The 2002-2003 school year ended with 1,114 students returning for the next year and the figure remains stable at 1,114 for the next two years as well. This year, the figure is 1,220 students. Thus, enrollment is flat for the first three years due to soaring attrition, but gains 106 students in the last year through a massive enrollment push, which represents the total increase over four years. But the addition of just these 106 children to the total actual enrollment since 2003 was “achieved” at devastating emotional, financial, and personal costs to the students and families of the 953 “turnstile” children who paid the price for this “growth” spurt, i.e., those children who were enrolled to create an adequate pool who might remain, and with those who could not adapt then withdrawn when programs failed them — but who had to serve in this “sacrificial” role in order for the Board to generate its rosy growth figures in spite of MHS inability to meet these children’s needs. This disregards the wellbeing of large numbers of children used in this manner. Departing children suffer upheaval, uncertainty, displacement, and ultimately rejection from MHS itself. This parallels what these children faced before enrolling at MHS — a place of intended refuge. In other words, more harm than good is done to these children by the dislocation they face when MHS fails them, often with severe long-term consequences for children and their guardians. MHS also suffers institutionally because a more unstable environment is thereby created, exacerbating the attrition problem. This is why the Blue Ribbon Task Force issued its sobering 2002 recommendation of a moratorium on any further efforts to increase enrollment until MHS could straighten out childcare programs. This recommendation was issued in conjunction with strict recommendations on decreasing child-crowding, which is central to improving true retention, i.e., retention achieved by providing children with adequate facilities and programs — rather than by merely finding children who can adapt to inadequate facilities and programs. The latter is not “retention” in any real sense but instead a cruel use of needy children to help manufacture the image that MHS is meeting needs, when it is not. The Managers have rashly ignored both Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations; i.e., the Managers are crowding children together and trying to “grow quickly” before programs have improved. The results of all this are well-illustrated by the numbers presented in the following graphs. The key numbers are: (1) annual returning students who start each school year (and which represents how many children are actually being


“retained”); (2) withdrawn children (which indicates how many children are being failed by current programs and are a barometer of poor policies); and (3) new students (which reveals how many children are being enrolled to replace both graduating seniors and withdrawn children, and which serves as a barometer of instability where the number is significantly higher than the number of graduating seniors).

Measuring Enrollment & Evaluating Program Success: 2003-2006 Totals

2003-2004 Total = 1,343 students (1,114 returning + 229 new students) (229 new enrollments required during year to generate Board growth figure)

Withdrawals: 117

Graduates: 112

Returning Students for 2004-2005 = 1,114

2004-2005 Total = 1,448 (1,114 returning + 334 new students) (334 new enrollments required during year to generate Board growth figure)

Withdrawals: 208

Graduates: 126

Returning Students for 2005-2006 = 1,114


2005-2006 Total = 1,504 (1,114 returning + 390 new students) (390 new enrollments required during year to generate Board growth figure)

Withdrawals: 170

Graduates: 114

Returning Students for 2006-2007 = 1,220 (assuming no summer withdrawals)

Looking at the above-noted three key indicia, i.e., returning students, withdrawn children, and new students, the picture is sobering: (1) Over a three-year period, the true increase in “retained” children is zero children for the first two years and a total of only 106 children over the full three years, owing to one huge push last year. (2) Total withdrawals during this three-year period are a stunning 495 children — or 41.5% of the total number returning to start the current school year. (3) Most troubling of all, the total number of new students is a staggering 953 children, which is 78% of the total returning to start the current year. In other words, two children have had to be enrolled for every opening to maintain existing enrollment levels and add just 106 children. Over a meaningful period of time, this translates not as the “90% retention rate” claimed by the Managers but instead as a more accurate — and dismal — 50% true retention rate. These figures are astounding and expose the Managers’ “retention rate” assertions as misleading and meaningless. The instability revealed by closer inspection of the actual enrollment numbers shows a situation worse than anything witnessed under even the Lepley Administration — when things were bad enough to warrant a moratorium on increased enrollment. Put simply, interviews with the 495 children withdrawn over the last three years (together with their guardians) would show MHS dysfunction at a crisis level — whether or not this reality can penetrate the fog of MHS public relations “spin.” These numbers speak for themselves and belie the Managers’ rosy statements and self-serving “calculations.” True “retention” is measured by MHS success in meeting the complex and profound needs of children who require substantially year-round residential care — not by sifting through a large enough enrolled-child pool to identify children adaptive and desperate enough to stay at MHS in spite of inadequate programs, while failing the other 50%. The Managers are not meeting children’s needs — they are finding children who will meet their needs, and doing grave harm to those who don’t.8
While the reality of MHS attrition is accurately described here, the following is how these dismal results are touted in the most recent MHS self-congratulatory mass-mailing, purportedly occasioned by the end of the fiscal year: “Happy New Year! [...] I do want to make a big deal out of fiscal year 2005-2006... It was truly a banner year... It deserves to be celebrated. I want especially to thank you for your role in the past year’s success. [...] [C]onsider just a small number of our MHS community accomplishments: Significant enrollment increase (of extremely needy children) to a peak of 1,395 — the most students we have served in more than 30 years. Translation: We are helping to save the live of at least 110 more children and will grow by 100+ again this year. [We increased] retention from 85% to 90.7%. [...] There are so many more achievements, great and small, which weave the fabric of our 2005-2006 success story....” (July 26, 2006 letter from MHS President John A. O’Brien to alumni. Emphasis in the original.) As explained above, the “figures” cited in this letter are utterly divorced from reality, though no one reading the letter would have any hint of it. Quite the contrary, the impression generated is one of “banner success,” concealing the fact that the current Administration is responsible for the worst attrition in MHS history. Yet, the Administration suggests that its “achievements” are a cause for “celebrating


MHS resources and unique opportunities mean that there are many applicants for every MHS spot. If 114 children graduate, MHS should need to enroll only 114 children to maintain current numbers (albeit a few withdrawals will naturally occur). However, soaring withdrawals and graduating seniors combine to yield a radically high number of new students, particularly when adding the new enrollments necessary to achieve Manager “growth targets,” e.g., 1,350 children for 2005. Over one-half of the student body returning for 2006-2007 will have been admitted in the last two years. By September, that percentage is likely to rise to over 60%. Newly-enrolled children lack MHS acculturation, so integrating these children puts a strain on the entire service-providing structure. Thus, the huge number of new children creates an unstable dynamic, contributing to more withdrawals as the problem spirals. Children who come from unstable living environments are thus entering a different but similarly unstable environment. This is all compounded by Administrative dysfunction, bullying of staff, removal of quality frontline care-providers, break-up of well-functioning student homes, poor personnel decisions, denial about ongoing problems, and attempts to substitute slogans and gimmicks for credible (professional-intensive) programs (such as better child counseling, or smaller numbers of children in each student home). The turnstiles at MHS are constantly churning children in and out, where these children already have heavy emotional baggage to carry. This replicates at MHS the potentially damaging instability faced by many of these children in their pasts. But these child tragedies go unnoticed by the public, as the Administration methodically silences frontline staff alarms and glosses over all of this with a mountain of misleading “spin.” Worst of all is the Managers’ proposed long-term “solution” to high attrition and staff relations problems, i.e., to put all newly-enrolled children into factory-like 40-child “block” housing intake facilities, to try — “conveyor-belt” style — to force acculturation, as though by some kind of boot camp “training.” The proper answer is not another construction spree seeking to solve by “bricks and mortar” what is in fact a matter of elementary childcare. The proper answer is to stabilize the student home environments, stop driving away quality houseparents, decrease the number of children in each student home, train and support capable and caring houseparent staff to make acculturation and stability part of one seamless stream of care, and thereby address childcare issues substantively — on a child-by-child, natural, and homelike basis — and not by creating a kind of “boot camp” intake facility. By no means should MHS be enrolling children solely to create rosy “growth” figures at a time when it is failing 50% of the children enrolled. Spin Over Substance: Time to Summon Children & Youth Services? A competent and childcare-qualified Board or MHS Administration would recognize the harms from the proposed childcrowding and summarily reject it. In each area (40-child dormitories, 30-child block housing, and 40-child intake facilities), public relations “spin” is used to rationalize the child-harming moves as somehow intended to “better serve” MHS children; i.e., the crowding of dormitories is sold as an “Independent Living” “advance;” the middle division 30-child block housing is described as “better for children;” and the intake facility 40-child “cottage” is sold as a “Springboard Academy” that will somehow “catch students up in math,” or “let MHS know if the students excel in soccer or band.” (See Patriot-News, March 19, 2006, “Students to get transition aid — Hershey School to focus on new middle schoolers,” (describing 80-child “cottages” to be used as intake facilities — only this Board could refer to an 80-child housing unit as a “cottage”).) The Managers’ choice of location for the latter set of “cottages” also shows an apparent effort to avoid having MHS children “encroach” on larger touristic or other commercial development plans: the “block” housing units will be crowded together a mere stone’s throw from a dusty and noisy limestone quarry and wastewater treatment plant, with a five-lane heavily-congested road nearby. This is difficult to understand when there are 9,000 acres of land available. The quarry in particular is likely to be a problem, with blasting and grinding occurring frequently in addition to large vehicular traffic for

success” in this special “fiscal year” greeting. (For a full copy of the letter, see:


hauling limestone. Further, the Managers recently transferred two nearby former student homes to the local municipal authorities — and rationalized this transfer by noting proximity to the same wastewater treatment plant. The rationalizations concerning the “benefits” of the block-style intake facilities are the most egregious. To suggest, for instance, that a child arriving at MHS after a period of time living with a desperately poor mother in the back seat of a car, or bouncing from homeless shelter to homeless shelter, or otherwise living in dislocation, will be better served by placement in a 40-child (or 80-child) intake facility for a year and then forced to move again — rather than by immediate placement in a small and stable student home staffed by a caring houseparent couple trained to provide individualized attention and who will continue as care providers for the child — is an absurdity unworthy of dignifying response. No credible residential childcare professionals would endorse either the crowding or the planned multiple dislocations as being superior to immediate placement in smaller homes with an accompanying permanency. The Managers’ irrational childcare policies may eventually earn the Board the ignominy of running afoul of Pennsylvania child protection laws, since the course of conduct being pursued is in spite of alarm bells sounding. The latter includes explicit warnings from the Board’s own outside experts and from frontline staff. (See, e.g., PA Code, Chapter 3490, Protective Services, et passim.) Psychological trauma is visited on children in needlessly breaking up their student homes without any legitimate MHS goals being served. (If MHS had cause for the dismissals it would not need huge severance packages to keep removed houseparents quiet.) This could rise to “psychologically abusive” within the relevant statute, though actual determination of abusive behavior would, of course, be up to the Dauphin County Children & Youth Services. Grief counselors were lined up in advance of these acts so it is plain that MHS had prior knowledge of harms being inflicted. It is one thing for the Managers to allow the Administration to mistreat employees with unwarranted removals at great financial waste by MHS as a form of “maintaining discipline.” The Houseparent Union and employment laws may or may not provide redress in these instances. But it is another thing entirely for the Managers to stand by while good houseparents are removed and children suffer trauma and dislocation as a result. In the latter instances, child protection laws may be implicated and simply paying large and wasteful severance packages should not end the matter. Similarly, research shows that crowding of children into unnatural residential housing has high potential to be psychologically harmful — and children have a right at law to be free from intentional psychological harm when in the care of a facility like MHS. This includes a right to placement in the least restrictive and most appropriate environment. In the case of MHS, this is “advertised” as a family-style environment and is as explicitly required by the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust under any credible interpretation. If harm does come to MHS children as a result of living in the proposed 30/40 child blocks, it should lead, at a minimum, to Dauphin County Children & Youth Services being notified, so that the agency can investigate. Most alarming is that the professional frontline caregivers, MHS houseparents, have alerted the Board in the clearest possible terms of harms that will result from the Board’s proposed policies, i.e., “The students would suffer immeasurably in such an environment.” (Emphasis added.) It does not get much clearer than that. Yet, the Managers stubbornly ignore the warnings and barrel forward, apparently impervious to the consequences. The OAG’s charitable trust oversight duties are not exclusive of the duties of other Pennsylvania agencies concerned with child welfare. Thus, OAG actions may have set it on a course to clash with Children & Youth Services. One might even suggest that the best thing that could happen to the MHS Trust today would be to grant explicit additional oversight responsibility to Children & Youth Services, an agency better equipped than the OAG to oversee childcare concerns. Children & Youth Services is fully cognizant of the plight of Pennsylvania’s neediest children. It also possesses the residential childcare experience necessary to provide credible and child-protecting oversight of MHS children — including an existing ability to help steer children to MHS without expending MHS “recruitment” resources. Conversely, the OAG lacks any staff with the residential childcare skills necessary to evaluate properly MHS childcrowding, counseling, enrollment, educational, and similar questions. Yet, the OAG is taking (or refraining from taking) actions affecting thousands of children’s lives in each of these childcare specialist areas. At a minimum, Children & Youth 20

Services should be considered for some kind of joint oversight role — and the current Board’s conduct may ripen an overdue examination of these questions.9 The Board thus ignores the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s anti-crowding recommendations and all accepted childcare norms at the peril of MHS children — and also at the peril of triggering additional oversight if another state agency is persuaded to act.10 Current decisions are thus creating multi-tiered failure-assuring infrastructure — architectural, personnel, and program. This is a childcare and asset disaster unfolding right before our eyes. The centerpiece of the Managers’ plans (ultracongregation) also constitutes the centerpiece for exposing current breakdown. Manager decisions make no sense — other than that they use the least amount of childcare land, cost the most to construct, and rely on the smallest number of houseparent care-providers, in a trifecta of poor policy goals. Consider the opposite: MHS could place five or six children in existing family homes under the care of well-trained houseparent couples, costing dramatically less construction money and providing the best, most personalized, and most natural and homelike care. Why wouldn’t the Managers pursue this set of completely rational objectives instead of pursuing irrational “ultra-congregation?” “Buffering” MHS Children Nonsensical “spin” is also seen in other Manager infrastructure decisions, such as the “rationale” for the above-noted purchase of a failing luxury golf course with childcare resources. According to Rob Vowler, speaking for the Hershey Trust Company, the purchase was “for MHS children” — i.e., to provide a “buffer” between these children and community housing. (See, “Hershey Trust drives home golf course deal,” Patriot-News, October 21, 2005 (“[Vowler] said the opportunity [...] was ‘simply too good to pass up. [O]pen space like this will provide [a] buffer for our students. There are so many big housing developments in the area already, and we didn’t want the same thing to happen here.’”).) Vowler’s statement is even more absurd than it sounds: the MHS Trust is saying that it prefers owning an underutilized golf course to using the land for a “big housing development” for MHS children; i.e., the Board would rather “buffer” and segregate children from the community than help them with more student homes in a spacious and beautiful setting. This constitutes a first in the annals of residential childcare charities and how such charities use their resources to “improve” the lives of children, i.e., to keep them “buffered” from the community in which they reside. Again, this is a Board that the OAG claims no longer needs child-protecting governance reforms, such as those that prevent non-child interests from tainting MHS decisions. The proof, however, is in the pudding. Three years since the childcare reforms were rescinded, there can be no genuine doubt of the need to restore them since glaring conflicts of interest continue to taint decisions.

One mechanism for ending the Board’s pernicious “self-selection” practice and assuring better MHS childcare would be to have Children & Youth Services itself designate a majority of the Managers, selecting from persons with known and credible residential childcare backgrounds. This is not a radical proposition when considering the insidious history of Board takeover by control groups relying on “self-selection” to accomplish this. These Managers select away from persons who put residential childcare first, or who even have bona fide residential childcare qualifications. Instead, they select persons aligned with the control group on non-child (e.g., HERCO) agendas — or else they select persons deemed “malleable,” too busy (e.g., the Hershey Company CEO), or too far away to present the control group with much difficulty (e.g., Minnesota, North Carolina, and California). At MHS, this has bred arrogance, insularity, lack of accountability, and disregard of childcare best practices — as is demonstrated by decades of childcare failure. Another approach would be to have other childcare charities designate certain Managers, such as the Children’s Defense Fund, Annie E. Casey Foundation, or Children’s Rights Inc. Virtually anything would be superior to the current crony-favoring system. This reform measure is long overdue and may be an area where the Pennsylvania Legislature can be called on to assist. The Managers and OAG certainly won’t address the problem, having in fact exacerbated it by the manner in which they constructed the current Board in 2002.

MHS licensed healthcare professionals (e.g., physicians, dentists, nurses, social workers, and psychologists) may also be in a quandary now because they have a duty to report “suspected” physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of children encountered in their professional roles. This is not optional — it is required by law. The Administration has put these professionals in a bind by demanding compliance with and support of arguably harmful policies. This places professional licenses at risk unless the professionals want to challenge the Administration. The latter is itself fraught with employment risk, given the Administration’s pattern of removing dissenters and Board tolerance for this. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this year passed a bill (HB 2283) strengthening mandatory reporting requirements and thus making the position of MHS professionals potentially more untenable.


Other Residential Childcare “Spin” Elaborate spin also makes its presence felt elsewhere. For instance, Manager desires to “grow” quickly without adding adequate frontline staff, and in a manner that keeps MHS childcare land usage to a minimum, requires putting seniors into dormitories. Houseparent recommendations on this were apparently twisted to imply that they endorsed dormitories that were introduced in fact over houseparent objections. This crowding move is sold as child-centered “independent living” training — as though caring parents would stick all children into dormitories for their senior year, in order to “train” them for college, in disregard of children’s individual needs. If anything, MHS children overall need the stability and supervision of an additional year in a structured student home environment, under the watchful eye of caring houseparents as they prepare for life beyond MHS. This life will hopefully be in a family of their own someday and not living in dormitories. The final year at MHS is thus like a “finishing touch” period for pointing children in the right direction, at a time when it is just as easy — if not easier — for them to turn the wrong way too. This latest move simply makes no sense from the perspective of quality childcare. It is no surprise that in publicly touting the move, the Managers provide “encouraging quotes” from the one group who can be counted on consistently to endorse it: MHS seniors initially delighted by removal from the careful supervision of houseparents. Were MHS 6th graders similarly to be removed from houseparent supervision, no doubt they too would give the move a resounding “two thumbs up” — as would any children elsewhere chafing for less supervision. These “endorsements” underscore how unsound the move is. Houseparents on the relevant study committee are said to have recommended that “independent living” training occur within the stability of existing student homes. This could be achieved rationally by providing seniors with additional freedoms under the houseparents’ care, much as older children in ordinary family homes are provided additional liberties by natural parents. Indeed, this is just as MHS itself did in the past, when seniors were given greater liberties such as “late” town privileges that could be taken away too, within houseparent discretion. But houseparent recommendations against the move were apparently ignored and misrepresented by a Board and Administration that do whatever they have predetermined as their goal, regardless of contrary advice or logic. The bizarre outcome is that while MHS seniors are no longer trusted with the independence to go out on the Friday night town privilege that was once a weekly MHS treat, seniors are put into dormitories — ostensibly to provide them with “independence” training. But this is only so long as the seniors stay in their dormitories and out of the community, i.e., “independence” within four walls. The policies are transparent. The Board’s obvious goal is to put children into dormitories in violation of the Hersheys’ wishes, never mind the packaging. A concomitant goal is to replace houseparents with mere caretakers, eliminating the structured and consistent home environment envisioned by the Hersheys. It is no surprise that Administration reaction to six NLRB unfair labor practice filings by the Houseparents Union was a move to minimize the number of student homes with houseparents in favor of alternative congregated facilities (such as dormitories) that don’t require houseparents at all. The Board’s methodology — allowing the Administration to bully dissenters, silence critics, remove employees who demonstrate the integrity to speak up, overpower a Houseparent Union that might also put up resistance to childcrowding, and otherwise shove aside logic — should be recognized. It makes clear that the word “pilot” is meaningless in regard to these child-crowding proposals. “Pilots” are in any event unnecessary, because long experience has already demonstrated the known harms of child-crowding. Contrary and conclusion-driven results manufactured by the Administration and Board in order to sell poor proposals would contravene what has been learned already at virtually every residential childcare facility. This includes MHS in its own past, where policies of housing large numbers of children in one home were abandoned decades ago. Some employees have indicated that the Managers’ outside consultants, in addition to the Blue Ribbon Task Force, have in fact warned the Managers of this, only to be ignored. But with the ability to shed children who don’t adapt — 170 children last year alone and 208 the year before — and an infinite pool of desperate children from whom to choose, the Board will be able to impose any model it wants, including barracks, for that matter. This is because, for many children, anything that MHS could offer is better than what exists elsewhere. MHS children will often suffer in silence rather than put at risk what security they may have found at MHS, 22

thereby letting the Managers impose child-crowding no matter what the cost to children (those who leave and those who stay — both groups will be hurt by this). The Board is thus assured of maintaining a sizeable student population since there will always be some children who can superficially “adapt,” notwithstanding the trauma inflicted on children. “Adapting” to life in a 30-child or 40-child “block” setting should not even be a goal of the Managers if they understand what they are doing. They don’t — no surprise given the way local authorities constituted the current Board. If anything has been learned from residential childcare history over decades it is the grave consequences for children who do learn to “adapt” to large group settings, and who thereby often later face, as adults, potentially severe repercussions, e.g., difficulty in forming healthy familial relationships. This is why the rational move for the Board would be to create smallersized student homes — as the Managers were advised to do — and not the opposite, as the Managers are in fact doing. One would have to ignore the entire body of literature on the subject to choose the direction followed by the current Board. The Managers cannot possibly be motivated in this by childcare goals and the OAG should not permit it, regardless of OAG views on any other MHS childcare reform issue. Because they serve non-child outside interests, the Managers end up engaging in convoluted “rationalization” exercises to justify child-crowding. The Managers have likely convinced themselves of the “wisdom” of what they are doing — much as they once convinced themselves that multi-age housing was a good idea without a single Manager objecting. This is all made easy when not one Manager has the credible residential childcare qualifications necessary to simply point out, authoritatively, the fallacies of Manager rationalizations. Managers should cease being burdened with conflicting goals that lead to rationalizations at all. The Board should be freed to focus solely on what is best for MHS children. If Managers need to economize on land/cash matters, let them do so in tourism and commercial business development — or in regard to failing luxury golf courses — not where it concerns the safety and quality of care provided to Milton & Catherine Hershey’s child heirs. The OAG has a duty to assure as much. It is unacceptable that decisions affecting the very lives of needy children are being made in an environment where their interests are not put first, where decisions are compromised by competing commercial interests, and where decisions lack residential childcare best practices grounding. The OAG’s defense of this is particularly questionable given its own sobering 2002 conclusions and the history of MHS childcare failure, with which the OAG is fully familiar.11 Squelching Dissent & Engendering “Group Pathology” Because Manager “spin” about crowding proposals cannot withstand genuine scrutiny, imposing these policies relies on MHS Administration squelching dissent to silence opposition. Here, the current Administration shows itself disturbingly effective by select targeting of dissenters and Houseparent Union leaders, bullying those who might dissent. But this demoralizes staff and prevents proper testing of decisions that have profound and lasting implications for needy children — decisions affecting the children’s very psychological development over the course of their entire lives. Refusal by Managers to permit proper and prudent testing of policy decisions is particularly troubling for a Board that operates in secrecy, answers to no one, lacks accountability, is burdened with competing non-child interests, lacks bona fide residential childcare expertise, has rescinded all child-protecting governance reforms (including anti-crowding recommendations), and has a history of decades of decisions disfavoring the interests of needy children.

When responding to this and similar commonsensical MHSAA arguments in the “standing” briefing now before Pennsylvania courts, the OAG and Board resort to inflammatory and ad hominem attacks, e.g., they assert that alumni do not really want to enforce the Reform Agreement — what they actually want is to “run the school” or to “create new and permanent Board positions controlled by MHSAA.” The OAG — in an oversight role — should have no difficulty reaching the same conclusions that MHSAA has reached in this, or that other dispassionate observers have reached (including childcare and governance experts). Yet, the OAG appears now to put “winning” its current appeal above candidly examining the underlying substantive issues. Disingenuous arguments do not enhance OAG credibility in a matter where the only goal should be better care of MHS children.


Only the guardians of desperately poor children are forced to tolerate childcare-anemic pronouncements issued by the Board without rhyme or reason. Parents of children attending Hershey High School (the public school across town) would never stand for obviously child-harming decisions from their school board — a board held publicly and politically accountable for all decisions and that is obligated to put the high school’s children first. For instance, one cannot imagine the Hershey High School board giving away school property for commercial development, as occurs regularly with the MHS Board and MHS childcare resources. The MHS Board should be no less accountable than ordinary school boards. Indeed, it should be more accountable because it bears responsibility for the very lives of children in the school’s care, who often lack other protectors of their interests. The Board’s obligations are also heightened by the imperative to husband scarce childcare resources as prudently as possible in a nation tragically lacking these resources. The OAG erred egregiously when it had the opportunity to remake the Board in 2002, failing to get the MHS childcare mission right. The OAG needs to undertake the process anew, however sticky this may be. Better that the OAG, with a new Attorney General in office, admit an honest mistake and address it than that more children be hurt and more childcare resources wasted. Engaging a former Pennsylvania Attorney General as the current Board Chairperson in a way that fosters cozy relations between the Board and the OAG does nothing to improve the quality of childcare, and, in fact, is proving harmful. This makes credible OAG oversight even more difficult — including because of deference shown to a former Attorney General. There is no reason for the OAG now not to act given mounting evidence of the error committed in 2002, regardless of the outcome of the OAG/Manager appeal of the decision granting MHSAA standing. The OAG’s ongoing oversight duties are independent of the Reform Agreement litigation and related appeal — and the OAG could moot the entire matter by simply examining these issues and recognizing that it got it right the first time when it ordered long overdue MHS childcare reforms. Acts of Administration bullying directed at quality employees to silence dissent are not isolated incidents. Instead, they reflect a general pattern of MHS conduct today and have yielded a concomitant decline in the school’s overall climate. This is a climate where, for instance, a hate-inciting meeting of alumni could be deliberately orchestrated to target MHSAA pro-reform leaders — in particular, the first African-American MHSAA President — on May 7, 2005. MHS Administrators were in attendance and appear to have participated in the planning. One of them is said to have bragged before the event, “We have [MHSAA President Jerry] Waters right where we want him!” The MHS leadership linkage is clear, going so far as “coincidentally” to have conducted a function in Hershey that brought alumni supporters to the area just in time to attend the attempted MHSAA coup. In the case of veteran houseparents Chester & Carol Ross — while being “investigated” for such “crimes” as using cooking wine to prepare elaborate gourmet meals for their student home — a sign was posted near the student home, taunting them. The sign derisively indicated “This Way to the Vineyard!” (or words to that effect). This was a time of incredible pain and uncertainty for this couple, as they faced imminent removal from their 15-year employment and from their very home — with their own children having grown up among MHS children during these years. (Cooking wine, needless to say, fully evaporates during cooking and MHS central kitchen chefs have also used it to prepare certain dishes.) Posting the sign was a clandestine and ugly act not unlike what MHSAA leaders have also faced. It constituted “piling on” when the Rosses were already down and was obviously intended to dispirit them even further. In the case of MHSAA, similar “piling on” has included overt physical threats, meeting disruptions that required police intervention, harassing phone calls, and more — almost invariably from persons closely associated with the Administration or Board. Alumni leaders have been subjected to particularly virulent attacks. These include a stream of letters lodging incendiary and false allegations, virtually all of which are sent by alumni with some strong personal or financial interest at stake, or incited by them; e.g., former MHSAA Executive Director Mike Weller abruptly resigns his position with MHSAA in 2004, leaving the Association in disarray. He marks his departure with a gratuitous and unsupported letter indicting MHSAA, its leaders, and its childcare reform legal efforts, taking pains to quote the trial court’s language rebuking MHSAA (before that ruling was reversed). The letter is sent to all 5,500 alumni, sparking a backlash against pro-reform MHSAA leaders just in time to influence the upcoming MHSAA Director elections. The letter never mentions that within days of being mailed, Weller will take up a high-level position at MHS that he had been seeking for years — having been released from MHS once already several years earlier and thereafter yearning to return. 24

In the case of houseparents too, Administration supporters (with clear employment incentives) submit letters to the local media that appear ghostwritten by the Administration, undermining Houseparent Union leaders at key moments, e.g., when houseparent unity is most needed on such matters as resisting child-crowding. Houseparents sending these letters are soon rewarded by the Administration with enviable perks, including favoritism in assignments, as toadying is encouraged. Administration victims receiving handsome severance packages are also obligated to send empty attack letters — such as the mass e-mail that Chester Ross sent as he was departing, and that contains statements obviously not his views. (See: This behavior reflects group pathology and is causing terrible morale problems at MHS. At any residential childcare facility and among child protection services, it is well understood that degradation in psychological health of staff and low morale compromise the quality of care provided to children and the effectiveness of staff. (See, e.g., New York Times, January, 20, 2006, “Child Welfare Offices That Couldn’t Be Fixed Fast Enough,” citing low morale among reasons for systemic failures in New York City child protective services.) Cronyism & Partisan Politics Compromise MHS Trust Personnel Decisions The Administration and Board have also made poor personnel decisions that appear motivated by non-child goals. The Board appears to have selected the Administration primarily to assure success of non-child agendas (imposing crowded “institutional” housing, MHS childcare reform rescission, and undermining MHSAA). The Administration, in turn, is hiring and promoting for control rather than quality. To illustrate, since 2003, among the many gifted Administrators (to say nothing of frontline staff) who were either removed or left of their own volition are: Dr. Ron Thompson (among the nation’s most respected and knowledgeable residential childcare professionals and now at Girls and Boys Town); Dr. Ed Ruth (among the finest educators in MHS history and the recipient of national recognition and awards); Dr. Warren Hitz (among the most respected Administrators in MHS history and now at the Kamehameha School in Hawaii); David Burns (the most recent and highly respected Director of Human Resources who is said to have clashed with the Administration over what Burns viewed as grossly improper personnel policies); Dr. Nick Nissely (an alumnus who had aided in criticizing and undermining MHSAA leaders but who is said to have had enough and left); and many, many others. This often requires payment of vast severance packages by an Administration trying to keep the army of departing employees quiet, so fearful is MHS of having current misconduct exposed (and which, of course, would strengthen MHSAA legal arguments seeking childcare reforms). These highly-qualified individuals would have helped to improve MHS vastly. They have been replaced in many cases by persons whose primary qualification is blind obedience. In some cases, replacements lack any credible qualifications, whether promoted internally or brought from outside. For example, one alumnus “Administrator” hired in 2003 as part of the wave of replacements was immediately put in charge of millions of dollars of college scholarship money and of advising students on college guidance and related matters — notwithstanding his lack of any degree whatsoever beyond a high school diploma (in a vocational education program) nor any relevant guidance experience. (He was then in the process of being downsized from a position in machinery sales.) His MHS position was not opened up to the many qualified guidance counselors who may have been drawn to an important and challenging role at a childcare charity that can recruit the very best and most experienced individuals. After landing this position — apparently a unilateral hire by the MHS President acting outside normal hiring channels — the individual was put in charge of a staff that boasted decades of experience in the field and several graduate level qualifications, stunning his new subordinates. Among his first official acts was to mass e-mail thousands of alumni a “critique” of the MHSAA childcare reform effort. This was followed by other similar correspondence describing to alumni why the reform effort was no longer needed, and why MHSAA proponents of childcare reforms should not be trusted. Among the responses offered to rebuff MHSAA calls for childcare reforms is that MHSAA should instead show “support” for the current “alumni Administration.” Preoccupation with an “alumni Administration” as a universal antidote for all concerns (also mentioned by local authorities in dismissing calls to restore childcare reforms) is troubling if not offensive. It implies that MHS children can receive inferior care so long as alumni are given patronage jobs, and that this “alumni job mart” rationalizes rescinding childcare reforms. This stands all logic upside down — poor personnel choices underscore the need to restore reforms, not excuse their rescission. Resultant personnel policies have led to distrust of alumni by 25

employees who resent the favoritism and cronyism — and who do not recognize that there are many qualified alumni not considered for hiring because they will not promote the Board’s child-crowding and anti-childcare agendas. Alumni are not the only ones hired or promoted for the wrong reasons and political patronage too appears to have played a role since 2003, including in directorships for HERCO and the MHS senior Administration. The very best in residential childcare are thus totally ignored by the world’s largest childcare charity, in favor of individuals selected for irrational reasons. This is all to the detriment of the MHS childcare mission. It is simply unacceptable that key positions are filled by a closed and crony-favoring process now tainted by political influences too. The conduct and decisions of alumni Administrators have been the subject of particular consternation. This includes complaints by outraged high school senior girls against a Senior Administrator who allegedly ridiculed — at a gathering of seniors for a “senior roast” — a girl who had been sexually victimized, and who at the time of the alleged “joke” was in a state of trauma (and thus absent from the event due to her condition, on suicide watch according to houseparent accounts). Neither the senior girls in attendance nor the houseparents who reported the incident thought the alleged comment appropriate. Houseparent fear of retaliation led some to report the matter anonymously. The investigation that followed failed to lead to the Administrator’s removal. Some houseparents construed this to mean that nothing would cause the Managers to act against the “alumni Administration” — an “alumni Administration” that is, not coincidentally, the Managers’ chief means for defeating alumni reform activism. A series of incidents has created the appearance that Managers are willing to tolerate alumni Administrator misconduct because anything else would remove the Managers’ “cover” and primary wedge for dividing alumni — the latter of whom would otherwise be as united today as in the past in seeking MHS childcare reforms. It Takes a “Homeboy” to Mislead Alumni For alumni unfamiliar with what is actually happening at MHS, just seeing alumni faces in the Administration gives the impression that “all is well,” never mind qualifications, soaring attrition, or actual Administrator conduct. This is reinforced by an unending stream of slickly packaged mailings to alumni that are divorced from reality and that conceal things like the dramatic moves toward congregation. Alumni misapprehension has also been perpetuated inadvertently because MHSAA itself was very hesitant to criticize a new Administration at a time of transition, seeking to avoid disruptive tensions. Additionally, alumni have difficulty believing that other alumni would pursue bad policies, such as the child-crowding plans now being introduced, and so take comfort in seeing fellow alumni in key positions. These are often childhood friends — who now take particular pains to invoke the slang of the MHS children’s home experience to strike sympathetic chords, e.g., referring to themselves as “Homeboys” and to MHS as the “Home,” and rationalizing poor hiring decisions because so-and-so is a “Homeboy” or — incredibly — because “Mr. Hershey didn’t go to college either.” A centerpiece of misleading alumni has thus been the hiring of an “alumni Administration” notwithstanding qualifications or performance. In other words, it appears that the Managers are pandering to alumni in hiring in a manner that compromises the quality of MHS childcare. But MHS should have drawn all key Administrators from a pool of the most highly qualified candidates available, alumni or not. MHS should not be hiring from a pool of only those willing to do what childcare best practices and common sense advise is wrong. The Managers should be hiring for childcare reasons — not to create an alumni anti-reform combat unit. One recent example of resultant poor decision-making was the fiasco of 350 grade 9-12 children taking an all-night “road trip” to a Philadelphia game arcade, in a totally disorganized, ill-considered, and under-chaperoned manner. There were a mere eleven adults for 350 children on eight buses, with some of the adults in separate transportation and thus not on any bus at all. The trip commenced with departure from student homes at 9:30 PM to head to Philadelphia for a night out. In spite of insufficient numbers of chaperones, children were mixed by gender and grade, e.g., senior boys together with freshmen girls, even during the 4:30 AM bus trip back to MHS. The incident was in spite of an earlier day trip that had already alerted the Administration to the need for more caution during these excursions, due to a highly inappropriate incident that had occurred during the day trip. That incident had been reported by houseparents seeking greater precautions during travel. These were not provided, leading to worse problems during the all-nighter — as houseparents had warned. 26

Among the likely reasons for an insufficient number of chaperones was the dearth of MHS employees willing to stay out all night. It appears that non-employees were recruited to come up with even eleven adults willing to go, so dubious of this sophomoric “outing” were full-time staff. But rather than exercising prudence when not enough chaperones could be found, the Administration barreled forward — with tragically predictable consequences for some of the children on the trip. Without accountability to parents and a school board, this kind of “event planning” becomes just another “oops” in a string of missteps. Exploring Root Causes of Dysfunction As concerns the root causes of poor decisions, abuse, bullying, and cronyism, the natural questions are how can people behave this way and why would the Board tolerate it? This essay is an attempt to address these questions with emphasis on Manager conduct, Board governance structure, Manager hiring decisions, and a pattern of OAG oversight neglect that have combined to cause decades of MHS breakdown (while competing non-child interests flourish). One would have expected this to be unnecessary and that the Managers or OAG would have already taken measures to improve things. There was also the hope that MHSAA would have been in court by now on the Reform Agreement, seeking to solve the larger Board governance problems that cause childcare inadequacies in the first place. However, the Board and OAG will not act — and MHSAA’s day in court on childcare reforms keeps being delayed while the Pennsylvania judiciary sorts out the threshold “standing” question (three years after the Reform Agreement case was filed). Meanwhile, MHS children keep being hurt, employees are increasingly despondent, MHSAA is under siege, and totally irrational infrastructure decisions are being imposed through force and coercion. All attempts at dialogue with the current Administration and Managers also have been rebuffed, including by a Board whose 2003 Chairperson bluntly stated, “We owe you no explanations.” Even the most thoughtful and respectful of letters to the Managers goes unacknowledged, as with houseparent letters pleading for better residential policies. The MHSAA Reform Agreement litigation itself was filed only after the Board refused even to acknowledge MHSAA respectful requests to discuss the matter. The Administration and Managers believe they are above discussing disagreements or concerns, so lacking in accountability is the Board — and so emboldened is the Board by OAG positions. Indeed, the OAG is in court right now supporting Manager claims of a “right” to be left alone. This being the case, it is essential to expose what is happening at MHS, especially how bullying and coercion are being used to impose harmful child-crowding policies destructive of the Hersheys’ childcare vision. More alumni and the general public must be made aware of the systemic breakdown at MHS and the harm this is doing to MHS and the children in its care. This magnificent childcare resource deserves far better than the current state of affairs or what is in store in the future if the Managers remain unchecked. Surely, there are others who will aid in defending the “anti-orphanage” mandate of Milton & Catherine Hershey if informed of these issues, no matter how powerful the opposing forces. II. Fact & Fiction: Phantom Graduate School Degrees & Other Tall Tales Selection of an organization’s chief executive is among the most important decisions made by a governing board. This lynchpin hire determines, top-to-bottom, how an organization will function. It also reveals much about a governing board’s objectives. While these truisms ordinarily warrant no mention, the Board’s hiring of the current MHS President requires a reminder of these things here. This is because, as explained below, there appears to be a substantial divide between the claimed and actual qualifications of the MHS President. It appears that the MHS President has a history of misrepresenting his graduate credentials, claiming degrees he does not have — and that the Managers chose to overlook this and hire him anyway. 27

This should be examined carefully today, including information inadequately disclosed in the past, given what it reveals about the appropriateness of the original hiring decision and Manager objectives. This examination is especially important now in light of ongoing MHS breakdown, irrational child-crowding, plummeting morale, high attrition rates, personnel turmoil, and willingness on the part of Managers to overlook all this. Current MHS problems and troubling policy shifts trace themselves directly to the intersection in late 2002 of Board non-child agendas, the current MHS President’s fixation on attaining his position, and Pennsylvania authorities’ failure in discharge of oversight duties. The hire by the Board of the current MHS President and his actual (versus claimed) qualifications presents a prism for viewing these matters and for understanding current and historic MHS breakdown. This hire also follows fifteen years of failed MHS Administrations, with each MHS President as questionable as the last. Various newspapers reported that current MHS President John A. O’Brien (MHS Class of ’61), has either a Master’s degree in “Psychology and Education” or a Master’s degree in “Educational Psychology” from Johns Hopkins University; e.g., the May 29, 2003 Patriot-News said it was a “master's in psychology and education from Johns Hopkins University” while on November 2, 2002 the same newspaper wrote, “Later, he [O’Brien] earned a degree in educational psychology from Johns Hopkins University.” (Emphasis added.) Thus, the same newspaper on two occasions reported two different degrees. In his resumés (or “Life Sketches,” as he calls them) O’Brien also provides both versions of his “degree,” depending on which “Like Sketch” edition is consulted. In his 1996 “Life Sketch,” O’Brien claims to have an “M.A. Educational Psychology” from Johns Hopkins and lists the dates as “1967-1968.” In his 2002 version, he changes his claim to “M.A. Psychology and Education,” with the same years noted. (See: MHS itself issued statements claiming it was a “masters in psychology and education.” This was in the August 7, 2003 “Special Issue” of the MHS “Fact Sheet.” This “Fact Sheet” was distributed to employees to announce O’Brien’s appointment as President, and included a feature story titled, “Meeting Johnny O’Brien/Getting to Know the New President.” (See: According to Johns Hopkins University, neither the published newspaper accounts, the “Life Sketch” versions, nor the school’s “Fact Sheet” assertions are accurate. According to Johns Hopkins: (1) O’Brien received no degree whatsoever during the period mentioned in his “Life Sketches” and never received any “M.A. Psychology and Education” nor any “M.A. Educational Psychology” at any time; (2) In January 1973 (not 1968), O’Brien completed his graduate requirements; and, (3) In February 1973, O’Brien received an M.A., in Education only. When asked specifically about the O’Brien claim of a graduate degree in psychology, the person at Johns Hopkins responsible for addressing these inquiries said that he appears to have taken one psychology class. (“I see one course in educational psychology but that’s it.”) O’Brien’s undergraduate major was in psychology. O’Brien’s master’s thesis, according to Johns Hopkins, was titled, “Survey and Appraisal of Academic Education in U.S. Correctional Institutions.” This is uncanny given the features of the 30/40-child “block” housing proposals now being imposed at MHS and their “Kiddie Prison” aspects, emphasizing control above all else, and ending the family-like qualities of traditional MHS student homes. There are huge differences between psychology and education and the degrees are labeled differently because they are different. Teachers educate in classrooms and psychologists provide counseling, whatever shared characteristics the two fields may have. Sometimes people take enough graduate courses in a particular field (e.g., psychology) to feel entitled to “fudge” and claim a degree, though they are short of meeting actual requirements. One class in a field does not begin to justify this. (For an example of how the CEO of a publicly traded company fared after he was belatedly discovered to have misrepresented 28

academic credentials and the ultimate response of an oversight board that had initially sought to overlook this, see, e.g.,, February 20, 2006, “RadioShack CEO Quits Amid Resume Questions,” available at: A reputable psychologist provided the following possible explanation for this apparent history of credential misrepresentation: O’Brien spent decades marketing himself to corporations as a “leadership” and “performance” guru with a purported ability to help companies address personnel matters, often implicating group behavioral issues. In this field, the graduate degrees claimed by O’Brien (“Educational Psychology” in one “Life Sketch” version and “Psychology and Education” in another) have more “cache” than the “Education” graduate degree that Johns Hopkins says O’Brien earned; i.e., the misstatement may have been intended to help market O’Brien’s corporate services. Once O’Brien claimed this unearned (according to Johns Hopkins) degree, it probably became easier to stick with the claim than to correct it. As for the discrepancy in dates at Johns Hopkins and why O’Brien would give the impression he finished in 1968 when Johns Hopkins says it was 1973, perhaps he simply did not want to make known how long it took him to earn his degree. It might be illuminating to hear his explanation. (For a recent news article on the implications of credential misrepresentation generally, see, New York Times, April 23, 2006, “Fudging the Facts on a Résumé Is Common, and Also a Big Risk.” (“Rafet Kaplan, the Northeast bureau chief for the Fox News Channel, who has been responsible for hiring at several companies, said: ‘I think it’s a baseline insecurity. They want to look and feel better about themselves.’ [...] ‘It speaks to issues of integrity and credibility,’ Mr. Kaplan of Fox News said.”).) There is a particularly meaningful difference at a residential childcare facility between the graduate training in psychology that O’Brien publicly represented he has and the lack of this training that Johns Hopkins states is in fact the case. While lacking a master’s degree in psychology is certainly not dispositive on being qualified to run a childcare charity such as MHS, having a history of misstating that fact for at least a decade should be. Most reasonable people would have had no difficulty concluding that someone who had misstated their credentials in this manner should not be put in the position running of a residential childcare charity, particularly where the candidate’s qualifications show, as O’Brien’s did, a near-total paucity of genuine leadership experience running any large organization. O’Brien not only lacked the claimed degree, but he lacked any substitute leadership experience to make up for it and demonstrate that he could otherwise in fact lead an organization as large and complex as MHS. The Board nonetheless concluded that his qualifications were acceptable and their reasoning on this should be made known. At a minimum, when the Managers learned of this apparent credential misrepresentation, they should have provided a full public explanation for why they did not consider it a disqualifying factor. The Board should also explain why it permitted dissemination of the misinformation later, at a time when the facts were almost certainly known. The August 7, 2003 “Fact Sheet” is particularly troubling since it was issued long after the Board would have known the actual “facts.” Nonetheless, employees such as MHS child psychologists were led to rely on this apparent misrepresentation. The Managers should have assured that at least MHS employees received accurate information. These Managers were trusted by countless people — including guardians and parents of needy children and Pennsylvania oversight authorities — to make a vital decision affecting children’s lives and affecting the well-being of approximately 1,500 employees. Given the ongoing multiplicity of acute problems at MHS — childcare, safety, financial, morale, distrust, and more — this was a charity that needed the highest level of integrity in its President, someone holier than Caesar’s wife — and not a President who apparently had shown little hesitation to simply misrepresent academic qualifications over the course of many years, likely to market himself. The very criteria for the MHS Presidential search listed “Rock solid personal integrity” as the fifth of twelve search criteria, presumably confirming that the Managers grasped that the quality is essential. How the Managers squared apparent credential misrepresentation with “rock solid personal integrity” should be explained by them — particularly in light of 29

their novel claim to be the one board in America above matter-of-course governance reforms ordered by a state Attorney General. This apparent history of misstating credentials and willingness to let it remain quiet are also from an MHS President and Managers who hand out key chains declaring “Integrity” to be an MHS “Sacred Value,” commission $180,000 works of “art” enshrining the same “Sacred Value” on permanent display, and who make this kind of slogan a substitute for the credible childcare programs that leaders with bona fide psychological training might instead pursue. Failure in the matter of course obligation to be candid about academic qualifications hardly demonstrates a “Sacred Value” of integrity, among educators, no less. Of more practical concern, a consistent complaint at MHS today is the lack of sufficient counseling and failure to create an adequate therapeutic component in programs. It can be lost on no one that high attrition (or “low retention” as the we-are-above-reforms Board would have it) has been tied to a lack of child counseling. Misrepresentation of this psychology credential is thus no trivial matter. It gives the MHS President unwarranted trust in the judgment flowing from his apparently made-up “Master’s Degree,” e.g., for determining things like the number of psychologists to hire. There also appears to be a denigration of psychologists at MHS today. One might fairly ask if the lack of the claimed degree helps explain the shortage of counselors necessary to care for the larger numbers of children arriving at MHS with increasingly complex problems. Many of these children are failing to adapt — and hence are being removed and recycled back to their home environments in astounding numbers, doing more damage to these children than if they had never been enrolled in the first place. Leadership with bona fide graduate qualifications in psychology would take credible measures to ameliorate this, rather than trying to gloss over it with ludicrous claims about “90% retention” rates or selfserving letters claiming “success” that “deserves to be celebrated.”12 One must also ask who is designing the school’s ill-advised residential “proposals,” with their resemblance to prison “HBlocks?” These are irrational and entail irretrievable spending of hundreds of millions of childcare dollars on irreversible infrastructure projects, much as past MHS projects also wasted huge amounts of childcare resources only to be regretted later. No one on the Board now nor in the MHS Administration can credibly defend from the perspective of the psychological health and development of MHS children the proposals being rammed through today over houseparent and outside expert objections. These decisions would not have the backing of any qualified child psychologists. Yet, they are being imposed in a coercive manner by the Administration with the backing of the Board. That these crowding decisions aid the local entertainment & resort industry — with its abundant Board representation and warm Harrisburg political backing — is beyond dispute, albeit also beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to note that each MHS infrastructure move bringing harm to MHS children or dissipating childcare resources and making no childcare sense can be tied directly to some obvious non-child agenda simultaneously being advanced by the Managers, who continue to elevate outside interests above children’s needs. Whether it is the numbingly ill-considered $117,000,000 high school building “renovation” (with its indoor parking garage that will “just happen” to provide parking required for HERCO or other non-MHS events), the talk of a monorail for “transporting MHS children” living in the segregated 30-child “block” housing (that will “just happen” to dovetail with HERCO desires for a tourist monorail connected to the downtown “Intermodal Transportation Center” and its companion lavish new HERCO downtown corporate headquarters), or the recent purchase of “buffer land for MHS children” (that will “just happen” to provide an excuse for bailout of a failing luxury golf course), nothing is decided “for MHS children” but that it lacks some blatant benefit for non-child tourist industry goals. This is why every credible review of MHS Board conduct has determined that the OAG’s own reform package was the bare-minimum necessary to end these pernicious tendencies.13

More than 10% of newly-enrolled children are gone within nine months, a sobering statistic given the multiple dislocation that this inflicts on these children.

The reshaping of the Derry Township transportation infrastructure grid around grand-scale tourism goals seems to be a key focus of the Board installed by local authorities in 2002. A centerpiece of this is the downtown “Intermodal Transportation Center.” This is a combination bus/light-rail/monorail station, adjoined by a 200-berth parking garage, and located next to HERCO’s lavish new corporate headquarters (also built with childcare resources). If this multi-purpose transportation center will in fact eventually be


Child crowding is only the central and most glaring example of improper outside influences. The most crass (though benign) example is the golf-loving Board’s new policy of naming student homes after their apparent role models: professional golfers. All competing and conflicting duties were to have been removed from the Board by the now rescinded Reform Agreement. This would have led to all MHS decisions being made on the basis of purely childcare concerns, unadulterated by the needs of the local entertainment & resort industry or other non-child development objectives. This sole childcare focus is decidedly lacking today and the improper influence of outside interests is glaring at every level of decision-making, large and small. History of Childcare Tensions The apparent credential misrepresentation at issue here is also problematic because of historic tensions at MHS between competent child psychologists recommending child-centered policies and Administrations resisting these; e.g., MHS child psychologists over the last ten years recommended student homes with smaller numbers of children (as did the Blue Ribbon Task Force and every other credible residential childcare voice in America). This was rejected by the former MHS President and Board. It is now being rejected again under the current President and Board, albeit the latter are going further in child-crowding than ever before witnessed at MHS. Why would the one residential childcare facility in America with all of the land and cash resources necessary to provide children with student homes that have fewer children per home — and in a more natural, homelike, and community-integrated setting — nonetheless reject child psychologist and expert recommendations on the matter? An MHS President who claims a master’s degree in psychology that he does not have may be particularly dismissive of proposals coming from people with genuine psychological training and experience, especially where the individual demonstrates a pattern of trying to silence dissenters. Nor does it help that poor personnel policies are hemorrhaging resources on whopping Administrator salaries and a fortune in severance packages — which compel “economizing” in areas like child counseling or other direct child services (such as more houseparent staff for smaller student homes). A crude example of childcare breakdown that may trace to the credential discrepancy occurred when the group of girls formerly in the Mummaus’ care ended up sobbing uncontrollably on the day they learned that their student home would be broken up and their houseparents fired, supposedly because the girls had missed a “mushball” game. Would someone with an advanced degree in psychology fail to recognize the long-term emotional damage to these girls (including from later multiple student home placements, since the girls did not all adjust well to the student homes where they were first placed after the break-up)? No lesson was learned from the incident as the depressing exercise was repeated again, on equally dubious grounds, for another set of quality houseparents (the Rosses), whose only real fault was also in caring too much about MHS children to keep quiet and do as told. The MHS Administration is in need of more quality leaders who have actual child psychology skills — not a President whose view of psychology is so dismissive that he thinks nothing of saying he has a graduate degree in the field when he has no such thing. Further, while O’Brien apparently lacks the graduate psychology degree he claimed, aspects of his highly successful “leadership seminar” business have crept into MHS “program” development; e.g., slogans, corporate buzzwords, and
connected to a monorail running throughout the community, it might explain the totally irrational “shoehorning” of MHS children into the Board’s proposed congregated quarters. It might also reveal that the grandiose non-childcare plans of the MHS Trust include using the Trust’s vast land and cash resources to try to create a kind of “Orlando of Pennsylvania” in the area, heavily emphasizing tourism, museums, and other similar “attractions.” The string of Board decisions certainly fits this interpretation — including the outright gifting of downtown land for the garage and museum. Whatever the actual long-term goals of the hide-the-ball Board and OAG, many observers have concluded that commercial growth goals are being given priority over MHS childcare needs. See, e.g., Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 2005 (“Trouble in the family of Milton S. Hershey; Trustees of the affluent Hershey School are being criticized for expanding the business but not the school.”) (“Bulldozers and backhoes are at work [...] building a new transportation center that local officials hope will bolster this [town.] The project is an example of the close relationship between this community and [MHS and HTC]. The trust runs the school for 1,300 underprivileged children, and administers its $6.9 billion endowment. It also controls the town's global chocolate company and sprawling amusement park.”) Criticism of the growth of commercial interests while MHS fails to expand appears to drive Manager over-eagerness to “grow” quickly, with the Board apparently hoping to point to a “large” MHS total population to deflect attention from the priority given to commercial objectives (including things like the Hershey Medical Center’s new research park).


indoctrination “retreats” for employees (and students in the proposed intake facilities) look like they came straight out of O’Brien’s corporate executive training sessions — though they are incongruous at a residential childcare facility. The Flawed Presidential Search At the time that O’Brien was hired, the Board had access to all relevant information for judging his qualifications — unlike alumni, employees, and children’s sponsors relying on the Board in the process. This included information that was not publicly known, such as the credential red flag and the lack of credible administrative or residential childcare experience. The Board could have easily explained these matters, including to alumni fully prepared to listen to the Managers in good faith. Alumni were supportive of the Board pursuing a bona fide search for the best MHS President, after 15 years of appalling MHS Administrations — albeit many alumni assumed the best person to be O’Brien. During the purported search, MHSAA President John Rice and the MHSAA Board took a public stand pledging to support the Board in the selection process, making clear the Board was being trusted to choose the best candidate for MHS, after careful consideration and review. MHSAA was strongly pressured simply to endorse O’Brien as the “Homeboy” candidate, with pressure coming from O’Brien supporters goaded in part by some who had been promised material benefits in the event O’Brien was selected. The Association responsibly declined to issue this “endorsement,” recognizing the many sound reasons for trusting the Managers to engage in prudent search and vetting procedures. The Association instead provided the Managers with a public pledge to support them in carrying out a credible search — though one knowledgeable MHS Administrator had insisted he was told in advance that the “search” would be a sham, carried out merely for public consumption, and with O’Brien’s selection a preordained conclusion. Further, ignoring apparent resumé padding in the search process is merely the tip of a much larger Board oversight failure iceberg. The Managers’ automatic reaction to Administration misconduct is to support it, looking the other way while O’Brien and his key allies (within and without the Administration) engage in a broad range of unacceptable behavior that damages MHS. Beyond ignoring credential misrepresentation, the Managers have given O’Brien free rein to do as he pleases — and O’Brien’s apparent lack of concern for Manager reaction supports this view. The treatment of the Rosses and the Mummaus and the harm this caused MHS children is one example of this unacceptable behavior; the attacks on MHSAA leaders are another; the personal misconduct of senior Administrators is a third; cronyism in hiring is a fourth. Other examples abound and all contribute to the undermining of MHS today. The Board has let O’Brien and his core supporters get away with just about anything. Other Tall Tales O’Brien embellishment does not appear limited to his “degree” and may constitute a pattern of conduct. For instance, many have read about O’Brien purportedly “quarterbacking the all-state football team” his senior year at MHS. (See: (“Just before my 4th birthday [...] my older brother Frankie and I were sent to an orphanage in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Fourteen years later I was quarterbacking the AllState football team and on my way to Princeton University.”).) There does not appear to have been an “all-state football team” that year, but instead only a Big-33 all-star game between a western Pennsylvania squad and an eastern Pennsylvania squad. (See: O’Brien was a member of the eastern squad, to his credit, and appears to have seen some playing time in the contest — as a late-game substitute for the eastern squad en route to suffering a blowout loss to the west. Assuming that there had been an all-state team that year, for O’Brien to have “quarterbacked the All-State team,” as he claims, he would have had to have been selected not only over the starting quarterback of his own eastern squad but also over the back-up and starter for the west — the latter being a player named Joe Namath. (See: The questions again arise as to why O’Brien would (apparently) embellish this and what are the implications, if any, for MHS. 32

MHS children themselves have noted O’Brien’s preoccupation with football success, his eagerness to identify with the football team, and the appearance that this is in some cases to the exclusion of other student activities and achievements. One student politely took issue with it, apparently also suffering Administration bullying in response. This incident is also illustrative of today’s MHS climate. Specifically, O’Brien sent out a mass e-mail praising — as he unfailingly does — the varsity football team for its victories, ignoring other fall sports (besides mentioning them in a token and condescending manner). The following is the text of O’Brien’s e-mail, seeking to use the football team’s success as a teaching vehicle: “When we witness dramatic success on our campus, we must celebrate it and the students and staff who produced it. We also must dissect it and identify its root causes so we as an MHS family can replicate success in every form. Our varsity football team produced such a significant success this year that we have to tip our hats to the players and coaching staff. Not for the wins, or even for the great plays made, but for the root cause of their success: [Several “root causes” of football successes then listed.] We all know that MHS students must experience these essential inputs to the success formula to know how to succeed in their lives. Winning, like losing, is a habit. We need to offer all our children the opportunity to experience repeated success based upon the root causes listed above. So a heartfelt SHOUT-OUT to the MHS football family for showing us what Spartan success is made from. Thank you for always giving your best and never ever giving up. We are very proud of you. And a big salute to all the fall co-curricular teams and groups because everybody made progress this year through better preparation and sacrifice. Onward and Upward, Spartans as we move in to our Winter Season. Good luck and even better preparation.” (Emphasis added.) O’Brien’s mass e-mail, its dismissive treatment of non-football fall sports, and its focus on “teaching” only this kind of “success” led a plucky 2006 senior, who enjoys broad faculty and peer respect, to respond with a polite reminder that other student accomplishments are also worthy of meaningful mention and that there are other forms of success. In particular, the student sought to point out the accomplishments of a girls team (field hockey) and cross country, i.e., the unspecified “fall co-curricular teams” deemed by O’Brien unworthy of even being identified, and warranting mention only of their “progress” — whichever teams this “praise” may have been referring to. The following are excerpts from the boy’s e-mail responding to O’Brien and copying the same all-school distribution list, and explaining what this mere “progress” entailed: “Hello All! [...] now that we're on this ‘touchy’ subject, let’s Re-Examine our ‘Spartan’ success!! LADY SPARTAN FIELD HOCKEY- Went unnoticed YET AGAIN. All teams sacrifice- Not just football! We love the sport, we love the players, most have been my childhood friends and I’d do anything for any of them, so I’m not saying anything about them- but when you sacrifice the praise of our other brothers and sisters only to praise one sport, it’s kind of wrong.... Lady Spartans FACT: Their last game of the season, which if they would have won, would have set off a revolution in their sport because they were in the playoffs. [The boy then provides a detailed list of the individual accomplishments of the girls field hockey team players, painstakingly mentioning each girl by name and pointing out the impressive statistics compiled by them.] But then again, they don’t play football, so they are not successful in ‘our’ eyes. They should be. [...] Attached are Doc’s that have the times from our Cross Country team, who were left out to dry this year, even though they smashed records that were upheld here at MHS for a long, long time. Hands out to them for praise, its due! [...] I have had this information for some time now, and I didn’t know how to present it to the public- it’s statistics about our unnoticed sports here at MHS. I know I am fully responsible for this e-mail as well. Have a good day!”) (For the full text of both O’Brien’s e-mail and the boy’s response, see: The boy’s e-mail seems a touching gesture showing sensitivity and courage, and revealing a student who struggles to know just how to present information he has gathered and that he thinks is important to the MHS community as a whole. Most people would agree that it demonstrates precisely the kind of peer-supportive behavior one would want to see encouraged at a residential childcare charity. The Administration thought otherwise and the boy was punished for it. The boy had no illusions about how the Administration would respond, noting in his e-mail that he knew he would be held “fully responsible” for it. He was right, so insecure is the MHS Administration about anyone daring to question its 33

football-obsessed priorities. This was not quite the outcome for the little boy in the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” — but this is, after all, today’s MHS and not a Hans Christian Anderson fable. In many ways, the O’Brien image is elevated above substance and what is claimed does not square with reality. MHS is suffering for it at every level. III. Pattern of Incitement: “Why Do the Alumni Hate Us?” “Manager Experimentation on Children” “They Want to Hurt MHS!” Bullying of employees and alumni to squelch criticism of Board policies is not the only objectionable method used by the Administration to impose its wishes. Provocation and divisive tactics have also been utilized to target critics and attack opponents, shredding civility at MHS. The Managers look on at this in silent or open endorsement. The inflammatory smear of pro-reform alumni by O’Brien at Homecoming 2003, during the MHSAA annual meeting, is one notorious example. This was when O’Brien made critical and unsupported remarks about the MHSAA Reform Agreement litigation, and apparently sought to “lead” a staged walkout of the meeting. O’Brien alleged that a “group of 8th graders” had recently approached him with a copy of a news article about the MHSAA lawsuit. Trying to use this to attack the MHSAA litigation, O’Brien claimed that the children were very distraught over the matter, and thus supposedly had asked him, “Why do the alumni hate us?” (A recording of the charge, which can be best evaluated if heard, can be found at: The Board Chairperson at the time was in attendance listening to every word of this. No one has been able to corroborate this dubious story though one 8th grade teacher flatly contradicted it, insisting that O’Brien was prevaricating. O’Brien’s effort to spark a walk-out flopped. The action seems to have been carefully coordinated in advance, with a designated seating section for those who “support Johnny.” Ringleaders directed participants where to sit, in preparation for an orchestrated “spontaneous mass exit,” to be led by O’Brien. Rather than walking out, alumni meeting attendees responded by issuing an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Reform Agreement litigation. O’Brien’s reaction was to lash out at his staff, redoubling his efforts to take over the MHSAA Board (which controls the Reform Agreement litigation), including by assisting in efforts to stack the MHSAA Board with those willing to do his bidding. “Experimentation on MHS Children” The incitement described above was far from an isolated incident and MHSAA is not its only target. For instance, in May 2003, O’Brien was trying to whip MHSAA and others into an anti-Manager frenzy, this time in an effort to enlist support for his bid for a Board seat. This goal was in addition to the MHS Presidency that O’Brien had already told several people he had locked, i.e., well before the dubious “search process” was concluded. It appears that O’Brien had been informed he would not be getting a Manager position, and that he wanted the latter too. To justify a “campaign” waged on his behalf with the goal of forcing the Board to name him as a Manager, O’Brien told various key people that the Managers’ conduct was so egregious that those who cared about MHS needed him on the Board, so that he could in essence keep the Managers under control and protect MHS children. To support this charge, O’Brien pointed to the fact that the Managers had just instituted a “random selection process” for enrollment, wherein children essentially had their names picked from a hat for enrollment, i.e., in a kind of “lottery.” O’Brien characterized this in a way that made the Managers appear diabolical, alleging that it was intended to generate statistics “for research purposes,” as a kind of “experimentation on children” (his exact words). O’Brien asserted that it was one of several Manager decisions that were, again in his words, “almost immoral.” He did not give any indication that the decision was sound or intended in any way to help needier children, e.g., with the enrollment process. The comments were conveyed to former MHSAA President John Rice and myself (as the Past President), during a conference call that O’Brien had requested of us on May 8, 2003. The call was arranged by O’Brien specifically to seek 34

MHSAA support for his Board seat bid. (We were not the only ones approached by O’Brien with this allegation of Manager “experimentation,” so others can confirm it too.) Right after Rice and I got off the phone with him, O’Brien lieutenant Pete Gurt called to reinforce the allegation, fanning the flames and making additional provocative comments about the Board. It was plain that MHSAA was expected to react to this goading by, indeed, “storming” the Board with “demands” that O’Brien be named a Manager. It did not work out that way because MHSAA leaders sensed a manipulative attempt to use the Association to advance O’Brien’s personal agenda. A Manager was thus called in advance of any action, in order to obtain an explanation about the “lottery” issue (though disclosure of O’Brien or Gurt’s role in sparking the inquiry was avoided). It turned out that the O’Brien slant on the story (endorsed by Gurt) was complete nonsense. According to the Manager contacted, the Managers had made a sensible decision to override the O’Brien Administration’s cherry-picking of higher-achieving applicants. The Managers had simply instructed that once children were deemed to have met the enrollment need criteria, they were to be selected for enrollment without reference to their grades; i.e., an A student would not be selected over a C student, consciously or subconsciously. To do this, the names were picked at random from an applicant pool of equally needy children. This was required solely to compel the Administration to choose applicants evenly, once the children met the need criteria — instead of favoring applicants with better grades, as had been happening. An additional benefit, as was explained by the Manager, was the ability to tell a guardian or sponsor that a child not accepted for enrollment was not chosen only because of the random selection process, rather than on the basis of any perceived applicant deficiency. This added a more humane element to a then existing policy that had led candidates to believe they were rejected because they were in some way “failures.” There was nothing “immoral” about the policy and there was no hint of “experimentation.” If anything, it was a well-intentioned move. This “random selection” was in any event necessary only because the O’Brien Administration’s academic enrollment patterns were virtually identical to those under Lepley. A researcher hired by the Managers (Chapin Hall, from Chicago) had demonstrated this, using a statistical study. The Chapin Hall study thus showed also that O’Brien had been wrong when he insisted that cherry-picking had not been occurring. The charge of “experimentation” was thus utterly baseless. O’Brien appears to have used the word merely because he knew it would be an emotional “hot button” for alumni; i.e., he was seeking to exploit the same visceral reaction towards the Managers in that instance that he would later seek to exploit with alumni towards MHSAA leaders, when he presented his dubious “Why-do-the-alumni-hate-us?” story. “They Want to Hurt MHS!” There have been other targets of similarly egregious O’Brien incitement. For instance, when the “Defend the Deed” group (a collection of alumni pressing for restoration of MHS childcare reforms) e-mailed MHS employees with literature critiquing MHS problems, O’Brien did not try to refute what these caring alumni asserted. Nor did O’Brien seek dialogue with them or simply ignore them. Instead, O’Brien responded with the incendiary charges that these alumni “wanted to hurt MHS,” “besmirched the reputation of the student body,” “hacked the school’s intranet,” and “disparaged students” — adding a threat to sue them. These charges too were 180 degrees opposite of the truth. Once again, O’Brien was trying to incite people against his critics by invoking passions about MHS children, in a manipulative manner. (Local media printed the charges without verification, giving a sense of the broader damage done by this public and unseemly smearing.) To smearing is added bullying and intolerance for any dissenting views. For instance, in 2004, four distinguished alumni recipients of the Alumnus of the Year Award wrote to O’Brien objecting to: (1) disruption by the Administration of an MHSAA fundraiser (after Administration threats of financial repercussions to MHS vendors had forced donors to withdraw funding pledges); and (2) rescission by the Administration of invitations to MHSAA leaders to attend the 2004 Alumnus of the Year Recognition Banquet. In response, O’Brien rebuked the group, falsely accused them of not writing their own 35

letter, and demanded that they apologize to him, the Managers, and the school. The four were flabbergasted. (The four are: George Cave ’47 (decorated former Central Intelligence Agency operative), Adrian Taylor ’47 (renowned graphic artist and designer), Jim Finnegan ’48 (distinguished retired newspaper editorial writer) and the late Jim Mancuso ’45 (remarkable scholar in psychology and Italian studies devotee).) Systemic Problems Harm MHS Children, Employees, & Alumni These incidents demonstrate a clear systemic problem at MHS. They are typical of an MHS Administration that seeks to quash dissent, silence critics, and thwart all childcare reform efforts. This is not a matter of rogues acting independently, but instead reflects the deliberate tactics of those at the top. It has generated a deplorable MHS climate and it has no place whatsoever at a childcare charity. In the case of alumni, the provocations are particularly troubling since they are intended to incite individuals who, due to intense attachment to MHS and its children, are especially vulnerable to this type of manipulation. The allegations that O’Brien levels at his “enemies” are for MHS alumni like waving a red flag at a bull, triggering at times dangerous emotional responses. MHS alumni do not necessarily pore over legal and childcare treatises to try to comprehend the complexities of corporate governance issues or charitable trust standing law. Nor do alumni dwell on how these mostly unfamiliar abstractions affect the quality of MHS childcare. But let someone with a slick presentation style identify Mr. So-and-So as having engaged in “experimentation on children,” or as having caused 8th graders to ask “Why do the alumni hate us?,” or as “wanting to hurt MHS,” and Mr. So-and-So had better watch out — because alumni reaction is usually visceral and immediate. O’Brien has mastered the wile of exploiting this, including with the aid of a core of financially interested alumni recruited to assist in the process. It has contributed to MHSAA leaders receiving overt physical threats. It is also why, today, alumni discussion of childcare reform issues is at times marred by a kind of mob mentality, impeding civil discussion of what are clear-cut and ultimately dry matters. The most rabid of O’Brien’s supporters — goaded by provocation — then persist in an endless stream of attacks and name-calling that cannot be answered, so irrational is it. By casting the pro-reform alumni group as “wanting to hurt MHS,” “besmirching MHS children,” “ego-driven,” or in otherwise pejorative or inflammatory terms — including in a string of official MHS letters — those attacking MHSAA feel license to be particularly ugly, and to believe that their hurtful attacks are actually helping MHS. Often, pure emotionalism fuels this, with terrible consequences. (See, e.g., “Breaks Your Heart,” February 11, 2004 e-mail from an alumnus to the MHSAA Board of Directors (“Dear Members of the MHSAA Board, [Yesterday ], I learned that [an MHS] student approached President O'Brien and asked, ‘Why do the alumni hate us?’ Wow. What a powerful question. I cannot answer that question. [...] I ask, do we have to inflict pain on these children before it gets better? I ask of you to at least communicate in such a way that the children do not think we hate them and then follow up quickly with some actions to demonstrate our love. Can we have a moratorium on attacking President O'Brien? Can we be supportive of the school? Can we work together with the school? I think we need to show some compassion and understanding and love. [...] Have a happy day. It is not a good day for me.”).) (The full text of the e-mail is available at: This was one of hundreds of badgering e-mails and Internet attacks launched by this alumnus, inflamed in part by the fanciful O’Brien story. This demagoguery is not the way that credible leadership conducts itself. Yet, the Managers permit it. When specific acts of abuse are brought to the Managers’ attention, they endorse it. For instance, MHSAA sought assistance from the Board when the Administration had used threats of financial penalties to intimidate MHS vendors into reneging on donation pledges for an MHSAA charitable fundraiser (used to help MHS children) after vindictively canceling MHSAA leadership invitations to attend an Alumnus of the Year Recognition Banquet. (See: and The Board responded with an imperious letter signed by each Manager that fully endorsed this arguably unlawful conduct (intentional tortious interference with contracts), going so far as to blame MHSAA for what had happened. (See: MHSAA received a similar Board response in 2005, when the Association appealed to the Managers to reverse an O’Brien decision trying to evict MHSAA from MHS property (in part to punish MHSAA for succeeding in the “standing” 36

appeal). The eviction would have ended a 75-year practice dating to Mr. Hershey’s era of allowing the Alumni Association that Mr. Hershey himself established to always have a home on MHS property. The eviction was halted only when MHSAA — after seven weeks of pleading in vain — finally filed an action seeking court protection. Manager responses to these and other O’Brien abuses of authority illustrate their total lack of concern and how much they will permit to be inflicted on groups powerless to fight back — such as alumni, employees, and even MHS vendors (the latter of whom now contribute only to alumni groups that the Administration has “approved,” e.g., the Homestead Chapter, so tyrannical is the current regime). The Managers have rejected every polite request for a restoration of civility on the part of the MHS Administration, showing no compunction about relying on O’Brien to strong-arm others. On the contrary, the Managers give every indication that they are only too happy to allow all this. This is unacceptable Manager oversight conduct, regardless of Board policy goals. The ends do not justify the means. With this type of behavior being fully condoned by the Managers, it is no surprise that morale is lower than ever at MHS, as the Patriot-News itself reported last summer. (See, Patriot-News, July 25, 2005, “Hershey school morale low, houseparents say — Hershey school houseparents tell of turmoil.” (“It’s like a war zone here, and it’s flowed over into the children,” houseparent Noreen Armish said. “It’s having a snowball effect that’s really driving down the whole community.” (Emphasis added.) This led O’Brien to counter that this was impossible: “When I arrived, houseparent and employee morale were at rock bottom, so I don’t know how it can go lower than that,” he said.)) Employees and alumni do know: a pattern of divisive and abusive Administration conduct fully condoned by the Board. O’Brien’s behavior actually grew worse after the above news report appeared, with him thereafter targeting former Houseparent Union President Ross and MHSAA President Waters. O’Brien apparently believes that if he can simply remove all credible leaders of organizations with which he interacts, and replace them with “leaders” more to his liking, the respective organizations will do whatever he wants. He thus targets seriatim — with Manager approval — any leader who “gets in his way.” In the case of MHSAA, O’Brien has now waged a sustained all-out attack against the past three MHSAA Presidents — each of whom has otherwise earned only respect in their various professions and among the alumni who elected them — with O’Brien now also targeting the person elected to be the fourth such President (a respected middle school principal and decorated combat veteran wounded in battle). Unhappy with the views of these four elected alumni leaders as concerns MHS childcare reforms, O’Brien has made it clear that he will continue to embargo MHSAA — and have his supporters attack the Association leadership — until alumni “elect” an MHSAA President who will give O’Brien what he wants.14 It is thus no surprise that alumni too — like MHS employees — have been turned against each other in a manner previously unthinkable for a group that has otherwise shown remarkable solidarity over the years, even where disagreements may have existed. When $7 billion of childcare resources are misused to further an incitement campaign and a supervisory board greenlights it — when employee toadying is encouraged through favoritism in assignments and other incentives — when alumni antireform agitators are rewarded with jobs or contracts for themselves or their immediate relatives — when MHS Administrators and Managers openly participate in divisive conduct — when all of this, and more, takes place, it is

Current MHSAA President Jerry Waters met with O’Brien in late January 2005, after O’Brien had declared the two MHSAA Presidents before Waters to be persona non grata. Waters made every effort during the meeting to seek conciliation, short of giving O’Brien full control of MHSAA. Immediately after the meeting, O’Brien angrily declared, “Waters doesn’t get it!” Four days later, Waters, Past President John Rice, and MHSAA were sued by a group of alumni doing O’Brien’s bidding, some with glaring personal interests. (Of the fourteen plaintiffs, eight receive some benefit from MHS either as current employees, vendors, or retirees, while twelve are members of the local MHSAA Chapter that has free use of a lavish “clubhouse” that the Administration provides. Three of the plaintiffs appeared flatly misled — two in their 90’s and one gravely sick with a terminal illness (of which he has since passed away).) This ill-considered lawsuit has dragged on for 19 months, paralyzing MHSAA, though based on flimsy grounds. The plaintiffs in the case eventually reached a settlement with MHSAA, Waters, and Rice that would have ended the dispute once and for all and calmed all alumni turmoil — but this too was suddenly torpedoed, apparently at the behest of the plaintiffs with the closest ties to MHS. One Manager is said to have described all this as “fratricide” though the Managers do nothing to stop it and could easily, if they chose, rein in the Administration conduct provoking it.


completely predictable that a morale spiral among employees and alumni alike will occur, and that civil discourse will break down, to the detriment of the MHS childcare mission. It is time that those concerned with MHS recognize the pattern of uncivil, divisive, and abusive behavior being pursued by the MHS Administration and collectively stand up to it — while also letting the Managers know that they are ultimately responsible for the deplorable climate at MHS today, and that these Managers should put an immediate end to the conduct causing it. Managers claiming to be above governance reforms should be able to do far better than what the current MHS climate demonstrates. IV. Enrollment, Politics, & Child-Crowding: How NOT to Run a Childcare Charity! It is frequently noted that during the Administration of previous MHS President Lepley, MHS began selecting away from the neediest children — as though Lepley had set out single-handedly to end the Hersheys’ childcare mission. Ignored is that Lepley was merely implementing Board policy and that the enrollment changes under him were a predictable consequence of the massive infrastructure and program shifts that the Managers specifically hired Lepley to pursue. The Managers had even emphasized that among the reasons they hired Lepley was his willingness to ram through their policy goals. The ultimate objective of these shifts — notwithstanding Manager packaging — was an effort to squeeze down the school and free land for the commercial purposes that have been the Board’s primary focus. “Centralization” was thus a blatant childcare land grab, nothing more. It set the school’s infrastructure against its Deed of Trust goals, because the new arrangements made it difficult properly to serve children requiring substantially year-round residential care. The Board thus crammed down the school from its magnificent, community-integrated, and child-friendly 9,000-acre model into a 2,000-acre “Centralized Compound.” This landed the first major blow to the “anti-orphanage” residential childcare model created by the Hersheys — by seeking to end the model’s communityintegrated/“mainstreaming” component. This promoted a “prep school” vision of the school, i.e., a facility designed for children who would spend 1/3 of the year away from MHS, and who thus did not need substantially year-round care and would not become a part of the community. The Managers went so far as to try to end all vocational education too, emphasizing their preoccupation with serving what they deemed “a better caliber” of child. This must be understood because the “prep school” seasonal infrastructure remains in place today, notwithstanding current efforts to enroll year-round-care children. In other words, the attempted shift to “prep school” children appears to be abating due to MHSAA pressure. But this leaves children who are unsuited to the “boarding school” model still forced to make do with the infrastructure of a “seasonal” facility, though now on a year-round basis. Instead of turning back the illconsidered centralization changes, minimizing their harmful effects, and seeking reintegration into the community wherever possible, the Managers are compounding centralization with “ultra-congregation” for over half of the school’s children, who will be placed into dormitory and block housing quarters. In other words, the childcare land-taking is still in full swing — only now pursued by a Board showing no restraint whatsoever and willing to pursue previously unthinkable child-crowding, worse even than anything witnessed under Lepley. Observed from a distance and uncritically, some of the centralization changes give the impression of creating nicer facilities. In reality, they isolated children, congregated them, and took away essential open and play spaces that MHS children must have for healthy development. This includes an ability just to be away from other children in the school at some points during any given day — like normal children in any other community in America. To achieve the “centralization,” ball fields adjacent to student homes disappeared and in their places new student homes were packed in. Soccer fields too disappeared to make room for more student homes. Spacious old student homes were torn down — and in their places four new homes were crowded together. Homes that once stood in all corners of the town, each with its own attractions — a sandwich shop here, an open field there, some neighbors from the community in another — were all relocated to one small area, with absolutely no variety at all. A student home next to the Hershey Rose Gardens — with a sublime and enviable walk to school every day through dozens of varieties of roses — left the student home inventory. Another magnificent home with abundant play space was converted to a local real estate brokerage company. Many other student homes in various locales were converted to commercial use, sold, leased, demolished, or turned into HERCO seasonal worker dormitories. All of this was funded lavishly with childcare dollars, paying no mind at all to the consequences for needy children. 38

The Board ran amok as spending went out of control. The Managers lost all perspective on what was best for MHS children or what Mr. & Mrs. Hershey had mandated about using all MHS land and cash strictly for these children. The rationalization game was played then too and this was sold as being in the best interests of children, notwithstanding all contrary logic. The initial plans were to reduce MHS to a centralized “campus” of just 551 acres, but this grew larger as Managers relented to alumni pressure. Budget overruns were shocking. Initially, the total cost was to be $100,000,000 but eventually it exceeded $350,000,000 in what is likely the single biggest act of childcare resource waste in history. In the end, the infrastructure overhaul produced vastly inferior and less child-friendly facilities, failing even to try to add capacity for more children. Instead, the plan sought to shrink MHS population well below the historic 1,600 children maximum — though creating a construction bonanza with dizzying tertiary benefits for local businesses. Some of the construction decisions were plainly irrational, e.g., demolition of an excellent primary school simply to move the building a half-mile — to where it would become a part of the “Centralized Compound.” There, it would place the youngest and most vulnerable children right next to high school and middle school children, violating the childcare axiom that it is necessary to maintain age separation for large numbers of at-risk youth. Another example was the construction of a replacement middle school one hundred yards away from the existing one, Catherine Hall — though Catherine Hall was a fully-functioning architectural masterpiece that any school district in the country would have treasured. The Managers demonstrated an almost willful desire to violate every canon of residential childcare best practices while shredding all notions of fiscal responsibility. The only “logic” informing the $350,000,000 construction binge were the twin principles of spending as much money as possible while cramming MHS children into as tightly-quartered a locale as possible. Eventually, a grand jury was convened to examine some of the runaway spending.15 Tragically, no one bothered to examine the underlying decision to centralize in the first place — a conspiracy of silence surrounding this. Why? Because the centralization was tacitly endorsed by local officials who themselves favor the plan’s economic benefits and the accompanying increased tax base from land no longer used for tax-exempt purposes. This is among the reasons that the OAG’s MHS investigation took pains not to expose the total irrationality of this massive spending — the OAG looking the other way was part of the problem.16

The grand jury “investigation” was said to have been convened after someone within MHS raised issues about financial improprieties that had taken place. It was convened under the auspices of Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico, Jr., by an Assistant District Attorney in his office, and with Marsico’s reelection campaign having been launched a few months earlier in the year. The latter was at a January 23, 2003 press conference — where Marsico was flanked on one side by MHS Manager and former Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman and on the other side by then Attorney General D. Michael Fisher. Marsico was therefore relying on the election support of a former Attorney General who was now on the Board of the entity being “investigated.”

The grand jury “results” sounded an optimistic note that “all is well,” including a “fact finding” that: “Since assuming the presidency, John A. O’Brien has instituted a number of reforms at [MHS]” and “none of the improprieties that came to light during the instant grand jury investigation occurred during the tenure of Mr. O’Brien.” Unmentioned were the Managers during whose “tenure” these “improprieties” did occur, some of whom were still on the Board. Despite numerous allegations of wrong-doing and over $350,000,000 in mind-numbing spending, the grand total wrongdoing “discovered” was one gardener working on company time for an MHS Administrator — the latter of whom was fired amidst much fanfare, in what appeared to be an effort to give an impression of “stern repercussions.” The grand jury investigation was another illustration of oversight deficiencies surrounding an MHS Trust that controls a broad slice of the local economic and job base: one public official (District Attorney Marsico) was half-heartedly looking at matters also under the jurisdiction of another public official (Attorney General Fisher), who himself had been timid about looking too closely at these matters — and which matters were then in the responsibility of a third former public official (former Attorney General and then MHS Manager Zimmerman). All three were appearing publicly together that year, in united pursuit of the election goals of their common political party. This is hardly a demonstration of government officials assuring proper checks and balances. This series of wasteful decisions is among the reasons MHSAA was dubious of Manager sudden desire to sell the Hershey Company in 2002, with one Manager actually claiming that “high needs” of MHS children required more money for their care — at a time when MHS per-child spending was already $96,000 annually. But the OAG could not make arguments like this in its proceeding to


The total sum spent on the centralization construction orgy is as large as the entire endowment of the second largest residential childcare charity in the world, i.e., the K-12 Girard College, which has $350,000,000 in total assets and serves 721 children. MHS children formerly residing throughout Derry Township were by this process all relocated to one compound. Each of the associated acts meant that a constricted ring was thrown around MHS children, closing tighter and tighter. Each of these acts meant less variety for children, removal from the community, and closing of student homes near ponds, woods, creeks, or open fields. Each of these acts meant more children per acre and all children together in one congregated ocean of similarly situated children, as though on some reservation. In other words, what the Hersheys themselves had solemnly and deliberately bequeathed — and that had once made MHS children alone envied among children raised in residential care — was taken away. In its place was created a facility that is stultifying in comparison — intentionally divorced from Derry Township, unnatural, and ultimately sterile. This renders MHS children no longer at home in the area but, instead, outsiders brought in to live only within their compound. There, they remain “buffered” from the community, interacting only with each other, e.g., during congregated “recreational hours,” where the entire mass of children gathers in one location. This also substitutes for the individualized free time, play, growth, and development in student homes spread throughout Derry Township that was the whole point behind the Hersheys’ community-integrated “anti-orphanage” model — and that had allowed MHS children to avoid all “mass” living. The infrastructure changes that the Managers made thus did not benefit MHS children at all and made it only harder to serve children requiring year-round care — thus contributing to Lepley’s enrollment policy drifts.17

stop the sale, having already endorsed the spending. Hence, the OAG introduced its legally unfounded and totally improper “communityas-beneficiary” theories, which ultimately caused so much harm to the MHS childcare mission. First prize for absurdity in the chain of construction decisions might be awarded to the now ongoing $117,000,000 “renovation” of Senior Hall, the peerless high school built to Mr. Hershey’s exacting specifications and that had symbolized the quality and timelessness of Mr. Hershey’s educational and architectural vision. Senior Hall’s centerpiece consisted of the vocational education wings that produced generations of self-reliant and proud MHS alumni, prepared to join the workforce immediately upon graduation. This fulfilled Mr. & Mrs. Hershey’s wishes that “those who had none” would eventually be empowered to set out on their own, even if not going to college. To be sure, the Hersheys neither frowned upon college preparatory studies nor sought to impose trade school education on all children. But the Hersheys were unabashedly intent on also befriending children who were not going to college under any circumstances, and thus insisted in their Deed of Trust that these children too be provided with the vocational education necessary to lift themselves from poverty. Those working with at-risk children or observing the many high school children clamoring for vocational education throughout America today have no difficulty appreciating the wisdom of the Hersheys’ vision. Senior Hall was the flagship constructed by Mr. Hershey to carry out this goal.

Experienced and respected contractors have advised that a genuine renovation of Senior Hall of the highest quality should have cost no more than $20,000,000. This is as distinguished from what is actually happening, which is a demolition-and-rebuild job misleadingly labeled a “renovation” (see above for 80-child “cottages,” “retention rate,” and other examples of similar Manager “Newspeak”). The latter ruse is necessary to try to sell this ill-considered sacking to outraged alumni and others in the community who recognize the significance of Senior Hall as a symbol of what Mr. & Mrs. Hershey valued. The massive savings from having pursued a genuine renovation could have been used to dot the countryside with additional student homes, serving more needy children in natural and homelike settings — thereby also preserving this historic and elegant building together with its vocational education wings. Instead, additional childcare money above the $117,000,000 in “renovation costs” will now also be wasted to construct the 30-child “block” housing satellites near the replacement replica. The total cost of this latest construction orgy is over $300,000,000 and thus demonstrates a repeat of the kind of fiscal/childcare imprudence witnessed in the “centralization” fiasco. Creation of the companion block-housing satellites will complete the worst congregation ever witnessed at MHS, hammering the final nail into the coffin of the Hersheys’ family-style “anti-orphanage” model. Current MHS President O’Brien, when asked by alumni about children needing an actual trade education, responded that these children can attend vocational education high schools in the area if they so choose; i.e., the same answer provided by his immediate predecessor, MHS President Lepley. With this demolition of what had been a first-rate high school and creation in its place of a replica to serve as a middle school, the Managers will have ultimately spent more than $200,000,000 over a 15-year period in essence to do no more than trade locations between the excellent existing high school (Senior Hall) and the equally excellent existing middle school (Catherine Hall) — as though the goal from the outset had actually been just to spread a huge fortune around among local construction companies, by swapping the locations of the two buildings. The entire set of decisions is inconceivable but for Manager non-child agendas and total lack of accountability.


The “centralization” changes were decided by a Board motivated by non-child interests — including HERCO, the Hershey Medical Center (that is today growing in a manner that also appears rooted in this set of decisions), and local developers. The CEOs of HERCO, the Hershey Company, and the Hershey Medical Center were all on the Board during the time of these decisions. The one Manager on the Board then who actually had MHS residential childcare administrative experience resigned from the Board in weak protest, recognizing the futility of trying to resist the Board’s control group. The OAG, naturally, was of no aid to this Manager and did nothing about examining a decision that aided local commerce. Not one Manager endorsing the series of related decisions could lay claim to any genuine grasp of the all-important residential childcare concepts implicated by the moves, though the Board was constructed to assure implementation of the plan. The latter included what has been a persistent practice of trying to mollify Board doubters with financial incentives; e.g., one Manager brought on later for his combination of profile and malleability (former NFL star Joe Senser) expressed qualms about certain decisions. He was quickly offered a lucrative HERCO board seat, being told by the then Board Chairperson, “The pay’s good!” To his credit, Senser declined the offer though he has otherwise proven a disappointment, despite good intentions.18 One should thus not overlook the Board’s role in the debacle under Lepley generally — an individual who, whatever responsibility he may have borne for the MHS problems at the time, was certainly never solely responsible nor acting alone. Equal blame rests with the Managers, including current ones once fully supportive of Lepley and all his policies — or former Managers who hired Lepley and thereafter did nothing to stop the failures during his Administration. But treating Lepley as the sole cause of the enrollment/infrastructure problems is necessary to support the myth that MHS problems over five decades can be traced to this or that individual, rather than to how the Board conducts itself and is comprised.19

Put another way, this construction fiasco is now approaching $1 billion in total spending over a 15-year period, the conclusion of which is to take away play space and natural surroundings, demolish and rebuild already magnificent and operational buildings, crowd children together (including across broad age ranges), swap the locations of buildings, congregate children into “block” housing, minimize the number of “family-style” student homes, segregate MHS children from the community, and otherwise cram MHS children into the smallest conceivable quarters. No group of competent residential childcare professionals or anyone who was fiscally responsible or accountable would have even considered using nearly $1 billion this way. Senser’s fellow alumnus Manager, Robert F. Cavanaugh (an investment banker), has been equally disappointing though he too is said to be well-intentioned. That these two alumni Managers — and other non-alumni like them on the Board now or who resigned in protest in the past — may be well-intentioned only underscores the nature of MHS problems. This is because even well-intentioned Managers are powerless to mount any effective resistance to poor decisions under the Board’s current structure. It simply does not matter if some Managers have residential childcare best practices in mind, because commercial interests will trump childcare under the current governance model. This is exacerbated by a local control group now holding the Board Chair and key committee positions — and that enjoys full support from the local officials who installed them. Indeed, local officials have steered the entire questionable course of events described here, pushing this charitable trust in a direction nowhere identified in the Deed of Trust. The third alumni Manager, Dr. Anthony Colistra, has long been viewed by many as part of the MHS Trust’s core problems — he is one of the Directors who has profited from serving on the HERCO Board, earning over a hundred thousand dollars from his HERCO (entertainment & resort company) role notwithstanding his actual professional status as a (now retired) Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent. The Reform Agreement would have ended the ability to provide Managers with highly lucrative incentives to favor HERCO above childcare, including HERCO director positions offered with the blatant enticement that “The pay’s good!” No doubt it is good — that is the problem.

A group of former Managers actually did see fit eventually to call for Lepley’s removal — after Lepley made the mistake of goring their ox by joining the Managers seeking to diversify the school’s multibillion dollar stock portfolio, highly-concentrated in the Hershey Company. In other words, after doing virtually nothing while scores of children were hurt and massive resource waste occurred, this group eventually lashed out at Lepley strictly over the potential loss of local jobs. One former Manager constituted an important exception and consistently struggled to preserve the Hersheys’ residential childcare goals, long before the proposed sale of the Hershey Company made criticizing Lepley fashionable. This was the late William E. Dearden ’40, who stood alone among former Managers in this, at times shunned for his courageous and principled positions. His conduct was exemplary. One former Manager served as a witness in the OAG legal proceeding to stop the proposed sale. That proceeding was stunning in that not one OAG witness nor the OAG itself at any time even mentioned the words “MHS children” so far as rights to be protected were concerned. Quite the contrary, as though by the wave of some OAG magic wand, the MHS Trust overnight lost its child beneficiaries. Instead, public officials substituted “local community” and “general public,” in a manner never before witnessed for any American charity. There was no legal


The OAG was only too happy to look the other way during the 1990’s while “centralization” occurred. This is because the OAG consistently permits childcare land to be diverted to “general public” or development use. The OAG in fact went to court jointly with the Board in 1970 to obtain Deed of Trust modifications permitting the sale of MHS land, in the first questionable act of this progression. The centralization — if completed — would in essence free about 7,000 acres of childcare land for other purposes, i.e., promoting local commerce. This makes it easy for the OAG simply to decline to concern itself with the extraordinary childcare resource waste involved or what the infrastructure results mean for the quality of life of needy children raised at MHS. These children don’t vote and their guardians don’t contribute to political campaigns. Nor does the growth of MHS have nearly the tertiary economic benefits as does expanding the Hershey Medical Center or the local entertainment & resort industry. So instead of fulfilling its actual duty to protect needy children on behalf of the general public — carefully scrutinizing actions that make no childcare sense whatsoever — the OAG misconstrues its duty in certain instances as one of protecting the general public from the “encroachments” of needy children. The OAG thus ends up endorsing by its non-action a set of highly questionable decisions made by a conflicted Board serving non-childcare agendas. Disparity in political clout is the only explanation for OAG confusion of its duties and why it turns a blind eye to centralization, congregation, related asset waste, and worse — acting to remove Managers only when they put local jobs at risk. To cite but one telling example, on March 5, 2002, MHSAA leaders were meeting with OAG attorneys and Managers, to commence a historic three-way dialogue. This OAG-MHSAA-Manager dialogue was intended to help guide what would eventually be memorialized in the July 2002 Reform Agreement, with inestimable importance to the future of MHS children. This three-way dialogue would, of course, include discussion of child-crowding policies that favor commercial interests, a key item of dispute due to the crowding of MHS children and Board conflicts of interest that caused this. On the very day of the start of these meetings, then Attorney General D. Michael Fisher was at Hotel Hershey (owned by HERCO), raising campaign contributions at a HERCO PAC fundraiser in anticipation of his upcoming fall gubernatorial election bid. Both events — the three-way childcare reform dialogue and the Fisher HERCO fundraiser — kicked off at literally the very same moment (12 noon), in a stunning illustration of how lightly these matters have been treated by local officials. Elevation of economic development related to companies like HERCO has been at the very core of the MHS Trust’s problems; and it was at the center of the ongoing OAG investigation — with this company and other community projects having siphoned off childcare resources for decades. These non-child interests have driven many fantastically illconsidered decisions, such as the $350,000,000 “centralization.” Yet, the Attorney General himself did not hesitate to raise campaign contributions under HERCO sponsorship at the very moment that his subordinates were trying to complete an MHS overhaul that directly implicated HERCO and that sought to resolve thorny, HERCO-related problems. The irony is obvious. Time and again, the glaring political influence of local business interests has adulterated the quality of OAG enforcement actions, including in 2002 when the OAG could certainly have done more for needy children (and might have but for the gubernatorial election preoccupying Fisher). In the incident described here, it was related to HERCO — with its 4,000 local jobs, vast cash flow, huge local multiplier (the product of growing an entire resort industry around a HERCO core), and massive contributions to the local tax base. In all cases, needy children unable to defend themselves get short shrift from public officials charged with their protection.

basis whatsoever for OAG arguments on the proposed sale. These arguments were fraught with long-term risks for the rights of needy children, contravening their sole beneficiary status and opening a veritable Pandora’s Box of continued taking. A leading charitable trust scholar describing the Hershey Company injunction proceeding — a proceeding that was ultimately converted into wholesale childcare reform rescission — put it best later when she wrote: “The Hershey case shows each of the three branches of Pennsylvania government acting illegitimately. The attorney general practically treated the Hershey assets as his campaign funds. The Orphans’ Court’s long experience with the Hershey Trust only served to continue a history of usurping the board’s discretion—and this time it was even less justifiable... The Hershey case illustrates that the value of narrowly-confined [i.e., residential childcare] assets does not disappear—it just gets appropriated by those with power at their disposal.” (See, Evelyn Brody, “Whose Public? Parochialism and Paternalism in State Charity Law Enforcement,” 79 Indiana Law Journal 937, 998-999 (2004).)


When a well-intentioned group like MHSAA actually does try to defend these children’s rights, local officialdom closes ranks and MHSAA is set upon with unimagined ferocity, for “daring” to speak out. Nothing raises eyebrows anymore — not even the State’s highest judicial officer passing the campaign hat at a gathering sponsored by executives from a company that his office was investigating, at a key moment in the investigation. The sole group to take exception are outraged MHS alumni fighting to protect the Hersheys’ childcare mission — albeit at times showing all the naïveté of Mr. Smith during his Frank Capra Senate filibuster, and joined only by one Lone Rangerlike Pennsylvania pro bono law firm, the improbable Dilworth Paxson. More people should be outraged at what is a glaring dilution of OAG protection of our nation’s most vulnerable children. It should not be up to MHSAA and volunteer lawyers to straighten out the MHS childcare mess — public officials should do their jobs and render MHSAA efforts unnecessary.20 V. Shifting Positions When Convenient: Flip-Flop-Flip-Flop-Flip-Flop... O’Brien’s radically shifting positions on Board governance reforms bears emphasis given the misleading effort to characterize the current dispute between him and MHSAA pro-reform leaders as somehow being “personal,” when it is in fact related strictly to MHS childcare reforms. The Board’s effort to rescind MHS childcare reforms and undermine the only credible reform enforcer (MHSAA) required that alumni be quieted, since they were the only ones who would pursue reforms at all. But this could be achieved only if alumni were convinced that “the right people” made enforceable reforms irrelevant; i.e., because MHS would supposedly enter childcare nirvana on land, asset, and program issues once the “new” Board and a “Homeboy President” were in place, what further need for legally enforceable measures? What better person to help promote this than an individual who had sold himself to alumni and employees as in fact being supportive of MHS childcare reforms (however dubious his “commitment” later proved)? He also understood how to motivate a cadre of alumni to aid in this, using MHS jobs, honors, or contracts as bounty, together with a “you are either with us or against us” mentality. This has permitted O’Brien to enlist key alumni anti-reform ringleaders, all backed by vast MHS resources. With O’Brien at its apex, this combination of factors has effectively muddied otherwise crystal clear childcare and governance issues. The result is that while virtually everything that MHSAA has fought for has either been lost or jeopardized, alumni struggle to understand these losses. These include ending Manager outside agendas, ending asset misuse, ending the favoring of entertainment & resort interests, ending congregation of MHS children, preserving Senior Hall, restoring a full vocational education program, preserving the Hersheys’ family-like student home model, and promoting the best personnel and childcare policies. In key areas, MHS is actually going back in childcare time, such as with the introduction of ultra-congregated housing. Yet, alumni are only slowly grasping this due to a massive MHS media campaign that masterfully conceals what is happening — in particular, the move towards congregation. Meanwhile, MHSAA can barely afford to send out any mailings let alone dispel the myths created, so thinly-stretched is it from fighting off successive waves of MHS attacks — with devastating personal tolls on MHSAA’s volunteer leadership. Whatever one may say about Manager childcare decisions, their choice of O’Brien to spearhead the attack on alumni reform activists demonstrated considerable shrewdness. But O’Brien was only positioned to aid the Managers because he had convinced MHSAA leaders that he supported the kind of systemic cures to MHS problems that could come only from Board governance overhaul. A mere sampling of
Fisher was defeated in the gubernatorial election in November 2002 by current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. The proposed sale of the Hershey Company (announced by the media on July 25th, i.e., six days before the Reform Agreement was executed) subjected the OAG to local criticism, when it was alleged that the OAG had encouraged the proposed sale. The implication was that Fisher’s pursuit of childcare reforms was somehow to “blame.” Stung by all this, Fisher oversaw the rescission of the Reform Agreement and reinstated a Board structure that solidifies ties to the local economy at the expense of residential childcare. Fisher appeared disheartened by the events of 2002 and seemed to have regretted well-intentioned MHS childcare actions by the OAG that apparently brought political consequences. He allowed virtually all child protections to be erased before leaving office.


O’Brien’s past statements on these governance reforms illustrates how he managed to be so convincing, winning the confidence of alumni and employees alike — when all along he was obviously interested in only the MHS presidency. The following are some of O’Brien’s representations on MHS Board reforms before he secured the MHS Presidency from the Board: “[Our School’s] divergence from the Deed of Trust in terms of children served, lands preserved, and the nature of the MHS experience threatens the basic intent and soul of the School...the current governance structure is a [principal] cause of this breakdown...” (John O’Brien, MHSAA News 2001) “THERE ARE SERIOUS CONFLICTS OF INTEREST ON THE PART OF VETERAN, POWERFUL BOARD MEMBERS. For example: The most senior Board member has received millions of dollars from questionable MHS construction projects initiated by the Board. About 1/3 of the [Board] works for Hershey Trust entities and thus have career, social, and political conflicts which preclude independence and objectivity. Most [Managers] serve on the other four boards; Hershey Trust, Hershey Foods, M.S. Hershey Foundation, and HERCO (Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Corporation) increasing exponentially the likelihood of leverage, quid pro quo, and other forms of political compromise.” (All-caps in the original.) (From a May 31, 2001 press release drafted by O’Brien.) (The entirety of the text can be found at: “It is such a tragedy for Milton Hershey’s children that ten years of conflict and investment in essential reform has come to naught. The loss of confidence in this school administration by the employees, alumni, and even some of the board itself has reached crisis stage, yet little is being done. As long as the governance structure is predicated on secrecy, stakeholder exclusion, and control through a committee-based operation, MHS cannot reform itself. This is among the reasons that past managers have chosen to vote with their feet.” (MHSAA News 2002) These O’Brien words could just as easily be spoken today by the very MHSAA leaders whom O’Brien now attacks as “ego driven,” “liars,” “dictators,” and worse, and whom O’Brien has sought to have forced out of their elected MHSAA positions. In all cases, O’Brien fails to explain his shifting policy views, or that the sole source of his dispute with MHSAA is the Association’s fidelity to the very childcare reform goals he himself once claimed to espouse. Incredibly, when alumni leaders do respond to his at times scandalous personal attacks, O’Brien accuses these leaders of pursuing a vendetta against him, casting himself as a victim! By having misleadingly attached himself to an MHSAA that recognized the MHS Trust’s fatally flawed governance problems — an MHSAA that had brought the MHS Trust to the gates of lasting and meaningful childcare reforms (with O’Brien too sprinting to the front of this parade late in the effort) — O’Brien managed to ride MHSAA coattails just long enough to position himself for the MHS Presidency and all that this is now providing him, before turning ruthlessly on MHSAA. O’Brien’s ability to adapt his positions to comport with his immediate personal goals is not limited to his recent abandonment of supposed support for MHS reforms. In fact, in the early to late-1990’s, O’Brien was among Lepley’s biggest (and well paid) supporters, helping to sell the “21st Century Initiative” changes repugnant to so many alumni. O’Brien also organized (with similar financial gain) the “Change Is Good” seminars used by Lepley to promote the Board’s 1990’s “centralization” agenda and was otherwise a well-paid Lepley “leadership coach.” But when the tide turned and MHSAA made reform progress, O’Brien too changed his views to join MHSAA. For instance, he served as one of the MHSAA speakers in April 2001, when alumni demonstrated to protest the opening of the Centralized Compound. O’Brien dramatically handed out “black armbands” to attendees who wore these to underscore the solemnity of the event. The protest concluded with alumni demonstrators marching together to the ongoing school celebration of the opening of the Managers’ “Town Center.” During the rally, O’Brien led cheers among alumni, as speakers (including O’Brien) denounced things like the massive construction waste that Board governance flaws caused. O’Brien later gave interviews to local television media, citing, among other Board problems, that MHS has a “governance structure that has absolute power, [is] virtually accountable to no one, is self-appointing, [and] operates in total secrecy.” Thus, for most of the 1990’s — when it suited his personal and financial interests — O’Brien was on the Lepley/Board side. He thereafter purported to switch support to MHSAA and its pursuit of childcare reforms, after MHSAA made 44

progress and when being on the MHSAA side had potential personal benefits to him. Now, O’Brien is back squarely on the Board’s side — with the latter change coinciding with his obtaining the MHS Presidency. The pattern of flip-flopping between polar opposite positions depending on immediate personal interests is clear. This was precisely the kind of MHS President that the Board leadership needed when it cast about for Lepley’s replacement at the end of 2002 — and when the “centralization” pursued under Lepley would be compounded by the even more horrifying “institutionalization” and “ultra-congregation” now being ushered in under MHS President O’Brien. In O’Brien, the Managers found an alumnus willing to promote literally any agenda they wanted, no matter how repugnant to alumni — an alumnus with an equally mesmerizing ability to sell all this, based in part on his own past purported “reform activism.” This would be achieved in large part through a lavish media campaign, using an “alumni Administration” constructed for this purpose even though running MHS in a manner contrary to what the Hersheys intended. This “alumni Administration” has today brought MHS to the brink of residential childcare disaster and made a shambles of MHSAA — spreading unthinkable malice and divisiveness among alumni confused by O’Brien’s sudden policy shifts, and who thus do not understand why O’Brien and MHSAA are at loggerheads. The confusion is easily cleared away merely by reviewing O’Brien’s own past positions, and noting that MHSAA has simply never wavered from the crucial MHS childcare reform goals once purportedly embraced by O’Brien too — when that was convenient for him. Today, O’Brien’s convenience is served by punishing MHSAA on behalf of a locally-controlled Board that is desperate to erase governance reforms and thereby preserve in perpetuity the long-enjoyed local status quo. The record on O’Brien’s flip-flops is irrefutable and belies the spurious charges that MHSAA leaders have any goal in mind other than improving MHS for all time. For its part, the Board stands back keeping its hands clean of the business of destroying an alumni volunteer group — while the O’Brien-led “alumni Administration” methodically goes about the job. Misleading Letters & Unauthorized “Signature:” Anything to Avoid a Presidential Search MHS has seen under O’Brien a policy of using misleading letters from employees (and would-be employees) as divisive tools, to a degree where employees and alumni can no longer trust what they read; see, e.g., see: (March 13, 2004, March 25, 2004, and February 1, 2006 letters, among others); see also:; see also: Basically, no one can rely on the veracity of anything being sent from MHS today, since the pattern of fostering deception is so glaring. The entire MHS climate is marked by spin and propagandist letters, a deplorable state for a childcare charity. But merely requiring those seeking personal advancement to send misleading letters is not the full extent of this behavior. Where it has served O’Brien’s interests to have a letter sent out under someone else’s name instead of his own, he has simply taken the liberty of “signing” the other person’s name himself, without authorization, using script font to “fake” the signature. The incident in question is from June 2002, when O’Brien signed the name of Dr. Rod McLaughlin — a highly respected retired MHS Administrator — to a letter that O’Brien prepared and e-mailed to the MHS Board. The letter concerned the Board’s then recent announcement of plans to conduct a nationwide search for the next MHS President, a decision that had distressed O’Brien greatly. At the time, O’Brien’s intense aversion to any kind of bona fide Presidential search made no sense, though later disclosures explained it. The letter prepared and sent by O’Brien — under McLaughlin’s name — stated: “The [announcement of a Board-only search committee] seems to have done further damage to the already fragile MHS... [...] We fear its message [...] may push [MHS] to a point where it cannot recover. [...] For the sake of the children (present and future), for the caregivers, and for the sake of this precious institution, we respectfully 45

request that you reconsider your decision to delay and act now [...] We are aware that many are saying the School’s problems are so broad and so deep that no one individual or team can promote healing, reestablish trust, and help the staff regain the feeling that they are part of one of the world's greatest philanthropies. [...] [We] feel the first step should be the appointment of a transition leader who, in the ideal world, would be assisted by a transition team of advisors. [...] Essentially the goal will be to utilize their instant credibility and trustworthiness to stabilize the traumatized school environment and align all factions of the MHS community toward the child-centered mission of MHS. The intended purpose of the interim leadership team approach is to create a healthy, united MHS community (within 12-24 months) in preparation for the long term, visionary leader your Search Team would select. [...] For the good of MHS and in honor of Mr. [and] Mrs. Hershey themselves, let’s commit ourselves to doing what is necessary to begin the 2002-2003 school year with credible new leadership.” (For the full text of the letter, including “signature” line, see: In essence, O’Brien was seeking by this desperate and self-serving plea to avoid a bona fide search process for the MHS Presidency — with O’Brien getting to “skip try-outs” and assume the “Interim Presidency,” as eventually happened. The letter illustrates O’Brien’s great desire even at that point to avoid a genuine search. This was to a degree where he wanted to use McLaughlin and the Childcare & Education Task Force (the “CETF,” a committee studying MHS childcare issues) to invoke the specter of “trauma” to “this precious institution” in order to argue that the “state of crisis” called for suspension of ordinary rules. With the rules so suspended, “crisis leader” O’Brien then would simply be named “for 12-24 months” as the “Interim President,” by executive fiat and — most important of all — without any search. At the time of this letter describing “broad and deep” MHS turmoil, O’Brien had himself been directing agitation against Lepley, including via employee surveys and petitions to the OAG. Although O’Brien had been a Lepley “leadership consultant,” he shifted his efforts to undermining Lepley, fostering some of the very conditions mentioned in the “McLaughlin” letter as grounds for promoting himself (or having “McLaughlin” promote him) as Lepley’s “crisis replacement.” (Lepley later complained about his own management consultant helping to undermine him.) O’Brien obviously could not sign the letter himself, and thus needed the signature of someone whose name and keen judgment on the state of MHS would lend credibility to the letter’s “dire warnings” — never mind that the purported “signer” had no idea that any such letter was being sent, and was later none too happy when he learned of it. O’Brien’s efforts to avoid a search process may be explained by his credential discrepancies and his dearth of actual qualifications — as may his subsequent willingness to help defeat the very Board reforms the ostensible support of which had made him appealing to alumni and employees in the first place. O’Brien’s desperation found a counterpart in that of a Board seeking someone willing and able to implement their goals, i.e., impose “ultra-congregation,” defeat MHS reforms, and subdue MHSAA. The Board’s leadership and O’Brien were thus a match made in mutual desperation heaven: O’Brien recognized the pitfalls he would have faced if he had been forced to stand his credentials and experience next to people such as the gifted candidates observed in the sham search of 2003; and the Board leadership recognized the pitfalls of bringing in a credentialed and credible residential childcare leader, who would almost certainly balk at their irrational (from the perspective of MHS childcare) goals. Even restricting the comparison to alumni, there were many individuals vastly more qualified for this position than O’Brien if the selection criteria genuinely related to childcare and leading large educational organizations. However, other alumni were never considered because the Board “leadership” obviously wanted what only O’Brien could and would deliver — and this was not necessarily the ability to run a residential childcare charity. But O’Brien was tough, and willing to drive home Board objectives while silencing MHSAA criticism. This had premium value to the Board “leadership.” They no doubt made sure that O’Brien knew how much this goal drove their choice of him, later meeting his exorbitant salary demands — mostly likely in recognition of there being no one else for this role. Frustration by O’Brien at failure to deliver MHSAA on a silver platter has led him to lash out at MHSAA at every opportunity, to the point of obsession. The single-minded attack on MHSAA reform efforts by O’Brien and his “alumni Administration” hardly seems rooted in any genuine opposition to MHS reforms. Rather, it seems simply a struggle to retain jobs when the Board leadership expects O’Brien to deliver on their goals. VI. “Springboard” to MHS Presidency: O’Brien Sells Out Childcare Reforms, Supporters, & MHSAA Retired MHS Administrator Dr. Rod McLaughlin is among those who had provided O’Brien with strong support in O’Brien’s quest for the MHS Presidency. This did not stop O’Brien from turning on McLaughlin too as soon as it became 46

expedient. It became expedient just when O’Brien revealed his lack of any genuine commitment to MHS childcare reforms. This was during a phone call from O’Brien to me, around October 2002, when the Board was being “reconstituted.” The latter followed the Board’s proposed sale of the Hershey Company, when a concerted backlash against the Managers forced out a group who had supported the sale. The “reconstitution” turned out to be a continuous progression that would ultimately sweep away all childcare reforms, reasserting the primacy of commercial interests within the MHS Trust. The ousted Managers succumbed to pressure from local authorities to name as new Managers former Pennsylvania Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman, local attorney Velma Redmond, retired Patriot-News Publishing Editor Ray Gover, and Hershey Company CEO Richard Lenny, with terms commencing in 2003. But the outgoing Managers balked at naming HERCO CEO Scott Newkam as a Manager — apparently because of past problems caused by HERCO influence. The outgoing Managers also balked at local authority pressure to name John Halbleib — an alumnus with personal ties to the authorities and who had doggedly pursued a Manager position for years, changing alliances to suit this goal much as with O’Brien and the MHS Presidency. The new Managers lost no time in 2003 in seeking to add Newkam anyway (an effort that is now on hold due to the MHSAA Reform Agreement litigation). Halbleib too has continued with his personal quest for a Manager position. (Halbleib’s most recent related act was to send a letter to the State Supreme Court Justices a few days before oral argument in the MHSAA childcare Reform Agreement matter. That letter sought to provide the Justices with copies of Halbleib’s self-published books, along with his resumé and a list of “Noteworthy Achievement (sic) of John F Halbleib.” A list of “Unsolicited Praise for Halbleib’s Team” was also provided in the package. In his letter, Halbleib claims to be the foremost authority on Milton S. Hershey. For a copy of the letter and alumni reaction, see: MHSAA leaders in 2002, such as John Rice, Joe Berning, Jerry Waters, myself, and others, were pushing for preservation and improvement of MHS childcare reforms, along with the naming of childcare professionals to the “new” Board. Other alumni (e.g., O’Brien and Halbleib) were using the Board changes to seek personal goals, abandoning MHSAA childcare reform objectives in a scramble to emerge with their long-coveted positions. The “Breakthrough” Meeting At the time that these behind-the-scenes machinations over composition of the new Board were taking place — an exercise that had nothing to do with rational MHS childcare concerns — O’Brien attended a “breakthrough” meeting in Hershey. This was among a group of “community leaders” putting together a “community slate” for the “new” (2003) Board that sought to preserve the old status quo, i.e., one that favored non-childcare interests. O’Brien had received my early support too, including in my role as MHSAA President that year. Although I had some reservations about O’Brien, he still seemed at the time like a credible candidate for the MHS Presidency to me and to many other alumni. (I had no idea then about things like the credential discrepancies, among other things.) O’Brien called me the next day to tell me of the meeting, enthusiastically describing how the community leaders were “backing him for the MHS Presidency” — a fact confirmed by later press reports quoting these individuals. O’Brien gave the impression that this entailed in exchange his support of a proposed “community” slate for the reconstituted Board. The latter included the HERCO and Hershey Company CEO’s along with “community leaders” — though a Board constituted this way did nothing for the MHS childcare mission and, indeed, had historically undermined it. The constitution of the MHS Board and ending pernicious non-child influences were at the very core of all that MHSAA had been struggling over for years — and with success in this struggle just in sight. It was thus out of the question for anyone to compromise this all-important objective for any personal goal, and O’Brien certainly knew it, having on numerous occasions commented on the Board’s tragic flaws. In my role as MHSAA President, I had continued to remind the authorities during the “reconstitution” process that the Board desperately needed residential childcare expertise. I also provided a detailed ten-page report prepared by a child psychologist on the MHS childcare breakdown, to support the request for residential childcare expertise on the new Board — so disturbing was the manner in which events unfolded. I had pleaded with all local officials on this point, imploring the 47

OAG in particular to take measures to protect MHS children by adding the requisite residential childcare expertise to the Board, but to no avail. It was as though no public official in any position of responsibility had any concern whatsoever for MHS children or the childcare breakdown at MHS — the world’s largest residential childcare charity. O’Brien said that McLaughlin’s name had come up during his “breakthrough” meeting as a potential Manager, and that this had met with resistance from attendees — but that O’Brien had been “fully supportive” of McLaughlin. McLaughlin is probably more qualified to serve on the Board than any Manager over the last five decades when focusing on the MHS childcare mission — the only thing that should matter in constituting the Board. Yet, it has mattered literally not at all. Notwithstanding the MHS child safety crises of 2002, the vital MHS residential infrastructure changes just ahead, and the record of sustained MHS childcare failure at the Board level, the local authorities did not see fit to name even one person with a residential childcare background to the new Board, in an unconscionable act of neglect. As the conversation with O’Brien progressed, I expressed concern that he not barter away hard-fought and permanent Board reforms for “community” support of what would be his one-time MHS President’s bid. He angrily responded that, “The MHS Presidency is the most important thing!” There was a sea change in O’Brien during this conversation towards the MHSAA goals he had earlier claimed to support. It was clear he was now willing to compromise those goals to obtain the MHS Presidency, selling MHS childcare and governance reforms down the river — and that was precisely what was entailed in the “community slate” he was endorsing. Nothing but the Presidency mattered to him and he again manifested an eagerness to find a way to avoid a Presidential search, much as with his “McLaughlin” letter. Splintering of MHSAA Begins Immediately after that call, O’Brien turned on MHSAA and anyone who might have resisted reform rescission. These individuals were first targeted quietly and then openly, with reputations smeared, motives impugned, and character questioned. O’Brien used local cronies (and others) in this, trying to strong-arm rather than debate or discuss positions. A concerted attempt was commenced to try to destroy many of these individuals personally. Anyone who has sampled the hate churned out by those pursuing this campaign can attest to the frenzy whipped up, including outlandish allegations and threats. MHSAA Past President Rice was told to “think of [his] home and family,” before being sued individually in the case filed against MHSAA and Waters too.21 There have also been physical threats, numerous racial slurs, and MHSAA leaders have been targeted in several scandalous mass mailings containing inflammatory charges. Some of the latter can still be viewed today on the school’s official website — ironically in the alumni relations section. (See: Other alumni supporters of MHSAA reform efforts have also faced similar harassment, bullying, threats, shunning, anonymous phone calls, and publication of private information to cause embarrassment, as a veritable all-out and uncivil war has been waged against the Association. This is incited by or on behalf of the Administration and Managers. Even

See above, footnote 14 at p. 37. Naming Waters and Rice as individual defendants in this ill-considered lawsuit was deplorable. There have been no credible legal explanations provided for this. It seems to have been intended to intimidate and shake up a pair of full volunteers, in what are perennially thankless Alumni Association leadership roles. It seems that the “think of your home and family” threat was being carried out, with household recriminations faced by both these devoted family men when later explaining to their concerned spouses how they managed to get themselves named in a lawsuit — and over MHSAA volunteer positions that take vast time from their families. The gratuitous naming of these two as individual defendants epitomizes the chilling tactics utilized against MHSAA volunteers. Rice and Waters, MHS classmates, have shown remarkable courage in the face of all this, as have other reformminded MHSAA Officers and Directors, most of whom have been subjected to continuous harassment. The most recent harassment included alumni close to the MHS Administration inviting MHSAA leaders “out to the parking lot” to settle things with fists, so crude is the bullying. None of the pro-reform alumni have a single thing to gain personally from this. The clear goal of the MHS Administration and its anti-reform followers is to punish pro-reform alumni volunteers to the degree that they will eventually stop thinking of the children who will ultimately be aided by MHSAA reform efforts, and instead decide it is less stressful simply to cease resisting those aiding the Managers’ effort to rescind childcare reforms.


MHS employees have been instructed by MHS Administrators to stay away from MHSAA, on pain of termination, so desperate are the Managers and Administration to prevent alliances among groups seeking childcare reforms. No smear or untoward tactic has been out of bounds; and with every MHSAA legal success the hysteria has been ratcheted up. To disrupt communication between alumni and MHS employees sharing similar childcare goals, the MHS computer network is blocked from any access to the MHSAA website and its “information central” message forum. The interests of “MHS children” purportedly drove this transparent act. Not coincidentally, this happened at the very moment that the message forum had come to be used by houseparents raising concerns about child-crowding proposals and Administration misconduct. “Too Old to Serve on the Board!” Not even McLaughlin has been spared from this broad campaign to target anyone who might pursue child-protecting reforms. In McLaughlin’s case, it includes having been removed from an elected position in the MHSAA Honorary Alumni group while he was away visiting relatives, in a surprise action orchestrated by two O’Brien supporters. It also included having been snubbed from the invitation list to attend an MHS graduation — the first time in decades that McLaughlin and his wife were not invited to attend this, the school’s most important annual ceremony. (O’Brien later explained that the invitation had been “lost in the mail.”) In McLaughlin’s case, the targeting began immediately after O’Brien’s revelatory phone conversation with me, when O’Brien described community leader support for his MHS Presidency bid — and during which it became clear to O’Brien that a core of MHSAA leaders or supporters, including McLaughlin, were not about to join him in abandoning childcare reforms, even where O’Brien could count on support for the MHS Presidency in a credible search process. O’Brien lost no time after his call with me in right away calling one of the “community leaders” he had met with the previous day during his “breakthrough” meeting, to tell this person he had “changed his mind about Rod McLaughlin.” O’Brien informed this person that, “on second thought” he had come to believe that McLaughlin was in fact “too old to serve on the Board.” (Rod is younger than two current Managers, including the current Chair.) This was a highly damaging act given McLaughlin’s value to MHS children and the MHS childcare mission, something that all concerned — including O’Brien — understood. Indeed, when O’Brien chose a name to “sign” to his letter seeking to impress upon the Managers the breakdown at MHS, he had used McLaughlin’s name. He did this because he recognized that McLaughlin is a universally respected individual, including among Managers, and was thus among the best candidates that MHSAA could put forward to try to name a residential childcare professional to the Board. But O’Brien may have feared that McLaughlin — whose principles are unshakeable — would have proven an impediment to some O’Brien or Board goal. While McLaughlin did continue to support O’Brien for the MHS Presidency, he nonetheless never wavered from his view that Board reforms are essential for the future of MHS. Like the OAG in 2002, McLaughlin recognized that enforceable Board reforms are the only safety net for MHS children against more individual misconduct. In McLaughlin’s case, the matter was far from academic or theoretical: for decades he had functioned within an MHS Administration that — as a gifted residential childcare specialist — he always knew could have done vastly more for needy children. This may explain why local authorities and certain local forces resisted naming him to the 2003 Board, no matter how much sense it made to have his expertise informing Board decisions. McLaughlin would have certainly also resisted the current moves towards “institutionalization” and child-crowding — and O’Brien must have known that too. Whatever drove O’Brien to do an about-face on McLaughlin, it was certainly not McLaughlin’s age. The eventual exclusion of McLaughlin — or any other credible residential childcare professional — from the “new” Board was tragic from a childcare perspective, given the state of MHS and the need for competent residential childcare expertise on the Board. But to fully appreciate this, one must also consider the companion loss within the MHS Administration of Dr. Ron Thompson — another supremely gifted residential childcare specialist who might himself have been named a Manager in 2003 had there been any real concern on the part of local officials for the MHS childcare mission. Thompson is a kindly and soft-spoken man with an academic’s studious demeanor and a long-demonstrated deep love of children, decades of quality residential childcare experience, and great courage when speaking out on childcare issues. 49

Thompson had been recruited away from Girls and Boys Town under Lepley toward the end of Lepley’s term, and had provided the school with its most knowledgeable and authoritative residential childcare resource. (It appears that Thompson’s hire was itself a direct effort by Lepley to counter the complaint that the Lepley Administration lacked this expertise.) Even under Lepley, Thompson was nearly alone in repeatedly flabbergasting the Administration and Managers by always speaking childcare truth to power, however this was received. But Thompson was unceremoniously sent packing back to Girls and Boys Town by O’Brien right after O’Brien was named the MHS President. This removed the most credible childcare voice within MHS, in a totally senseless act — and just when Thompson was needed most and could do the most good for the MHS childcare mission. Without Thompson in the Administration or McLaughlin on the Board, MHS children have not had a prayer so far as rational childcare policies are concerned. Thompson’s removal thus opened wide the door to the breakdown that followed, including the child-crowding proposals that were subsequently introduced. These are proposals that knowledgeable childcare professionals like Thompson (or McLaughlin) would have easily demonstrated to be completely ill-advised. The latter is likely the very reason Thompson was sent away, as the Administration and Managers seem to have wanted to remove any credible voice of opposition to their child-congregating objectives, whether on the Board or within the MHS Administration. With no one left at MHS to expose the irrationality of what the Managers are pursuing, and with an Administration in place whose strong suit is bullying, the Managers have created the conditions necessary to implement their policies without any meaningful opposition or bona fide questioning. Thompson’s early removal was the first personnel harbinger of what was to follow. The “Administrators” brought in to replace this knowledgeable and principled man — and others like him — have created an MHS childcare facility beset with indefensible policies and inappropriate personal conduct. Today, MHS is a place where the nation’s very best childcare professionals are sent away to work elsewhere, just when MHS could most use their skills, and replaced by individuals whose qualifications to run a childcare charity are questionable. There can be no mistake in the cause of plummeting MHS morale, soaring attrition, wasted resources, and belief-defying moves in the direction of child crowding. The state of MHS is deplorable and the problems trace directly to local authority conduct in 2002. A group like MHSAA would not be required to pursue this matter today — and this very essay would not need to be written — if local authorities had simply done their jobs then with the interests of MHS children foremost in mind, rather than ignoring the needs of those children. But the only things that mattered to the authorities in 2002 were political and commercial interests. It was more important to have political and personal cronies on the MHS Board than that MHS children finally have credible residential childcare expertise informing all decisions vital to their lives. The authorities also sought to assure that the MHS Trust would never again try to sell the Hershey Company and that the local entertainment & resort industry would be promoted — neither of which goal has a shred of support in the Hersheys’ child-saving Deed of Trust.22 Pennsylvania authorities reversed child-protecting reform measures and left the Board without any residential childcare expertise to check harms inherent when restoring conflicts of interest to the Board. Thereafter, the authorities
Among the more revealing proclamations by the Board created by local authorities in 2002 — and demonstrating the Board’s total confusion between actual MHS child beneficiaries and putative community “beneficiaries” elevated to that status by local authorities — was the recent assertion by current Board Chairperson LeRoy Zimmerman that the MHS Trust would “never” sell its controlling interest in the Hershey Company. (See, Patriot-News, April 2, 2006, “Hershey Co. has secure future in region, trust leader says.”) This public pledge never to sell the Hershey Company — the investment “strategy” equivalent of a captain vowing to “go down with the ship” — is stunning in what it reveals about Board priorities, announcing an absurd Board-determined investment restriction found nowhere in the Deed of Trust. In essence, this policy declares that needy children must bear all risk of catastrophic asset loss no matter how prudent diversification may someday become (for instance, if a perfect chocolate substitute were invented). Not even Mr. Hershey took so extreme a view — one that appears intended to curry favor with the general public, and announced on the eve of the State Supreme Court hearing on the Reform Agreement matter. If Board investment “strategy” is this tilted in favor of non-child interests, then one can only expect MHS land-use and personnel decisions also to favor non-child interests — as they do. This public statement by the Board’s Chairperson only confirms the continuing dysfunction of Board decision-making, underscoring that MHS childcare problems will persist without improvement until thorough overhaul of the Board takes place.


compounded this by not correcting errors when later events exposed them. Public officials stand silent as the Board makes irrational decisions, such as cramming children into housing schemes discredited by the weight of residential childcare authority, squandering childcare resources in the process. Yet, it is impossible to ignore 495 children over the last three years removed and sent back to whatever environments they initially left to seek a home at MHS.23 It is equally impossible to ignore poor personnel decisions, abysmal residential infrastructure proposals, and an MHS culture founded on intimidation. The officials who caused all this should answer publicly for their decisions. A Pact With the Devil It would seem that O’Brien understood he had to cut a deal with the Board “leadership” to try to “skip try-outs” for a position he desperately sought, including by pitching for the “Interim” job. A close examination of the record would reveal tall tales on his resumé (“Masters in Educational Psychology”), lack of genuine leadership experience (he had never run any large organization to speak of), and the lack of other meaningful residential childcare qualifications. He should at best have been a long shot for the Presidency in any rational setting. That he could nonetheless have a virtual lock on the position reflects the dubious way the Managers conducted their 2003 “search.” Statements leaked from the highly secretive “search” show that the search committee did know of the problems — with O’Brien described as “dead last among the candidates interviewed,” and with his ultimate success apparently flowing in large part from the fact that the Board had put him in the post-Lepley position of “interim President” while the “search” was ostensibly conducted. Concerns about the latter raised by members of the search committee were apparently brushed aside by the Managers, giving the appearance that O’Brien’s selection was indeed predetermined. The final two “prop” candidates — identified through a nationwide search by an outside consultant — were the Reverend Nathan D. Baxter (former Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, where he served eleven outstanding years) and Richard A. Berman (President of Manhattanville College, with a similar record of success at Manhattanville). Given their impeccable qualifications and demonstrated leadership abilities in large organizational settings, it would seem that O’Brien was chosen primarily due to his positioning, inside track, and Manager confidence in being able to direct him in goals that likely would have been objectionable to qualified candidates not desperate for the position Alumni rank and file, unaware of the details of all this, were for the most part pleased with the selection of fellow alumnus O’Brien. But even skeptics failed to grasp that things would get as bad as they have, once again overestimating the Board and local authorities. No one suspected that “ultra-congregated” housing would be introduced, appalling personnel decisions would become commonplace, and that the Managers would turn a blind eye to egregious misconduct by the “alumni Administration.” It was a case of “It can’t happen here.” Yet, it has — with increasingly harmful consequences. O’Brien was by this tortured process named to an office that transformed him overnight from the obscurity of marketing “leadership” corporate pep talks into a much higher profile. He was suddenly the head of the world’s largest childcare charity and heralded by CNN (“Grad returns to right troubled Hershey school”), the recipient of Princeton University recognition, and, his latest success, election to a Princeton University Trust Board position. The fall of 2002 provided O’Brien with his only real chance to obtain the MHS Presidency and he appears to have seized it — including abandoning the MHS childcare reforms that the Board hiring him desperately sought to rescind. The only fly in the ointment was that this meant getting rid of anyone who would hold him to his past purported commitment to childcare reforms or the Hersheys’ community-wide residential childcare model — because O’Brien now had to “deliver” on aiding the Board in its goals of increased child-crowding, rescission of childcare reforms, and restoration of the local status quo. The latter were evils that MHSAA was pledged and duty-bound to resist, however tilted against the Association the playing field may have been after the events of 2002 and 2003. In other words, the mere voice of MHSAA would be a problem for O’Brien and the Association stood squarely between him and the “happy ending” to his story. He thereafter set out first to quiet and then to overpower MHSAA, along with all who led it, lest MHSAA’s “pesky” activism interfere with his fulfillment of whatever pledges he had made to the
The MHS Administration congratulates itself for enrolling 390 children over the last school year, unrepentant that this larger number of enrollments is necessitated by the loss of 378 children over the last two years.


Managers who hired him. O’Brien’s arrangement with the Board left no room for an independent MHSAA nor for any of the Association’s long-pursued goals. But like the Managers over the last 15 years, O’Brien failed to appreciate the depth of alumni commitment to protecting the Hersheys’ childcare mission. That failure set up O’Brien’s clash with MHSAA — and he still seems not to appreciate that alumni childcare reform activists are not going away. Marginalizing MHSAA As these events were unfolding in 2002 and 2003, little did MHSAA suspect that Board leaders had predetermined everything in advance, including rescinding reforms, restoring the Hershey Company and HERCO CEO’s to the Board, congregating MHS children, and shrinking MHS childcare land-use even further — and hoping to sugarcoat all this simply by naming a few alumni to prominent MHS positions. In this scenario, O’Brien would silence and control alumni — who would be “so happy” about a handful of fellow alumni being named to an “alumni Administration” that they would countenance all of this. An additional carrot would be a lavish “clubhouse” provided to the core of local alumni recruited to aid O’Brien. One person associated with the “clubhouse” happily declared in late 2002 that O’Brien had promised to fill a “Christmas wish list” as part of a series of moves, it being clear that silencing MHSAA reform activists was required in exchange. Several alumni with glaring financial interests would eventually be pulled into this web, setting in motion the now ongoing alumni clashes as the campaign to smother any remaining hopes for reforms turns into a battle over MHSAA itself. When O’Brien failed to woo MHSAA leaders with cash packages and found it impossible to cow them with financial penalties (and a later attempted eviction), he embarked on a campaign of reward to a hardcore group of primarily local supporters, whose job it then became to hound, harass, and remove pro-reform MHSAA leaders — the last thorn in the side of a dysfunctional charity now lurching towards even more dysfunction.24 While MHSAA President John Rice led MHSAA in stating full support for the Board’s Presidential selection process, the Homestead (local) Chapter of MHSAA rushed to “endorse” O’Brien, thereafter leading attacks on MHSAA for not having similarly endorsed him. Today, courtesy of O’Brien and the Managers, while MHSAA is officially shunned by the school, Administration, and Managers, the Homestead Chapter enjoys free use of an excellent MHS-owned meeting facility; MHS vendors are bullied into diverting financial support from MHSAA fundraisers to competing Homestead Chapter events; the Homestead Chapter has been a job conduit for several MHS job-seekers; and multiple “official visits” have been made to the Homestead Chapter by O’Brien and the Managers during a period when these same persons have refused to meet with elected MHSAA leaders. MHS childcare resources are thus being treated like political campaign spoils to be lavished on those who “backed the right horse” and withheld from those who mistook an exercise in naked politics for a genuine childcare charity executive search process. For their part, the Managers have shown no reluctance about funding O’Brien’s anti-MHSAA campaign, no matter the loss in childcare resources or how much this compromises personnel quality. This includes building what purports to be an “alumni campus” at a cost of nearly $8,000,000 — an unconscionable act of pandering to local alumni and a total waste of resources in a nation teeming with desperately needy children. It also includes hiring alumni or their immediate relatives for reasons not always related to the genuine good of MHS, but instead to reward key anti-reform supporters of
O’Brien approached MHSAA in January 2003 with lavish offers to have MHS fully fund MHSAA, in a subsidy worth over $100,000 annually. This is for a volunteer organization that makes do raising money through things like golf fundraisers, calendar sales, raffles, and meager alumni contributions. O’Brien hired a Princeton University crony as an “alumni relations consultant” to pitch this, and who then told MHSAA how good the “package” was. The catch was granting O’Brien control over the MHSAA newsletter and website along with full supervisory authority over the MHSAA Executive Director, while compromising MHSAA ability to seek legal enforcement of the Reform Agreement. MHSAA respectfully declined the offer and the scorched earth campaign against the Association commenced thereafter.


an Administration failing in its MHS childcare job, though slowly gaining ground in its war on MHSAA reform activism. There is no attempt to conceal the distribution of “reward jobs” to anti-reform “helpers,” at times suspending MHS candidate search procedures to accomplish this. For example, when O’Brien’s alumni “helpers” orchestrated their ugly and divisive May 2003 campaign to try to force elected pro-reform alumni leaders off of the MHSAA Board in the first deplorable act of this sequence — just days before the Managers announced rescission of all child-protecting reforms — the small group that organized this act included five alumni who would later obtain either key MHS jobs for themselves or their immediate relatives, or MHS contracts. The ringleaders also included John Halbleib, ever in pursuit of a Manager position. At least one Manager personally aided in soliciting signatures for the ouster petition, so blatant was Board influence on an act intended to crush MHSAA reform efforts, by removing key leaders at a crucial moment. One of the five hired by MHS (a plaintiff in the O’Brien-incited lawsuit against MHSAA, Waters, and Rice) landed in a new position apparently created for him. The latter came a mere days after court rulings granted O’Brien’s alumni group the control of the MHSAA Board that O’Brien has been seeking since 2003 (though this proved only temporary due to later court rulings). Misuse of MHS resources as an instrument of procuring alumni anti-reform support is this blatant. $7 billion goes a long way towards turning alumni against each other when Managers greenlight this and local authorities ignore it. Childcare resources could be put to better use. A Fledgling Organization Is Battered After MHSAA declined O’Brien’s offer to fund the Association in exchange for giving him control, and after his supporters failed to force pro-reform elected alumni leaders off the MHSAA Board, O’Brien’s campaign to crush MHSAA commenced in earnest with cancellation of the MHS-MHSAA service contract. This contract formed the basis for MHSAA childcare programs that are easily the most cost-effective services provided to MHS — since MHSAA has never sought to profit from this, but instead seeks only to serve a role of helping MHS children. MHSAA thus receives in return merely cost reimbursements, unlike other MHS “vendors” charging top dollar for everything they can sell. O’Brien then stiffed MHSAA on several thousand dollars of accrued expense reimbursements, in the first of many acts intended to starve MHSAA of funds. He then started taking over MHSAA programs one-by-one, before completing what appears to have been a well thought out plan to hire away the MHSAA Executive Director, shifting this person to MHS itself and kneecapping the Association. This 2004 abrupt hire was a devastating blow because it removed the pillar of MHSAA operations, fundraising, and service programs — while also shifting the very “face of MHSAA” to the school’s Lepley-created “parallel alumni apparatus,” confusing alumni and the public. The latter had been a long-term goal of Lepley and the Board, and was seen as essential to breaking MHSAA as a reform force — after MHSAA had “interfered” with Board goals such as the 1999 CHILD cy pres proceeding (that sought to divert land and cash to non-MHS purposes) or the 1992 attempt to end all vocational education. The plan included increased funding for the parallel alumni office, publication of a parallel “alumni newsletter,” and promotion of Lepley’s primary MHS employee in this effort to a senior position, in recognition of her importance to the goal. O’Brien had of course indicated he would end these insidious policies if he were named MHS President. But no sooner was he in office then he picked up just where Lepley left off, surpassing Lepley in egregiousness. This followed years of painstaking MHSAA efforts and expenditures to develop cutting-edge service programs for MHS children and young graduates, with new initiatives then just being launched. The latter included programs to reach out to alumni with lifelong adjustment problems — a group historically neglected by both MHSAA and the school. This kind of new initiative was possible in part because more MHSAA Directors were recruited with specialist skills in psychology, education, and otherwise, as MHSAA evolved beyond anything in its past — including seeking a more diverse Director mix to reflect changes in the MHS student body. This also followed other successes like MHSAA’s 2003 sponsorship of “Milton Hershey, The Play,” an award-winning and deeply moving production that could not be shown in Derry Township until MHSAA championed it. In a joint effort with the school, MHSAA provided a complimentary packed-house showing for all MHS children and staff. This proved a smash hit, and was the first time that many MHS children learned the Hersheys’ story. 53

Whether on the MHS childcare reform front, the development of cutting-edge service programs, diversification of the MHSAA Board to reflect the changing nature of the MHS student body, or the pursuit of creative initiatives like promoting a historic play about Milton & Catherine Hershey, MHSAA was a thriving and nascent organization in spite of its very limited resources when O’Brien took office. The Association then seemed finally to be coming of age, after decades of evolution — catalyzed in particular by the education process of efforts to protect the Hersheys’ childcare mission. The future never seemed brighter though its very success had also made MHSAA a threat to a local establishment seeking at that very moment to erase childcare reforms, reassert the primacy of commercial interests on the Board, and put MHSAA back into its decades-long supine role of rubberstamp for whatever the Managers and local authorities wanted. O’Brien’s subsequent relentless campaign to try to dismantle, destabilize, and subdue MHSAA — using MHS resources, jobs, contracts, and other MHS Trust-related benefits to turn alumni against each other and sow shocking dissension — is among the worst betrayals committed by him. The Managers understand all too well that once MHSAA is subdued, all hopes for preserving the Hersheys’ childcare vision will perish and any remaining checks on their conduct will be removed, since local authorities historically have proven inadequate. Aiding in this Manager objective is directly contrary to what is best for the long-term good of the Hersheys’ childcare mission, akin to ending checks and balances within government. Alumni in particular should recognize this, since no effort has been spared to obscure what has been happening and why MHSAA has been battered. MHS “La Dolce Vita” O’Brien lost no time at all in demonstrating what at least partially motivated his all-consuming desire to become the MHS President: power and its trappings. He immediately wrested a $400,000 annual compensation package from the Board, in an act of childcare charity compensation indulgence matched only by his predecessor, Bill Lepley. He also had MHS purchase for his use a brand new $55,000 leather-seated, fully-loaded SUV during his first month on the job — at the same time that he challenges frontline staff for what he has asserted is their “entitlement” mentality. This was followed by the MHS purchase of a luxury home for O’Brien that is likely valued at about $1,000,000 today, taking into account the lavish renovations required by O’Brien before occupancy, e.g., 3/4-inch walnut flooring, marble finishes, etc. (For the deed showing $700,000 in pre-renovation consideration, see: The spaciousness of this comfortable home is in stark contrast to the 40-child block housing now being constructed for MHS children. A lavish “inauguration” ceremony was also thrown to “celebrate” O’Brien’s attaining his position — in another first for a childcare charity. This was also at a substantial (though undisclosed) cost, with guests flying in from all around the country as no expense was spared. The processional music was “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” The song was fitting, for it did not sound a note of humble charitable work ahead in the service-oriented manner of those concerned solely with the welfare of desperately needy children. Rather, it was celebratory for this President and a core of Managers who had at last achieved their goals. These goals included access to the MHS Trust’s vast resources for ends that had nothing to do with residential childcare, e.g., promoting a local tourism industry, creating a vast research park, or diverting assets to other charities (such as the recent announcement of a $1,000,000 gift to the Hershey Medical Center, provided through HERCO, notwithstanding the Deed of Trust mandate on using all resources for residential childcare). A different Board comprised of individuals who served as Managers because they truly care about residential childcare would likely not approve spending this much money on salary, a vehicle, an Administrator residence, or an ostentatious “inauguration.” Managers serving for the proper childcare reasons would be painfully aware of living in a nation where 1,300,000 children are homeless and 12,000,000 children live in poverty. They would recognize the imperative to husband all resources 54

prudently to save as many children as possible. They would lead the way in breaking with the non-charitable atmosphere of ostentation engendered especially by the previous Administration. They would recognize the incongruity of asking for belt-tightening from frontline staff while permitting lavish Administrative spending. This Board, however, was not constructed on the basis of running a residential childcare charity and is hardly one that draws only those motivated strictly by childcare goals. Quite the contrary, the Managers added in 2002 had demonstrated little or no residential childcare charitable interests prior to being appointed Managers by local authorities who ignored MHS’ overwhelming need for residential childcare expertise and genuine charitable motivation. This “non-childcare Board” instead appears to have been constructed by empire-builders seeking to add their own non-child “achievements” to those of the past (such as the creation of the Hershey Medical Center). To permit pursuit of these objectives, a Reform Agreement precluding all non-childcare agendas had to be rescinded. This appears to explain why the current Board took shape in conjunction with rescission of virtually every hard-won child protection. Other examples illustrate similar waste and indulgence at MHS today, including exorbitant salaries for other “alumni Administrators” brought in to aid O’Brien, e.g., Pete Gurt — Lepley’s former Director of Enrollment and now back at MHS after a stint at HERCO — is paid $249,000 in total annual compensation, thus matching the salary of his Lepley Administration counterpart, Dr. Mavis Kelley. For Managers who have yet to acknowledge a single misstep, there is no option but to indulge this extravagance and elsewhere participate in fostering an image that all is well. Otherwise, Manager claims of being “above” matter-of-course childcare reforms would be exposed as hollow. But the image is false — things have never been worse and are only becoming more so. “Soviet-Style” Illusion that “All Is Well!” Using an expensive media campaign, massive severance spending, and the school’s vast resources generally, the Managers have been able to pull out all stops to mask how abysmal things have become. Consider the Patriot-News article noted above, reporting that MHS morale (according to employees) is lower than ever. The piece was written by an intrepid young reporter named Megan Walde, whose balanced coverage had made her a thorn in the side of the MHS leadership. In an uncanny coincidence, Walde was suddenly gone from the Patriot-News last fall to take up a much more lucrative position in the public relations department of the Hershey Medical Center — just before MHS exposé pieces she had been working on could run (and that were buried after her departure). The Hershey Medical Center, by another uncanny coincidence, just happened then to be in the middle of concluding an important long-term agreement with MHS to use 135 acres of MHS land for a research park. Walde’s sudden departure removed the only remaining credible means of exposing MHS matters locally — those living closest to the school have no idea what is actually happening there today. The rest of the nation, sadly, lost all interest in these matters after the proposed sale of the Hershey Company fell through. The climate at MHS is thus now like something out of the former Soviet Union. There is no meaningful press. “Dissidents” (such as Ross, Mummau, Burns, Thompson, alumni, and countless others) are silenced through intimidation or exile. Children who “fail” to adapt simply disappear — no one even registering their plight or acknowledging the devastating toll on them (while their tragedy is converted into cause for “celebration” by the Administration in a “Happy Fiscal Year!” letter). Children who speak up when their peers have achievements ignored are punished. Even alumni clergy supportive of O’Brien are blackballed when they show support for childcare reforms, so insecure is the Administration. Bullying is standard top-down practice. Questioning authority is unthinkable. Toadying is rewarded. “Event planning” puts MHS children in circumstances no parent would knowingly allow. The “populace” (MHS staff) lives in a state of repression and are forced to come out and clap in unison whenever the regime needs a “spontaneous crowd” to gather in Red Square — as recently happened, for instance, when the “unveiling” of an MHS “art” purchase led to houseparents being ordered to attend, during what are ordinarily off-duty hours! (See:


Meanwhile, the “regime” broadcasts “illustrative facts” about its “glorious successes:” (See: Ignored in all this are the waste of resources, breakdown in morale, and self-serving focus on misleading “growth” numbers in spite of painfully high attrition, hopelessly inadequate “programs,” and a deplorable lurch towards “institutionalization.” Equally ignored are the malice, divisiveness, demagoguery, bullying, Administrator misconduct, and vast sums squandered to keep paying off quality employees forced to leave. All is fine — or so the Managers would have everyone believe — since there is no check whatsoever on their conduct and no means of imposing any accountability on them. Nowhere else would this be tolerated. But with $7 billion at their disposal, friends in high places, and the ability to silence even unfriendly local media, the Managers can conceal just about any degree of MHS breakdown — even that occurring today. The OAG, for its part, lends full support rather than pursuing any genuine oversight action, satisfying itself with patently misleading “growth” promises — and in any event more concerned with local economic development than a healthy MHS. MHS image-manufacturing waste can be illustrated in countless ways as the MHS media budget soars. The $180,000 recently spent on a statue to showcase the “Sacred Values” is one particularly offensive example. It became an object of instant ridicule, purporting to depict Milton & Catherine Hershey but bearing no resemblance to them — and with the artist apparently chosen because he was the only one willing to incorporate the “Sacred Values” slogans into the piece, in the best traditions of Soviet-era “art” promoting silly regime rhetoric. (See: Using the vast resources of the MHS Trust and internal intimidation, the Administration and Managers have in essence created a Soviet-style grand illusion that “all is well.” But this MHS illusion is as false today as was the one promoted in the past by the Soviet Union. To “lead” such a facility and perpetuate such an illusion, genuine residential childcare skills and true leadership qualities are unnecessary. Instead, what are required are the honed and slick presentation skills of the smooth corporate salesman — a person willing to say or do whatever is necessary to crush dissent, bully anyone standing in the Board’s way, and help sell all this to alumni and the general public. This appears to be how the current MHS President was chosen and why his MHS conduct is tolerated. Little else explains three-and-a-half years of countenancing this Administration’s every embarrassing act, even where these hurt MHS children or totally fail to meet their needs. So long as the Board’s outside non-child agendas are being advanced (HERCO, golf, the entertainment & resort transportation infrastructure grid, the Hershey Medical Center research park, the Hershey Museum, crowding of MHS children into the smallest possible space, etc.), the Board leaders will fiddle while MHS burns. Whereas in the past it was Lepley’s Administrative dysfunction and multi-age housing that led to years of children being hurt before the Board finally acted, today it is O’Brien’s Administrative dysfunction and “ultra-congregated” housing. As with Lepley too, the Managers will use O’Brien to get what they want — and then will no doubt once again “praise” this President too, lavishly compensating him when he departs, just as the Managers did with Lepley — before appointing the next MHS President to pursue the next set of non-childcare goals, as has been happening at MHS for decades. All this is permitted by the vast resources of the MHS Trust and a governance system that lacks any childcare accountability — compounded by the lack of any meaningful government oversight on childcare matters. 56

This is all well-illustrated by even cursory review of the flawed and conflicted Board’s abysmal MHS President selections, with O’Brien falling into place as merely the most recent in a string of similar Board-caused travesties. These have compounded each other one after the other, as non-MHS infrastructure goals undermine President selection choices in a manner that is patently obvious. VII. Bitter Chocolate: What Becomes of a Candymaker’s Residential Childcare Philanthropy When “The Wrong People” Get Control Consider just the past 15-year history of “Presidents” selected by an MHS Board that is burdened with countless non-child agendas. These Boards choose MHS Presidents to facilitate their non-childcare goals, particularly ones centered on taking more childcare land — rather than simply hiring the best Presidents to run MHS: (1) Dr. Frances O’Connor: August 25, 1991 to April 28, 1992 (i.e., eight months total) — forced to resign amidst a debacle when she was put into a hopeless situation by the Board. (2) Rod Pera: 1992 to 1993 — forced to resign, leaving an outraged school behind, and again due to Board non-child objectives. (3) Dr. Arthur Levine: June 27, 1993 to July 12, 1993 (i.e., fifteen days total) — Dr. Levine alone among the four Presidents before O’Brien was not forced to resign. Instead, Levine walked away the moment he heard what the Managers wanted to pursue at MHS, to his infinite credit. Levine’s case well illustrates what probably led the current Board to reject stellar candidates during the sham 2003 “search process” in favor of O’Brien, likely the only candidate who would pursue virtually any Board agenda. (4) Dr. William Lepley: 1993 to 2002 — forced to resign after helping the Board squander over $350,000,000 in childcare resources solely to shrink MHS and create the first Centralized Compound — a less child-friendly facility unsuited for children requiring year-round residential care, but that suits the Board’s non-child commercial and development goals. (5) John O’Brien: 2003 to 2006 — arguably the worst MHS President in history on childcare issues, child attrition rates, employee morale, alumni relations, overall MHS climate, and credible qualifications. Lepley, O’Connor, and Pera combined did not create as much bitter division or animosity — and no one before O’Brien showed such disregard for the interests of children that grief counselors had to be lined up to address the trauma deliberately inflicted by Administration actions. O’Brien’s willingness to implement Board outside agendas and his unrestrained attempts to silence MHSAA explain why he has enjoyed unqualified Manager support, no matter how egregious his conduct, and no matter how deplorable the state of MHS today. Thus, in 15 years, five MHS Presidential disasters have taken place, three-of-three departing Presidents were forced to resign (excluding Levine, since he refused any role at all), and each Administration has been worse than the last. Can this be blamed on a string of “bad luck” or on the lack of quality MHS Presidential candidates? Can anyone fail to recognize that the problem is the Board itself and its outside non-child agendas? The pattern is manifestly clear. In each case, MHS childcare debacle is caused by Managers choosing Presidents based on Board non-child goals — a consistent one of which is land-diverting centralization and congregation, and with O’Brien now brought in to “finish” this job and impose “ultra-congregation,” the most noxious and child-harming infrastructure goal of all. Board outside agendas all flourish while childcare travesty continues, worsening each year. These Presidents are then discarded the moment that non-childcare goals require it, while the Managers stay in the background letting successive “Presidents” take the fall — as though it is not Manager agendas that cause all of these breakdowns in the first place. The only time Managers do face consequences or removal, of course, is when they “dare” to harm local economic interests — or when they even consider elevating children’s interests above local commerce. The current Board, after an MHS Administration thought to be the worst possible, actually has done worse — precipitating even lower employee morale, higher child attrition, increased alumni turmoil, even more dubious childcare 57

“programs” (built on jargon), and housing proposals that recklessly disregard frontline staff warnings and all empirical evidence of harms to children. It is thus no wonder that the Board today cannot act to remove O’Brien or even publicly to acknowledge problems or admonish this Administration. For to do any of this would jeopardize Board non-child goals. It would also fully expose the entire Board governance structure for the childcare failure-inducing and conflict-laden abomination it has become — as the OAG itself once concluded. With Pennsylvania courts currently pondering the question of MHSAA “standing,” the Board appears to be holding its breath in trepidation of any public occurrence that might influence, for instance, OAG positions on this. This includes what the army of departing MHS employees might reveal about what is occurring at MHS today if permitted to speak out. Chester & Carol Ross, Dr. Ron Thompson, Dr. Nick Nissely, Kent & Karen Mummau, Ed Burns — to name but a few — might be able to shed much light on these matters, if oversight authorities questioned them. In addition, 495 departed MHS children and their guardians might also have something meaningful to add, if local officials were to make inquiries. So the Board is in a Catch-22 predicament, unable to act even if it recognizes the breakdown. Worst of all, the cycle of failed MHS Administrations will repeat itself ad infinitum, unless and until the Managers themselves are replaced, together with the flawed governance structure that keeps cloning similar Managers and producing these childcare disasters in the first place. O’Brien is not the root problem — nor were Lepley, Levine, Pera, or O’Connor. The root problem remains the Board of Managers itself, as all observers of sustained MHS childcare failure have concluded. The current Board is the one that illustrates all this most clearly, given its abysmal personnel, infrastructure, and program decisions, many of which defy belief and flaunt all childcare logic. How many more children have to be hurt, childcare resources wasted, good employees driven away, and bitter animosities incited before local authorities finally take proper measures — or MHSAA is permitted to show the Orphans’ Court what should already be obvious? The Hersheys’ Childcare Philanthropy Then & Now Mr. Hershey once warned, “If the wrong people or organization get control, they can spend or give away more money in a short time than I have made in my life, to build monuments unto themselves, for their own financial gains, ego and recognition — whose heads would swell and hearts would shrink, who would give to those who had plenty and take away from those who had little or none.” Mr. Hershey’s prescient words are starkly illustrated by contrasting the Board’s five President-selecting fiascos over just eleven years with what occurred during Mr. Hershey’s lifetime: over the course of 42 years — from 1909 to 1951 — two MHS Superintendents were selected by Mr. Hershey. These were George E. Copenhaver and D. Paul Witmer, i.e., men whose superb, selfless, and able administration were the stuff of legend, and whose singular devotion to MHS childcare goals was beyond question. Under these capable leaders, the school’s childcare, educational, moral, and ethical training soared. The Deed of Trust’s governance rules assured that children came first and that today’s mistakes would be prevented. The sale of land was prohibited (unless replacement land was purchased with the proceeds of sale). The well-being of MHS children was the sole focus of all Manager decisions and all resources were prudently marshaled to serve needy children in the homelike and community-integrated model that the Hersheys had established. There was no MHS “campus.” In the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” model, the entire community served children in as natural an environment as possible, rendering the word irrelevant. “Campuses” were for inferior (year-round) orphanages or (seasonal) boarding schools — Mr. & Mrs. Hershey provided needy children with homes! Whatever complaints MHS children may have had about growing up in care, houseparents, rules, or chores, Mr. & Mrs. Hershey’s magnificent community-wide home elevated what were to others children of a lesser god and turned them into scrappy, proud, equal citizens of a nation all their own — each child knowing that he or she had a right to be there, with 58

no sense receiving “charity” nor any feeling of being an “outsider” in a Derry Township shared with public school boys and girls too together with their families. It was completely contrary to any kind of congregation or segregation. The very idea of a 160-child congregated compound for newly-enrolled (or any) children was unthinkable. No one would have dared so much as suggest it. Mr. Hershey himself took pains to identify and insist on pursuing the very best practices for raising needy children, whatever the costs. He built his vision on the experiences that were showing why other childcare facilities needed to be closed, learning from these the need to focus on individualized and family-like care. Mr. Hershey was committed to avoiding known mistakes. It was no surprise that in the very year that “orphanages” were first coming into disfavor — with the pronouncements of the 1909 “White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children” — Milton & Catherine Hershey were themselves reaching similar conclusions. The Hersheys’ answer, however, was to build their own magnificent “antiorphanage” rather than to give up on all forms of residential care. The Hersheys knew what they were doing and childcare advocates today would endorse their family-style and community-integrated model, even while rejecting typical “orphanage” settings. That Mr. Hershey’s own Managers today would seek to invert the model and congregate his and Kitty’s children is an outrage and an affront to the Hersheys’ memory. Why have none of the alumni serving on the Board or in the MHS Administration spoken out? Why have none of them shown the courage to publicly take a stand against this and the entire “centralization” scheme? Are even congregation and “block” housing within their tolerance levels? Have the wishes of Mr. & Mrs. Hershey come to mean nothing to these alumni? Mr. Hershey knew how he wanted to use his fortune — and he said so. His and Kitty’s Deed of Trust is binding. It is not a lighthearted set of “friendly suggestions” that oversight authorities and a self-perpetuating group of local “visionaries” can keep rewriting to suit their non-child objectives, even if they think that the “general public” or local commerce would be “better served” by the growth of the Hershey Medical Center or the entertainment & resort industry. It’s not their call — it’s Mr. & Mrs. Hershey’s and they made it already in their lawfully-binding Deed of Trust. While Mr. Hershey was alive, there was no such thing as the land-devouring, student home-appropriating, and resourceconsuming “HERCO.” There was no legal possibility of the Hershey Medical Center and its offshoots. Every attempt to have Mr. Hershey alter his and Kitty’s Deed to allow for non-child goals was met with the same one-word response: “NO!” Indeed, Mr. Hershey would have been more likely to sell the Hershey Company, as he nearly did toward the end of his life, than ever to compromise in the “anti-orphanage” mission that was his true life’s purpose, as he often said. The “Wrong People” Get Control But no sooner was Mr. Hershey dead then the first jarring move towards beggaring needy children and favoring outside interests occurred. The opening bell sounded with the selection in 1951 of J.O. Hershey (no relation) as the MHS President, following MHS Superintendent Witmer. This signaled that those who thought they knew better than Mr. Hershey would soon be free to substitute their wishes for his — relying in this on the steady cooperation of compromised local officials, primarily the OAG. The OAG was duty-bound to protect the rights of the defenseless, within the OAG’s ancient “parens patriae” functions. This mandate of charitable trust law requires the sovereign to defend powerless groups from encroachment on charitable assets dedicated to them. This duty traces itself back to the Hebrew prophets’ instruction to protect the “widow and the orphan and the stranger among you.” (Exodus, Chapter 22.) Thereafter, the concept formed a core Christian tenet, before being adopted into English common law. Its embrace by American law was announced by the Supreme Court itself in 1844, when, in discussing the estate of Stephen A. Girard, the Supreme Court declared this duty to be, “a paternal power ... existing somewhere to take care of the sick, the widow, and the orphan. Take this away, and we become a nation of savages. If there is no protection for the infant and the aged, the charm of civilization is lost... All that is asked of government is, that under the protection of law, the great duty of charity may be fulfilled...” 59

Thus, centuries of religious and moral imperatives as well as all legal precedent inform an OAG duty to assure that assets intended for “widows and orphans” are in fact used exclusively for these purposes — not diverted to the goals favored by the powerful. Yet, starting in 1963, the OAG came to take a differing view, declaring itself the guardian of the “general public,” and asserting that it could elevate the “public good” over the wishes of the Hersheys and the rights of needy children. This set the OAG on the wrong course that it has since pursued too often in regard to the MHS Trust, as is happening today. The other Hershey appointed as MHS President after Witmer lent his wholehearted aid to the 1963 asset diversion, producing the Hershey Medical Center, and thereby becoming a local and general public hero, never mind the cost to needy children. He thereafter worked to assure steady HERCO growth, another favored endeavor of local officials who saw in the MHS Trust the land and cash resources necessary for creating an entire local entertainment & resort industry, as is happening today. It was telling that this MHS President Hershey — who served in the role for three decades, until 1981 — received no compensation from MHS, but instead was compensated solely by HERCO, making countless decisions advancing that company’s interests. This company bore a kind of connection to Mr. Hershey’s “Hershey Estates” — its predecessor entity — though serving a radically different purpose: Hershey Estates was never concerned with profits per se nor with any kind of local tourist industry. Instead, Hershey Estates was primarily to assure that the “anti-orphanage” MHS “campus,” i.e., the entire community of Derry Township, was well-maintained, child-friendly, and family-friendly — for MHS children and local residents alike. In other words, Hershey Estates was the polar opposite of the childcare-mission destructive HERCO. Childcare progress, MHS growth, and expanded programs and services that would have been a matter of course if Managers remained truly focused on the Hersheys’ residential childcare mission never happened — as competing interests instead flourished and childcare land was diverted to commercial growth. The Deed of Trust was simply ignored — and local officials gave all of this their seal of approval, not once bothering to question steady and continued taking from needy children, and failing to pay the slightest attention to what was happening at MHS except as it concerned their own political interests. Thus was ushered in the era of MHS Presidents as ready tools for Managers pursuing local non-child agendas — men who would “build monuments to their vanity,” taking from children “who had little or none” — men “whose heads would swell and whose hearts would shrink,” and who would “give away in a short time more money” than Mr. Hershey had made in his life. In other words, the “wrong people” had gotten control and it has been downhill ever since. “Mugging” on the Courthouse Steps: “We Have More Time and More Money Than You!” It is time to end this fiasco once and for all and to take back the Board from the “wrong people.” It is time to create the right Board structure for freeing MHS to serve needy children as the Hersheys mandated — and to stop serving HERCO, the Hershey Medical Center, the Hershey Company, developers, alumni opportunists, local vendors, construction companies, other competing non-child agendas, and least of all Harrisburg politicians. It is time to create a Board dominated by residential childcare expertise and motives — and not a Board where these are rare or non-existent. Each and every conflicting duty burdening the Managers must be removed and the MHS Trust must be fully retooled to the sole child focus mandated by the Hersheys, including restoring the natural and homelike residential model created by the Hersheys and endorsed by childcare professionals. It is time to say “no” to “Kiddie Prison,” institutionalization, congregation, 40-child “H-Blocks,” and dormitory housing — and to say “yes” to the Hersheys’ “anti-orphanage” family-like model, putting MHS children first, whether or not this advances local commerce. 60

This is what the OAG itself concluded in 2002 after its two-year investigation. The rightness of that conclusion is underscored today by what has taken place since. The rescinded reforms must be restored before more damage is done to the interests of needy children. To understand decades of MHS history is to understand that MHSAA has been seeking an improvement for all time in the MHS childcare mission — i.e., a preservation of what was best in the past (e.g., non-congregated “anti-orphanage” residential settings, the family-like student home model, a full vocational education program for children not headed to college, and more), together with improvements where these are required (e.g., a better therapeutic counseling component, smaller numbers of children in student homes, competent Board residential childcare leadership, and more). The Reform Agreement that MHSAA seeks to reinstate, whatever inadequacies it may have, would finally put the MHS childcare mission first, harnessing all Trust resources strictly to serving needy children as the Hersheys’ Deed of Trust requires. What was instead created at the end of 2002 and in 2003 is worse than before — though a handful of alumni did well in the process. They did well by bartering the permanent childcare reforms obtained (or pursued) by MHSAA in exchange for MHS positions or other personal gains. This was only possible because MHSAA had come to pose a danger to powerful local interests who were desperate to end alumni reform activism — and this meant recruiting alumni “helpers.” To finally right matters on a permanent basis, MHSAA must succeed in its ultimate Board reform goals. This long-term battle is now before the State Supreme Court — with MHSAA having been punished for every inch of progress thus far. MHSAA was especially punished after the Commonwealth Court stunned the Managers and the OAG on January 31, 2005, by granting MHSAA “standing” in the landmark ruling that some thought would never be possible. But it was possible and with it the path to genuine MHS childcare reforms opened up. The Association thereby also became even more dangerous — and was thus sued the next day, told to vacate its offices 13 days after that, and has faced only worse since, as the “alumni Administration” panics — trying to “deliver” what it has promised the Board (and likely the primary reason it was hired at all). MHSAA’s “reward” for persevering and being vindicated by the appellate court has been an onslaught never before directed at any alumni volunteer group. A mere sampling includes having MHSAA’s Executive Director abruptly hired away, funding choked off, programs shut down, leadership hounded, smeared, and threatened, meetings disrupted, a hatefilled rally organized against it (with another coming soon), official events canceled, donors scared away, potential supporters intimidated, a 19-month lawsuit relentlessly pursued against it, and a mass media campaign steadily pressed that clouds the truth and biases more people against the Association’s completely reasonable goals. Meanwhile, MHSAA faces down in court an alliance between a $7 billion trust and the OAG itself. Not daunting enough, this alliance was joined this year by four other state Attorneys General and Girard College and its lawyers too, all claiming “dire consequences” if MHSAA is permitted to speak for needy children! What possible harm could befall South Dakota — to take one example — from MHSAA presenting childcare reform enforcement arguments in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania is a total mystery. But of course, the OAG and Managers have friends all over — needy children have no one save MHSAA and Dilworth Paxson. In the face of all this, that MHSAA is still standing is a minor miracle given the ferocity of the combined attack and the sustained destabilization campaign fueled and funded by the MHS Trust. MHSAA is in essence being mugged on the courthouse steps while waiting to get inside — three years after reforms were rescinded and the current childcare reform lawsuit was filed. The State Supreme Court will have the final say on whether the doors of justice will open to permit MHSAA to be heard — i.e., whether MHSAA has the “standing” granted by the Commonwealth Court or, instead, if needy children are indeed to be represented only by the OAG, for better or for worse, and no matter that the OAG itself caused the current problems by rescinding its own childcare reforms in the first place. Somehow, pro-reform MHSAA Officers and Directors have survived — all of them paying brutal personal prices. On the other hand, alumni supporting the MHS Board and O’Brien have the prospects of partaking in the MHS “La Dolce Vita,” 61

e.g., nice jobs, MHS “awards,” a swelled treasury for the local MHSAA Chapter, and VIP treatment on visits to the school — to say nothing of the local multi-million dollar “clubhouse.” MHSAA, of course, is pushed to the limits just to survive long enough to make its case in court someday, as a war of attrition grinds on against it. MHSAA will not be able to stand up to a $7 billion juggernaut under these conditions forever. It is a race against time. Indeed, the school’s former in-house counsel once openly stated how this works: “We have more time and more money than you — we’ll just wait you out.” Indeed, they do — and they might. But MHS alumni are made of better than this and are continuing to fight back. Doing so now makes it imperative to expose the conduct of the MHS Administration and Board, lest the tactics of bullying, intimidation, and public relations “spin” be permitted to succeed in knocking out MHSAA too before the childcare reform arguments can even be heard. If the latter were to occur, then any hope of MHS childcare reform would simply disappear — with MHS forever disfigured by the evils of “institutionalization” and continued childcare dysfunction. This is because no one else will finish the reform job or otherwise fight the Board’s harmful policies once MHSAA has been subdued and its Dilworth Paxson attorneys made to walk the plank. No one else has ever effectively gone to bat for the Hersheys’ children during decades of steady taking. Or, as the appellate court itself put it in the ruling now before the State Supreme Court, “[MHSAA] is particularly well-suited to evaluate the performance of this Trust because of its intimate knowledge of orphanhood, poverty and other alternative foster care facilities. At bottom, the Association, whose membership consists exclusively of past beneficiaries of the Hershey Trust, is the only other party with a sufficient relationship to the Trust that would have any interest in assuring that its charitable purpose was achieved.” This is how much is at stake in the current struggle to resist the O’Brien/Manager power play seeking to take control of MHSAA. This power play is intended to replace credible alumni leadership with a core of individuals who have been doing Manager bidding since the day that O’Brien secured his MHS Presidency. One Stroke to Midnight for Children Alumni, the general public, and MHSAA supporters in Derry Township must be made aware of what it is that MHSAA has been facing. These groups need to be apprised of how it is that alumni who were once friends have been turned into enemies, and how employees once thrilled at the hope of a better MHS have become disenchanted — all sad pawns in the larger power games pursued by the Administration and Managers, or by others who want some material or political benefit from the MHS Trust. These are individuals who are not satisfied simply with what is best for the Hersheys’ children or what the Hersheys themselves wanted. This is what has led us to where we are today. Alumni and MHS employees need to be aware of this and to make sure that others are, too. No one else will check either O’Brien or the Managers unless and until MHSAA can get into court on the childcare reform litigation. Fighting back thus requires effectively exposing the conduct at issue here — and it is high time. Grief counselors and the appalling treatment of good houseparents, wasted resources on related unnecessary severance packages, soaring attrition rates, increased shameful attacks on credible MHSAA and Houseparent Union leaders, and — worst of all — the hideous congregated housing plans now looming in the immediate future are the last straws. The Managers have gone too far and have made it a duty to bring their behavior to light, before more damage is done. At a bare minimum, the “Kiddie Prison” housing proposals must be stopped before it is too late. Alumni and non-alumni supporters who want to help should be sure that the Defend the Deed group has their contact information, by e-mailing it to: This information will be used to engage in broader MHS childcare reform efforts, including lobbying public officials more actively. All assistance counts today and there is no room for any further delay.


MHS employees and guardians/sponsors of MHS children should also feel free to provide contact information, as this will be maintained in strict confidence to prevent Administration retaliation. It is time for all concerned with MHS children to unite behind shared childcare reform goals and to make their voices heard by local officials. If support can be rallied to MHSAA goals, then MHS can still serve children in the homelike, natural, and communitywide “anti-orphanage” and “family style” settings that the Hersheys intended — and the MHS Trust can still be reformed to yield our nation’s greatest child-saving charity. But if not, then we will have squandered the last best chance to end decades of MHS Trust childcare failure, while allowing more harms to befall MHS children today — including the imminent introduction of congregated “institutional” facilities that would have horrified Milton & Catherine Hershey. Midnight has already struck for countless needy children failed by inadequate childcare facilities over decades when MHS should have been their saving grace. It is one stroke to midnight for countless other children and for what remains of the Hersheys’ child-saving dreams. Is anyone there? Does anyone care? Or is it only a handful of alumni activists prepared to fight to the end on behalf of the Hersheys’ childcare wishes, while all others stand silently by? Ric Fouad HIS/MHS Class of 1980* (
*The writer is an attorney with a Japan-focused commercial law practice. He served as an MHSAA Officer/Director from 2000 to 2004, led the MHSAA side in the 2002 OAG Dialogue, briefed and argued the MHSAA intervention petition during the 2002 Hershey Company injunction proceeding, assisted Dilworth Paxson in briefing the standing matter in the Reform Agreement litigation, and presented oral argument in the three related standing hearings, most recently at the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. His writings on MHS childcare/reform matters can be found at under “Essential Essays” in the Archives section of the website, including “A Factory for Miracles,” “Bias, Flaw & Avoidance” (jointly issued), “Camp Catherine & Orphans’ Trust Pie,” and “No Longer & Not Yet.”