July 1, 2021  Blog Entry #6

Below is our email to the U.S. Department of State.  Please read story, "How a Miami tech whiz groomed and molested exchange students -- and evaded cops for years."

It is long overdue that the U.S. Department of State implements full, FBI-based fingerprint criminal background checks on host families in the Federal Regulations.

July 1, 2021


U.S. Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

"How a Miami tech whiz groomed and molested exchange students — and evaded cops for years" by David Ovalle is for your review.

Per your unsatisfactory response below, we will never know if CCI Greenheart aka Greenheart Exchange formerly known as Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) was ever sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State.

Will the State Department please implement full FBI-based fingerprint criminal background checks on host families in the Federal Regulations?  This is a long overdue child safety measure.  Without it, headlines of abuse of innocent exchange students will continue.  This is shattering lives and ruining the reputation of America.  

Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students

cc

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
*** end of email ***


-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home
despite host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman
during home-invasion robbery in 1985]
From: "Scott, Henry C" <ScottHC@state.gov>
Date: Wed, March 31, 2021 11:29 am
To: "dgrijalva@csfes.org" <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Cc: HighSchoolExchanges <HighSchoolExchanges@state.gov>, J1Visas Mailbox
<JVisas@state.gov>

Dear Ms. Grijalva:

We value and appreciate your concern and engagement on behalf of exchange students and share as a priority the health, safety, and welfare of exchange visitors.  Please do continue to notify us about cases where you believe exchange visitors need the Department's assistance.  However, the Department does not share information about individual exchange visitors and sponsors with outside parties, nor does it ever provide updates and read-outs of actions taken with outside parties.

Very respectfully,


Henry Scott    
   
**************************************
Henry C. Scott
Director, Office of Private Sector Exchange Program Administration
Private Sector Exchange Directorate
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Exchanges
U. S. Department of State
Email:  ScottHC@state.gov
Office:  (202) 679-3941

*** end of email ***

From: dgrijalva@csfes.org <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2021 5:39 PM
To: Scott, Henry C <ScottHC@state.gov>
Cc: HighSchoolExchanges <HighSchoolExchanges@state.gov>; Alexander, James T <AlexanderJT@state.gov>; Geary, Susan A <GearySA@state.gov>; Dickerson, Elizabeth B <DickersonEB@state.gov>; Ward, Karen S <WardKS@state.gov>; Chris Page <Cpage@csiet.org>; CSIET Anna Damewood <Anna@csiet.org>; CSIET Nia Butler <Nia@csiet.org>; Howard, Mark E <HowardME@state.gov>; NCMEC Sherry Bailey <Sbailey@ncmec.org>; NCMEC John Clark <Jclark@ncmec.org>; Russ Johnson <RJohnson@NCMEC.ORG>; Laura Silver <lsilver@ncmec.org>; NCMEC Patty Wetterling <Pwetterling@ncmec.org>; NCMEC Patty Wetterling <pattywetterling@yahoo.com>; jrletc@ncmec.org <jrletc@ncmec.org>
Subject: RE: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during home-invasion robbery in 1985]
 
U.S. Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

It has been almost three years.  Has State imposed sanctions against CCI Greenheart (currently known as Greenheart Exchange) for placing one of its participants in the home of a convicted felon?  Please see link to the headlines below.  

Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593


Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy

*** end of email ***


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [FWD: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite
host father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during
home-invasion robbery in 1985]
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Tue, March 02, 2021 11:24 pm
To: "Henry Scott" <ScottHC@state.gov>
Cc: "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "STATE James Alexander"
<AlexanderJT@state.gov>, "State Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "State
Elizabeth Dickerson" <DickersonEB@state.gov>, "STATE Karen Hawkins"
<hawkinsks@state.gov>, "Chris Page" <Cpage@csiet.org>, "CSIET Anna
Damewood" <Anna@csiet.org>, "CSIET Nia Butler" <Nia@csiet.org>, "STATE
Mark Howard" <HowardME@state.gov>

United States Department of State
Mr. Henry Scott

Dear Mr. Scott,

Were sanctions ever imposed against CCI Greenheart currently known as Greenheart Exchange for placing one of its participants in the home of a convicted felon?  I have yet to receive a response to my email below sent May 17, 2018.  

I look forward to hearing from you.

Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593
Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


cc

CSIET, Mr. Chris Page, Ms. Anna Damewood and Ms. Nia Butler

*** end of email ***


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: CCI Greenheart exchange student placed in home despite host
father's felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during
home-invasion robbery in 1985
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Thu, May 17, 2018 11:36 am
To: "State High School Exchanges Joele"
<highschoolexchanges@state.gov>, "Alexander T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>,
"State Susan Geary" <GearySA@state.gov>, "State Elizabeth Dickerson"
<DickersonEB@state.gov>, "State Kevin Saba" <sabagk@state.gov>,
"Hawkins S" <hawkinsks@state.gov>, "State Alicia Gibson"
<gibsonfr@state.gov>, "STATE Ami Goodwin" <AGexchanges@state.gov>,
"State Alyson L. Grunder" <GrunderAL@state.gov>, "State Lorraine
Hartmann" <HartmannL@state.gov>, "STATE Bernard Haynes"
<HaynesBJ2@state.gov>, "State Sabin Hinton" <Hintonsm@state.gov>,
"STATE Holly Stephens" <StephensHD@state.gov>


U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander
Mr. Mark Howard
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Mr. Kevin Saba
Ms. Karen Hawkins

Re:  Chicago-based CCI Greenheart places exchange student in home despite host father's felony conviction

Dear All,


Please read the following link where you may read, "San Jose was placed in the Leary household by Chicago-based CCI Greenheart, despite his felony conviction for sexually attacking a woman during a home-invasion robbery in 1985."

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2145700/foreign-exchange-student-marta-san-jose-brainwashed

State must implement full, fingerprint criminal background checks on host families that are hosting foreign exchange students.

Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593
Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy  .

July 17, 2021 Blog Entry #7


Within weeks, thousands of foreign exchange students from over 120 countries will soon come to our country to learn more about the American way of life.  They will stay with their host families between five to ten months while they attend high school.  


Now is the time of year when CSFES gets hit pretty hard with emails from parents across the globe saying that a permanent host family has yet to be selected for their son or daughter, and they ask what they should do?  Should they allow their son or daughter to leave for America without the promise of a host family?  The answer is simple:  No.  


Parents and students should be corresponding with their child's host family now.  Families are encouraged to connect with the family that will soon welcome their son or daughter into their home for up to ten months.  If a host family has not been assigned to your son or daughter by the time he or she is scheduled to leave home; it is strongly suggested that you not send your child abroad to study on a cultural exchange.  Save yourself a lot of heartache and headache and do not run the risk of your child being bounced around among temporary homes. 


Parents need to know that it is very stressful on a child who does not have a permanent host family.  And if the student speaks out to the placement agency and expresses any discomfort not having a host family assigned to them yet, the student may face being sent home early by the placement agency.  The child will be labeled as 'fussy' or 'spoiled' 'having an inability to adjust' or is 'homesick.'  Reimbursement of program fees should this happen is unheard of.  


I recall a blonde haired, blue eyed female exchange student from Norway who was asked by her area representative to walk up and down her neighborhood knocking on the doors of complete strangers asking them if they wanted to host her.  In Arkansas, exchange students were found in front of a Wal Mart sitting behind a cardboard table with a sign that stated they were exchange students and would you be willing to host one of the students?  


I also recall being asked by my regional director Connie Dean when I was an area representative with the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) currently known as Greenheart Exchange, to make CCI flyers complete with pictures of the exchange students who still needed a host family.  Connie Dean told me I should walk into my local pizza parlor and ask the manager if I could tape the CCI flyers to their pizza boxes.  This way, when a pizza was delivered, they would also be able to learn about hosting an exchange student.  Many of these student placement agencies will place exchange students just about anywhere with anyone.  


Please be advised of the recent headlines dated April 14, 2021:
Foreign exchange student suffered sexual abuse from host parent, suit alleges
By Marian Johns, Southeast Texas Record


The student exchange agency responsible for the placement of this student is:  Educational Resource Development Trust, d/b/a SHARE ("ERDT") (based in USA) and Estudiar en USA (based in Spain).


The Petition filed in Harris County, Texas on April 16, 2021 reads:  


"6.5 On numerous occasions between about September 2018 and April 2019, when RAM was 15 and 16 years of age, Cohen subjected RAM to unwanted sexual contact by engaging in at least the following behavior:


a. Forcing RAM to get into Cohen’s bed;
b. Forcing RAM to rub Cohen’s stomach and chest which aroused Cohen;
c. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis outside of his clothes;
d. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis inside his clothes; and
e. Forcing RAM to masturbate Cohen until climax." 


ERDT is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) Advisory List.  


The following recent headlines come to mind:


February 26, 2021

 A 'playground for predators': Iowa sex abuse case shows holes in protections for exchange students
Philip Joens Des, Moines Register


February 11, 2021
Youngsville Police: LPSS employee accused of having sex with exchange student

July 24, 2020
New sex abuse investigation for Bedford man accused of secretly filming exchange student

by Damien Fisher


March 3, 2020
Foreign exchange student coordinator charged with child pornography


December 18, 2019
Marine wife arrested on suspicion of having sex with teen exchange student

By Kristina Davis, The San Diego Union Tribune


October 3, 2019
Host Parent For Foreign Exchange Students Sentenced For Child Sexual Exploitation Violations


CSFES strongly encourages parents and students to get in touch via Skype, email or even a telephone call with their future host family.  This is a perfect time to get to know a little about the family that will be hosting your son or daughter.  And, please, even though your child will be disappointed, please do not allow your son or daughter to leave home and study abroad without a properly screened host family being assigned to your child.  

The title 'A Predator's Playground' was chosen for this blog because exchange students continue to be placed in the homes of hosts with a criminal past.  This is an under-regulated,  (they are regulated, but not enough and the few regulations they do have aren't enforced), unmonitored industry.  Innocent teens are being placed with pedophiles and extortionists courtesy of many among the student exchange industry.  Many exchange students have had host families take their money or force them to pay for household expenses.

Each year, approximately 30,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 come to the United States.  For many, this is their first time in America.  They are excited to learn about the American way of life.  Their parents have spent thousands to ensure their child has a memorable experience.  

The student will be assigned an area representative when they arrive in America.  Their area representative is supposed to help them, guide them, support them and answer any questions the student has during their stay.  

By visiting the 'News' page on the CSFES website, you will read just how common it is for innocent exchange students to be sexually abused by their host.  Parents are encouraged to do their homework prior to sending their teenage child thousands of miles from home to live with complete strangers.  

Many things can and do go wrong during a cultural exchange.  Many parents think that by paying high program fees to send their child abroad to study will ensure a safe and positive experience, but this is not the case and I will share with you the many cases where a cultural exchange has gone terribly wrong,

Below are questions that have been commonly asked over the years by students, parents, host families and school administrators.  

Common questions from students:

1.  My host father hugs me all the time.  This makes me feel uncomfortable.  Is this typical American behavior?

2.  What happens if there is very little food in the fridge and pantry?  Am I responsible for buying my own food?  I go to bed hungry a lot and only eat when I'm in school.  

3.  I arrived in the United States and I'm asked to live with my area representative until a permanent host family can be found.  Why don't I have a permanent host family?

4.  My area representative is making me look for a host family by having me knock on doors in the neighborhood asking complete strangers if they'd like to host an exchange student.  Can you help me?  

Common questions from parents:

1.  When I Skype my son, his eyes look lifeless.  His face looks different.  Could my son be homesick or is it something else?

2.  I have a daughter placed in Minnesota.  The heating has gone out for four days and she goes to bed cold at night.  What can we do?

3.  My daughter is not allowed to speak to my husband and I in German when we Skype.  Why is this?  Should I be worried?

4.  My son looks like he's lost a substantial amount of weight.  Our German agency says there isn't anything we can do.  Is this right?

5.  My daughter has asthma and much to my surprise has been placed with a family that smokes and has many dogs and cats in the house.  What can I do to get her out of there?

6.  I've been told my daughter may become homesick if we talk too much, but I just have to make sure she's okay.  Now the host family is keeping us from talking with her on the phone.  I can't get the Italian agency to help me.  

7.  My son's acne is present.  He only gets acne when he's extremely stressed.  Should I ask him what is causing his stress?

8.  It has been six weeks and our son is still living with a Welcome Family.  What can we do?  The sending agency in France never told us there would be a problem in securing a permanent host family.  

9.  My daughter complains that her host mom works all the time and is never home.  This leaves her at home with the host father who is unemployed and drinks alcohol all day.  He makes her feel uncomfortable.  What can we as parents do?

10.  I think my daughter's host father may be an alcoholic.  Who can help me?

11.  My son shares a bunk bed with his host brother who suffers from incontinence.  According to my son, the bedroom smells bad as the host mother rarely changes the sheets.  My son sent pictures of the underside of the bunkbed and we are concerned.

12.  My son's host mother refuses to drive him to school even though it is on her way to work.  This does not make sense to me.  

Common questions from school administrators:

1.  I have an exchange student in my office with failing grades.  When she arrived, she had a 4.0 grade point average.  She reports she has become a live-in babysitter to three minor children in the home.  How can I help this student?  The placement agency won't return my calls.  

2.  How did a foreign exchange student get placed with a family in town known to have run ins with the law?

3.  A foreign exchange student witnessed child abuse in the home and reported it to law enforcement.  Now his placement agency is sending him back to his home country.  Can they do that?  He is cleaning out his locker at school now and won't even be able to say goodbye to his friends.  

Parents:  You are strongly encouraged to take your time and select a reputable placement agency in your home country that partners with an equally reputable placement agency where your child will be placed.  

You are encouraged to ask the placement agency in your country, for example, whether its partner in the United States performs full, FBI-based fingerprint, criminal background checks on the host family.  If they do not, choose a different placement agency.  Too many exchange students are returning home early to their home country in shame.  This blog will allow you to see the many instances this has happened.  You are encouraged to contact CSFES with any questions prior to sending your child abroad on a cultural exchange.

Sadly, by the time most parents and students reach CSFES, it is too late.  The damage has been done.  We do our best to give each student's situation a voice.  I look forward to hearing from you.​



A Predator's Playground...


June 28, 2021     Blog Entry #2

I recall when CSFES was was notified that a 16-year-old female Japanese exchange student was placed in the home of a parolee who, on one occasion was charged with sexual battery and rape in Florida and served a 12-year prison sentence for burglary. 

CSFES immediately contacted the student exchange organization, The Foundation for Academic Cultural Exchange (F.A.C.E.) in Gainesville, Florida. Mr. Richard Moss, of F.A.C.E. who supervised the placement of this student, said that he did not feel it was important to inform the natural parents of the fact that their daughter would be placed in the home of a host father who is on parole until July, 2006. Furthermore, Mr. Moss did not notify the Japanese foreign partner of the conditions of this placement of its student.

When CSFES brought its concerns to the attention of the Department of State, Mr. Stanley Colvin informed me that the natural parents had since been notified and are perfectly fine with the knowledge that their daughter is living in the home of a parolee. He further stated that the 144 months the host father spent in prison and the nine counts against him was for a "minor run-in with the law." When Mr. Colvin's rationale was questioned by an overseas expert, he responded rudely on the lines that it was none of her business. 

What concerns CSFES is the effect this will this have on future placements of foreign exchange students. United States parents who are contemplating sending their son or daughter abroad should ensure that the student exchange agency does not place their children with hosts who have a criminal background. Much seems to depend on the integrity of the student exchange organization, but our experience has been that when things go wrong, the agency protects itself, not the students. 

The fact that this subject is being addressed is absolutely unconscionable. However, due to the fact that this placement was approved by F.A.C.E. it must be addressed and brought to the attention of those concerned.
 .


July 25, 2021     Blog entry #9


Below is a complaint sent to the Department of State and the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) on February 28, 2021.


EF Education First (EF) is the placement agency responsible for Thomas Boatright being allowed to host foreign exchange students in his home, which is a violation of the Federal Regulations, as well as act as a EF coordinator.  


The State Department and CSIET has been made aware of these headlines for years; yet EF Education First (EF) remains a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and is on CSIET's Advisory List.  


Email to the U.S. Department of State and CSIET:


From: dgrijalva@csfes.org <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2021 2:56 AM
To: Howard, Mark E <HowardME@state.gov>; Chris Page <Cpage@csiet.org>; CSIET Nia Butler <Nia@csiet.org>; CSIET Anna Damewood <Anna@csiet.org>
Cc: Alexander, James T <AlexanderJT@state.gov>; Ward, Karen S <WardKS@state.gov>; Dickerson, Elizabeth B <DickersonEB@state.gov>; Geary, Susan A <GearySA@state.gov>; Ammar, Maha G <AmmarMG@state.gov>
Subject: Complaint against EF - Headlines of abuse of foreign exchange students
 
United States Department of State
Mark Howard
Office of Designation
Academic and Government Programs Division
2430 E Street NW, (SA-4E)
Washington, DC 20037


Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
Chris Page, Executive Director
Anna Damewood
Nia Butler
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 600
Alexandria, VA  22314

Dear Mr. Howard, Mr. Page, Ms. Damewood and Ms. Butler,

Yesterday, we read, "A 'playground for predators': Iowa sex abuse case shows holes in protections for exchange students" by Phillip Joens of the Des Moines Register.  EF Education First (EF) is the placement agency responsible for Thomas Boatright being allowed to host foreign exchange students in his home, which is a violation of the Federal Regulations, as well as act as a EF coordinator.   

Repeated headlines of abuse by EF is below is for your review.  EF is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State, as well as a member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET).

This repeated pattern of abuse harming innocent children is ruining the reputation of the United States. 

Why does the State Department and CSIET entertain this repeated pattern of abuse?  So many years of astonishing headlines in the news; yet EF remains a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State, as well as a member of CSIET. 

Please advise.   
  
Respectfully,


Danielle Grijalva, Director

Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students 

660 Joshua Tree Street

Imperial, CA  92251

www.csfes.org  760-583-9593

cc


United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

U.S. Department of State
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Karen Hawkins
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Susan Geary
Ms. Maha Ammar

Headlines of Abuse by EF:

1.


January 14, 2012


An American Nightmare:

Norwegian Exchange Students to the United States Risks Being Placed in Host Families Who Can Barely Take Care of Themselves
By Elisabeth Randsborg, Aftenposten

Student Exchange Agencies:  EF High School Year (EF) and Council for Educational Travel, USA  (CETUSA)


2.

January 22, 2013
Kevin Ricks, former Manassas teacher, sentenced to 20 more years in prison

The Washington Post, by Josh White

Student Exchange Agencies:

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs (ASSE)

EF Foundation


3.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

LURKING IN THE SCHOOLS

By Josh White, Blaine Harden and Jennifer Buske, Washington Post Staff Writers

Kevin Ricks' career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades


4.

January 20, 2012

David Radtke Sentenced To Jail Time
By Molly Miles, Reporter - KECY TV 

Article reads, "The victim and her family watched the sentencing via web cam from Madrid, Spain."

Student Exchange Agency:  EF Foundation

5.


January 13, 2010

Former St. Helens postal worker convicted of sex abuse
By Stover E. Harger III,  The South County Spotlight

Student Placement Agency:  EF Foundation


6.

FAYETTEVILLE : Agency dumps coordinators of foreign teens
BY ROBERT J. SMITH, Northwest Arkansas' News Source, June 3, 2008
http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/227602/

"State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S.  The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company 
representatives from serving as a student's host family, State Department officials said."

Complete story: 

Education First Foundation of Foreign Study on Monday fired a Fayetteville couple in charge of finding host families for foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.


EF Foundation's decision to fire Gerald and Sherry Drummond came hours after Fayetteville High School said that it will no longer accept foreign students brought to Arkansas by the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

"They called us this morning and told us with the decision of Fayetteville High School that they were going to ask us to not work with them anymore," Gerald Drummond said Monday. "I go with what they ask.

" We're just ordinary nobodies, but I enjoy life and I enjoy meeting people. We get things written about us like we're trying to take advantage of exchange students instead of it being a positive thing." 

Alan Wilbourn, the Fayetteville School District spokesman, said high school counselors spent too much time resolving difficulties encountered by EF Foundation students. That led to the decision to stop working with the company, he said.
"They've spent days handling living situations, and that's supposed to be taken care of before they get here," Wilbourn said.

The school district's ban of EF Foundation students comes five months after the U. S. State Department began investigating EF Foundation's Arkansas operation. The Drummonds accepted their first foreign exchange student as a host family eight years ago and eventually became the company's Arkansas coordinators. 

State Department investigators learned that EF Foundation failed to ensure that foreign exchange students had appropriate host families and homes before they arrived in the U. S. The foundation also allowed some students to live in the Drummond home, a violation of federal regulations that forbid company representatives from serving as a student's host family, State Department officials said.

The findings in the State Department's investigation, which involved six students at Fayetteville High School and one each at Fayetteville Christian School and Missouri Boulevard Baptist School, have not been made public.

Counselors and school administrators in Fayetteville interviewed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in December said foreign students associated with EF Foundation felt isolated, scared and appeared to be malnourished.

Those characterizations are unfair, Gerald Drummond said Monday. He said there are students who lived in his home who remain in contact with him. Over the eight years, 14 foreign exchange students lived with the Drummonds, he said.

"I'm just sad to see it come to a crashing end," he said. "We're not the terrible people the world thinks we are."

EF Foundation spokesman Ellen Manz wouldn't say why the Drummonds were let go. A replacement hasn't been selected. The company knew the Fayetteville school was considering banning EF Foundation students from enrolling, Manz said.

"Although this is a disappointing decision, it will not have a material impact on our program either in Arkansas or nationwide," Manz writes in an e-mail. "We will certainly visit Fayetteville High School in the fall to discuss their experiences with EF, and see if we can give them the confidence in our program to consider accepting our students in 2009-10."

Heather Slinkard, a Bella Vista woman who is area manager for a foreign exchange student company called Peace 4 Kids Inc., said EF Foundation's troubles in Arkansas hurt the overall image of foreign exchange programs.

"They did give us all a black eye, but more than that, they hurt students," Slinkard said.


State Sen. Sue Madison, DFayetteville, who wants the state to more closely monitor the placement of foreign exchange students at high schools, said she was pleased to hear the company fired the Drummonds.

"I'm happy to see EF take some firm action," Madison said. "Maybe they'll get somebody good."
Copyright (c) 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Student Exchange Agency:  Education First Foundation of Foreign Study (EF) 


7.

Lawmakers endorse study of foreign exchange student placement in Arkansas 

By Rob Moritz, Arkansas News Bureau,

Posted on 21 December 2007

LITTLE ROCK - The Legislative Council on Friday endorsed a proposal to study placement of foreign exchange students with host families in Arkansas.

Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, said she proposed the study after receiving complaints that some foreign exchange students were being placed in homes with families ill-equipped to take care of them.

Madison also noted recent reports that the U.S. State Department was investigating complaints about where a Massachusetts company had placed some foreign exchange students arriving in Arkansas.

That investigation, involving the Education First Foundation for Foreign Study and its Fayetteville coordinators, involves allegations that exchange students stayed at the homes of the coordinators.

Federal regulations prohibit employees of a foreign exchange company from serving as both a host family and area supervisor for a student.

Madison’s proposal asks the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth to study the issue and report its findings to Legislative Council.

“Some parents came to me about problems they’ve seen in Northwest Arkansas,” Madison said Friday, also noting problems she heard of in Clarksville and Hot Springs.

In Clarksville, Madison said, a student from Korea was placed with a family living in low-income housing. The student would write home asking her parents for money to help feed her host family, she said.

“At that point, she asked to be moved to another family and representatives from the company set up a table outside a Wal-Mart to recruit her another family,” Madison said. “They found her another family and this time the male of the household was arrested on a drug charge.”

The State Department, which currently has oversight authority, does not have adequate staff to oversee the foreign exchange program, Madison said. California has enacted a law that gives its attorney general’s office some oversight authority, she said.

The California law requires any person or group that arranges the placement of foreign exchange students in California elementary, junior high or high schools to register with the attorney general’s office before making the placement.

Copyright © Arkansas News Bureau, 2003 - 2006 

Student Exchange Agency:  Education First Foundation for Foreign Study (EF)


8.

Exchange group gets probe after teens complain 

by Robert J. Smith, December 9, 2007, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

The U. S. State Department is investigating complaints about where a Massachusetts company places foreign-exchange students arriving in Northwest Arkansas.

The eight cases involve Education First Foundation for Foreign Study and its Fayetteville coordinators, Gerald D. and Sherry A. Drummond, said Stanley Colvin, director of the State Department’s office of exchange coordination and designation. Six of the eight cases involve students attending Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville Christian School or Mission Boulevard Baptist School. The others attended schools in Northwest Arkansas but now live in Camden or Kentucky, Colvin said.

The complaints center on the nonprofit firm’s failure to find appropriate homes for some students before they arrive, as well as on how and where the Drummonds place the students.

“This is sloppy work,” Colvin said of the foundation’s operation in Arkansas.

The State Department is investigating whether Cambridge, Mass.-based Education First, better known as EF Foundation, violated a federal regulation by allowing some students to live in the Drummond home without assigning another EF employee as a supervisor, Colvin said.


Federal regulations require foreign-exchange companies to “ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any exchange student participant.”

“If there was an emergency and she had to remove a child from a home and keep the student for a one-night kind of thing, that’s not a violation,” Colvin said.

It wasn’t clear last week whether EF Foundation had assigned a separate supervisor.

Sherry Drummond, 53, refused to answer questions about the allegations of students and host families.

“It hurts me too much, because I’ve put so much into this,” she said.

She deferred to EF Foundation spokesman Ellen Manz, who requested that questions be sent by e-mail. She didn’t respond to those queries.

MADISON’S QUESTIONS 

The State Department investigation — expected to be complete in a few days — began after state Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville, received complaints from host families and foreign-exchange students about EF Foundation and the Drummonds. The students and their current host families in Northwest Arkansas told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week how foreign-exchange students lived in what they considered unclean, unsafe homes and how they felt disliked by Sherry Drummond when they stayed with her. They also complained that the Drummonds improperly served the dual role of host family and organization representative for several students, making it awkward for the students to voice their concerns.

Rikke Stoyva, a Fayetteville High School student from Norway, didn’t care for emphasis on religion by her host family, John and Jill Foster. The family attended nondenominational church services three times a week in West Fork.

Stoyva, who is Lutheran, lived with the Fosters for three months, then was moved to Camden, where she’s attending Camden Fairview High School. She is living with EF representative Leigh Horton, Horton said Friday.

Colvin said he’s also looking into complaints that foreign-exchange students sat at tables at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market and in front of a Wal-Mart trying to convince shoppers to allow other students into their homes.

“It’s not appropriate, but it’s not a violation of the law,” Colvin said. “It may be an indication of underlying regulatory violations. Why were they down there doing that ?”

It’s been a difficult year for foreign students at Fayetteville High. In September, student Marije Stam of the Netherlands repeatedly came to school upset and crying, she said, until counselors helped her move from the Drummond home.

“I did not feel like a guest, or at least a family member,” said Stam, 17, who lived in the Drummond house for a month and is now staying with Russ and Mara Cole of Fayetteville.

“I do not know how to express my feelings at that moment, but in my country, I would say [Sherry Drummond ] made me feel like a dog,” she said.

Mara Cole, along with Madison, spent much of last week spurring the State Department to investigate EF Foundation, the Drummonds and how the company operates in Arkansas. They sent statements from students and host families to Beth Melofchik, a State Department educational- and cultural-exchange specialist, describing what they say EF and the Drummonds did and failed to do. “I think we have an extra-special obligation to bring these foreign-exchange students to our country and to take good care of them, and I don’t think that’s happening here,” Madison said.

SCHOOL CONCERNED 

Fayetteville High teachers and counselors said they’ve had frequent issues with the Drummonds and EF Foundation placements. They’ve complained to officials in the foundation’s headquarters about the Drummonds and believe the organization did nothing in response. “I only hear about the bad [situations ], and there are several each year that are miserable for the student, and the placement in the homes get changed and the students have to be moved,” said Anne Butt, the high school’s college adviser for nine years.

Butt said she took a German student into her home four years ago because EF Foundation put her into a Springdale home she disliked.

Lesli Zeagler, a Fayetteville High counselor, said there are few problems with the international students attending the school who are brought to the United States by Rotary International. Not true with EF Foundation, she said.

“With EF, I’ve experienced students who are scared, who seem to be malnourished, and they seem to be isolated,” Zeagler said. “The problems go back years, but we’ve never had a group of students who have been so vocal about it.”

Doug Wright, a Fayetteville High counselor, was the counselor at Elkins High School last year. Among the nine foreign-exchange students at that school, five came to the States with the help of EF Foundation.

One EF placement was an Asian girl put in a home where the host parents were going through a divorce. The woman moved out and the man was left behind with the student, Wright said. The school reported it to EF Foundation and the girl was moved to the wife’s home, said Becky Martin, Elkins High School principal.

That instance, however, isn’t part of the State Department investigation.

“There were some questionable placements in Elkins,” Wright said. “I can’t think of a non-EF kid who had a problem.”

Boglarka “Boszi” Palko, a national history champion in Hungary who’s attending Fayetteville High, found herself in an awkward situation when she arrived at the Springdale home of Bobby and Sue Hawkins on Aug. 4.

Palko, 18, said she was never happy in the small house, where she was asked to live with the Hawkinses and their 17-year-old daughter. Cousins and grandchildren also regularly spent the night.

Family members smoked inside the house. Palko said she had instructions to put toilet paper in the trash can rather than flush it. That plus cigarette smoke made the house smell bad, Palko said.
Palko said Hawkins family members described her as “overeducated” and as a “present” for their daughter. Bobby Hawkins, a close friend of the Drummonds, told Palko she’d need to understand “redneck English” to survive in the home, Palko said.

Palko said she also was accused of having a sexual relationship while she lived in the home. She denies the accusation.

Sue Hawkins invited a Democrat-Gazette reporter to see her Oak Street home last week then wouldn’t allow him inside. The tan-colored house was well-kept on the outside.

Palko lived eight days in the Hawkins home, then was moved to the 41-year-old, 2, 100-squarefoot Drummond home near Lake Sequoyah. In order to move, she had to sign an EF Foundation “behavioral agreement” that described the Hawkins home as “suitable” and that the problems she’d encountered were her fault.

“Sherry hated me,” Palko said. “When you speak with someone, you can feel it.”

She was moved five days later to the Fayetteville home of Dave and Brenda Servies. Sherry and Gerald Drummond visited the home to check it out, and family members passed a criminal-background check, which is required by the State Department. Palko said she’s been content in the Servies home. She’s visited local stores, loves Northwest Arkansas Mall and made her first trip last week to a Hobby Lobby crafts store. She’ll travel with the Servies as part of a Christmas trip to Florida. “I’m talking about what happened with the other people to protect the next kids from this,” Palko said. “It won’t be good for us to talk, but I can protect the next ones by letting people know.”

DUAL ROLE

Among the most troubling issues in Arkansas are the stories of Gerald and Sherry Drummond serving as host family and EF Foundation representatives, said Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students. The 2-year-old watchdog organization monitors foreign-exchange organizations.

Having a different EF Foundation representative serve as a supervisor doesn’t protect foreign-exchange students, she said.

“What neutrality does that provide the student when she has a concern about her host father or host mother ?” Grijalva said. “Is that not a recipe for disaster ? It’s a disgrace.”

Grijalva also expressed concerns about Stoyva, the Norwegian student placed in the Fosters’ home who’s now in Camden. The EF Foundation handbook says “we are not trying to change the student’s beliefs or convert anyone to a new faith.”

Efforts to reach Stoyva in Camden were unsuccessful. Horton, the EF representative in whose home Stoyva now lives, refused to let her come to the phone Friday, saying she’s a minor. School officials and state Sen. Gene Jeffress, D-Louann, refused to ask Stoyva to return messages.

“She’s doing wonderful now,” said Jeffress, a retired Fairview teacher who went to check on Stoyva last week. “She’s in a better situation now. She conveyed that to me.”

John Foster said his family didn’t try to change Stoyva’s beliefs and that the family knew of her Lutheran upbringing. He’d communicated with her by email before she came to the States about the family’s frequent visits to Unity Covenant Church in West Fork. The family attends church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. Stoyva knew what to expect, Foster said. “I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” said Foster, 28, a Fayetteville police officer assigned to work at Fayetteville High. “We felt like we gave Rikke a good home. “ Church was the only place we saw her smile at all. If loving your child and trying your hardest is something bad, then we did something wrong. We tried as hard as we could to make it work.”

EF FOUNDATION Madison said she was told by an EF Foundation employee that the Drummonds are paid $300 to $400 for each foreign exchange student placed in a family’s home, including their own. The Drummonds received $12 per student, per month, for verifying the students are doing well and helping with difficulties they encounter, Madison said.

Grijalva said most foreign-exchange student companies pay $400 to $750 for each student who is placed in a home. Host families aren’t paid.

The payment is a small portion of the $5, 000 for six months or $10, 000 for a year that the students pay EF Foundation to come to the United States.

Around 30, 000 exchange students come to America annually, said Colvin of the State Department’s exchange coordination office, adding the State Department investigates about 200 complaints each year. About 20 percent involve students brought to the United States by EF Foundation, Colvin said.

As part of its investigation in Arkansas, Colvin said the State Department could reprimand the company and require it to write a corrective-action plan to ensure it doesn’t violate federal regulations.

A more severe penalty could involve shutting down the corporation or limiting how many students it can bring to the United States.

Colvin sent a letter Thursday to the EF Foundation describing five media accounts and complaints last week regarding the organization. “This is not a pretty picture,” he concluded in the letter.


John Hishmeh, director of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, is familiar with the complaints coming from Northwest Arkansas. The nonprofit council monitors and distributes information about exchange programs.

“Things go wrong, and you have to figure out if it’s a catastrophic failure or a single thing that went wrong,” Hishmeh said.
Connie Williams, a counselor at Springdale High School for 35 years, said it’s wrong to “pinpoint” EF Foundation as problematic because she’s had difficulty with other companies, too. Eight foreign-exchange students are attending the school this year, she said.

“I’ve never particularly had trouble with EF, but I’ve had trouble with another agency,” Williams said.
Brad and Sarah Campbell, who are hosting a German student in their Fayetteville home, fear problems with foreign-exchange companies in Northwest Arkansas could have long-term consequences.

“These are high-achieving kids who were selected to come here,” Brad Campbell said. “They are diplomats. They want to know what it’s like in America, and they invest a year of their life to be here.

We owe them a good experience. Their opinions of the U. S. are being formed.

“ We’re not saying you have to be millionaires to have these kids, but you do have to have a solid foundation. A lot of the households aren’t solid. They are disruptive and filled with turmoil.” 

FOUNDATION FACTS 

Education First Foundation for Foreign Study, founded in 1979, is the country’s largest foreign-exchange company.

More than 100 companies bring students to the United States, said John Hishmeh, director of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel. The council has certified about 70, including EF Foundation.

About 30, 000 foreign-exchange students travel to the United States each year and few report problems, Hishmeh said.

EF Foundation brought 3, 712 students from more than 40 countries in the year ending Sept. 30, 2006, according to the foundation’s most recent federal tax filings.

The foundation’s income tax exemption submitted to the Internal Revenue Service last February reported its 2006 revenue was $10, 047, 865.

The company’s Web site is at www. effoundation. org.

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Student Exchange Agency:  EF Foundation (EF)


9.

EF student's death in another country shifts focus on Malta
By Kurt Farrugia, 10 August 2007

The Malta Tourism Authority chairman Sam Mifsud said that the damaging reports in the Swedish press were aimed at the international language school EF because one of its students died while on a language trip in another country.

"The Swedish press is focusing on the destinations where this company operates, which also includes Malta and showing people the way EF handles their students overseas.  Although this is bad publicity for us [Malta] this was really aimed at EF," Mr Mifsud said.

On Wednesday maltastar.com reported the damaging articles in the Swedish media on the way language students are treated in Malta.  The reports said students in Malta have "sex on the beach, unlimited access to alcohol, drugs and nightlife."

Sam Mifsud told maltastar.com that MTA is in the process of setting up a think thank made up of two persons from various associations to come up with a plan for next year to try to control the students.

This proposal is not the first of its kind.  When similar reports surfaced in Scandavian press in summer 2005 and 2006, the tourism Ministry and the MTA had promised to set up a network made up of people from the tourism industry, MTA, language schools and police.

Maltastar.com is informed that this network was never set up and thus in 2007, the situation has not improved over previous years. 

Malta's tourism figures in recent years have been very dependent on the language student's sector.  But tourism operates and businesses dependent on tourism are not too keen on language students because of their low purchasing power coupled with their behaviour tends to shoo away the more "wealthy" tourists.
Despite this, the sector is still very important if regulated appropriately.  To date, government has not taken concrete action which is damaging the language student business and also tourism in Malta in general, sources in the tourism industry said. 

The reports in the Swedish press were damaging to the extent that several readers' letters appeared in newspapers.  One parent wrote about the easy access her minor child had to alcohol and suggested to other parents not to send their children on such language trips. 

Other letters complained about irresponsible group leaders and said most of them were drunk.  Some though deemed "some" leaders as responsible.  The MTA chairman told maltastar.com that the MTA was informed of the reports in the Swedish press. 

Mr Mifsud said: "A Swedish student of EF language school was killed in another country and they are focusing on the destinations where this company operates, including Malta.  They are showing people the way EF handles their students overseas." 

Asked to comment on the reports in the Swedish press, Tourism Minister Francis Zammit Dimech had nothing to add to what the MTA said.  Dr Zammit Dimech only said that the MTA is in the process of setting up a group made up of two representatives from each of the relevant associations in order to come up with a precise and concrete action plan in respect of next year. 

The Minister did not comment on his government's failed promises of setting up a similar committee in previous years.

Source:  http://www.maltastar.com/pages/msFullArt.asp?an=14199

Student Exchange Agency:  EF 

10.

The News On 6 Video - Sunday, February 04, 2007 

Foreign Exchange Student Recovering From Gunshot Wound 

Student Exchange Agency:   EF Foundation for Foreign Study (EF)

Blog #1 June 27, 2021


Hello!  I'm Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES).  I formed CSFES in 2004 and we became a non-profit in 2006, after witnessing deplorable treatment of foreign exchange students while I was an area representative with the Center for Cultural Interchange (CCI) currently known as Greenheart Exchange.  I will go into greater detail about what I experienced as an area representative with CCI in future blogs.    

This blog has been created to celebrate 17 years that CSFES has been helping students, parents, host families and school administrators learn about the vital importance of staying safe while studying abroad on a cultural exchange. 

June 30, 2021       Blog Entry #3

Can I take you back a few years?  

During my second year at CCI, I received a frantic call from my regional director Connie Dean late one evening.  She wanted to know if I could find a temporary home for one of two exchange students that were placed with a man by the name of Sean Christopher in the Indio area.  There were two boys; one from France and the other from Germany.

Connie Dean gave me strict instructions that the new home must not have a computer in it.  The boys were accused of downloading porn on Sean Christopher’s computer, which was a lie.  

Both boys were also accused of stealing.  I was told by Connie Dean that CCI was being very generous in not sending both boys back to their home countries.

I had to do some thinking.  Finding a home without a computer in it would be hard.  But not impossible.  I called my mom and my sister just so happened to be there.  My sister, Jenny, heard what was going on and she said she would be happy to help.

I contacted Connie Dean and gave her the news that I would place one of the boys with my sister.  Connie Dean thanked me and proceeded to tell me more about the boys.  She painted a horrible picture.  

Both boys were placed in Sean Christopher’s home by Walter Shaw of Corona, CA, who was also an area representative with CCI.

Arrangements were made for the boy from France to be placed with my sister in her home in Imperial, CA.  

The young man from France arrived in Imperial, CA, and was greeted by my sister.  That evening, I received a call from Jenny.  She said, “Danielle, you need to talk with this boy.  There is something wrong.  I can’t get him to stop crying.”  

I told Jenny the young man was in a heap of trouble because he and his host brother were accused of downloading porn on their host father, Sean Christopher’s, home computer.  I reminded her both boys were also accused of stealing.  

But I did as my sister asked and I spoke with the young man.  I spent 45 minutes on the phone with him and was outraged by what he shared with me.  

I was shocked to learn that both boys were being groomed for sex by Sean Christopher.  Christopher watched porn via Fuckfest.com and would invite the boys to watch with him.  Christopher often encouraged the boys to drink alcohol.  Christopher took photos of the boys without their permission while they slept and encouraged the boys to walk around the house in their underwear.  

The boys didn’t steal anything.  Instead, they were frantically looking around the house searching for their visa and passports because they wanted to get the heck out from the clutches of Sean Christopher.  

I asked the young man why didn’t he tell Walter Shaw, their CCI area representative?  I was told they did on several occasions.  I learned both boys were told by Walter Shaw, “why are you saying such negative things about your generous host father?”    

The boys were also accused of being spoiled by Connie Dean of CCI.  She said they boys were bent out of shape that Sean Christopher didn’t have a swimming pool in his backyard.  This was also not true.  The boys wanted out of Christopher’s house because of the things he was doing and saying to the boys.  

The Indio Police Department responded to a child welfare call placed by the boy’s principal, Mr. Pat Walsh, of their high school.  The boys had missed a lot of school and the principal was concerned.  I have a copy of the Indio Police Report and will share with you its contents in a future blog. 

The exchange student from Germany was placed in Texas and the exchange student from France who went to live with my sister Jenny returned to France in March, three months early.  

I have an email from president of CCI, Mr. Emanuel Kuntzelman.  I will share that email with you in a future blog.  Long story short, when the boys reported being groomed for sex by their host father, CCI blamed the students, supported the perpetrator and demonized the whistle blower.  .

June 30, 2021     Blog Entry #4

In 2005, The Washington Post mentioned the formation of CSFES in their newspaper, and then my phone started ringing off the hook.  A reporter with MSNBC called me one early morning asking for a satellite interview in their Los Angeles office.

I was nervous, but agreed in an effort to get the word out that our U.S. Department of State must strengthen the regulations and begin to sanction its sponsors that repeatedly 1)  accept more students than there are homes available; 2) allow its sponsors to continually place these children in the homes of convicted felons and registered sex offenders and 3) stop returning these innocent children to their home countries in shame and left with nothing but heartache and misery.

Well, that really broke things open.  I began to get flooded with calls, emails, cards and letters from former exchange students who ranged in age from 19 to their mid-50's.  Each had a story, thank goodness, some were positive stories about their exchange, however, a vast majority were written by men and women who were sexually abused while studying abroad.  Then they each shared with me what they had to endure and how it has currently affected them today.  This is when I knew this problem was not only huge, but had been 'swept under the carpet' for decades.

I want to show you what I have encountered since the formation of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students.

CSFES is receiving requests from parents to recommend suitable student exchange organizations.  While CSFES is not in the position to make such referrals, we offer the following when making this very important decision:

Fingerprint Background Checks:

Ask specifically if the student exchange organization conducts fingerprint background checks.  If the answer is no, search for another company.  

 In Case of an Emergency:

Check how well the student exchange organization responds to emergencies, especially of an evening, weekends and holidays. Find out the emergency telephone number in which to call.  Then call the telephone number. The response will tell you if this is a responsible organization. 

Reviewing Student Profiles:

When visiting the exchange organization's website, what controls are in place to prevent easy access to the student's profile?  Is personal information easily accessible complete with the student's photo?  Is this the method in which you would like for your son or daughter to be placed by the student exchange organization?

There is an increase in sexual predators targeting children through the Internet, therefore, this is a vital concern to CSFES.

Host Family Information:
 
In the event you have progressed to receiving your son or daughter's prospective Host Family information packet from the student exchange organization:  

Check to see that this family's interests are similar to your son or daughters.

If your child has allergies or asthma; is he/she being placed in a home with animals or those who smoke?

**Be very concerned if prior to your son or daughter's departure, you are notified by the student exchange organization that there has been a sudden change with the Host Family selected for your child.  If you are told the Host Family is no longer the same "due to a divorce or unforeseen circumstances," etc., this is a major concern to CSFES." **

You will be told that a Welcome Family will instead await your son or daughter.  It has been our experience that this gives cause for your child to potentially be bounced around among Welcome Families many times prior to a "permanent" family being secured.  Does the organization pre-screen welcome families, including fingerprint background checks? 

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (d)(3) "Ensure that no organizational representative act as both host family and area supervisor for any student participant whom that organizational representative may host."

Your son or daughter should not be placed in a home where his/her host mother or father is also the organization's supervisor, area representative or regional director.  This provides no neutrality in the event your son or daughter has concerns or an emergency.

Secure High School Placement:

Do you have a letter of acknowledgement from the high school your son or daughter will attend?

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25(f)(4) "Under no circumstance shall a sponsor facilitate the entry into the United States of a student for whom a school placement has not been secured."

Student Identification Card:

As per the United States Department of State regulations, Section 62.25 (g)(4) "An identification card which lists the student's name, United States home placement address and telephone number, and a telephone number which affords immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor in case of emergency.  Such cards may be provided in advance of home country departure or immediately upon entry into the United States."

Parents:  Make certain your son or daughter has this information; complete with a telephone number that will provide immediate contact with both the Department of State and sponsor.

** In the event your child is not provided with a Student Identification Card complete with the above-referenced information, prior to departure or arrival into the United States, please notify CSFES immediately. **

Ask who has the final say on the selection of family. If you have concerns about the family (age of host parents, etc.) and you are told that if you have to accept the family -- ask more questions.

CSFES asks that parents:

1)  ask for a copy of the child protection policy of the agency responsible for placing students.

2)  ask for a guarantee in writing that the home of the host family has been inspected and the privacy of the student in bathroom and bedroom ensured.

3)  ensure that their children are aware of what constitutes sexual harassment given that most rapes are preceded by touching the thigh, commenting on the sexual attractiveness of the student, "accidentally" touching breasts etc., which if ignored leads the perpetrator to think that it is acceptable to proceed further.

4)  ask if the agency informs the student of telephone numbers to call if abusive behavior occurs (police, rape crisis centers, etc)? If not, do not use that agency.

5)  make certain your child can access the passport and return ticket if an unacceptable situation is encountered.

6)  ensure your child knows how to phone home from overseas.

7)  ensure they know how to contact their consulate in case they encounter problems that the agency ignores.
..

July 19, 2021 Blog entry #8


Below is an email CSFES sent to the U.S. Department of State today.  A study by Meaghan Kelleher of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) illustrates that name-based checks are not adequate and recommends fingerprint-based checks. The CSFES wants fingerprint-based checks on hosts in the Federal Regulations because of NCMEC's study; it is the best screening method available.   


Email to the U.S. Department of State:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Complaint against State Department's designated sponsor -
Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!)
From: <dgrijalva@csfes.org>
Date: Mon, July 19, 2021 5:37 pm

U.S. Department of State
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Susan Geary
Mr. James Alexander
Ms. Karen Hawkins
Ms. Maha Ammar
Mr. Henry Scott


Dear All,

Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and appears on the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) Advisory List.  

#1     In August, 2006, a student from the Czech Republic was placed in the home of a five-time felon in New Mexico. The student resided in the home for five months before his student exchange agency, Educational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) removed him from the home.


On March 19, 2007, CSFES filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of State, asking how this man "was able to host in the first place given the fact that background checks are mandatory?" Email below for your review.  


Email to the U.S. Department of State:

-----Original Message-----

From: dgrijalva@csfes.org [mailto:dgrijalva@csfes.org]
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 3:06 PM
Subject: Convicted felon hosted student from Prague -- an ERDT Share participant
 
United States Department of State
Ms. Elizabeth Dickerson
Ms. Sally Lawrence
 
Dear Ms. Dickerson and Ms. Lawrence:
 
Thought the following story would be of interest to you: 
 
Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter
 
Many wonder how Gomez was able to host in the first place given the fact that background checks are mandatory?
 
You will read in, "Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter", " Gomez e-mailed the Sun-News in August 2006 about serving as a host for a foreign exchange student from Prague. The newspaper published a story on the exchange program on Oct. 13.
 
Shortly after the article published, Gomez sent another e-mail to the newspaper stating the program was going to take the student out of his home.
 
You will read in, "Convicted felon fired from non-profit - By Jenn Kistler Sun-News reporter", ​"I do know that Mr. Gomez was a former host of ours and wouldn't be considered to host again," said Kelli Jones, director of Educational Resource Development Trust SHARE high school exchange program.
 
Jones said the student was placed in another home because Gomez didn't comply with some of the rules and regulations, which she wouldn't disclose.
 
Sincerely,
 
Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052
www.csfes.org / 760-414-1314

*** end of email ***

#2  Headlines by Rock Center with Brian Williams and Anna Schecter Rock Center in 2012 read:  

Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State DepartmentEducational Resource Development Trust (ERDT SHARE!) was the placement agency responsible for placing the exchange student from Germany in the home of Doyle Meyer. You will read in Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department, "The organization that placed them with the host father has been accused of orchestrating a cover-up to protect its reputation over the safety of the students." 


You will also read in Foreign exchange students sexually abused in program overseen by State Department, "In one of the most egregious cases, at least four exchange students were sexually abused over the course of two years by the same host father, even after the first victim sounded alarms.

“He said ‘this is American culture,’ and I should get used to it,” Christopher Herbon of Germany told NBC News in an exclusive interview broadcast on Rock Center."

#3  Attached you will find a court document filed April, 2021 naming ERDT as the placement agency responsible for placing a teenage exchange student from Spain in the home of Hayim Nissim Cohen in Texas.  


You will read in this court document, "On numerous occasions between about September 2018 and April 2019, when RAM was 15 and 16 years of age, Cohen subjected RAM to unwanted sexual contact by engaging in at least the following behavior:

a. Forcing RAM to get into Cohen’s bed;

b. Forcing RAM to rub Cohen’s stomach and chest which aroused Cohen;

c. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis outside of his clothes;

d. Forcing RAM to touch Cohen’s penis inside his clothes; and

e. Forcing RAM to masturbate Cohen until climax."


A study by Meaghan Kelleher of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) illustrates that name-based checks are not adequate and recommends fingerprint-based checks. The CSFES wants fingerprint-based checks on hosts in the Federal Regulations because of NCMEC's study; it is the best screening method available. 


This pattern of abuse is shattering lives of innocent teens and ruining the reputation of America.  


Respectfully,

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
660 Joshua Tree Street | Imperial, CA  92251
www.csfes.org / 760-583-9593


Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened--when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice. 
-- Robert Francis Kennedy


cc


National Center for Missing and Exploited Children


U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.  


Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
Mr. Chris Page
Ms. Anna Damewood



June 30, 2021     Blog Entry #5

I have been asked a lot over the years about which cases stand out the most to me.  In no particular order, I will share with you the emails I've received from students and their parent's since the formation of CSFES.  Permission has been given by the student and the parent to provide their emails that were sent to CSFES.  I have changed the student's name for privacy reasons.  

I will call her Anna.  She was 16 years old from Italy.  Anna was placed in Texas by Ms. Leigh Ann Gregg of ASSE.  ASSE is a designated sponsor of the U.S. Department of State and listed on CSIET’s Advisory List.

Anna felt highly uncomfortable in the home she was placed because there were sex toys strewn about the home.  Her host mother sold sex toys.  It was reported they were even in the host mother’s car.  They were everywhere!  

This is the email CSFES received from a concerned party that was sent to ASSE, Ms. Robin Lerner and Mr. James Alexander of the U.S. Department of State, as well as the Consulate General of Italy:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Anna
From: CSFES protect
Date: Thu, January 31, 2013 7:11 pm
To: "pete@asse.com" <pete@asse.com>
Cc: "ce@asse.com" <ce@asse.com>, "elliot@asse.co" <elliot@asse.co>,
"bill@asse.com" <bill@asse.com>, "DGrijalva@csfes.org"
<DGrijalva@csfes.org>, "lernerrj@state.gov" <lernerrj@state.gov>,
"alexanderjt@state.gov" <alexanderjt@state.gov>,
"scuola.washington@esteri.it" <scuola.washington@esteri.it>


Dear ladies and gentlemen
 
I am very concerned about the welfare of Anna from Italy who is currently under the J1 VISA for the ASSE organization.  I was contacted 3 days ago by a third party from the high school reporting that the student was having serious issues and that ASSE was threatening to move her to a new school in Waco, Texas because she complained about the host mother having sex toys in the house which made her very uncomfortable.  The current host mother sells the items as a business and the student was notified that while this is not illegal it is not appropriate to expose a 16 year old girl to these items.  The student was begging for anyone to listen to hear since she felt that her local coordinator (who is over an hour away) and her organization was not talking to her.  According to the student her natural family and her Italian organization said that if she could find a family in the Joshua ISD she could move to a new family and still remain at Joshua High School until the end of school.  It is already hard for an exchange student to fit in at an American high school and to yank Anna out without considering other possibilities is unacceptable.  I have worked in the exchange student business for the last 20 years and I am very familiar with acceptable practices.  I have a lot of connections in the Joshua community so I made some phone calls and was able to immediately find a family that is very excited to host Anna.  I tried numerous times to contact ms Gregg about this family and was told repeatedly in text messages that it was out of her hands and that there will be no discussion - Anna will be moving to Waco on Saturday, February 2nd.  I heard today that Anna went and spoke the Joshua High School principal Mick Cochran today and he tried to contact someone at organization and he could not get anyone to take his call.  According Anna - she tried to call Ms. Gregg's supervisor and was yelled out and told that there would be no discussion.  I have received numerous text messages from Anna because she is so scared and upset because she does not want to change schools.  Tonight I received a message from Anna stated that Ms. Gregg is picking her up at 10:00 pm tonight and taking her back to her house where she is going to do some work for her until she can be brought to Waco on Saturday.  So now Anna will not be able to say goodbye to her teachers or friends or even clean out her locker.  I think that every situation has to be looked at on an individual basis and I even offered to volunteer and work with Anna to help her complete the program on a successful note. What about the best interest of the student - for whatever reason this student's welfare is not being considered. 
 
I can be reached at (CSFES deleted telephone number.)  The family in Joshua is STILL willing to host Anna and I am STILL willing to help her in the transition.
 
*** end of email ***
 
Response from Mr. James Alexander of the U.S. Department of State:
 
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Alexander, James T" <AlexanderJT@state.gov>
To: Concerned Citizen
Sent: Friday, February 1, 2013 7:45 AM
Subject: RE: Anna
 
Dear (CSFES deleted name of reporting party,) 
 
Thank you for contacting us.  We will be in contact with the sponsor to investigate.
 
Best,
 
James
 
 
James Alexander
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs  (ECA/EC/D/PS)
U.S. Department of State
 
Ph: (202) 203-7794
Fax: (202) 203-7000 (not yet operational)
 
E-mail: alexanderjt@state.gov
*** end of email ***
 
CSFES was contacted by Anna’s father in Italy who also wanted his daughter out of the home.  Would you believe that Anna was asked by ASSE Area Representative Leigh Ann Gregg to write an apology letter to her host mom for being rude or else Anna will be sent back home to Italy if she doesn't write these letters!  The dear girl is simply uncomfortable being surrounded by sex toys. and Leigh Ann Gregg of ASSE asks her to write apology letters for expressing her discomfort as you will read here:

----- Messaggio inoltrato -----
Da: Leigh Ann Gregg 
A: Anna
Cc: Robin Fruia <robin@asse.com>
Inviato: Martedì 19 Febbraio 2013 22:43
Oggetto: Checking In
 
Hey Anna,
 
Just wanted to check in and see how things are going? Haven't heard from you much the last couple of weeks. I hope things are well.
 
I still need you to change your schedule, and I'd like to see a copy of your new schedule once you've changed it. I'll be calling your counselor this week to confirm this has happened. That was one of the stipulations of you getting to stay with a family in Joshua. YOU MUST get it done.
 
Also, I think enough time has passed and you've had time to settle in and get re-adjusted, so we need to get to work on the apology letters. You need to write an apology letter to the following people:
 
Lisa Ries, ASSE Southern Regional Director
Robin, Fruia, ASSE Area Coordinator
Leigh Ann Gregg, ASSE Area Representative
Vessey Family
Marie Holck
 
All letters should be put in individual envelopes (not sealed) and addressed to the individual people, then mailed to me:
 
 
Leigh Ann Gregg
CSFES deleted address
Addison, TX 75001
 
I will make sure they are given to the appropriate people. I need to receive these letters no later than Monday,February 25.
 
--
Leigh Ann Gregg
ASSE Area Representative
*** end of email ***
 
CSFES received the following email from Anna’s natural father in Italy:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Anna
From: Anna’s natural father
Date: Wed, February 20, 2013 4:08 am
To: "dgrijalva@csfes.org" <dgrijalva@csfes.org>

Dear Mrs Danielle,
 
My name is (CSFES deleted name) and I am the father of Anna.  I am sorry for my poor English.
 
We need  your help again.
 
Anna  received by her representative the email below yesterday in the afternoon.
 
Asse association asks her to change schedule ( time and of course classroom) and asks her to write a lot of apologies to different people.
 
Anna now live in a very lovely family . She is very happy but it is not correct asks her to change friends and timetable to follow  new lessons.
 
About the apologies my wife and me  think it should be Anna to receive an apology by Asse.
 
Do you think it is an appropriate behavior by Asse association with a young girl who is in a foreign country ?
 
How can we protect Anna from the odious requests from  Asse please?
 
I know that is hard but are there  the conditions to take legal steps against the Asse for his behavior ?
 
Thank you very much for all you can do in order to maintain the actual and happy ( for Anna) situation.
 
P.S.
 
I want to emphasize that Anna has suffered a lot before to find a new family and she  is  not a spoiled girl.
 
Best regards
Anna’s Natural Father
*** end of email ***

Anna’s story ended on a good note I am happy to report.  In an email from Anna, she sent on February 11, 2013:

Hello Danielle!!

My new family is amazing!  They are super funny and super good with me!  I’m really happy now, and all thanks to you!  I don’t know how I would have done without you!  I give you my mom’s email so you can tell my parents what they do about ASSE!  Again T-H-A-N-K-S

*** end of email ***

And for those of you wondering… no, Anna never did have to write those apology letters!!