Local lawmakers decline governor’s invitation to attend Maple Lane’s closure; issue statement

Lawmakers from the 20th Legislative District today declined the state Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s invitation to attend ceremonies surrounding the closure of Maple Lane School in Grand Mound.

Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, and Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said the last-minute notice caught them off guard as the school was originally slated for closure later this summer.

The two lawmakers have worked tirelessly to have Maple Lane treated fairly during the decision-making process to close facilities as the state faces unprecedented budget problems.

They issued the following statements:

Rep. Richard DeBolt

“An independent review indicated the most logical and cost-effective way to streamline the juvenile justice system was to close the JRA facility in Naselle. Ultimately, the process used by the Legislature to determine which juvenile facility was politically driven and did not adequately consider how the state can best protect public safety and provide services to juvenile offenders in the most cost-effective manner.  Keeping communities safe and getting young people the services they need should not be compromised, and I believe that is what happened in this case.”


Rep. Gary Alexander

“It is with a heavy heart that we turn down the department’s and the governor’s invitation.  Despite our efforts to shed light on a politically-weighted process, Maple Lane, its employees and the surrounding communities suffer the unnecessary and unwarranted brunt of this decision.  The fact the school’s closure has been placed on the fast track – and we’re only now hearing about this – lends further weight to our contention that politics, more than sound fiscal principles, played a major role in this action.”


They also sent a letter to Gov. Gregoire:


May 31, 2011

Dear Gov. Gregoire,

While we appreciate your consideration, we respectfully decline the Department of Social and Health Service’s invitation to attend the event commemorating the closure of the Maple Lane School in Grand Mound.

We understand the decision had been made to close the school later this summer. And it is curious that the closing ceremony was planned prior to final approval by the Legislature. However, we still hold firm to the belief that politics – more than economic realities – played too large a role in this process. The expedited timeline for the school’s closure raises the question once again about the legitimacy of this action. The negative effects this closure will have on the students being served at Maple Lane, our surrounding communities and local economy have not been adequately addressed when compared to other options that had been reviewed and recommended for streamlining the state’s juvenile rehabilitation system.

We regret that Maple Lane School was not evaluated objectively on a system-wide basis to ensure the most beneficial outcome for both the state and the surrounding communities.

It is for these reasons that we cannot participate in tomorrow’s planned event.

With sincere regret,


Republican Leader Richard DeBolt

20th Legislative District


Rep. Gary Alexander

20th Legislative District


cc: Susan Dreyfus, Secretary

Department of Social and Health Services



For more information, contact Lisa Fenton, Communications Director: (360) 786-7728


Washington State House Republican Communications