Agape Boarding School – Othello, Washington

How long is long enough?

Robert Graves, Cedar County Deputy, attended the Othello campus of Agape Boarding school.

June 19th, 1992

Agape Othello Campuse Agape Othello Campuse 19 Jun 1992, Fri Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

The first mention of Agape Boarding School in Washington.

December 30th, 1992

State targets Othello boarding school - 1992-12-30State targets Othello boarding school – 1992-12-30 30 Dec 1992, Wed Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Agape faces closure in Washington as early as ’92. This article references their previous campus in Stockton, California.

Department of Health Investigators found the following issues:

  • The facility needed many repairs, lacked a central heating system, and space heaters were being used for warmth
  • Criminal background checks were not requested for staff members.
  • James Clemensen had experience with the California Highway Patrol but no theology or teaching preparation. Bryan Clemensen had experience working in group homes in California, had completed the Accelerated Christian Education System, and had some college training
  • The facility lacked the necessary qualified teaching staff to carry out an educational curriculum.
  • General housekeeping and sanitation were poor
  • Sleeping-room doors were locked from the outside and there were uncovered electrical service panels, broken glass, garbage, building debris and improper wiring.

Clemensen began trying to rectify these issues, including filing for a well permit.

January 12th, 1993

Othello school seeks suit dismissal - 1993-01-12Othello school seeks suit dismissal – 1993-01-12 12 Jan 1993, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Some history from this article: “The school opened in October 1991 and was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation on Jan. 7, 1992. It has about 41 students between 10 and 18 years old who come from throughout the country. Monthly tuition is $800. The school also receives support from the First Baptist Church of Riverview in Pasco, which the boys are required to attend.”

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March 29th, 1993

Agape boarding school statement of non-discrimination - 1993-03-29Agape boarding school statement of non-discrimination – 1993-03-29 29 Mar 1993, Mon Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

September 28th, 1993

Agape Othello CampusAgape Othello Campus 28 Sep 1993, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

In 1993, Agape was licensed to operate by the state of Oregon to operate as a private school. As a result, the Department of Health lawsuit seeking to halt operations was dismissed.

Since Agape was now a school, the health department no longer had jurisdiction.

Agape Baptist Church was formed, allegedly as “double protection” for the school around this time. Agape also hired a certified teacher to meet state guidelines.

April 9th, 1994

No radiation just some old sandbags - 1994-04-09No radiation just some old sandbags – 1994-04-09 09 Apr 1994, Sat Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Nothing particularly relevant here, but I think Clemensen was later sued for improper disposal of something. Need to dig into this.

March 16th, 1995

Franklin County permit notification - 1995-03-16Franklin County permit notification – 1995-03-16 16 Mar 1995, Thu Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Agape applies for conditional use permits to allow for twelve manufactured homes and six RV spaces on their 43 acre property.

This permit was denied.

May 9th, 1995

Franklin orders school to close - Part 1 - 1995-05-09Franklin orders school to close – Part 1 – 1995-05-09 09 May 1995, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com Franklin orders school to close - Part 2 - 1995-05-09Franklin orders school to close – Part 2 – 1995-05-09 09 May 1995, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

By 1995, Agape’s state approval had been revoked and after repeated violations of building and fire codes, they were told by Franklin County Planning Director Richard German that they had 10 days to stop operating the school.

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According to inspections, the Agape campus had a fire door nailed shut, insufficient heating in dorm rooms, sheets of asbestos on the ground, missing exit signs and stairway emergency lighting and washing machines plugged into extension cords.

Dorm rooms that should legally house 16 people had 25 living in them.

May 11th, 1995

Extension Likely for Othello school to meet state codes - 1995-05-11Extension Likely for Othello school to meet state codes – 1995-05-11 11 May 1995, Thu Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

May 13th, 1995

Agape Othello CampusAgape Othello Campus 13 May 1995, Sat Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Impending closure shocks some Agape parents. Clemensen sent out letters explaining the school’s situation, asking parents to take their children home, contact Franklin Count commissioners, or give the school permission to move the child “to any destination” the school finds.

Clemensen is quoted as saying “We may want to start a second school in a friendlier state. There are a number of different states that support our type of ministry.”

The people of Stockton collectively sneezed.

August 2nd, 1995

Decision delayed on Agape School - 1995-08-02Decision delayed on Agape School – 1995-08-02 02 Aug 1995, Wed Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

September 24th, 1995

Agape Othello CampusAgape Othello Campus 24 Sep 1995, Sun Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Agape continues to appeal and houses about 30 boys despite officially being shut down.

October 10th, 1995

Agape students to board in California - 1995-10-10Agape students to board in California – 1995-10-10 10 Oct 1995, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

The last of the Agape boys are relocated to a camp near Bakersfield, CA. Clemensen maintains that they will finish repairs to the Radar Hill buildings.

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February 26th, 1996

Family trying to revive Othello boarding school - 1996-02-26Family trying to revive Othello boarding school – 1996-02-26 26 Feb 1996, Mon Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

Bryan Clemensen and family remain in Othello, making repairs along with three maintenance men. They hope to reopen for summer school and reapply for state certification in July.

By July 15th, Clemensen had registered Agape Baptist Church, Inc in Stockton, Missouri alongside his son Bryan Clemensen and Frank Burton.

September 22nd, 1997

Othello man working to reopen boarding school - Part 1 - 1997-09-22Othello man working to reopen boarding school – Part 1 – 1997-09-22 22 Sep 1997, Mon Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com Othello man working to reopen boarding school - Part 2 - 1997-09-22Othello man working to reopen boarding school – Part 2 – 1997-09-22 22 Sep 1997, Mon Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

This and the following articles are about a local Othello man that wanted to open a similar school at the Radar Hill location.

October 14th, 1997

Boarding school plans dashed - 1997-10-14Boarding school plans dashed – 1997-10-14 14 Oct 1997, Tue Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

October 9th, 1998

Thirsty AcresThirsty Acres 09 Oct 1998, Fri Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com

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