Incident at Ferris School Results in Property Damage

WILMINGTON – The Delaware Children’s Department is reporting an incident at Ferris School that resulted in the significant damage of state property.

Ferris School is a Level V locked secure facility under the Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. Youth committed to Ferris School are identified as serious and/or chronic, repeat offenders who have been deemed amenable to juvenile services and require intensive rehabilitative treatment.

On Saturday, April 24, three youth were involved in a disturbance at the facility. No staff or youth were injured. The incident began as youth were directed to their rooms for bed. At 10:57 p.m., a resident broke open the door to his room. The resident then engaged two additional residents, helping them to break open their doors. Once out of their rooms, the three residents began rioting and damaged state property, including throwing a wooden table against a glass door and attempting to remove phones from the wall.

Because Ferris School is a juvenile rehabilitative facility and youth at Ferris have been deemed amendable to juvenile services, staff are not equipped with pepper spray or other mechanisms which are used for population control in typical prison settings. Therefore, around 11:35 p.m., Delaware State Police entered the building to assist staff and moved the three youth to New Castle County Detention Center where they remain at this time. It’s estimated that about $4,500 of property damage occurred.

Ferris School is divided into specific “pods” for youth. In the locked facility, each youth has a room with a wooden door that was designed by prison architects. This incident, where individual doors were broken open, was the first of its kind. The facility receives regular fire marshal inspections, internal safety inspections and is accredited by the American Correctional Association. Additionally, the facility was adequately staffed for the number of youth present and staffing levels were not a factor in the incident.

“We appreciate the assistance of the Delaware State Police and our staff for working to ensure the safety of Ferris School. We are extremely concerned that this incident occurred and are thankful no staff or youth were injured,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Children’s Department, also known as the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. “Residents of Ferris School have committed serious criminal acts and faced significant trauma in their lives. As a result, their behavior can manifest in aggressive, and sometimes dangerous tendencies. In this case, the youth involved were older teenage violent offenders all of whom have previously received residential rehabilitative services. The safety of our staff and youth is paramount in all that we do, and we will review this incident thoroughly to determine if there are changes that need to be made to ensure this does not happen again.”

Media Contact: Jen Rini,