Sunday, November 30, 2008

Update on Dr. Mel Levine: All Kinds of Minds Founder Resigns, No Trial Date Set?

Since I first began posting about Dr. Mel Levine back in April, with my most recent Mel Levine update based on the New York Times article in August, I've had many visitors stop back at Roxiticus Desperate Housewives seeking more information on the civil suits against Levine for alleged child molestation.

While no court date has been set, the most recent news comes from the Durham News & Observer, reporting that Dr. Mel Levine, the doctor who founded All Kinds of Minds, a Durham, North Carolina institute dedicated to teaching children with learning disabilities, has resigned from the institute amidst the allegations of child molestation. The famed pediatrician is facing five lawsuits in Boston, Massachuetts, accusing him of molesting young boys during physical examinations. Carmen Durso, the Boston lawyer representing the five plaintiffs, said that more than 50 other former patients or their parents had contacted him with complaints. Dr. Levine has denied the abuse allegations, but has voluntarily suspended his license to practice and is under investigation by the North Carolina Medical Board. Dr. Levine announced on Tuesday, November 25th that he would leave All Kinds of Minds in June 2009, when his consulting contract, under which he is paid $150,000 per year, expires.

Until the accusations, Dr. Levine was the unchallenged guru of learning disabilities. Parents flocked to his lectures and lived by his books. In fact, it was the cancellation of a planned lecture by Dr. Levine at Mendham Township Elementary School that brought the lawsuits to my attention. Mel Levine was seen as a compassionate advocate for children with troubles, insisting that all students could learn and that the job of an educator was to find the approach that worked best for each child. He founded All Kinds of Minds in 1995 to focus on teacher training for children with learning disabilities, creating individual plans for children, and shunning labels like ADHD. The institute’s approach is based entirely on Levine’s books and teachings. Dr. Levine’s innovative approach drew patients from across the country and turned him into a world-famous child development expert. As a result, All Kinds of Minds has millions of dollars worth of contracts with schools across the nation.

According to The New York Times, since the lawsuits were filed against Levine, All Kinds of Minds has lost nine of its 80 contracts. In a prepared statement, All Kinds of Minds Board Chairman Roch Hillenbrand said the board regretted the circumstances surrounding Levine’s resignation, but maintained the move was necessary. “The mission of [All Kinds of Minds] is so critical to tens of thousands of young learners, and to those who teach, guide and counsel them, that it had to be placed above any one person,” Hillenbrand said. Charles Schwab, the co-founder of the All Kinds of Minds institute, who provided financing and served as co-chairman with Dr. Levine, resigned in September. The institute, which has teacher-training contracts with two states and dozens of individual schools, said it would continue its work of spreading Dr. Levine’s views on how children learn. “All Kinds of Minds was formed to create a venue and legacy for his work so the genius of this man wouldn’t die with the individual,” said Mary-Dean Barringer, chief executive of the institute. “Do I think we’ll make it through without him? I do.” Dr. Levine had not been involved in the day-to-day operations of All Kinds of Minds and the institute has been successful, even in the last month, in finding philanthropic support, including a pledge of $2.25 million over three years from the Oak Foundation.

In a prepared statement provided by his lawyer, Alan Schneider, Dr. Levine said he was leaving All Kinds of Minds to devote himself to a new program, Bringing Up Minds, that works directly with parents and clinicians to teach them how to help children succeed in school.


Anonymous said...

I have noticed that since demand for Levine's presence at seminars in the US has dropped off, he's resorted to giving them in Israel, where many people didn't know about the abuse allegations.
I'm sorry, but a doctor doesn't surrender his license unless he has something to hide.

Anonymous said...

There are a few errors in this story. The newpaper is the Raleigh News & Observer (not Durham). The All Kinds of Minds Institute is in Chapel Hill (not Durham).

Dr. Levine's behavior has put a horrible cloud over any positive work he has ever done. He should stay away from all children. He should serve prison time for his behavior. All those children couldn't have been making up those stories. We need to support our children. I am disgusted by Dr. Levine, who I had such respect for previously. I just wish the University of North Carolina had done a better job of looking into Dr. Levine's background and the issues that happened in Boston.