Tanner NW Academy student

Tanner, 13, attended Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley. He and his mother reported the school's abuse to the Nye County Sheriff's Office.

PAHRUMP (FOX5) -- It's a tale of two experiences. One, a boarding school that helps students right their path to success. The other, a den of physical and psychological abuse.

For the first time, FOX5 spoke to a student who accused a teacher of abuse. The student’s name is Tanner. 

He told reporter Kyla Galer a Northwest Academy teacher, named Caleb Hill, picked him up and threw him to the ground a few different times. Tanner, 13, added Hill would always push him around. 

His mom said at one point in time, Hill allegedly shoved Tanner's face in the ground, causing Tanner to bleed. Tanner said he witnessed Hill get physical with other students too. 

“My second to third week there is where I started noticing like a lot of the staff being physical with the students and then started getting physical with me,” he said. 

His mom, Angela McDonald, sent him to Northwest Academy in November to deal with some anger issues.

“I had heard some good things about the program, more good than bad,” she said. McDonald added she wasn’t allowed to talk to Tanner for the first 30 days.

On that first phone call, “Tanner proceeded to tell me that he was body slammed by one of the dorm parents,” McDonald said. 

Tanner told FOX5 that dorm parent was Hill, but McDonald said Tanner couldn’t say much else on the phone. 

“They’re only allowed to speak with their parents with a dorm parent there on speaker phone, being coached.” 

At first, McDonald didn’t think much of it. 

“Because I know my son, I assumed he was being mouthy. I assumed maybe he deserved what he got,” she said.

McDonald said it wasn't until a few weeks later that one of Tanner's friends left Northwest Academy and told his mom they were getting beat up by the staff. 

“He told her everything and begged her to call me ... to get him out,” McDonald said. That's when she went to the school to pick up her son. “I’m not going to allow your staff or the other students in here to hurt my son anymore,” she told school staff. 

McDonald went to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office to report the abuse in the beginning of January. Tanner said the majority of the staff would “do whatever they wanted” to the students. 

“Pick you up. Slam you. Just push you down. Sit on you, jump on you.” 

Tanner said he didn’t fight back, “If I would of like fought back I would have gotten in a lot of trouble.” 

Now his mom is dealing with guilt. 

“I have a hard time because I put him there. I put him in that position. I sent him to a place where he was getting more harm than good,” McDonald said. 

FOX5 also talked to a former student, who said she owes her success to Northwest Academy. 

“If I didn’t go there right now today I’d probably be on the streets,” Makayla said. Makayla currently resides in Arizona, but went to the private boarding school back in 2016. 

“Never did I ever witness anyone ever being abused. I witnessed restraints, like mandatory restrains. I never witnessed anyone being abused,” she said in a phone interview. 

Both Tanner and his mom said they don’t think Northwest Academy needs to be shutdown. They just want to see better quality teachers with more training. They also want to see the water fixed. The Nye County Sheriff Office said the water has extremely high levels of arsenic. 

Tanner told FOX5 the students were given a bottle of water with each meal, but only if they turned in their water bottles from the previous meal. He said they often went a full day with only one bottle of water. 

Tanner also mentioned he had a lot of headaches while attending the school. McDonald said she is taking him to get a blood test next week. Tanner is also getting his toe looked at because they believe it was broken at one point from the abuse. 

Caleb Hill was bailed out of the Nye County Jail last week. FOX5 knocked on his door Friday nigh, but there was no answer. 

Nye County Sheriff's detectives said Hill admitted he put his hands on the kids and justified it.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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