Summit Quest, a wilderness program for troubled youths, is no longer licensed to operate in Utah, although it may be licensed again in the future.
"We don't need to close them down because they don't have youths in the field in Utah," said Pat Kreher, director of the Department of Human Services' Licensing Office. "Their conditional license expired, and if they want to operate again in Utah, they will have to apply for and be given a license."Programs are given a conditional license to operate so they have time to complete the paperwork to get a regular license. Summit Quest's conditional license expired June 30. Friday, officials met with Summit Quest director Gayle Palmer to discuss the issue.
In August, staff from licensing and from the attorney general's office asked for an injunction to force the program to quit operating or comply with the terms of its conditional license. The meeting this week was in response to that request.
At the meeting, Palmer gave licensing officials several "thick manuals" she hopes will enable her program to be relicensed, Kreher said.
Summit Quest is operating in other states and has students out in the field, according to Sandra Noxon, Summit Quest field office. "And we're doing everything we can to comply (with licensing standards) so we will be able to operate in Utah," she said.
The death of Michelle Sutton was not discussed during the meeting with Human Services Friday.
The 15-year-old Pleasanton, Calif., girl died in Arizona while participating in Summit Quest May 9. An initial autopsy showed that she died of dehydration. Results of a more complete toxicology screen are pending, according to Mohave sheriff's office Sgt. Dale Lent.
A law passed by the 1990 Legislature requires that all wilderness therapy programs for troubled youths be licensed by the state before they can operate in Utah.