A federal judge revised a temporary restraining order that prevented the removal of students from Heartland Christian Academy by juvenile officers.
In the revision, U.S. District Judge Richard Webber maintained a restraining order from non-judicial mass removals of students from Heartland Christian Academy, but permitted juvenile authorities to continue case-by-case investigations and actions.
The order was handed down on the third day of testimony Friday and is valid until a final ruling is made in the matter. No time schedule was made concerning the ruling.
The court case stems from action taken on Oct. 30, when 115 students were removed from Heartland, an action juvenile officers said was necessary for the safety of the children based on reports of alleged child abuse at the facility.
Children were taken to juvenile centers in Kirksville and then returned to their parents.
In early November, Webber had issued an order temporarily forbidding the removal of students from Heartland by juvenile officers.
In making the revision to the order Friday, Webber called the amount of evidence in the case "substantial" and that he was "uncomfortable in putting together any type of order in short time."
Webber said two conclusions had been reached in the case, that Heartland is an organization that provides services for children and that juvenile officers have a lawful responsibility to investigate abuse charges and must be unfettered.
He said while authorities should investigate abuse allegations, Heartland's ''role is to be applauded and encouraged.''
The Rev. Charles Sharpe, founder of Heartland, was thankful for the order and anticipated the final ruling in the next few days.
"It will stop the raids, which we're grateful for," he said.
"We just want to be able to take care of the students without government agencies coming in and raiding our kids," Sharpe said.
Since June, Heartland staffers have been the focus of three separate child abuse cases. At least two others remain under investigation.
In June, five Heartland workers were accused of forcing students into a manure pit as a form of punishment.
Two months later, four workers were accused of excessive paddling of a 16-year-old student.
The day after students were removed from Heartland, a staff member was accused of striking a 13-year-old boy in the ear.