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FACT: Annual fees for a 12 month year of $54,960.60

Your children will do all the work, they will be the janitors, scrub toilets directly after other students in 'higher positions' use them, and as they move up in the 'program', they will be the prison guards. Your child will be put into a small, overcrowded house with many ACTUAL criminals and drug-addicts. Since The Elan School contains many crazies, the staff feel YOUR child should be watching them in isolation, instead of a staff member. The student to staff ratio at many times is about 1 : 40. The children could clearly take over at any time which is why a strong level of brainwashing will occur when your child steps foot in the door.

I used to give tours of The Elan School when I was a position called 'Re-entry' which is the highest level a student can reach. I was highly coached as to what I could not say, and what I had to say. Tours were only given during very 'convenient' times when the children were not screaming, being beat up in 'The Ring', or being emotionally abused by staff members. Since these things occur nearly all day, every day, every month of every year, these 'tours' had to be meticulously scheduled.

If you are wondering how the ME Department of Education could fund or promote such a place, here is an interesting fact from a linked article titled: New York seeks change at Elan School:

'While New York conducted a surprise inspection, it is the policy of Maine's education department to let schools know when state officials are going to conduct a visit, said Edwin "Buzz" Kastuck, whose responsibilities within the department include school approval.'

Here is a claim made in the same article:

'Frank McDermott, the Elan School's director of education, said the New York officials who visited in 2005 conducted extensive interviews with students, parents and graduates.

here is a comment written after an article, titled:Good News: Bad Economy Killing Abusive Teen Programs:

"I was a student at the Elan School for 3 years from 2005 to 2008. I am still traumatized by what I went through during my time there. Waking up each day the environment was constant screaming and swearing, by students, but more so by the "staff". I remember as a new student, I was crying when I was told to scrub a garbage can as a punishment for something so minor that I can't even remember the cause. I has stopped cleaning it, and that was when the staff determined that I had to be restrained and dragged to "the corner", isolation in a room to the point when one barely feels human. I tried to fight back, as any normal person would do when one is touched and forcefully grabbed without consent. Instead of just bringing me to the corner, the staff had other students hold me up, my hands and feet restrained, as other students were forced to scream and degrade me. I say forced, because regretfully I have also done the same to other students, and I know that if they refused to participate in this abominable event they too would have been punished. The only way to survive in this setting was to shut down emotionally. This memory haunts me to current day.

"This school needs to be shut down, and I am happy if that day is coming near. Even if Elan survives the recession, it should still be closed. However, this could prove to be exceedingly difficult, because the students in the school are pressured not even to think a bad thought about the program, let alone utter it, and will receive punishment if they fail to oblige that rule. I know that while I was at the school investigations were conducted, and students were pressured into lying. Furthermore, a survey was also done, which now appears on the school's website, some questions asking about if we felt comfortable at the school. It was said to be anonymous, but again we felt pressured into lying, staff was supervising, and each of our handwriting could be easily identified.
"I hope someone reacts to the atrocity that is the Elan School."

I do too...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Testimony #2

Élan. “The last resort”.

In 1981 that is exactly where my Father wanted to put me. We went in front of the School board for some type of meeting. The School would not pay for my placement there and furthermore stated that I that I did not need to be in Élan. I could go to Public school. My Father said “fine then I will pay for it myself” My first day at Élan I was escorted to a bathroom, made to strip in front of two strangers and take a Quell shower. I was told I would be a resident of House #3. There were many Houses in Poland Spring, Maine. #3, #5, #7, #8 and Administration #1. There was also a house in Waterford, Maine #6 and two houses in Parsonsfield, Maine #2 and #4. Élan #3 was “the big House.”

The first thing I noticed was all the costumes. These were called Learning Experiences or L.E.; they were made from mostly cardboard and came from the communications Dept. Dunce caps Cigarette hats. Nuclear Reactor Boxes, Whore and Pimp costumes the list goes on. Whatever the “issue” was there was a L.E. to go with it. With every L.E. there was a sign sometimes you only got a sign. These would always start out “Please confront me as to why........” It was not unusual to see someone with 15 signs. One night at school a kid walked into class from another house wearing a huge penis on his head with a sign in it that said “ Please confront me as to why I think with one head and not the other” I had to hide behind my book to not laugh. If you laughed at someone’s L.E. you got the same one.

There were boxing rings to beat you into submission, Haircuts where 3 people yelled at you over trivial stuff. General Meetings where hundreds of your peers were whipped into frenzy in the dining room before you arrived and when you did then would all rush at you to yell and spit in your face. Then the Director would emotionally lambaste you for hours. At the end you were given an L.E. and “Shotdown” made to scrub floors and toilets all day. Then there was the Corner for those who would not “get with the program”. It was meant to be used for a couple of hours, because it was unbearable. You could not talk or read or listen to music or anything and some other poor kid had to supervise you the whole time. I stayed in the corner for 5 months. I refused to abuse my peers. I was not going to humiliate others. For this I was severely abused, but I did not care. I gave it right back. I was not going to join a cult.

In a last effort to get me to conform, my Father flew up and told me that I was going to be there until the bulldozers came. Three weeks later he returned to pick me up; I had done the impossible I had been kicked out of Élan in eight months.My Father and Step monster tried to drop me off in Mass. It was a school for mostly mentally handicapped Teens. I told them I would raise hell and they would not take me. Unwillingly me Father had no choice but to take me home. I took the G.E.D. and tried to go to Columbia Collage. There was something wrong with me at this point, socially although I could not put my finger on it. To cope while in the corner I would use different techniques that I had read about. I was not allowed to close my eyes so I would stare at the vertex until everything went black. Each time it was easier. I would at first astral travel. After the meeting with my Father I decided to try “Creative Visualization”. I had read a small book by the same name before entering Élan and it was the perfect time to try it out. I imagined the same scenario over and over again. When it actually happened I was sure I was still in the corner visualizing it. Only after the visualization went past the point of my creation did I know that it had worked. I think I was in shock.

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. -Abraham Lincoln

Testimony #1

The first day I arrived at Elan I walked into a room where a "three house ring" and "general meeting" was being held. A boy's nose was the receiving end of a boxing glove and blood streaming down his face was the result from being in the "Ring". Then about one hundred and fifty students in rows of about five all "got their feelings off", which involves screaming and swearing in a persons face who is deemed to have done something "wrong" in the eyes of the so called "Directors" of the school that is a "General Meeting". The "Directors" keep the momentum of these unbelievable events going. I always wished my parents would make a surprise visit and stumble in on a "General Meeting". What would they think? ("General Meetings" could happen as often as two or more times a day. "Rings" happened occasionally, which consist of a circle of students surrounding the "offender" and the other student who are both wearing boxing gloves. The outside circle is taunting the offender while the two box. When the student gets tired another takes his or her place to be in the ring with the "offender")

The "Directors" are the ones who tightly control each of the students lives. Reading students mail, having phone calls listened to.

At night a student stays awake to guard the dorms of his or her gender. Every ten minutes for eight hours a night a "bed check" is conducted. Each student has their sheets lifted up and a flashlight is shone on the student's body to make sure they don't have any hidden clothing to take with them in the event that they try to run away. Could you imagine having your sheets pulled up every ten minutes for eight hours every night for years? Can you imagine that students are expected, who are in positions of responsibility, to stay up all night and be a "night guard"? And if you fall asleep you will be punished and be made to scrub the floors for a couple of days and have your shoe laces taken away.

"The Corner", which is really a term dubbed for being put into isolation, is used to take a child who is not conforming with Elan out of the population. Another student is then placed with them as a "support person". This support person could be subject to the other student acting out, which could involve attempts at self mutilation, being spat on, sworn at, screamed at, exposed to the students genitals, exposed to them masturbating for shock effect but Elan has a no kick out policy. The "support person" may be expected to physically restrain the acting out student. Sometimes the support person had to hold them down on the floor and have plastic restraints put on the student so his or her hands are behind his or her back. Sometimes this student who is acting out could be in the corner for over a month. Spending his or her days facing the corner of a wall and sleeping on a dingy mattress on the floor. This student could spend a month acting crazy like this and then stop and come out of "the corner" only to be put right back in because he or she starts acting out again. Usually there was at least one student in "the corner" for the two year period I was there. Also if the "support person" may take their eyes off this other student in "the corner" and he or she decides to self mutilate and succeeds then the "support person" will be stripped of his or her position of responsibility and made to scrub floors for a time of maybe two to three days. Can you believe that this is allowed to go on? A fifteen year old child being forced into this responsibility if he or she wants to succeed in Elan? Also that child who is"acting out" does so because he or she is standing up for themselves albeit it is in a damaging fashion but that is how a person may cope when being forced to stay in a place like Elan.

The school curriculum, is fabulous for an unmotivated child, with no tests, exams, or projects it couldn't be better. When parents receive news that their child, who was once possibly failing in school, is now getting great marks they could only think that Elan is doing something right. That is one of the tactics Elan uses to decept parents and school boards but ultimately rob that child of a real education.

Could you imagine not being allowed to go outside when you want? When I was in Elan you pretty much got outside once a week for a gym class. If you were lucky you got to go out for special outings maybe once every month or two but that only happens after about six months, which I would say is about the average length of time it takes for the "brainwashing effect" to be fully active in a student. After that constant fear and guilt consumes a student and everything from brushing up against the opposite sex to taking a minute longer in the shower than is allowed is written down on a piece of paper(referred to in Elan as "copping to your guilt") and given to the powers at be so they know your every move. So basically everything that Elan deems as "wrong" is instilled through feeling immense guilt and usually eventually you fess up. When I was in Elan for about a month I spat in a staff member's coffee but nobody knew except me. A year later I told on myself. By the way Elan is co-ed but no physical or flirty behaviour is allowed. Can you imagine a house full of hormonal teens being watched over so severely that you're scared to look someone of the opposite sex in the eye for too long? I received a " general meeting" for being flirty. I had people scream and swear in my face for ten minutes because I am human. This is where the ultimate control happens and the "Directors" or staff were ruthless. They would scream and swear in your face and make you feel absolutely hopeless. They controlled the level of fear among the students.

Monday, November 2, 2009


The Elan School in Poland, Maine is notorious for allegedly forcibly extracting a murder confession from Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel. According to witnesses, it happened in the late 70's, during a "therapy session" in which he was forced to box fresh opponents while being verbally humiliated until he admitted the crime. But such abuse didn't stop in the 70's: incredibly, the school used "the ring" procedure until at least 2000 with impunity.

During its three-decades-plus history, Elan has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations and severe child abuse. All that time, state regulators somehow failed to corroborate dozens of horrifying accounts of maltreatment, which sometimes came in the form of sworn courtroom testimony.

But following an investigation spurred by my reporting for a recent New York Times op-ed, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) has written to Elan, stating that it has "compliance issues" with the state's regulations. New York is involved because it uses taxpayer money to send emotionally disturbed and learning disabled children to the school, having approved it as an "emergency placement" for such teens.

According to a letter from New York to Elan released to me today by NYSED, the "compliance issues" include "students restraining other students," excessive use of isolation as punishment, "sleep deprivation" and "students 'counseling' other students and using coercive and confrontational language, which includes yelling and swearing." The letter also notes that Elan isn't providing the required number of hours of classroom instruction for NY students and that students are not qualified as counselors.

In other words, just as former students have claimed for decades, Elan uses abusive, degrading and violent tactics that have long been discredited as therapy even for the hardcore heroin addicts to which they were originally applied and which have no place in the education of the learning disabled or mentally ill or anyone else for that matter.

If Elan doesn't begin using qualified counselors to run therapy groups, bar students from disciplining each other, stop making them stay up all night to guard each other, stop using lengthy periods of isolation as punishment and stop making students restrain each other-- as well as adjust its entire education program to meet state requirements--- within a week, New York will no longer allow students to attend. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Maine education officials.

Let's hope this is the beginning of the end for this senseless relic. I also want to thank the brave students who were willing to talk with me and with state officials in order to help put an end to the abuse of their peers. We now know what works to help kids with addictions, with learning disabilities, with psychiatric problems and behavior issues. It's not abuse, but empathy and respect.