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http://www.centralmaine.com/news/stories/020905elanprob.shtm
« on: September 06, 2002, 04:23:00 AM »
POLAND ? The Maine Department of Education concluded an investigation prompted by Michael Skakel's murder trial with a finding that the Elan School is in compliance with state standards.

 
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The report issued Wednesday did not address allegations from the 1970s and 1980s that came out during Skakel's trial, which included testimony about humiliation, confrontation and physical force at the drug treatment school. Skakel himself called the school "a concentration camp for kids."

Instead, the investigation focused on how Elan operates now, said Yellow Light Breen, a department spokesman.

The report concluded that there was a strong commitment to education and the well-being of students at the Elan School, and there was no indication of any student being at risk, Breen said.

But there were some problems, including the lack of formal professional development plans for staff members or handbooks for students and residential assistants.

The Elan School either has complied or is in the process of complying with all changes recommended by state investigators, Breen said.

Maine authorities began looking into the program for troubled teens after several former students testified at Skakel's trial about physical and verbal abuse Skakel endured while at Elan from 1978 to 1980.

Skakel was ultimately convicted of bludgeoning Martha Moxley with a golf club in 1975 when they were both 15-year-old neighbors in a wealthy, gated community in Greenwich, Conn. He has been sentenced to 20 years to life.

During the trial, former students described how Skakel was forcibly returned to the school after an escape. They also said he was put in a boxing ring, where he was beaten severely by other students, according to testimony.

Former students said Skakel confessed while at the school to murdering Moxley, but his lawyer argued the school's abusive conditions influenced statements Skakel made about the night of Moxley's murder in 1975.

In addition to the allegations made in court, Canadian officials filed a complaint in March about Elan's treatment of two teenagers who were allegedly subjected to extreme disciplinary measures, including restraints.

The Department of Education did impose several requirements on the Elan School to provide revised policies on several aspects of the program, including use of restraints and disciplinary procedures.

Elan's administrators have agreed to use the wrist and ankle restraints only in extreme situations when a student is a danger to himself or others, and to notify the state whenever restraints are employed.

Elan's administrators also told investigators that the boxing ring has not been employed for student discipline since at least October 2000.

The department will conduct follow-up visits to assure that changes were made and that the school is still in compliance.



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