Poland selectmen hear of plan to house immigrant children at former Elan School

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UPDATE: Government officials deny plan to house immigrant children in Poland

POLAND — Federal officials plan to house 120 immigrant children at the former Elan School, Town Manager Bradley Plante told selectmen Tuesday night.

The children were taken into custody after they crossed the southern border of the United States, according to an email Plante received from the Androscoggin Emergency Management Agency last week.

The e-mail indicated that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating the move.

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The e-mail said Gov. Paul LePage’s office was aware of the proposal; however, Plante said, he contacted the governor’s office and was told officials there had heard only rumors. He said the governor’s office had been working to learn the details.

“In fact, they directed the (Maine Department of Health and Human Services) commissioner to send a letter to the federal government trying to get specific information on any plan that may or may not be out there,” Plante said.

He said Code Enforcement Officer Nick Adams was contacted by a local resident requesting an inspection of the former Elan school for the potential use of the property.

“We contacted the local resident who explained she is working with (U.S.) Sen. (Susan) Collins’ Office on the proposal,” Plante said. Selectman Steve Robinson said the resident is Theresa Allocca.

The apparent plan, Plante said, is for the school to remain private but to be funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Elan School, a private for-profit boarding school for troubled teens, opened in 1970 and closed April 1, 2011, because of declining enrollment and financial difficulties, according to an official. The school overlooks Upper Range Pond.

Plante said he would keep selectmen posted, and let the public know of developments as he becomes aware of them.

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