POLAND – The controversial Elan School will close next week.

The private for-profit boarding school for troubled teens has been forced to close, according to owner and Executive Director Sharon Terry of Casco, due to “declining enrollment and resulting financial difficulties.”

The school was opened in 1970 by psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Davidson and businessman Joseph Ricci.

Terry, who is Ricci’s widow, points to an ongoing Internet campaign on the site Reddit.com launched by an unknown person, who goes by name “Gzasmyhero,” as the cause for much of the school’s current financial distress.

The Web campaign alleges the school engaged in punitive tactics, like isolating students for long periods of time, requiring students to scream at other students as part of the disciplinary program, and limiting student contact with parents.

“The school has been the target of harsh and false attacks spread over the Internet with the avowed purpose of forcing the school to close,” Terry said. And, despite several recent investigations conducted by the Maine Department of Education that Terry said have vindicated the school, “the school has, unfortunately, been unable to survive the damage.”


On March 1, Elan received a renewed academic accreditation and therapeutic certification from the National Independent Private Schools Association that is set to expire in June 2014. The school is also a member in good standing of the Maryland-based National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.

Perhaps the school’s most notorious student was Michael C. Skakel, nephew of Robert Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Skakel Kennedy.

Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the murder in 1975 of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Both lived in an exclusive section of Greenwich, Conn., and she was found beaten to death with a golf club.

While always a suspect in the Moxley murder, Skakel wasn’t arrested until years later when two of his former classmates at the Elan school testified that he had confessed to them while at the school.

Elan classmate Gregory Coleman testified that Skakel bragged, “I’m going to get away with murder. I’m a Kennedy.”

Skakel had been sent to the school in 1978 after a drunken driving conviction, and he was there two years.

Skakel is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Connecticut, and is eligible for parole in 2013.

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