Eagleton School still open under regulatory supervision, attorney says


GREAT BARRINGTON — Eagleton School remains open but crawling with state regulatory personnel representing its various educational agencies, according to school attorney Eric MacLeish.

MacLeish offered a brief defense of the school in the wake of a 50-person raid on Saturday which saw federal, state and local authorities searching for evidence of abuse upon students by staff. Five staffers were arrested as a result of the investigation.

"Students are safe and the program is working," MacLeish said in an Eagle interview on Tuesday. "The school is fully licensed. No intake has been closed and there's been no change in [the school's] approval status."

He added, "We are continuing to cooperate with the district attorney and state police."

MacLeish, a Boston attorney best known for representing hundreds of victims of alleged sexual abuse by priests during the early 1990s, said he plans to assemble a press conference today to speak more broadly about affairs at the school.

In the meanwhile, he said, state regulators visiting the Eagleton School in the wake of the raid have been well enough satisfied with what they've observed to keep operations up and running.

According to MacLeish, the state Department of Early Education and Care sent representatives on Monday, and on Tuesday it was the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education personnel arrived.

These visits were extraordinary, prompted by the raid and subsequent arrests, not regular visits, MacLeish said.

He added, "These agencies know the school very well and we welcome their inquiries."

District Attorney David Capeless on Tuesday confirmed that the Eagleton School investigation remains live and more arrests could be on the way.

"All I can say is it's an ongoing investigation and we may uncover more incidents that result in additional charges," Capeless said.

The DA also issued a call requesting information from members of the general public.

"We're seeking information from anyone who may have it regarding activities down at the school," Capeless said.

Interested parties may reach the DA's office by dialing 413-443-5951.

Following the raid, Capeless issued a statement calling it "a terrible situation" at Eagleton School and promising to seek justice for the victims.

Located on a 40-acre campus in the Southern Berkshire County town of Great Barrington, Eagleton School is a private, year-round residential school for boys and young men with special needs, including autism and Asperger syndrome and other cognitive, behavioral, and developmental disabilities. It opened in 1977.

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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