Springfield school to open campus on site of former Eagleton School


GREAT BARRINGTON — A Springfield-based school for children with learning and behavioral issues will be expanding into the former Eagleton School campus by July 1.

The Children's Study Home, with two campuses in Springfield, is a 150-year-old institution that serves children with special needs, including emotional challenges, attention deficit disorder, behavioral issues, autism and other learning disabilities.

According to Dr. Joseph Dupelle, the educational director at the school — to be called The Mill Pond School–Berkshire Campus — will accept students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

The school, said Dupelle, will not be a residential facility. This is in part because the philosophy of the Children's Study Home is to encourage and emphasize family support for the students.

Classes will have no more than eight students, he said.

"Eight, in fact, is on the high side," said Dupelle. "We think more in terms of five to six."

The facility will get funding from the participating school districts, according to Kathryn Burdsall, the director of Student Services at Berkshire Hills.

This will probably result in some savings to the district, she said.

The school will also take placements from other school districts in Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts, said Dupelle.

He said school officials have not been able to gauge exactly how many students will be at the school initially. The upper enrollment for the school will be 50 students.

"We could start with one," he said, "but there will probably be more than that."

Dupelle said the Children's Study Home has negotiated an arrangement with the former Eagleton School to lease the facility.

"But our plan is to eventually buy the entire campus," he said.

Eliza Crescentini, executive director of the Children's Study Home, said the plan is to transfer staff from the two Springfield campuses to the Great Barrington campus. Children's Study Home will then hire and train staff as needed.

Dupelle said representatives from his organization have inspected the school and believe the facilities as they are now will be more than adequate for his school's needs.

The change will end a difficult chapter for the Great Barrington campus. A few months ago, the former Eagleton campus was raided by state and local police who were investigating multiple allegations of abuse by Eagleton staffers of students.

To date, a total of 17 staff members are facing charges.

Eagleton School closed down last month, and students still at the facility, which serves a similar, but older, strata of children, were relocated.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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