The DeSisto School was an experiment in alternative education methods for gifted but troubled children. There are many accounts of former residents of the boarding school on the internet, very few of them positive. Reports of abuse and mistreatment culminate in a story of the faculty allegedly delaying treatment for a girl who swallowed a razor blade.
Like many mental health facilities, it is difficult to sort out just who to believe about the history of DeSisto. It is important to remember that the school’s mission was dealing with troubled children, so an aversion to authority and skepticism about the treatment being provided are par for the course. Many students complain about being unfairly and illegally restrained and detained at the school. One student’s family even sued the school for illegally imprisoning their child but the case was, in the end, dismissed. Nonetheless, where there is smoke there is fire, and in 2004 the school was shuttered among numerous ongoing legal battles to keep their license.
I cannot come to a firm conclusion on DeSisto, but in the end I tend to believe the patient complaints that the school was not properly run. The accounts of former residents are too consistent and too vehement to ignore. There are “DeSisto Survivors” tags all over the blackboards on campus, and the general vibe on the campus is somewhat creepy and repressive. I found exploring this place somewhat uncomfortable.
Over the years I received many comments from DeSisto Survivors on my old website. I’m really thankful for them, and I’m glad that people from the school, if they are looking for them, are able to get a few more views of a place which played a significant role in their life.