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News & Views - Dec, 1997 Issue #49


by: A. Michael DeSisto, Ex. Dir.
DeSisto School
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

In the old days, honorable people met in an honorable way and held honorable discussions and hoped for honorable results. Then came the era of litigation when the adult version of “my father can beat up your father” became “my lawyer can beat up your lawyer.” That’s given way to an even more disturbing era—that of using state agencies to do your bidding. Given our society’s heightened awareness of child abuse issues, given the number of agencies involved in “protecting” the individual, and given the fact that each one is “mandated” to investigate every complaint, the potential for misuse exists; such misuse has, in fact, happened. At present there is no recourse for victims of the agencies’ harassment because the people doing the investigating have a personal interest in protecting their jobs and ensuring the continued existence of and necessity for these agencies. 

Two years ago this month a disgruntled parent began a process against us at The DeSisto School in order to secure custody of her child. In an attempt to prove that the child’s placement had been inappropriate, she notified a state agency and then used the resulting investigation as an excuse to involve yet another. A nightmare ensured. Each office was forced to act. One day we were surprised by a visit from four separate offices working together in an attempt to investigate the alleged wrongdoing. 

A full year and a half later the School was exonerated, but the process was anxiety-provoking, terrifying, and costly. Our personal rights and freedoms were trampled upon. Fortunately, many of our “enemies” are now friends again, rifts have been narrowed, and the warmth of old relationships has returned; nevertheless, the cost was immense both financially and emotionally. It’s our fervent hope that the “powers that be” will find ways to eliminate this blip in the justice system and to make a distinction between investigation and harassment. 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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