The school, the Starr, the Hills and the prison.

Recently, Cinderella delivered a post about STARR, a “special education high school” based in Reed Intermediate, a grades 5-6 school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cinderella doesn’t think STARR is an acting school – even though there are lots of actors in Newtown! She thinks it’s something quite different.

As said above, it’s part of Reed, at 3 Trades Lane, a stone’s throw from the Fairfield Hills complex.

And it’s not far from the original Sandy Hook Elementary, where the subject of this blog took place on 12-14-12.

Fairfield Hills, of course, is the former Connecticut state-owned mental hospital that was shut down in 1995 and subsequently scooped up by Newtown.

The Hills are alive – with town government buildings. You can find my original post on STARR here. You’ll see from the post – or simply by clicking on the title of this one – that Fairfield Hills now hosts several local government offices: The Newtown Board of Education, for one. Town hall, for two. Both in the refurbished Bridgeport Hall.

And right across the street is  Newtown Youth Academy, which isn’t an “academy” in the usual sense. It’s a sports complex, and possibly more, with a big welcome mat. You can read about it here. The Academy and town offices all share addresses on cheery-sounding “Primrose Street.”

What we know so far about STARR. In my previous post, we made the discovery that STARR is or was being housed in a school (Reed) for 5th and 6th graders (and possibly younger grades). Yet, its tiny population of four students is decidedly older, ranging from 8th to 12th graders.

We also discovered that:

  • STARR is or was administered by a former Reed principal, Dr. Sharon Epple. Until August 2012, Dr. Epple was principal at Reed, then left before the new school year began. But she is still listed as principal of STARR here. (See page 85.)
  • STARR isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Newtown Board of Education website. Checking every link on Reed’s and the main site uncovered nothing. It isn’t listed as a special education or gifted program, or any other program I could discover.
  • STARR, likely an acronym, isn’t spelled out in our primary source, which is:Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Connecticut, Institutional Code 11.  (See page 85.)
  • Of the STARR candidates reviewed in my previous post, one emerged as a possibility: Substance Treatment and Recidivism Reduction (Durham, NC)  But the program is in North Carolina, not Connecticut.
  • The phone number listed for STARR in the primary source leads to an office at Reed.

More STARRS on the horizon. Bureaucracies and corporate entities adore acronyms!

Knowing this, Cinderella looked to that Goliath of all acronym-philes, the U.S. federal government.

She found more STARRs that seem to share agendas about young prison/mental health inmates and recidivism reduction or reintegration, the 3Rs of STARR. Here are a few :

  • STARR: Staff Training Aimed at Reducing Rearrest. This is a “National Institute of Justice” program that falls under the Office of Justice ( It doesn’t instruct students or prison inmates, but “federal community supervision officers.” Specifically, it teaches them to use behaviorally based skills” to target criminal behavior. But it cautions them against using their skills against things like emotional distress “unless they act as a barrier to changing criminogenic factors.”
  • STARR Training to Work2 Program (STARR T2W2). This is a Connecticut STARR that’s part of a U.S. Department of Labor-funded collaborative program. It’s for inmates soon to be workers through a Department of Correction Work Release Program (“WRP”) in Hartford, CT, which provides work training in six areas: construction, culinary arts, green industries, medical coding and north-central Connecticut’s “Capital Workforce Partners.”
  • STARR (Short-term Assessment and Rapid Reintegration) Program. This STARR is part of a national nonprofit called Devereux. It provides services (e.g., foster parents, psychiatric services, etc.) for troubled and sexually exploited (“trafficked”) youth. Devereux’s STARR program offers “stabilization services in a structured, predictable and well-supervised milieu.” Participants at Devereaux are considered homeless.”

Whether or not these programs are what they purport to be isn’t the point of this post – even though one can well understand why Connecticut’s governor, Dannel P. Malloy, might heartily support them.

Cinderella is simply making an observation that the “STARR” acronym has been used in multiple instances as a name for certain programs – all involving vulnerable, severely troubled, incarcerated, criminally involved and possibly homeless youth. All targeting young offenders or patients for reintegration into the “free” world with the objective of keeping them there.

Maybe a coincidence, but an interesting one.

Is Newtown’s STARR likewise related to prisons, troubled youth and reintegration?

That question leads us beyond Fairfield Hills  – to Garner Correctional Institution.

The prison by the Hills. Garner is a Level-4, high-security mental health “unit” (prison) on Nunnawauk Road in Newtown. It houses 629 (in 2013) sentenced and un-sentenced male offenders. It renders “comprehensive mental health care.” In fact, we are told here that Garner inmates are “diagnosed with serious psychiatric illnesses.”

It’s right next-door to Fairfield Hills,  just a hop away geographically. Historically, Garner sprang from the same state institutional root as Fairfield, opening in 1992, just three years before Fairfield Hills shut down. In fact, it occupies acreage that once belonged to the mental hospital.

Back in the early ’90s, Newtown residents and town leaders who were opposed to a prison in the neighborhood were outnumbered. Objections died down as Newtown began collecting $1M annually  from the state – in lieu of the taxes that residents would have paid otherwise.

Money seems to make a lot of vital concerns and moral dithering go away.

Aerial views. Here is Garner from above, like an alien skull, the jagged scar of misery that modern civilization seems designed to provoke, insult and exploit:

Garner Correctional Institution

{Imagery 2016 © DigitalGlobe, Map Data © 2016  Google }

And here it is in in relation to the Hills and Reed School:

Garner Near Fairfiled

{Imagery 2016 © DigitalGlobe, Map Data © 2016  Google }

A raging history. That Garner has violent criminals within its gates is no matter for debate. John Michael Farren, a former Bush administration attorney who attempted to murder his wife in 2010, served his sentence there.

And as early as 2004, there were reports and rumors about violence within the institution, including stabbings, assaults, beatings and a suicide. You can read about the lurid incidents, as well as the use of “therapeutic cubicles” and Garner’s other methods here in an archived Newtown Bee article.

(As an extra reading enrichment exercise, go here to see how Connecticut’s state psych units and police departments are sometimes deployed.)

The lost boys. Were/are the four STARR students at Reed Intermediate school inmates/patients from Garner?  Beyond posing that question, Cinderella won’t speculate.

So what does Garner have to do with the Sandy Hook event? Nothing or everything. As Cinderella is beginning to understand, the Sandy Hook event couldn’t have happened without the peculiar attributes of  town structure, power connections, money woes, actors, belief systems and even, perhaps, certain entrepreNerds.

In searching for a possible connection between Garner and the Sandy Hook event, we found only one reference – from the website “Abel Danger,” the pseudonym of the 9-11/Octopus whistleblower Field McConnell, a self-described US Naval Aviator.

The never-ending story. Although McConnell’s allegations are often rambling and byzantine with detail that is often not fully explained or pinned to sources, many of his allegations are substantiated and appear to check out. Look here for the vetting  that open-source journalist James Corbett and listeners gave him after he appeared on the Corbett Report (12/08/2014). Some believe him to be a disinfo agent; others an MK-Ultra fried brain; others a cabal asset who defected; and many others an accurate if eccentric truther.

Here is what Field McConnell/Abel Danger alleged that may have a bearing on this story:

“McConnell claims that Marcy ordered Serco director Maureen Baginski to use Mycroft Warrants, Skynet satellites and covert locators to guide USM-007 agents in an exercise where blackmailed script kiddies issued a false hue and cry while Sandy Hook children were triaged by convicts who returned to the Garner Correctional Institute after mock killings.”

What could this mean? Cinderella asked that question of McConnell, but hasn’t received an answer from him. She leaves it to the capable minds of her readers.


UPDATE:  The STARR mystery has been partly solved!  Click here.


Note: Featured Image from Google Maps, Imagery 2016 © DigitalGlobe, Map Data © 2016  Google






Oh, little Starr of Newtown.

Cinderella loves bureaucratic literature almost as much as she loves nerds! They are flat and dull on the surface, but full of juicy, interesting numbers, data and mistakes you may not find anywhere else.

Here is one: Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Connecticut, Institutional Code 11.

This charming sleeper can be found in the Connecticut Education Directory in the Connecticut State Department of Education site within the mega-site.

Don’t let its turgid name put you off! It’s like a baklava, a multi-layered delight of crispy crunchables.

On page 85 is our quarry: District 97, the Newtown, Connecticut public school district. Newtown, alert readers will remember, was the location of the Sandy Hook Elementary School event on December 14, 2012.

The first bit of weirdness is the inflated number of students listed as attending Sandy Hook Elementary. Our source lists the number as “672.” Odd. According to the State of Connecticut’s final report on Sandy Hook, the enrollment on the day before the alleged massacre was 489.

And there was a  more recent (Nov. 2014) report completed for Newtown due to concerns about declining enrollments. It said students were migrating out of, not into the school (see pp. 23 & 29). It makes sense, given what is supposed to have happened there.

The attributed date for the newer “672” enrollment number is today: 2-03-16! How can Sandy Hook Elementary have gained nearly 200 students – during an enrollment decline?

Funny numbers are commonly encountered in the Sandy Hook story. So let’s put this one aside for now and focus instead on the Nova of Nuance at the bottom of the page.

A lone STARR. Once again, go here and scroll down to the bottom of page 85. You’ll see an entry for a school named “STARR” with public information I’ve reproduced below:

  • Principal: Dr. Sharon Epple
  • Address: 3 Trades Lane, Newtown
  • Phone: (203) 270-4880
  • Fax: (203) 270-4899
  • Grade: K-12
  • Enrolled: 4

A K-12 school in Newtown with only four students whose principal has the honorific of a doctor or professor.

Searching for other “STARR” schools in Connecticut, I found none in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Connecticut, Institutional Code 11.

So Newtown’s STARR appears to be a loner.

Could STARR be an acting school?  Cinderella doesn’t think so – despite the preponderance of actors in Newtown!

A school within a school. STARR shares an address with Reed Intermediate School:  3 Trades Lane in Newtown. Here’s an aerial screen shot:


Note how it’s in the backyard of Fairfield Hills, the shut-down mental hospital that now houses Newtown’s town hall, Board of Education and the enterprising and hospitable Newtown Youth Academy. Something to bear in mind, because it may become important in a future Cinderella post.

Principal Who?  Please note that the principal of Reed is listed as “Donna Denniston” on page 85 of our favorite bureaucratic book.

Is this the same “Donna Deniston” who, in 2014, directed  The Education Connection-School Age Program at 94 Boggs Hill Road in Newtown – the of address Head O’Meadow School? (See comments on that by “Anne B.” in a July 10, 2014 Memory Hole blogpost here.)

The program received a bad review from “Melinda R” in the same comments section: “Although it is extremely convenient for my son to have been a part of this program, I do not recommend it as a positive enriching environment for children. The staff on site at Hawley Elementary School use control oriented punishments such as isolation and intimidation with the children.”

(Horrors. How could this be?)

A year later, in a March 2015 Memory Hole blogpost,  the same Anne B. provided a link to that interesting program here, and wrote: “The owner at the time was Donna Denniston whose husband had been indicted on a million dollar fraud. Links are in the comments referred to above. It may be a good idea to follow up on this, although a million dollar [sic] these days in Sandy Hook is pocket change.”  Thank you, Anne B., for that!

You can find the entire FBI report on Garrett L. Denniston’s financial shenanigans here, which reveals that Denniston ran a fraudulent investment scheme, from 2005-2012. Even the Newtown Bee ran a story on the “Former Newtowner” here, in which his name is linked to Donna Denniston.

Further investigation pegs Donna Denniston as Reed’s principal for 6-7 years, from 2003-2009.

Funny thing: the website for Reed school doesn’t list a principal the way other Newtown schools do. Cinderella called the Reed number, (203) 270-4880, and asked who the principal is. The nice person who answered said it was “Anne Uberti.” This is her second year, according to the nice person.

The eye of Horus. Before moving on, let’s take a closer look at the Reed Intermediate school, whose address STARR shares:

Close-up of 3 Trades Lane - Reed and STARR

Note the little triangle within, like an eye of Horus. Note the smooth beauty of its roofs; not a scar on them, not a sign of mold or mildew or dilapidation or caving. A far cry from baby sister school, the original Sandy Hook Elementary! You can find pics of its shabby roof – and much more – here.

Dialing STARR. I did a White Pages reverse search  on STARR’s phone number: (203) 270-4880, and learned that it’s associated with two Newtown schools: Reed, of course. And the Hawley Elementary School. Cinderella has devoted time and space to Hawley here.

Cinderella called the number and asked to speak with “Karen Eckleston.” The nice person on the other end was confused. She told me I had reached the Reed school.

A STARR in the neighborhood. I searched for STARR on Neighborhood Scout, a website that helps conscientious parents vet schools. I found it here, where it’s classified as a “special education” school. (But what sort of “special”?)

From this page, Cinderella learned:

  • The four STARR students include one 9th grader, one 10th grader and two 11th graders.
  • All four of the STARR students are White.
  • None of their test scores is available.
  • None receives a free or reduced lunch; none is economically disadvantaged.

A different kind of high school. Public School Review classifies STARR as a “high school” that is also categorized as “special education.” See here.

It tells us that, “The student population of 4 students has stayed relatively flat over five years.” And so has the population of one teacher.

The demographic is still all White, with no one needing a free lunch, but the ages are different: one 8th grader, one 11th grader and two 12th graders.

We also learn that:

  • The district revenue/student of $15,581 is less than the state average of $17,550. The district revenue/student has grown by 25% over four years.  But …
  • The district spending/student of $19,446 is higher than the state average of $15,389. The district spending/student has grown by 64% over four years.

Cinderella looked around at similar spending statistics for other school districts in Connecticut. The Newtown numbers are simply wacko by comparison. Wacko. Perhaps it has something to do with all of the boodle Newtown received to build the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Perhaps there is more to it than that. Cinderella simply doesn’t know.

A missing STARR. Curious, Cinderella checked out “Special Education” in Newtown’s Board of Education website.

Hunting for STARR on the main Special Ed page and various links (including  all of the of bureaucratic sleepers listed) yielded nothing. No STARR school.

Likewise, the drop-down box at the top of the website fails to include STARR.

Yes, it’s small. But, with a name like STARR? Well. It just has to be an acronym for something.

But an acronym for what?  Cinderella is pretty certain that STARR, with its extraneous “R,” is an acronym. But, for what? Newtown isn’t telling.

A site that demystifies acronyms gives us several possibilities. One I hope we can rule out is: Stapled Transanal Rectal Resection. Well.

But there are others that fit neatly into categories:

The two links above are to a program that helps prison inmates wean themselves from drugs in North Carolina to reduce repeat offenses. I don’t see how it could possibly have a place in a Newtown, CT intermediate school. So, for the time being, I’m ruling it out.*

And, to be honest, I’ve no idea if the others have any place in this mystery. But someone else does.

A mystery principal. The principal of STARR is “Dr. Sharon Epple.” Who is she?

Dr. Epple was once the principal of Reed Intermediate School (where STARR is located). She apparently served for three years. Her last day there was August 21, 2012, then she immediately moved on, according to a Newtown Patch article, to a “K-6 elementary school in East Hartford.”

And it seems to check out. The website for an elementary school in East Hartford, Langford School, lists Dr. Epple as its principal. You can see her smiling face many times here. She vaguely reminds Cinderella of someone.

Her LinkedIn profile lists her experience as principal of Langford School in East Hartford since 2012 (4 years).

But there’s no mention of her experience at Reed Intermediate School in Newtown.

Likewise, no mention of her position at STARR School.

And, just as baffling, Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Connecticut  lists “Greg Fox” as principal of Langford School in East Hartford. (See page 32.)

So many changes, so little time. I called Langford School to clear up the mystery and was told that Mr. Fox “retired a while back.” The current principal is “Dr. Epple.”

Indeed, I located Mr. Fox – as principal of O’Connell Elementary School in East Hartford. But our favorite bureaucratic book lists the principal there as Scott Nozik.

So there are mistakes in our favorite bureaucratic book. They must have forgotten – for four long years – to update the names of certain principals. Well, schools have been busy with things like Common Core.

Sandy Hook remembers.  Just like Pepperidge Farm, Sandy Hook remembers Dr. Epple.  In fact, a web search Cinderella conducted brought up her name in an old Sandy Hook publication, dated March 29, 2012, titled The Sandy Hook Connection. See it for yourself, here.

On the second page, you’ll find Dr. Epple (still the principal of Reed) credited with having read to a fourth grade class at Sandy Hook during an occasion known as “One School, One Read.” [my BF]

Nowhere in the carefree publication is there mention of Dickinson Drive or any other address ordinarily associated with Sandy Hook Elementary. On the contrary!

In fact, on the first page, in an article titled “Come to the SHS Sockhop” we find something very intriguing. Cinderella has provided a screenshot with a red arrow pointing to one tiny but possibly crucial detail.

Sandy Hook Sock Hop

The Sandy Hook Sock Hop of April 27, 2012 wasn’t held at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was held at Reed Intermediate School. Why? Good question.


So what is being taught to four children by one teacher (?) at STARR? And are these students special in some way? Disabled? Gifted? Emotionally scarred? Mentally challenged? Talented? Autistic?

Cinderella is leaving those questions to the capable minds of her readers.

Oops! Almost forgot: One School, One Read. What exactly does “One School, One Read” mean? (The title of the event described in The Sandy Hook Connection.) Is it a pun on Reed School? Cinderella loves puns and double entendres!  Could it be that Sandy Hook School and Reed Intermediate were once … ONE school? ONE REED?  Hm.


UPDATE: The STARR mystery has been partly solved!  Click here.

A funny typo in a sad and dirty place.

This sign (click on the title of this post) appeared in front of the Sandy Hook School after the shooting in December 2012. There’s a funny typo in it, “prosuceted” instead of “prosecuted.” I guess the spelling police weren’t at the school that day. It really “sucs”!

The thought occurred to me that there was a hidden message in this sign, but I don’t think so. It’s just another dreary typo.

I found the photo at a Global Research web page by Scott DeLarm. While I was there, I looked at all of the pictures of the school and it made me want to give everything a good hard once-over with suds and bleach. That school was a mess!  There’s green and black stuff growing on the bricks and a dinginess I haven’t seen since my boyfriend’s first apartment over a chicken coop in Nashville, where he lived with four other messy sluggers.

If the parents of Sandy Hook cared so much about their children, why not vote to get that musty old HVAC system repaired back in 2002? It was only something like a $5M expense, a drop in the bucket for a place like Newtown.

I hunted down this sad photo album of Sandy Hook after the event and found even more bad housekeeping.

Look at the punched-out doorknob locks, the rotten wood, the grungy tile, dangling wires, the icky-sticky look of the place, the total lack of feng shui! It’s really an eyesore for a “vanguard” school. If Cinderella had kids, she wouldn’t have sent them there.

There are plenty of other mistakes in the Sandy Hook lore and literature. It’s really hard, though, to figure out which ones are mistakes – and which ones are intentional.

Like this one: According to the FBI Report on Crime for the United States in 2012, nobody was murdered in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.

So, really? Nobody was murdered? I should feel better now. Except that I don’t.

There’s also this: The 2012 Crime in Connecticut report. It has one of the funniest Sandy Hook mistakes of all. It squirrels away the Newtown deaths in the wrong county! Instead of Fairfield County, where the supposed deaths belong, they’re in Middlesex County. It doesn’t get much sillier than that.

If only it were silly. But homicide isn’t silly. Neither is faking homicide numbers or putting them in secret hiding places.

And there are other not-so-funny, fishy things. Like this FEMA document about a drill for “Mass Death of Children at a School by Firearms” with an exercise date of “12/14/12.” And the cold-blooded language below, which also seems to contain a Sandy Hook typo regarding pumpkin time:

“The exercise is expected to end at 11:59 pm on 12/13/12 and be evaluated on 12/14/12 as a real time event”

Horrifying and scary to Cinderella.

So let’s get back to the lighter, funnier side of Sandy Hook with this 2003 Newtown Community Facilities document. It contains an error, a typo, on page 9. Do your Sandy Hook homework and take a peek. You’ll see that two schools are captioned as “Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

One of them is the real Sandy Hook School on Dickenson Drive. But the other is … Hawley Elementary School on Church Hill Road in Newtown. Hawley is right down the street from the headquarters of Newtown Bee, the area’s local rag. Everyone in Newtown knows these two landmarks, so the captioning typo in the published document seems awfully careless.

Is it just a typo? Maybe, maybe not.

The naughty little typo seems premonitory in light of more recent history. Four days before the 2012 event, Newtown was talking about the possibility of shutting down an elementary school because enrollments were dropping.

Then the Event happened and the school was razed. And then, as almost everyone knows, Newtown began reconstructing a shiny new school with a $50M check from the state of Connecticut. It’s scheduled to open in Fall 2016.

In the meantime, due to the big drop in the kid count, Newtown started looking at closing an elementary school – for real. Which one do you think they were targeting?

Hawley. The school needs a $14M renovation and the head count is way down. It makes sense. Hawley children, it was thought, could be bused to the new school in Sandy Hook, where the Event happened.

You can imagine how Hawley parents felt about that. Cinderella knows how she would have felt – and she doesn’t even have kids.

But the Board of Education voted it down because it would “derail the town’s recovery from the 2012 killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.” Interesting.

From the Newstimes article: “The issue was not so much that parents were afraid to send kids to a new school built on the same campus as the torn-down building where the shooting took place, but rather the Sandy Hook students and teachers deserved their own space in a new place.”

I find the choices of words revealing. It’s obvious that the decision was not made for the sake of Hawley kids and parents. It was made to accommodate the deserving Sandy Hook “students and teachers” who want the new school to themselves.

What is it about Sandy Hook?

Maybe that typo was someone’s gentle suggestion that Hawley and Sandy Hook should someday become one big happy Sandy Hook school. It won’t happen in 2016, though.

It’s just a typo. But some typos are like Freudian slips.