Our History

David Eisenman founded the Mardan School in 1962, a time when public schools had few programs to serve children with learning and emotional disabilities. Recognizing the growing need for a program in Orange County specifically for children who struggled to succeed in typical school environments, David began tutoring students in a small Costa Mesa office building. He named the early therapeutic school the Mardan Center, after his daughters Marla and Dana.

In the years to come, this modest journey would grow to become so much more than David had ever imagined possible. Five years after the start of his tutoring program, Mardan opened its first day school with a class of 12 students. In 1968, the school had grown large enough to move into the old Costa Mesa City Hall Building and serve 60 full-time students.

As Mardan grew to accommodate the increasing needs of the community, the school’s needs soon outgrew the available space. An outpouring of community support initiated a capital campaign in 1985 with the goal of purchasing a new facility for Mardan’s ever-growing staff and student body. Thanks to the generous support of local foundations, corporations, and private donors, the Mardan School raised 6.5 million dollars to purchase three acres of land in nearby Irvine. Construction of a customized campus, complete with bright classrooms, a full-size gymnasium, central library and technology center, and student kitchen was completed in January 1990.

This amazing gift, an overwhelming vote of confidence from the community, was not taken for granted. Today, Mardan has a vibrant staff of approximately 35 professionals who uphold our reputation of service with integrity. We have the capacity to serve up to 100 Kindergarten to 12th grade students each year who come to us from locations throughout Orange County and neighboring regions. Under David’s ongoing leadership as Executive Director, Mardan has proudly offered a place for students to learn, explore, and thrive for over five decades.