Founded in 1990 by reading specialist Dori J. Bower, Dartmoor began as a reading intervention mechanism. The success enjoyed teaching reading fundamentals to struggling students soon led to demands for more subjects and gradually supplemental services expanded to cover the general gamut of academic subjects. As more and more students sought remediation, requests for credit courses and graduation readily increased, prompting Dartmoor's accreditation and, ultimately, its transformation from a learning center into an alternative school in the early 1990s.
Dartmoor's ability to work effectively with a diverse population attracted districts to place students needing an individualized educational setting. To facilitate these placements, Dartmoor became a Non-Public Agency (NPA) in the 1990s. Dartmoor established its Institute of Specialized Instruction (ISI) in 2007 to expand district services and simplify collaboration.
Today, Dartmoor is a school pervasively informed by its founding principle of student respect, a school committed to diverse learners, and a school cultivating in its students self-realization balanced by personal responsibility. Though student needs have encouraged Dartmoor's growth in unforeseen directions, the school has remained faithful to its founder's vision of a place where students rather than abstractions center the educational experience.