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Board wants community input in superintendent search

Published 12:50 pm, Saturday, January 18, 2014
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As the search for a new superintendent continues, the Darien public schools are seeking community input.

"An integral part in the process involves parent and community participation in focus groups," Board of Education Vice Chairman Heather Shea said at Tuesday's meeting. "The groups are designed to obtain participant input about the attributes, experience and knowledge that the new superintendent should possess."

Stephen Falcone resigned Oct. 22 after the board learned that he had received a letter in September 2012 from Julie Bookbinder, a former DPS speech pathologist who left the district at the start of the 2012-13 school year. Bookbinder revealed chaos in the special education department following the appointment of Special Education and Services Director Deirdre Osypuk, who has been on paid leave since June 17.

Dr. Lynne Pierson was hired as the interim superintendent on Nov. 12, three weeks after Falcone's resignation.

The hourlong focus group sessions are set for Feb. 3, 4 and 5, Shea said, and are for parents, students, public officials, other residents, teachers, staff and district administration staff. They will take place at the Board of Education meeting room.

Additionally, those interested can provide written input, and a brief survey will be available through the Darien public schools website in February, Shea said.

The board hired the New England School Development Council Oct. 11 to assist in the search for a superintendent. The NESDEC, which was established in 1946 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, helps schools and districts become "high performance organizations and to support continuous educational improvement," according to Shea. The NESDEC, which has completed more than 500 executive leadership searches in New England, will also be able to pool resources from across the country through its membership with the National School Development Council.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews