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Special ed administrator quits, heads to Shelton

Published 11:18 am, Friday, January 17, 2014
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One of the two assistant directors of special education in the Darien Public Schools resigned, and interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson said the position may be eliminated entirely.

Liz Wesolowski submitted her resignation "effective immediately" to Board of Education Chairman Betsy Hagerty-Ross and Pierson on Dec. 19. Her letter gave no explanation as to why she resigned.

Pierson accepted Wesolowski's resignation, but told her that her contract with the Darien schools outlines that the effective date of her resignation will be "not less than 30 days of receipt of written notice of (your) intention to resign," according to Pierson's Dec. 20 response, meaning Wesolowski's resignation cannot be effective "immediately."

"I appreciate your initiative in developing a thorough plan of transition that will impact both students and those staff whom you directly supervise," Pierson wrote. "Once this is finalized, we can determine the exact date of your departure."

Wesolowski's last day will be Friday, Jan. 17, Pierson said. She and Special Education Ombudsman John Verre worked with Wesolowski to develop a transition plan to ensure that her duties and responsibilities are distributed to other special education staff in the district.

The district may seek an interim assistant director for the remainder of the year, Pierson said.

Wesolowksi could not be reached for comment.

Following Wesolowski's departure from the Darien schools, she will serve as the assistant director of special education for Shelton Public Schools, a job that involves a pay cut.

Wesolowski was paid $135,000 a year in Darien and will be paid $129,210 in Shelton, according to her employment information Shelton Public Schools provided to the Darien News. She is set to start her job in July.

Wesolowski is leaving in the aftermath of multiple investigations into the special education department following a complaint to the state Department of Education.

In March, a group of parents filed a complaint with the state claiming that the Darien public schools violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by removing the "team aspect" of the Planning and Placement Team meetings, at which students' programs and goals for the year are determined. At a later meeting with state representatives, allegations were made that Individual Education Plans were changed after PPTs and services were not being provided. Those allegations were found by the state to be true.

Since the complaint was filed, Director of Special Education and Services Deirdre Osypuk was placed on paid leave on June 17. Former Superintendent 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, who revealed chaos in the special education department following the appointment of Osypuk.

Wesolowski came to Darien in 2005 as a special education teacher at Ox Ridge Elementary School. In 2010, she was promoted to serve as the district program integration coordinator. She was finally appointed the assistant director of special education in July 2012.

She sent a letter of interest in the position to the Shelton Public Schools on July 31, 2012, according to information received through a Freedom of Information request.

At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, Pierson told the board that she is proposing the addition of seven special education student support facilitators to work with special education teachers in each of the schools.

"An offset of that request would be that we are proposing that a recently vacant position of an assistant director of special education not be filled and the reorganization would speak to how the services would be continue to be supporting the roles and responsibilities of the staff," Pierson said.

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