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Special ed director Osypuk resigns

Updated 10:50 am, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

 

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After months of being on paid administrative leave, Director of Special Education and Services Deirdre Osypuk has resigned, effective immediately.

"As explained to you in my December 23, 2013, 18-page response to the Gamm report, I inherited many problems," Osypuk wrote in her Jan. 21 letter of resignation to interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson, referring to the independent investigation by attorney Sue Gamm. "I am proud to have led improvements in student achievement, as evidenced by an increase in CMT vertical scale scores in Reading and Math; to have promoted the inclusion of special needs students into their neighborhood schools; and to have delivered a student-centered and fiscally responsible budget."

"It has been a pleasure working with such a talented group of educators, students, parents and administrators," Osypuk wrote in the letter, which was provided to the Darien News by her attorney, Leon Rosenblatt.

Osypuk went on paid administrative leave June 17 following an investigation into the special education department that confirmed multiple areas of noncompliance with state law.

In March 2013, a group of parents filed a complaint with the state Department of Education 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.

Osypuk claimed, in the final report from Gamm, that the problems within the special education department were inherited from the previous administration, which was led by Robin Pavia.

The claims are included in Gamm's final report, which was released Dec. 16. Osypuk told Gamm in a Nov. 25 letter that many of the problems outlined in the full report began "prior to her tenure in Darien, and that she had tried to remedy areas the district perceived as problematic."

"It was validating to read in the `Gamm Report' that the corrections I made to students' IEP's did `not reflect substantive service changes,'" Osypuk wrote. "The corrections, such as correcting inaccurate dates, did not impact student services and were trivial in nature. It was also validating to read in the Connecticut State Department of Education's report, `Many staff members said they did not interpret the `unified front' language in the training material to mean that a preapproval or predetermination of services was required."

Andrew Feinstein, the Mystic-based attorney who represents the group of parents that filed the complaint, said he was "completely blind-sided" by the resignation.

"Seems to pretty obvious that she was paid off," Feinstein said. "Why give up the next six months of pay unless there was a settlement agreement?"

Osypuk, Pierson, and Board of Education Chairman Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross could not be reached for comment.

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