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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Special ed ombudsman's contract extended

Published 10:08 am, Thursday, August 28, 2014
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Special education ombudsman John Verre will remain with the Darien Public Schools until the end of the 2014-15 school year following a unanimous vote from the Board of Education.

Verre, who was hired in October to oversee the special education department, was originally contracted to work until Oct. 15. His contract now extends to June 30. Prior to his arrival in Darien, he was the assistant superintendent of special education and student services for the Boston Public Schools.

The Board of Education hired Verre after former Special Education Director Deirdre Osypuk was placed on administrative leave while the state Department of Education investigated allegations against the district.

Verre has been charged with developing new special education policies and procedures that are in line with state-mandated regulations. He has also served as a liaison between families of students with disabilities and the district administration. He was paid $155,262.45 through June 30.

His new contract has not yet been negotiated, according to interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson.

In the parents' March 2013 complaint filed with the state, they claimed the "team aspect" of the Planning and Placement Team meetings, at which students' programs and goals for the year are determined, was removed. Under the law, educators are not allowed to make any sort of predetermination about students' programs before meeting with the parents. Individualized Education Plans were changed after PPT meetings during the 2012-13 school year, according to the second of two reports issued by the state Department of Education, validating parents' allegations.

Verre is not the only interim administrator hired in the wake of the special education investigation who has accepted an extended contract.

Pierson, who was hired after Stephen Falcone quit on Oct. 22, accepted a longer contract while the search for a new superintendent was extended. She will stay with the district until the end of the school year, or until a new superintendent is identified. Her contract had been slated to end on June 30.

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