From April 29 to May 2, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Visiting Committee evaluated Darien High School for accreditation. At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting Principal Arlene Gottesman discussed some of NEASC's findings.

"The culture and climate of Darien High School support a vibrant, positive learning environment where students are offered a wide variety of programs and supports to become successful, contributing members of society," she quoted from the NEASC report. "Students are engaged, hard-working, focused, and open. Teachers are student-centered, accessible, knowledgeable and committed."

Following the visit, the NEASC committee sends the school principal a draft of the report.

"This summer when I came on board, I received the report and we wall looked through it to make sure it was factually correct," Gottesman said. "We couldn't change any of the recommendations or commendations."

She said once she read through the report, she spoke with the NEASC committee chairman for two hours asking various questions.

"I didn't want push too hard because I didn't want a different report to come out if she didn't like what I had to say," Gottesman said.

After the school checks for factual errors, the final report is sent to the school in the form of a letter with highlighted recommendations, and in return, the school has a two-year period to respond to the recommendations in a progress report.

"The commission is running late, so we don't have our letter yet. It should come out by October. We will receive accreditation. How we continue our accreditation, though, depends on how the schools respond to the recommendations," Gottesman said.

Gottesman has been through three NEASC evaluations during her time in the education system, and regardless of when the letter of recommendations arrives, the two-year progress report will be due by Oct. 1 2014.

"They've given us an estimation of either the end of October, November or Christmas for the accreditation letter," Gottesman said.

Gottesman said Darien High School received 44 recommendations throughout the report, but that fact didn't rule out that there wouldn't be more when the final letter arrives.

"I think we'll be able to respond to them with assurance and success. We may reject some, but to determine that, a committee needs to have a full discussion," Gottesman said.

Vice Chairman Clara Sartori, while taken aback by the number of recommendations, was pleased with the news.

"It appears the things we've been working on for the past several years are the things that they commended us for," she said. "We wanted a culture change and we got it."; 203-972-4407;

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