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FROM THE BOARD OF EDUCATION:
On Monday, November 4, 2013 at a special Darien Board of Education meeting, Attorney Sue Gamm shared her findings on the Special Education investigation. The video of the meeting is available for viewing here. Please click here for the Executive Summary and click here for Attorney Gamm’s Power Point Presentation. The complete report will be delivered to the Darien Board of Education within a few weeks. The Board will promptly share the full report with the school community. Thank you.
FROM THE ACTING SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS:
As you may know, the school district is undertaking a number of changes and initiatives in special education to comply with the decision(s) of the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE). One of these initiatives is offering IEP Facilitation to our school community. According to the CSDE, “IEP Facilitation is a student focused process in which a trained, neutral facilitator assists the IEP team in working collaboratively to reach consensus and develop an IEP that meets the needs of the student.” The purpose of IEP Facilitation, according to the CSDE, is to assist parents and schools in providing “a process that results in an appropriate IEP by assisting the team to stay focused on the student’s individualized needs and to communicate effectively.” IEP Facilitation is a purely voluntary process for parents; the school district will honor and process each request for IEP Facilitation. We encourage the school community to learn more about IEP Facilitation at the school district’s website (http://www.darienps.org/) where the following information is available:
Last Updated (Thursday, 31 October 2013 12:58)
FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT:
The Connecticut State Department of Education concluded its lengthy investigation into concerns regarding systematic practices of the special education department during the 2012-13 school year. The conclusions of the State, including the one that “substantive changes to IEPs were made by the district outside the PPT/amendment process during the 2012-13 school year. . . and is in violation of the IDEA” are quite serious. The CSDE has ordered corrective actions that the district will take. Attached is the letter from the State.
Earlier this summer, the State issued an initial partial decision identifying numerous violations of the law in the promulgation of special education materials found to be inconsistent with the law. The school district fully accepted the decision. In response, we immediately withdrew the use of any training materials used during 2012-13 and I went to each school building to reiterate my expectation that all decisions need to be made at a PPT, that all participants must fully participate in those meetings, information shared at those meetings be used to inform decisions, and that students receive the services necessary to learn.
We continue to work with Attorney Theresa DeFrancis and the State to develop new, compliant special education materials and train school staff, Board members and parents using these materials. As a reminder, parents are encouraged to attend, if possible, Ms. DeFrancis’ training session on October 8th and 10th. This important work is already underway and will continue throughout this school year. Unilaterally altering a student’s IEP is wrong. As noted, the CSDE has ordered corrective actions that the district will take, including sending current IEP documents to families, offering facilitated PPTs, notifying and training administration and staff of specific legal obligations, and fully cooperating with Attorney Gamm’s investigation.
My message to the Darien community is simple: I will hold those whose actions were in violation of the law accountable. Beyond accountability, however, I will continue to be front and center in the on-going training and education of staff, Board members and parents. I want to again express my appreciation to the parents who filed the complaint as well as those parents and staff who submitted comments to the state for their review; I commend them for their advocacy on behalf of Darien students. I also thank the State for the time, effort and dedication of its team of investigators who have spent countless hours on this matter.
Every Darien student must receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the twenty-first century. I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders -- staff, administrators, parents and the Board -- to ensure that we have a system that supports this essential mission. I am confident that our collective efforts will benefit all children and make our district stronger.
Read the Letter from the State
Last Updated (Thursday, 26 September 2013 15:40)
From the Superintendent:
Parents in the Darien Public Schools and Board of Education members are invited to attend special education training sessions hosted by Theresa DeFrancis on Tuesday, October 8th from 9 am – 11:30 am and on Thursday, October 10th from 7 pm – 9 pm in the Board of Education Meeting Room at 35 Leroy Avenue. Her presentation will parallel those sessions provided for school district administration and staff. Ms. DeFrancis’ efforts are designed to have all in the school community understand the federal and state procedures in special education. Having a common understanding of procedures will allow the entire school community -- both parents and staff -- to move forward together.
FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT
Darien, CT (September 24, 2013) - The Darien Board of Education is pleased to announce the creation of a local dispute resolution process that will be available to Darien families during the 2013-2014 school year. This process was developed by retired Hearing Officer Mary H.B. Gelfman in cooperation with school officials, Darien parents, and experts in special education.
This special dispute resolution process was developed to afford Darien parents the opportunity to seek resolution of special education complaints involving their own children in an expeditious and fair manner.
This past summer, the Board directed its attorneys to identify an independent person to create and administer a local, alternative dispute resolution process for the school community. The Board’s attorneys, working together with Attorney Andrew Feinstein, who has been working on behalf of parents in Darien, recommended the appointment of Attorney Mary H.B. Gelfman.