COLCHESTER – The school district has begun accepting applications for a new Director of Student Services and Special Education and will solicit feedback from parents and staff about the special education department, according to Acting Superintendent Thomas McDowell.
At a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, McDowell said the district had created a survey for special education parents and special education department staff, as well as administrators, asking what qualifications and attributes they wanted to see in the new director of education. district education. Student Services. McDowell said the survey was distributed on June 7.
The survey asks parents to choose which attributes are most important to a potential director of special education and student services. The list of options includes communication skills, holding students and staff accountable, working collaboratively, building functional systems, and using data to set goals, among others.
The survey also asks parents to identify the traits (i.e. persistence, respect, transparency, innovation) that are most important to them in a special education director and list the “most significant and important issue you would like the director to address.”
According to McDowell, the results of that survey would be used to inform a second survey of parents about special education services in the district. He said Glenn McGrath, the district’s interim director of student services, and Elisa Fabiszak, assistant director of student services, would be working with special education parents to develop the research.
At an emergency board meeting on April 15, board members said they planned to meet to have a “more robust conversation” about parents’ concerns after they received the survey results.
The board made the decision to develop the survey in response to complaints from multiple parents in the district that the district was not providing adequate education for children with special needs. The complaints were largely supported by an independent review by the district’s department of special education, which highlighted the high turnover of teachers in the special education department, the large number of complaints from parents, and the lack of data on special education student outcomes. .
Former district director of Student Services and Special Education Kathleen Perry voluntarily resigned in March.
McDowell said the district had shared all applications for director of special education services with McGrath and Fabiszak, and that they would begin conducting initial interviews this week. The interview team includes McGrath, Fabiszak, a special education parent, Jack Jackter Special Services Speech Pathologist Nikki Greathouse, Colchester Elementary Principal Judy O’Meara, and two special education teachers, Brianne Vess and Knikka Wetzel.
The CT Examiner contacted several parents who offered mixed responses – two said they did not receive the survey. Both parents have children with special needs who previously received services through the district, but who transferred their children out of the special education program after struggling to obtain necessary services for their child.
A third parent told the CT Examiner that while she received the survey and filled it out, she felt it would have been better to have something mailed or sent home from school rather than emailed to make sure everyone received it. .
The district did not respond to a CT Examiner question about how many parents responded to the survey, although McDowell said it was sent to all special education parents.
McDowell told the board of education meeting that a second round of interviews was scheduled to take place the week of June 20.