Andover hires new unique education director

Posted on 06 june 2016 by Admin   •   Filed under Nurses and social workersComments 7

Critics say Stetson is not received the task because she doesn’t have the appropriate state permit. School authorities, however, state they were impressed with her total understanding of special education problems.

Stetson will take control of the position from Valerie Flynn, who will finish her one-year, interim position at the end of June.

Superintendent Sheldon Berman stated 10 individuals were talked to for the position and Stetson was among the final three prospects. He said Stetson s record of thoughtful, caring leadership, was among the factors she stood out among the others.

We felt like she was the best match for our district and attending to some of the issues and issues that we have actually dealt with, Berman stated.

Those problems go back to 2014, when the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reviewed the district s special education program and provided a list of 24 restorative actions to be taken. When the district was examined 6 years prior in 2008, it received three corrective actions.

Training, background

Berman pointed to Stetson s extensive academic and expert backgrounds as reasons why he thinks she was selected as the very best fit for the job.

Stetson holds a bachelor of arts degree in developmental psychology from the University of New Hampshire, a master's in education in learning disabilities, a certification of innovative graduate study in school psychology and a doctorate of education in leadership and learning, all from Rivier University in Nashua.

Prior to her function in the Hampton School District, Stetson worked as a learning disabilities specialist in North Andover and as a school psychologist in Merrimack, New Hampshire. She is likewise contracted with the New Hampshire Department of Education through 2017 to mentor brand-new special education administrators and presently functions as adjunct faculty at Rivier University, teaching a large range of education courses.

I am thrilled to be signing up with the APS team because of their strong belief in social justice and inclusive practice, dedication to innovation, and collective approach to school leadership, Stetson said. I am thrilled to be signing up with such a strong learning neighborhood.

Director of Human Resources Candace Hall said the interview procedure was a very challenging search, and one that took a long time, but that the community s input assisted the district decided.

Flawed procedure?

The volunteer search committee was composed of 25 district faculty and nine members of the community, consisting of parents, members of the Special Education Parent Committee and School Committee members Ted Teichert and Chairman Joel Blumstein.

I was extremely impressed with Sara, Blumstein said. She has a good mix of the technical knowledge of the unique education program, as well as the empathy and ability to work with our moms and dads, personnel, and students.

Not everybody was delighted about the procedure, though.

Jeanne Teichert, who has 2 children going to Landmark School for students with dyslexia, stated this year’s employing procedure was far less transparent than the process used a year ago for the exact same position.

Teichert said when the district was wanting to fill the position a year earlier, before momentarily hiring Flynn, the neighborhood was welcomed to an open online forum with the finalists to ask questions and share their issues. Near 30 parents went to the forum, Teichert said, and the feedback was tape-recorded and offered to then-Superintendent Marinel McGrath.

This year, Teichert stated she and other moms and dads asked to be notified of the final prospects and given a chance to fulfill and ask questions of them prior to the hiring. It wasn’t up until Stetson was announced as the brand-new Director of Students Services last week that parents learned who the prospects were.

Hall said that although an open forum was not held for the community, she believes the district went substantially above and beyond our normal process because we were all intent on discovering the ideal prospect.

Questions on qualifications.

Stetson’s experience and educational background are impressive, and she is certified as a unique education administrator in New Hampshire, some parents are worried that unlike the other 2 finalists for the position, she does not have the Massachusetts licenses required for the task.

The district’s task description for the director of student services lists 6 advised minimum qualifications. Of those, having a Massachusetts unique education administrator license and extensive knowledge of all federal and state statutes connecting to the delivery of student services are listed.

Sheena Stack, who co-chaired the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee at the time, questioned the district s search procedure for the position in an e-mail to Hall on behalf of the SEPAC executive council, asking why an expert search firm was not being worked with to find candidates for the position.

Hall said a professional search firm wasn’t needed at that time because the town was going to restrict its search to Massachusetts.

In an email dated Feb. 11, 2015, Hall reacted that the district s experience informs us that the very best match will come from existing Massachusetts teachers who are up to speed on state law and regulations that control services supplied to special needs students.

Not far from N.H.

In reality, the 2 other prospects did originate from Massachusetts.

Donna Straight, among the 3 finalists, is the director of the Georgetown Public Schools Special Education Department, which supervises unique education students in grades K-12. Jack Tiano was also a finalist for the position and is the Student Support Services Director for Carlisle Public Schools. Tiano and Straight are both licensed unique education administrators in Massachusetts.

Berman acknowledged throughout a School Committee conference on May 26 that Stetson will have to play some catch-up.

There will be a bit of startup around Massachusetts laws, however were not that far from New Hampshire, Berman said. It’s quite comparable.

Jeanne Teichert raised this worry about Hall at the end of May. In an email response, Hall said that there were a few variances in the general procedure, however she believes that Stetson is not just the best candidate, but an exceptional individual to fill this difficult function.

Teichert countered that the Andover special education department is in such abysmal shape that somebody is required with experience in Massachusetts.

The reason this is so vital is because APS has a crisis in special education that has been developing for many years, Teichert stated. Provided Andover s well-documented difficulties in the last few years regarding special education non-compliance, it is very concerning that we are working with a person who appears to have no experience working within the structure of Massachusetts laws and policies.

Momentary permit.

According to Hall, Stetson is in the process of applying for the needed license and because she holds the license in New Hampshire, and has a minimum of three years’ experience, she will be provided a short-lived permit for one year. After that, Stetson will be required to pass the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure in addition to any further directions provided by the state.

Hall stated that the district will provide Dr. Stetson with appropriate support in order for her to master the distinctions between Massachusetts and New Hampshire unique education laws.

Based upon her exceptional scholastic performance, Hall said, I don t prepare for any problem in her mastering the product.

Stetsons agreement is effective July 1 and goes through June 30, 2019. She will make $128,000 during her very first year, which is $2,000 more than Flynn made as an interim, and based upon performance evaluations, her wage will be adjusted in the second and 3rd years.

I’m actually thrilled to be here and to have a brand-new challenge, Stetson stated. I’m really thrilled.