DARIEN, Conn. – Assistant Superintendent Timothy Canty will take over as Darien Pubic Schools’ Acting Superintendent after Stephen Falcone resigned Tuesday.
The Board of Education voted unanimously to accept Falcone’s resignation Tuesday night. Then Canty was unanimously approved to fill in until the school board finds a full-time interim superintendent.
“I want to reassure the board that I will work closely with Dr. [Judith] Pandolfo, our central office leadership team and our school-based administrators, faculty and staff to ensure that our students are receiving a high-quality educational experience during this period of transition,” Canty said Tuesday night. “We also pledge to continue our effort to cultivate the strong partnership we have with our parent community.”
Falcone’s resignation came after new evidence came to light about the district’s special education program. The district has been the subject of a state investigation, which recently found that some of Darien’s special education practices were not in line with state and federal laws.
The school board learned last week that “a respected staff member” sent Falcone a letter expressing concerns about the program in September 2012, school board chair Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross said Tuesday night. Falcone did not notify the Board of Education of the letter at the time, she added.
“While we understand that Dr. Falcone wished to address on his own the serious concerns expressed, we disagree with that approach and believe that consulting with the board was necessary,” Hagerty-Ross said. “After substantial consideration, we have decided to accept Dr. Falcone’s resignation.”
Hagerty-Ross noted that the Board of Education has taken other steps to bring Darien’s special education program in line. She pointed to the district’s new procedures and training for teachers, as well as its hiring of an independent investigator, a mediator for parent-staff meetings and an ombudsman to study the district’s policies.
“We realize that this has been a very difficult time for Darien Public Schools and the community of Darien,” Hagerty-Ross said. “The board members are fully committed to working with the school community to rebuilt trust and chart a course for our students.”
The Board of Education said it will conduct a national search for a new full-time superintendent beginning immediately.