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Darien Special Education Director Resigns After Probe Into Program

Darien Public Schools will need to find a new director of special education after the resignation of Deirdre Osypuk last week.
Darien Public Schools will need to find a new director of special education after the resignation of Deirdre Osypuk last week. Photo Credit: File

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien Public Schools Special Education Director Deirdre Osypuk resigned last week after months of investigations into her program.

“I inherited many problems,” Osypuk wrote in her resignation letter. “I am proud to have led improvements in student achievement, as evidenced by an increase in CMT vertical scale scores in reading and math; to have promoted the inclusion of special needs students into their neighborhood schools; and to have delivered a student-centered and fiscally responsible budget.”

Darien’s Special Education Department came under scrutiny last year, when a group of parents filed formal complaints with the state Board of Education that the program was violating state laws. The Connecticut State Department of Education reported in October that Darien’s program had broken some laws, most notably by changing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) without properly notifying parents.

The ongoing controversy led to the resignation of Superintendent Stephen Falcone last fall. Osypuk’s resignation was sent to the Board of Education last week.

Osypuk said it was “validating” that the more recent report by independent investigator Sue Gamm, which noted that many of the changes to IEPs do “not reflect substantive service changes.”

“The corrections, such as correcting inaccurate dates, did not impact student services and were trivial in nature,” Osypuk wrote.

In addition to the issues found in the state investigation, Gamm’s report also noted that Darien did not have a standard operating procedure manual for its special education program, which would explain to staff members the rules they needed to follow. In her response, Osypuk noted that the manual was scheduled to be done last summer and that it was incomplete did not mean there was any wrongdoing.

In the same response to the Gamm report, Osypuk said many of the problems the Special Education Department faced dated to before her tenure, which began in the summer of 2012. Osypuk also made frequent references to “a very small and insatiable group of parents” who had been given “special treatment” before her time.

“The culture in Darien that I inherited and was hired to change is one of appeasing a few parents who threaten the loudest in order to avoid costly litigation,” she wrote.

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