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November 16, 2012

Schools delay hiring of new SPED director

Focusing its effort on shoring up program

NEWBURYPORT — After receiving upwards of 20 applications for the position of special education director, the search committee overseeing the process unanimously voted to wait until spring to select a final candidate.

While Superintendent Marc Kerble spoke positively of the slate of candidates who applied for the job, he indicated it would benefit the district to make sure it was getting the most qualified candidates possible in its pool of potential directors. And the time when most candidates entertain making a move is in the spring.

“I always feel it necessary to say something positive about people who apply for a position in this district,” said Kerble. “We had a threshold, and we decided as a group to wait until spring so we have this pool as well as a greater pool. That was a unanimous decision by 19 people.”

To that end, Kerble said he’s asked interim special education director Cindy Joyce to stay on through the end of the year, and finish the work she started of streamlining a SPED program Kerble said has been the envy of other districts. Since the forced resignation of SPED Director Karen Brann due to legal troubles, weaknesses in the administration of the program have been detected and pointed out by Joyce.

But when Kerble presented an action plan to the School Committee last week, he assured them he will get the program running more efficiently into the future. Pointing to budget deficit numbers that are due, in part, to the district’s hiring of new SPED teachers this summer to meet increased demand, he touted the city’s dedication to educating the SPED population.

“One of the things Newburyport has been proud of has been its inclusion effort,” said Kerble. “We’re trying to meet the need of students. I think that’s why we have these additional costs. We should be proud, but there are additional costs.”

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