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Tuesday, February 20 Local

District reorganization begins with two appointments

The first appointment in the widespread reorganization of the Darien school administration was made Tuesday night.

Tim Canty was named assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and will oversee the curriculum coordinators, such as those for math, World Language, literacy, music and art, among others. He has been serving as the assistant superintendent of secondary schools.

The reorganization reduces the number of assistant superintendents from two to one, which means Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Judith Pandolfo will be without a seat at the head table during Board of Education meetings.

Under Connecticut law, if tenured administrators -- such as Pandolfo -- are displaced during a reorganization, the administration will assign them to another available administrative position, said Interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson.

The three available positions for Pandolfo, according to Pierson, are the Royle Elementary School principal, the Holmes Elementary School vice principal, or the newly created director of technology, Pierson said. There is a currently a search underway for a principal at Royle Elementary School.

However, the displaced administrator can decline reassignment, but doing so would mean having to resign or retire from the district.

Pandolfo could not be reached for comment.

Prior to Canty's hiring for the 2013-14 school year, he served as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction since 2011 in Wilton. He also briefly served as the acting superintendent of schools for three weeks after Stephen Falcone resigned in October 2013 and until Pierson was hired.

At the May 13 board meeting, Pierson said it was clear when she came to the district in November that the board had an interest in looking at how the district was organized.

"One of the greater concerns that came to me in my observations was that we need to improve and/or develop systemic processes in order to accomplish the functions and tasks that are necessary to ensure that this organization runs smoothly," Pierson said in May.

Pierson said at the May meeting that an administrator to oversee curriculum is becoming more common with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, which call for reading and math to be covered more deeply and in a different order than in the past.

The search for the assistant superintendent of special education and student services -- formerly the special education director -- is underway, Pierson said Tuesday. Parents will be asked to provide feedback for the qualities they want to see in the new administrator through focus groups and an online survey. Pierson expects that position to be filled for Aug. 1. The assistant superintendent of special education and student services will oversee the program director of special education student services, the program director of early childhood SESS, the school-based SESS facilitators and the director of health services.

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As part of the 2014-15 school budget deliberations, a director of human resources position was approved. The district has not had a human resource director in the past. On Tuesday, the board unanimously appointed Michael Cicchetti as the interim human resources director.

Cicchetti will serve during the 2014-15 school year and assist in developing personnel policies, processes and procedures and will lead the search for the Royle principal and for a permanent HR director for the 2015-16 school year.

Pierson said the appointment of an interim director rather than a permanent one allows someone to begin immediately instead of the district engaging in a lengthy search.

"It also provides the flexibility for a new superintendent to appoint his or her own person," Pierson said. "This is a very important position with regard to working with the superintendent of schools."

Cicchetti has been working as an educator since 1978 when he started as a music teacher in the Farmington public schools.

During the 2013-14 school year, Cicchetti acted as the interim director of human resources for Wilton Public Schools. He also led and fulfilled the search for Wilton's permanent director of human resources.

"Dr. Cicchetti's rich professional experience over many years in a wide array of positions within the Connecticut educational systems, couple with his most recent assigned in human resource management in a neighboring DRG A district, make him an ideal choice for this interim position during Darien's period of transition," according to a press release from the Darien Public Schools.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 2503-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews