Special Ed. director leaves

Departure ends tumultuous period at school district

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By Nathan Mayberg

Carolyn Marano has stepped down as director of special services at Vernon Township School District, Vernon Township Interim School District Interim Superintendent Art DiBenedetto said.

Marano left the school at the end of April, he said.

Marano's resignation closes a chapter of acrimony that occurred among faculty members and parents of students in the special services program and included the departure of the previous interim superintendent Charles Maranzano.

The school district had been the subject of six grievances filed by employees over the operations of the special services department and its leadership under Marano. Seven employees in the department left the district under Marano's year-and-a-half tenure.

The complaints ranged from teachers being moved around to different schools over the objections of building administrators, and that some specialists had been given more cases than they could handle to charges of a hostile working environment.

There also were allegations the district was spending more on outside vendors to handle special education services, though Maranzano disputed that at the time.

Marano had defended her practices, saying she added special education teachers into more classrooms to work jointly with teachers as part of a new program to aid autistic students.

Maranzano said she had put specialists into schools where she thought they could be more effective.

Marano had been on paid leave before she left the district.

DiBenedetto said he has assumed her duties in the meantime. He hopes to assign an in-house administrator to oversee the department next year.

"It's my love and my specialty," he said.

DiBenedetto said he has made some "procedural changes" within the department.

"The problem here wasn't really systemic, it was more human. There seemed to be a disconnect between the leadership and the people," DiBenedetto said. "It's a matter of listening, a matter of compromise and logic."

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