New Leader for Special Ed

       Last Thursday night, the Springs School Board convened a special meeting during which its five members unanimously approved the hiring of three new employees. The board appointed Marion Flaherty as head bus driver, Kimberly Belkin as sixth-grade integrated co-teacher, and Diana Zuchelli as acting chairwoman of both the committee on special education and the committee on preschool special education.

       Ms. Zuchelli will replace Louis Aiello, a part-time employee who formerly led the special education committee. Mr. Aiello, who is set to begin an extended medical leave, is retiring after a 45-year career in education. He was appointed in May to assume many of the duties previously assigned to Katherine Byrnes, the former assistant principal. Ms. Byrnes abruptly resigned in early May amid testing irregularities related to a state exam.

       At present, about 13 percent of Springs students receive special education services.

       With more than 40 years of experience in the field, Ms. Zuchelli formerly worked as the divisional administrator for special education at the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services and previously held positions with school districts in Riverhead, Sachem, and Rocky Point. As a part-time employee, Ms. Zuchelli’s contract extends until August 2014.

       As for Ms. Flaherty, she started out driving a school bus for what was then the Coram Bus Company. That job led to a full-time career in transportation, managing contracts for a number of school districts. She has experience in dispatching, operations management, training, and safety.

       Ms. Belkin, meanwhile, has worked for the Springs School District for two summers as a special education teacher. She has served as a replacement for teachers on leave since 2011. She has a master’s degree in childhood education, with a particular specialization in math, science, and technology, in addition to a special education teaching certificate.


Getting the Word Out

       As at several other meetings, some confusion again arose concerning the district’s method of communication — or what several parents lamented during a recent meeting as the lack of a consistent notification policy.

       According to Elizabeth Mendelman, the board president, no members of the public were present at last Thursday night’s meeting. On Monday morning, no mention of the meeting could be found on the school’s website, though Ms. Mendelman said a notice had been posted online beforehand. Nonetheless, it failed to appear on the main calendar. In addition, the most updated board agenda and minutes are from June of this year.

       Despite some obstacles, Ms. Mendelman remained optimistic. “The good news is that we have all of our key staff on board and we’re looking forward to a strong academic year,” she said Monday.


How do you know Dr. Byrnes resigned based on testing irregularities? Was there an investigation? Where is the results of this non- existent investigation.She was thrown under the bus by that wonderful man who thinks he is a good principal. Anyone who would do that to someone can't be a good leader. Does anyone remember Casale was involved in his own cheating scandal in the Bronx. Where he made teachers help students cheat on exams. Why this man is still leading our children is amazing. Are we as parents not smart enough to realize that. The district should get rid of him and find someone who has a clean record. I feel like our children are getting dumber just being around him. So sad.