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Norwalk SpEd parents support NPS union member

Norwalk Special Education parents have written to Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski of behalf of Sara Legister.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk parents have taken action in defense of an embattled Special Education administrator.

“The allegations made about Sara (Legister) are egregious and misdirected,” a group led by SpEd parents Kim Tromba, Sophia Aponte and Margaret Kozlark said in a letter sent Tuesday evening to Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski and Chief of Specialized Learning and Student Services Yvette Goorevitch.

Legister was suspended for 10 days without pay after being accused in July of costing the district more than $74,000 during the 2016-17 school year, when she authorized the outplacement of a SpEd student allegedly without convening the appropriate multidisciplinary team.

Legister and the Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) have filed a grievance alleging unfair labor practices; the Board of Education Negotiations and Personnel Committee may be holding a public hearing on the matter Thursday.

“We haven’t gotten notification from the union if they are going to come,” Committee Chairman Mike Lyons said at Tuesday’s Board meeting.

Tuesday’s letter was signed, “NPS Sped Community,” with 18 names listed under that. Organizers requested that their names not be listed in the press.

It said:

“Sara Legister is a professional, hardworking, and detail oriented SPED NPS Case Manager.  Even with a tremendous work load, she has always been an effective case manager and caring member of my child’s ppt. She comes prepared and follows through on important details in my child’s IEP.

“The allegations made about Sara are egregious and misdirected. She is being accused of wrongful spending which is neither her responsibility nor her legal jurisdiction. We believe Sara has done an honorable job especially with little direction from the revolving administration for the past several years. We support Sara and her continued work here at NPS.”

 

Legister’s problems also drew parental support on the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education, with no negative commentary.

“Given the revolving door Norwalk has had these past 8 years of SPED directors and superintendents, it is a miracle that administrators like Sarah were able to maintain given the immense work load. Now of course she makes a convenient scapegoat so those in charge can say they are making meaningful changes,” one Mom wrote. “The past 8 years however has shown us that it is the system that needs to change, just changing administrative staff basically changes nothing regarding the meaningful implementation of services.”

The post on the Facebook page had 13 responses on it Tuesday evening; many posts draw far more. One mom called the lack of enthusiasm “very sad,” and compared it to the outrage inspired by ABC’s comedy, American Housewife.

“This is what represents Norwalk!! Not a TV show! Wake up people and see what is real going on!!!!” she wrote.

“{U}nfortunately it’s not only this post about special education. Anything that is posted that pertains to anything having to do with special needs gets no recognition at all,” another mom replied.

Aponte wrote, “I have had many administrators the last 9 years. Sara was one of the most caring and passionate administrators. Unlike today, my children’s ieps {Individualized Education Programs} were in compliance when she was our administrator. She always tried to work with us and was very respectful and collaborative even if we didn’t agree. What is happening to her is not fair, and she has the support of many parents. Reading the article and allegations, it is stated she was in charge of all of the out of district placements, 4 elementary schools and the Department of Visually and Hearing Impaired. Today, I believe 3 administrators are doing what she did. The district should look at her as a star employee. If I didn’t know better, it sounds like she is being set up for failure. I hope the board of education does the right thing.”

“My experience with Sara Legister has always been collaborative and positive,” another mom wrote. “I show my support for Sara as I feel she’s had many obstacles to face and continues to stay because she puts our kids first before even herself.”

8 comments

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

The BOE Negotiations and Personnel Committee may meet tomorrow night to hear the Legister/NASA grievance. Regardless of now “nice” Legister is perceived to be, if she violated a rule regarding outplacements, the reprimand is appropriate. Hopefully the hearing will settle the matter. An email lamenting poor implementation of 2012 CREC recommendations while SpEd administrators reported otherwise does not absolve Legister of having violated any of the terms of her employment regarding outplacements.

Many years ago in Westport, the Superintendent made a move to fire the Athletic Director for misappropriation of WPS funds for personal use. The gridiron parents mobilized the students, who walked out of school, my son included, and marched on Town Hall to confront the superintendent. The BOE pressured the Superintendent to capitulate. Later I realized that the Superintendent was pursuing the correct course with this employee. Sure he was a nice guy and people liked him. But what he did was wrong, and he was bad for the district. A previous iteration of the BOE under an earlier Superintendent was pressured by parents to elevate a VP to Principal of a Middle School because he too was a nice guy and the parents loved him. He was a terrible administrator. The teachers ran the school, and not well. I have sinced learned to allow that perhaps school boards and Superintendents know things the rest of us don’t.

I’m sure Legister has many fans and supporters. Mr. Ditrio has referred to her as “the poor girl”. There are many reasons to feel empathy. But I doubt that the decision to reprimand was made capriciously. And I don’t think an email about systemic problems with the SpEd staff, including misleading the BOE about the degree to which they’d addressed the CREC report, is “proof” that Adamowski was hired as a hit man. With all due respect to the SpEd parents who like Ms. Legister, try to allow for the possibility that there is more here than meets the eye and let the process unfold.

MarjorieM December 6, 2017 at 10:21 am

Where is the Commissioner of Education and Bob Duff on this? The pileup of violations and harrassment incidences are becoming costly and shameful for the Board and Adamowski. Is Norwalk headed for another lawsuit because of egregious allegations? The Mike Lyons lawsuit wound up costing a settlement and legal fees. What Was the total bill for taxpayers? My guess is around $500,000. Legal fees add up quickly. All of this money should have been spent on Norwalk students. What a shame we have henchmen instead of educational leaders who support staff.

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

Not all staff are equally worthy of support. The settlement money is coming from the City’s Insurance Fund, not from the BOE. So the suggestion that the money is coming out of the mouths of babes is specious. If you want to lay the settlement costs at Lyons’s feet, Marjorie M., then you also have to give him credit for saving the district millions, improving NPS performance, and working to support the school building plan. I’d say Lyons has been a net positive for the city. But I can understand why those who support mediocrity and the status quo of deeply entrenched staff protected by the likes of NASA and the NFT might quibble with the settlement and might label hard-working, effective public servants as “henchmen”.

Tony Ditrio December 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

Donna – Please move back to Westport. Once again what ever Mr. Lyons tells us you take for the gospel truth. The Norwalk Public Schools under Mike Lyons and Dr. Adamowski have been putting out misleading information about NPS progress. Their real accomplishment is spending less money for kids and more for Central Office.

Stop DONNA December 6, 2017 at 11:42 am

Donna – your comments are insane and half the time you don’t know what you are talking about. You must have nothing to do but comment all day. I feel sorry for you {…}
Edited to remove an insult, in accordance with the comments policy.

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

@Stop DONNA and @Tony D., if the truth didn’t sting, I wouldn’t know it was working. When I’m the target of mostly anonymous personal attacks and insults, I know the truth frightens some so much, that they will go low in order to keep the light out. Keep up the attacks and insults if you believe they will have the desired effect of making certain voices go away.

Joanna Cooper December 6, 2017 at 10:49 pm

@Nancy Chapman
Your comment guidelines prohibit “continual posting of erroneous information” as you reminded Donna today on another thread. This epitomizes many of Donna’s comments particularly her comments on every article on SPED. She doesn’t understand SPED. She is also extremely insulting and non stop harassing. Clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so. Many have told her. She has a good vocabulary and sometimes a valid point but she is so over the top nasty on so many threads fighting with anyone she can engage. She’s going to have the last word on every subject. The only truth she speaks is her own. She is the definition of a troll and I believe she has violated most all of your comment guidelines.

At some point when is enough enough?

Donna Smirniotopoulos December 7, 2017 at 12:44 am

@Joanna Cooper, an entreaty from Tony D that I move back to Westport is hardly a chorus of boos or a vote for ostracism. Similarly, while you may find my comments devoid of knowledge, content and reason, others do not. As for the allegation that the comments are extremely insulting and non stop harassing, I would be pleased if you could share an example or two of insult I made on this thread. Also are comments on SpEd to those who currently have a child in the NPS? What exactly have I said on this thread that is untrue. If Nancy posted on another thread that I had made repeated erroneous statements, she was mistaken. I post accurate content to the best of my ability based on research and verifiable facts. The opinions I post are my own but are based on a reliable steam of rational thought. I have never asked someone to leave town because I didn’t like what they had to say. “Over the top nasty” appears to be anything someone to else disagrees with. And that is unfortunate for everyone.

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

About Nancy

Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.