Schools

We don’t just cover the Board of Education and issues affecting New Canaan Public Schools parents, including testing mandates and teacher evaluations, new hires in the district and programs in our schools—we also celebrate students and teacher achievements and spotlight outstanding work at all levels.

Recent Articles

Bus Driver Accuses School District of Discrimination by Not Hiring Her

A Bridgeport woman is accusing New Canaan Public Schools of discrimination in declining to hire her as a bus driver. Though Dawnie Searight has never worked for this district, according to a complaint she filed with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, NCPS in violation of law “made a determination” that she “was not fit to be hired” after learning from a past employer, bus company DATTCO, about “prior allegations” regarding her behavior as a driver. Following a disciplinary incident where Searight had been driving a bus in an unspecified school district—an incident that prompted a parent’s complaint, more on that below—she was blocked from working for that district. According to Searight, NCPS transportation officials learned about her work history from DATTCO’s director of school operations and, as a result, declined to hire her. “By telling DATTCO that the complainant wasn’t able to drive, New Canaan Public Schools was in effect acting as my employer,” Searight wrote rather curiously in her CHRO complaint, received Dec. Continue Reading →

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Darien’s Jack Joyce, 18, Applies for Accelerated Rehabilitation in Connection with Nov. 6 Incident in New Canaan

Jack Joyce, an 18-year-old Darien High School senior arrested last month following an escalating social media exchange that ended with the assault of a New Canaan juvenile, was arraigned Thursday in state Superior Court in Norwalk. Appearing before Judge Alex Hernandez, Joyce’s Norwalk-based attorney, John Thygerson, said the teen is applying for accelerated rehabilitation to address misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer. If granted, the pretrial program—a form of parole—is typically designed to impose specific conditions on Joyce over a period of time that, if met, would result in dismissal of the criminal charges. Wearing a blazer, blue shirt, red tie and khakis, an unsmiling Joyce stood by while Thygerson requested of the court that media outlets seeking to photograph and videotape the proceedings be disallowed from doing so. Thygerson argued that media coverage “has generated” wide interest in Joyce’s case though the teen faces a “minor charge,” and that continued coverage could “prejudice a jury panel” should the matter go to trial. Continue Reading →

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District: New ‘Personal Safety’ Lessons Introduced to Fifth-Graders in Health Education

Fifth-graders in New Canaan Public Schools starting this year are getting new lessons in personal safety—including “good touch versus bad touch” and going to trusted adults if “put in an unsafe or risky situation”—as part of an updated health curriculum, district officials say. Two new lessons within personal safety, co-taught by a school counselor and health teacher, are “focused primarily around healthy relationships, building that foundation that we are looking for within personal safety that is aligned with the sexual assault and abuse prevention mandate,” Jonathan Adams, the district’s K-8 heath and physical education coordinator, told members of the Board of Education during a presentation (available here under “Health Update”) at their Dec. 4 meeting. “It’s a two-part lesson and it starts with the people around me and it’s the individuals that they have that they have healthy relationships with, and they start building that circle out from the inner side to the closest relationships they have to maybe some people that are acquaintances,” Anderson said at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. Answering a question posed by Board of Ed Vice Chair Penny Rashin, about how “stranger danger” school safety lessons cross into other lessons plans that touch on students protecting themselves—Anderson said they relate “in terms of their trust circle.”

“So it’s the same diagram but then it’s who are those adults in their life that they can actually go to within their circle or outside of that, too,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Darien Schools Superintendent Defends District’s Actions in Wake of Students’ Assault of New Canaan Juvenile

The superintendent of Darien Public Schools said Thursday that a New Canaan student notified his office about the assault of a male juvenile at the hands of at least two Darien High School students on Nov. 7—the day after the attack and the same day that the incident was reported to police. According to a press release from Dr. Dan Brenner, Darien administrators turned over the New Canaan student’s email to Darien Police and told the New Canaan Public Schools about it. Though it wasn’t immediately clear whether that email included the names of at least three Darien students present during the assault—including a starting quarterback and receiver on the Blue Wave varsity football team—the superintendent indicated that the district as a policy is hands-off while criminal investigations are underway. “When the Darien Schools are made aware of a police investigation involving one of its students, it is the practice of the district to allow the investigation to go on without district involvement unless it is specifically requested by the investigating agency, in this case the New Canaan Police Department,” the superintendent’s statement said. Continue Reading →

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School Resource Officer: ‘Nonstop’ Social Media Use Ranks with Drugs and Alcohol As Major Dangers Facing Saxe Middle School Students

Use of social media is nonstop among Saxe Middle School students and, with drugs and alcohol, represents a major danger facing New Canaan youth, safety officials said Monday night. No matter how much trusted adults warn middle school students about the pitfalls of social media, “it doesn’t matter,” New Canaan Police Officer Jeff Deak, the school resource officer at Saxe, told members of the Board of Education at their regular meeting. “And I throw into the mix the dangers of social media and you participating in illegal activities like vaping under 18, or drinking or doing drugs, and posting them,” he told the school board at the meeting, held in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “Those issues, in my opinion—the alcohol, the drugs and the social media—are the big issues. I know some of you are looking saying, ‘What else is there?’ There are other parts. Continue Reading →

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