BEVERLY — An "exhaustive" search for a new special education director has led to the hiring of the same person the superintendent had picked in the first place.
The School Committee last night voted unanimously to approve Superintendent Marie Galinski's selection of Cove School Principal Stacy Bucyk as director of pupil personnel services.
Bucyk will oversee a special education program that includes about 25 percent of the district's 4,300 students and accounts for $11 million of the School Department's $45 million budget. She will replace current Director Debra O'Connor, who is retiring at the end of the school year in June.
Galinski had selected Bucyk for the job earlier this month without conducting a search. After protests from parents of special education students about the lack of a search process, the School Committee instructed Galinski to advertise for candidates.
In a letter on the school's website, Galinski called the search process "exhaustive." She said yesterday that 19 people applied for the position and six were interviewed by a search committee of administrators, educators, School Committee members and parents.
The search committee recommended three finalists — Bucyk; Jeanne Saunders, director of special education services in Hollis and Brookline, N.H.; and Donna Straight, director of special education in Battle Creek, Mich.
Galinski interviewed the three finalists. She said Bucyk was the most qualified because of her experience as a teacher and principal, and her familiarity with Beverly and with Massachusetts law, including the new state teacher evaluation program.
The other finalists have no experience in Massachusetts or as a principal, Galinski said.
"That would be a big learning curve," she said. "Stacy was the most qualified and the best fit for the position. She really has a passion for Beverly and what she needs to do with the special education department."
Bucyk has been with the Beverly Public Schools since she was hired as a substitute teacher in 1996. She has worked as a reading specialist and in various administrative capacities, including as the team chairwoman supporting the special education staff, before becoming Cove principal in 2008. She also served as interim special education director for three months in 2007.
Bucyk has a bachelor's degree in geography from Salem State College and Master of Education degrees in educational leadership, moderate special needs and reading.
The special education director position was advertised with a salary range of $95,000 to $105,000. Galinski said Bucyk's salary will be set during the budget process. She is paid $92,616 as the Cove School principal.
Galinski said the district will advertise the position of Cove principal starting today and will form a search committee led by Centerville School Principal Karla Pressman. Pressman also led the search committee for the special education director.
Last night's School Committee vote was basically a formality, since Galinski announced Bucyk's hiring on Tuesday in a letter on the district's website and in an automated phone call to school parents.
State law gives school committees the authority to appoint a special education director, but the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommends that school committees rely on the superintendent's recommendation.
"I think it was a great process," School Committee President Maria Decker said. "Those individuals who had expressed some questions and concerns had an opportunity to be part of the process. I think we have a fabulous candidate (in Bucyk)."
Amy Donovan, co-chairwoman of the Beverly Special Education Parent Advisory Council, said she was pleased that a search was ultimately conducted and that parents were included. Donovan was among the parents who served on the search committee.
"It's healthy to do a search process," she said. "And I think it's good for Stacy to come into the position knowing that different people from the community were involved."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.