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SOMA Schools Plan Focus Groups to Aid Superintendent Search

Parents and guardians of special needs children are invited to a focus group Thursday night at the district meeting room.

A focus group will be held Thursday night for parents and guardians of children with special needs to provide input as the South Orange-Maplewood School District searches for a new superintendent.

The Board of Education has hired the firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, to spearhead the effort to find Brian Osborne's replacement.

Osborne resigned last month to accept the superintendent's position in New Rochelle, N.Y. Assistant Superintendent James Memoli took over as acting superintendent on July 1.

The BOE plans to hire an interim superintendent from outside of the district by Sept. 1 and hopes to have a new permanent head of schools in place by Jan. 1, 2015.

"The Board of Education is committed to including feedback from all stakeholders as we search for a new superintendent," Board President Beth Daugherty said in a statement released Wednesday. 

"We have hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to help the Board with the process, and charged them with seeking input from staff, parents, students, and the general community on the highest priority qualifications of a Superintendent for our district."

The search firm has already held focus groups with administrators and board members to seek input on the desired characteristics and skills wanted in the next superintendent. 

A SEPAC/Special Education PTO focus group will be held from 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the district meeting room. 

Additional sessions will be scheduled over the summer and in the fall with teachers, administrators, students, community groups and other stakeholders.  

A full day of focus groups will be held on Sept. 13 for anyone who would like to provide feedback in person. There will also be evening sessions held in September.

Feedback can also be submitted through the district's online survey.

"On behalf of the Board of Education, thank you for taking the time to respond," Daugherty said. "The board members, along with Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, appreciate your willingness to participate and look forward to learning your perspective."

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