Hingham to Hire Attorney to Oversee Special Education Despite Parent Concerns
Hingham will hire Elizabeth Kurlan Flynn as the Director of Student Services, but many parents and advocates are concerned because she was once an attorney.
The School Committee announced that they will hire a litigator for the Boston Public Schools to oversee the Hingham’s special education department despite concerns from parents and advocates.
Hingham will hire Elizabeth Kurlan Flynn as the Director of Student Services, but many parents and advocates expressed concerns that she would not be cooperative with parents of special needs students because she was an attorney.
Special Education advocate Maureen Finaldi fears Flynn will intimidate parents who need her services and will not collaborate with parents.
“Her job has been to fight parents of kids with special needs,” she said.
Other Hingham parents said they wish Flynn had experience with working in a classroom.
Caitlin Stanton, a Hingham mother who has a child who needs special needs services said the decision was “not appropriate” and Eleanor Hickey, a Hingham mother whose daughter once received special education services through the town’s public schools shared similar concerns.
“I am very disappointed with the decision” Hickey said. “As a parent who has sat through many (special education) team meetings, it is not appropriate that someone on the other side is an attorney.”
School Committee Vice Chair Ray Estes defended Flynn, who was not present at the meeting and said she is the best candidate for the job.
“It is unfair to say just because she is an attorney, that she is intimidating,” Estes told parents.
Flynn, a Milton resident, has worked in Boston’s Office of Special Education and Student Services since 2002 and is working on a master’s degree in education administration at UMass-Boston.
Superintendent Dr. Dorothy Galo, Former School Committee chair Linda Hill and Estes, who all took part in the interviewing process, praised Flynn.
Before deciding to hire her, school officials met with Flynn’s principals, co-workers and associate who all recommended her for the position.
“She holds unique skills and we are very enthusiastic about our choice,” Galo said.
Hill, who did not run for reelection of school committee in April but did attend last night’s meeting because she was involved in the interviewing process, reassured parents that Flynn was the best candidate for the job. The former school committee chair asked parents not to judge the former BPS Senior Program Director based on just her resume or a Google search.
“You can’t make a judgment based on a website search,” Hill told parents. “I hope you can see there is more than that.”
School officials will hire Flynn after she negotiates a starting date and salary. She will replace Jean Loud, who retired at the end of the school year.