There's a new man on campus. Lloyd Johnson, a former colleague of Superintendent of Schools Paul Freeman, was recently hired as the interim special education director for all seven Guilford public schools.
Patria Brett resigned and left the position in June, leaving the school in search of what Freeman called an "important and key position.
"It became obvious as we were extending the search for the permanent special education director that we were going to need to have somebody that could come in short term and help us keep the work moving forward," said Freeman. "Obviously that's a special area, so we wanted to make sure that we were meeting the needs of all the students and their families, so we needed somebody who can come in and be in that office."
Freeman and Johnson worked together back in East Lyme. Johnson had held a number of positions there, including building principal and special education director for the East Lyme public schools. Most recently he was the executive director of the Isaac School in New London.
The director has the responsibility for a full range of students who receive special education services, from preschool all the way up to 21 years old, Freeman said. The position includes being responsible for all the state-required reporting and record keeping and oversees the special education budget throughout the district.
Freeman said that due to his experience and wealth of knowledge in special education services, hiring Johnson for the time being was an easy choice.
"He's got a really rich administrative background and he is very well versed in the special education law and everything that it takes to be really supportive of the students and the parents and so...I knew that he would be a good fit to come in and help us while we continued our search," the superintendent said.
Johnson has already begun working. He said he has been very busy going over much of the work that has piled up over the summer months. He has also been contacting families whose children are in the special education program, getting to know as many as possible.
"I've been working on researching the students' backgrounds, their placements, and their issues so that I can represent the district and help the families through those issues as well as possible...basically finding out what needs to be done to catch up on things and then how to continue to support the services to our students and staff," Johnson said. "A significant amount of time is spent reading the records of some cases that need attention during the summer."
Johnson is coming into the school system as a contractor, working at a contracted day rate. The full-time position for the special education director is a posted salary of $135,000 a year.
Freeman said the search is continuing for the full-time position, but explained that Johnson is available to stay as long as needed.
"Lloyd's going to be a great fit, but we're hoping this will be a pretty short-term relationship. We're continuing the search for the permanent director-we have another round of interviews scheduled in early August and if all things go well we'll identify a permanent person for that position," Freeman stated. "I do know he's available to stay with us as long as we need him, which was another piece that was important?consistency as we're waiting and being patient about finding our full-time, permanent director."