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Alden schools reinstate position

Despite protests from parents, the Alden Central School Board on Thursday night reinstated Melissa Evingham as the student and staff learning director, after cutting the position at its June 3 meeting.

Parents complained when they learned two weeks ago that Evingham would become the new principal of Alden Intermediate School.

And June 3, the board had abolished Evingham's job as student and staff learning director to move her into the new role as principal, parents said.

Administrators declined to discuss the staff shuffle. But the action leaves in question the future of the district's special-education program.

During the June 3 board meeting, the position of special-education director was abolished, previously held by Warren Rudnicki.

About 30 residents who attended the meeting complained about a lack of transparency.

"Why would you give [Evingham] her job after you've already said you were going to cut it?" said parent Kim Pfeil-King.

Parents complained that district officials were not public about the decision to move Evingham to the principal's job, which was not posted publicly.

Superintendent Lynn Fusco declined to comment on the reinstatement of Evingham, saying only that it was a personnel issue. However, she added, the district is facing tough fiscal times and tough decisions had to be made.

"We had to cut $3 million from our budget, which for a district of our size is a devastating amount," she said.

If Evingham had become principal at the Intermediate School, the current principal, Thomas Lyons, would have become more involved in the special-education department — in part to replace the outgoing director, parents said.

But with Evingham remaining as staff and learning director, Lyons will not be leaving his job as principal.

And Lyons will not move into the special-education role, Fusco said.

Parents, meanwhile, questioned the prudence of giving Evingham back her job as student and staff learning director, while still not having a special-education director.

Some parents noted that the lack of a director could leave the district open to lawsuits.

Mike Keller of Alden said he attended the meeting because he has two sons in the school district who receive help from special-education teachers.

"We're left in limbo in what's going to happen with our sons' futures," he said.

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