The Locust Valley Central School District is pleased to announce that Michael Saidens has been appointed as the Executive Director of Special Education. Mr. Saidens will begin on August 10, replacing Dr. Patricia Griffin who retired on June 30, 2020.
The District received 43 applications for the position of Executive Director of Special Education, choosing twelve applicants to interview with Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Graham, Ed.D, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Anthony Davidson and Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs & Human Resources, Toni Meliambro. Those meetings narrowed the pool to seven candidates.
A hiring committee comprised of teachers, parents and administrators held thorough interviews with the seven candidates, recommending three finalists to the central office administrators. Those three candidates were tasked with giving a presentation on the CSE (Committee on Special Education) process to Dr. Graham, Mr. Davidson and Ms. Meliambro, who evaluated the presentations and interviewed each of the three finalists again, delving deeper into their abilities to perform the job. Based on the results of this in depth interview process, Mr. Saidens was the standout candidate and moved forward for an interview with the Board of Education, which unanimously appointed him.
Mr. Saidens has held the position of elementary school principal in the Sachem and East Islip School Districts prior to being named Executive Director of Student Services in the Sachem School District. As a principal, Mr. Saidens chaired and facilitated 504 meetings and served as the CSE and CPSE Chairperson. Earlier in his career he was an elementary school teacher in the Smithtown Central School District and South Huntington Union Free School District. He taught inclusion classes, provided academic intervention support and wrote special education grant applications. During the 23 years that Mr. Saidens has been in education, he also served as an assistant principal in the Harborfields Central School District.
As Executive Director of Student Services, Mr. Saidens supervised 500 employees, ensured that the district implemented and streamlined procedures for special education services, addressing students’ academic deficits, scheduling conflicts and parent concerns. He ensured that students continued to receive their services virtually while schools were closed due to COVID-19, including weekly check ins with each family.
Mr. Saidens earned his school leadership certification from Stony Brook University, a Masters Degree in Special Education from Dowling College and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Clemson University.
Combining his professional experience, references and impressive interview responses, Mr. Saidens will bring a collaborative, child-centered and proactive approach to his new position.
“I am confident that Mr. Saidens will provide great leadership for our special education students, staff and families,” said Dr. Graham. “His dedication to 2,000 special education students in his former district will translate into great student success for Locust Valley’s special education population.”