Donna Lowell-Bettencourt is permanent special education head

Donna Lowell-Bettencourt has agreed to serve at least another year as the interim director of Student Support Services for Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS), superintendent James Weiss announced last week.

“Donna has done a fantastic job this year organizing our work for the DESE’s [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] Coordinated Program Review of the elementary schools on the Island, bringing leadership to our special education services and programs and providing excellent coordination with the six schools on the Island,” Mr. Weiss wrote in a press release emailed to the Times on February 22. “Donna’s experience as an interim principal, assistant principal, and teacher on the Island has proved invaluable and I am pleased that she has agreed to continue in this work.”

Mr. Weiss tapped Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt, formerly West Tisbury School’s assistant principal, to oversee special education (SPED) starting in August 2012. The director’s position was left vacant by Lynn Silva, newly appointed on July 1, 2012, who abruptly resigned after four days citing personal and health reasons.Ms. Silva was hired to replace former director Dan Seklecki upon his retirement on June 30, 2012, after 29 years. Her selection culminated a difficult search process to find his replacement. With little time between Ms. Silva’s resignation and the start of school to conduct another search and hire someone new, Mr. Weiss consulted with local SPED educators, several recent MVPS retirees, and Cape Cod school administrators about possible candidates for an interim director.

He said that Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt, who already had licenses in both regular and special education as well as experience as a teacher and administrator in several Island schools, topped the list.