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District taps Mork to head special ed.Mary Alice O'Neill will leave BHS to become principal at Woodward.

"Clayton Mork will head special education programs for the Bainbridge school district next year, while Bainbridge High School Associate Principal Mary Alice O'Neill will replace Mork as principal of Woodward Middle School.The two appointments were presented by Superintendent Steve Rowley and approved by the school board Thursday.Clayton Mork brings a broad yet intimate understanding of the programs he will supervise and leadership experience tailored for his new position, Rowley said, while Mary O'Neill's intelligence, positive demeanor, problem-solving abilities and enthusiasm will provide excellent leadership at the middle school level.As director of instructional support services, Mork will also oversee the district's counseling, student resource officer and elementary reading enhancement programs. Mork replaces director of special services Merle Montani, who leaves the post July 31 after just one year. Her unexpected departure left district officials little time to conduct a search for candidates, and Rowley said there are several unfilled positions statewide for directors of special education.We assessed the pool of candidates, which is more like a negative pool, Rowley said. We could have looked out there for a special education director at the tail end of the hiring season, or turned to someone we know is hardworking and who is already familiar with district parents and students.Mork's lack of formal special education training will be balanced by a team approach, Rowley said.Montani will act as a special education consultant to the district for 2001-2002, providing technical assistance on a contractual basis. Mork also will collaborate with new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Faith Chapel, who has special education background. In addition, the special education compliance coordinator - a position tailored to help the district comply with special education law, which has not yet been filled - will help with program evaluation. Mork, who district administrators and board members called a quick study and an administrator responsive to both parents and students, will also benefit from two intensive training sessions in special education scheduled for August, Rowley said.Mork holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western Washington University. Since 1995, he has served as Woodward principal where he is credited with improvements in school climate, scheduling and communication with parents.O'Neill, who becomes Woodward's new principal, was hired by the district in 1999 to serve as associate principal at BHS.She holds a master's in special education and an undergraduate degree from William and Mary College. She was a special education teacher for 17 years, prior to becoming the special education department chair for South Kitsap school district. In 1992, she received her administrative credentials from the University of California at Irvine.During her two years at BHS, O'Neill oversaw special education, music/art, physical education/health and science. She was responsible for coordinating student activities, discipline and staff training for WASL testing.The district will post O'Neill's former position, Rowley said.It's a feeling of satisfaction and security, Rowley said, to know we have this kind of talent within the system. "

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