NEWSFLASH: Darien superintendent to become executive director of United Nations International School

Dr. Dan Brenner

Darien Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner has made his resignation official with a letter to the Board of Education dated May 30, obtained by The Darien Times.

The letter said his resignation would be effective either 90 days from May 30, or “a  mutually agreed upon date between the Board and myself to be determined at a later time.”

“I want to thank members of this Board who had the good faith to hire me three years ago, including Katie Stein who was the Chair of the Search Committee, Betsy Hagerty-Ross who was the Board Chair and Trustees Christa McNamara, David Dineen, and Michael Burke,” Brenner wrote. 

Brenner will become the next executive director of the United Nations International School, its Board of Trustees announced to the school community on May 29 in a letter obtained by The Darien TImes.

The letter said the search was a “rigorous process reviewing over 35 candidates from Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America, and the search committee invited three finalists to the school.”
The final decision included feedback from students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff, administrators, honorary trustees, and trustees, which ultimately led to Brenner’s hire.

The letter said he will assume leadership of the school this August.

Brenner has led a distinguished career as a public servant and educator, the letter from UNIS said.

“Of all his professional achievements, takes the most pride in his student-centered focus and requested we share the following words with you,” the school letter said.

“It is an honor and privilege to be selected by the Board of Trustees as the next Executive Director at UNIS. I welcome the opportunity to join an institution with such a laudable mission, one that aligns with my beliefs and philosophy regarding how we educate children,” Brenner said to the UNIS community.

“I am thrilled to become part of the UNIS family and look forward to meeting and working with all of the students, parents and staff,” he said.

In his letter, Brenner said he had been blessed with “supportive board members throughout my tenure.”

“We have had many spirited, productive conversations, as we acted collectively in the best interests of the children we serve.  I want to thank the three excellent Board Chairs, Betsy Hagerty-Ross, Michael Harman and Tara Ochman who worked side by side with me as we faced the routine and sometimes not routine school issues.  Without them our goals could not have been achieved,” Brenner said. 

“When I arrived three years ago, I had the opportunity to build a central office staff which I am proud to say is the envy of any school district.  I know as I leave, the District is in excellent hands,” he wrote. 

“Finally, there has been much speculation, since Tuesday when I announced my intention to resign, as to the motivating factors in my decision.  I can assure you that no individual or individuals “chased me out” nor am I leaving because I have been mistreated in any way or by anyone,” Brenner said.

“Instead, I was recruited by a search firm representing the United Nations International School in Manhattan to become their next Executive Director.  After much thought I concluded that this position was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. It is for that I reason that I am tendering my resignation,” he wrote. 

“Thank you again for all of your support and I wish you and the entire community only the best in the future,” he said. 

Brenner came to Darien schools from his position as superintendent in Roslyn, New York on July 1, 2015. Brenner arrived in the wake of a special education scandal, as was tasked with leading the district back into the good graces of the community and leading the schools forward with a focus on transparency and best practices. Brenner replaced interim superintendent Lynne Pierson, who took the reins in November 2014.

He informed the Board of Education of his intent to resign on May 22. 

“The Darien Board of Education has accepted with regret the resignation of Dr. Daniel Brenner,” Board of Ed Chairman Tara Ochman said.
Ochman thanked Brenner on her board’s behalf  “for his energy and achievements during his time in Darien. He has been engaged leader who has moved the district forward during his three years the superintendent.”

“We wish Dr. Brenner well as he takes on his new responsibilities. This change in leadership will not affect the work of the strong team of dedicated teachers and administrators who continue to make the Darien Public schools a model school district,” Ochman said.

She added that the board has already begun the process for both hiring and interim superintendent and then conducing a search for a  new superintendent.

A Pre-K-to-12th grade, coeducational, college-preparatory day school, the United Nations International School was established in 1947 by a group of United Nations parents to provide an international education for their children, while preserving their diverse cultural heritages. What began as a nursery school for 20 children quickly grew, adding grades, students and faculty.

Today, UNIS has over 1,600 students in two locations, serving the United Nations, international and New York communities. The campus in Jamaica Estates, Queens is a K-8 school and our Manhattan campus, overlooking the East River, is Pre-K-12.