The contract for special education consultant Theresa DeFrancis has been finalized, but just how much her expertise will cost the town is unknown.

The contract, which was signed and approved on May 15, states that DeFrancis will be paid $140 per hour and $70 per hour for travel time. Her work is to be completed no later than Dec. 31, according to the contract.

"We don't really know how many hours she's expecting to work," said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone.

At this point, Falcone added, it's too early to know if DeFrancis will need to work all the way up until Dec. 31.

"It is anticipated that the staff development and/or other materials shall be developed no later than Aug. 1, 2013," according to the contract. "It is further anticipated that training of school personnel and parents shall commence starting in August 2013. The Special Education Consultant is encouraged to complete the work prior to these deadlines to the extent possible."

Additionally, all information that DeFrancis requests is to be handed over to her and that "the Board agrees to comply with all reasonable requests," according to the contract, so long as the requests are deemed "reasonable."

DeFrancis is to invoice the Board of Education monthly and she will be paid within 30 days of the board's receipt of the invoice.

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DeFrancis will not need to work in Darien every day, Falcone said. However, travel from her listed home in Newington to Darien is roughly an hour and 10 minutes one way, with no traffic, meaning one trip to Darien will cost the district $140 on top of her hourly pay of $140.

Money to pay for DeFrancis' work is already set aside in various consulting line items in the budget, Falcone said. He said there will be no need to cut programs to pay for DeFrancis' services.

On April 25, it was announced that DeFrancis would be hired to independently review and revise staff development materials.

DeFrancis was hired in the midst of a state Bureau of Special Education investigation into the Darien schools' special eduction program in response to a complaint filed by parents with the state Department of Education. The parents complained that the schools' special education policies, introduced by Deirdre Osypuk, director of special education and student services who was hired last summer, are in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by removing the "team" aspect of the planning and placement team meetings. A student's programs are determined in the meetings through a combined effort of the parents and educators.

Falcone, who originally defended the internal special education policies since parents filed the complaint in March, had appeared to change his position in April. Falcone sent an internal email to district staff members informing them to forgo the policies they have been using for the last year.

"The PPT (the Planning and Placement Team meetings) must address the individual needs of each student, in accordance with the law, and thus there is no need or requirement to receive prior approval for the inclusion of any special education services and/or related services in an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)," Falcone wrote in an statement released to the district on April 29.

"As we work to revise some of our training information, I have asked that staff involved in special education in the district should not rely on any statements to the contrary, written or verbal, provided after July 1, 2012."

The state investigation is expected to conclude on or before June 30.;203-972-4407;@Meg_DarienNews