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Embattled Stamford High School Appoints Two New Assistant Principals

Rafael Escobar has been named an assistant principal at Stamford High School. Photo Credit: Stamford Public Schools
Matt Laskowski is moving from his post as an administrator at Danbury High School to become assistant principal at Stamford High. Photo Credit: Danbury Public Schools
Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Winifred Hamilton. Photo Credit: File

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Stamford High School has two new assistant principals as the school system seeks to shake off a scandal-plagued year that saw the principal and assistant principal face criminal charges.

Rafael Escobar and Matthew Laskowski have been named as the new assistant principals, Superintendent of Schools Winifred Hamilton announced Tuesday.

“I am very pleased that we have completed the team at Stamford High School, especially with candidates who have direct links to Stamford,” Hamilton said. “I am confident that we have the right team in place for the coming year, who will continue to build on the strong sense of community and pride that is the legacy of Stamford High.”

Escobar is a 1991 graduate of Stamford High and attended Dolan Middle and Northeast Elementary schools. He has spent his 17-year career in the Stamford district.

For the past three years, Escobar was dean of students at Stamford High, and before that was a social studies teacher at Westhill High School. 

Escobar earned a sixth-year degree in educational leadership from the University of Bridgeport, as well as a master's degree in history and a bachelor's degree in education from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. 

Laskowski, a Stamford resident, has worked in the Danbury Public Schools district for the past 10 years. He was dean of student support at Danbury High School since 2012 and also served as director of Danbury Early College Opportunity (DECO) since January 2015. The DECO program is modeled after the  P-TECH school in Brooklyn, N.Y., and provides students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree concurrently at no cost. 

Before working at the high school, Laskowski was a physical education teacher at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury. He earned a sixth-year degree in advanced educational leadership from the University of New England, a master's in special education from Western Connecticut State University, and a bachelor's in physical education from Springfield College.

Former Principal Donna Valentine and Vice Principal Roth Nordin were arrested in October and charged with failing to report to the state Department of Children and Families allegations that former teacher Danielle Watkins was having a sexual relationship with a student. Each was granted accelerated rehabilitation on Nov. 19. 

Hamilton announced she was seeking to fire Valentine and Nordin in May.

Watkins, a Norwalk resident, was sentenced in March to five years in prison as part of a plea deal for having sex with a male student and supplying him with marijuana throughout the 2013-14 school year.  

Raymond D. Manka has been already chosen as the new principal at Stamford High, replacing Valentine.

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