Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Kerri Mills’ last day with the Santa Barbara Unified School District will be in a few weeks, leaving the program without a leader.
Mills is leaving to become the assistant superintendent of special education for the Mount Diablo Unified School District in the Concord area. The district approved a three-year contract for Mills on Monday, according to SBUSD communications director Barbara Keyani.
Mills came to the district in 2009 and worked under then-Director Tom Guajardo, whose job was to implement the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team action plan for an overhaul of the program. Guajardo quit after seven months, joining the department’s revolving door of leadership that saw at least 11 directors or interim directors come and go since 2002.
Mills has decades of experience as an administrator of special education programs and became SBUSD’s assistant superintendent of special education in 2011-12, a position created for her.
She and her staff have worked hard on communication within the district and with parents, which was one of the biggest deficiencies FCMAT pointed out in its blistering report.
Mills has helped create advisory groups, ongoing professional development and had the special education department fully staffed for the first time in 2011-12.
She said she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience in Santa Barbara and will miss everyone when she leaves. She’s originally from Northern California and looks forward to moving closer to home.
“It has been such an honor to work with a dedicated and talented team of educators and support staff in the Special Education Department,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Each day, I watch them give their heart and soul to the students we serve. The person who fills my position will be very fortunate to have these professionals on their team.”
Superintendent Dave Cash said the district is sad to see her go.
“During her time with our district she worked tirelessly on the needs of our special education students,” he said. “Implementation of the FCMAT report’s recommendations was no small feat. She is to be commended for leading a project that required nothing less than a Herculean team effort.”