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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 11:54 pm | Fair 51º


Santa Barbara School Board Approves Draft Action Plan for Special Ed

Also on the agenda was a new combined position, which will come with a host of responsibilities but save the district about $15,000

Nearly a year after a consulting firm called out the Santa Barbara School District’s special-education program for being grossly inadequate, the school board on Tuesday approved a draft action plan to address the problems.

A stakeholder work group was created to help create program priorities that focus on organizational structure, communication, professional development and specific ideas for programs and services. Priorities range from basic — such as creating a vision statement — to the more complex tasks of establishing communication guidelines within the organization and among administrators, teachers and parents.

Tom Guajardo, this year’s executive director of special education, resigned after less than a year in the job, continuing the revolving door of program leadership in the past decade or so. Kerri Mills of the elementary district, one of the two directors, will take on the position beginning July 1, and a replacement will be hired to fill her spot.

The school board also discussed the job description of the director of student services and compliance position, which will combine the current position with the responsibilities of Bud Andrews’ position of director of safety, welfare and attendance, which is being eliminated. Michael Gonzalez, the current director, is retiring, according to Barbara Keyani, coordinator of administrative services and communications.

The merged position includes nearly all of the responsibilities of Gonzalez and Andrews, though oversight of certain English learner programs and district residency verifications have moved elsewhere.

With a downward shift in pay, the district expects to save about $15,000 with the change, according to district documents.

Gonzalez has the fifth-highest paying job in the district at about $136,000. Andrews, who volunteered to work at 60 percent of full time this past year, had a listed salary of $63,780.

The job description includes a huge to-do list, including code compliance with federal, state and district policies and regulations (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, physical education requirements and the education code), and oversight of all district student records, which includes juvenile court documents, transcripts and data collection for reports such as the California Healthy Kids Survey, among others.

The position will absorb most of Andrews’ attendance and discipline duties. Under the umbrella of compliance responsibilities, the person will oversee the truancy program, suspension and expulsion procedures, school safety plans and complaints regarding enrollment, transfers and graduation eligibility.

Also — yes, there’s more — included is the expectation that the individual meet with and maintain relationships with site administrators, local law enforcement and probation for serious discipline problems. Throughout all this, the director will help develop and advise on board policies and procedures in the areas of student conduct, attendance and services.

The nitty gritty of residency verifications — to root out enrolled students who don’t truly live within district lines — has been outsourced to a private investigator, though the director will monitor the practice. Andrews and finance director Meg Jette have said that residency verifications provide thousands of dollars to the school district.

According to Jette, for each student sent to his or her home district, the Santa Barbara School District saves at least $5,000 per year.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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