Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 5:59 pm | Fair 58º


A Look Back at Key Turning Points in Special-Ed Program

The turnover rate for the Santa Barbara School District's executive position began its spiral in 2002

Among recent problems within the Santa Barbara School District, the special-education executive director position has been a revolving door. To grasp the extent of turnovers, you have to go back a few years — to 2002, to be exact.

» 2002: Deborah Toups is hired to replace Diana Rigby (named assistant superintendent of special education) and begins work Sept. 16, 2002, as the director of special education. She had years of special-ed-specific experience with the Poway Unified School District and had a SBSD salary of $101,764, according to district news releases.

» 2003: Dr. Walter Olsen Jr. is hired as a short-term interim director of special education to temporarily fill the position vacated by Toups. He began work on June 28, 2003, and was paid $500 per day, according to district news releases. He was expected to hold the position only through August, but was with the district for more than a few months, Robertson said. He is now the director of the Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium.

» 2004: Jeffrey Gabrielson, from the Bay Area, is hired as the district’s special-ed director beginning May 24. He had a 225-day contract and was to earn an annual salary of $98,660.

» 2005: JoAnne Pulley serves as special-ed director for about two and a half years. She began in June 2005 and resigned midway through the 2007-08 school year, saying she wanted to go back to school.

» 2007: The 2007-08 Special Education Report states that administrative staffing include one director, two coordinators and five program specialists between the two districts.

» 2008: Anissa McNeil comes to the Santa Barbara School District in May 2008 to replace Pulley as the director of special education. She previously had worked for the special education department in the Mountain View Elementary School District. Her contract period was 225 days, and the salary range was $104,893 to $117,295, according to district news releases. She resigned Nov. 21 after a heated Nov. 18 board meeting, and her last day working was Nov. 30.

» January, March 2009: Two interim co-directors for special education are hired to take over a workload that, since McNeil’s Nov. 30 absence, had been “carried by capable district staff,” according to district news releases. Alan Hilton, a retired SELPA director, started Jan. 20, and Ric Nargie, a retired director of special education, began in March.

» March: The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team consultant company, chosen in 2008 by the Board of Education, conducts a review of the special education department in March, including surveys of teachers and parents. The estimated cost to the districts was $57,000.

» July: Jacob Jensen is hired as a special-ed director but resigns amid criticism from his last job in the Palo Verde Unified School District, where his father was superintendent. A few days later, recent hire Barbara Semel-Parkhurst withdraws from the position of director of special education. She was previously with the Oak Park Unified School District.

» July: A board item to rehire Hilton as an interim director is pulled off the July 14 Board of Education agenda. Instead, Caryl Miller is hired as an interim administrator at a special July 17 meeting. She plans to stay on until January. She previously retired from being assistant superintendent of student services for the Hemet Unified School District.

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

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >