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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).

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