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Director of Special Education

The Challenge & Opportunity

DC’s public education system, comprised of 200+ schools serving 90,000+ students, is on the rise – with more families choosing public schools and sustained gains in student achievement. DC has a vibrant and complex educational landscape with more than 60 local education agencies (LEAs) and engaged community partners. OSSE plays a leading role as the state education agency (SEA) within that landscape: setting high expectations; collecting and sharing actionable data; and building capacity within DC’s educational ecosystem.

However, we have much work to do – as an agency and as an education community. The achievement gap persists: while 86 percent of students in DC are Black and Hispanic, their achievement lags more than 50 percentage points behind their white peers in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment of English language arts and math. And while DC has seen sustained gains in student achievement overall, the achievement gap for students with disabilities is growing. Students with disabilities comprise nearly 20 percent of DC’s students and less than 10 percent of those students are currently proficient on statewide assessments. As a result, OSSE is particularly committed to maximizing its impact on special education to catalyze progress and dramatically shift the trajectory of growth for students with disabilities.

We are looking for a Director of Special Education who is passionate about meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the District of Columbia. We’re seeking an experienced special education leader committed to ensuring federal and local compliance while innovating to transform school practices to ensure student learning. We are looking for someone with an unwavering belief that, with the right systems and supports, students with disabilities can experience success in school and in life.

The Director of Special Education reports to the Assistant Superintendent of Systems and Supports, K-12.

What you will do

The specific functions of the job include:

Leadership and Strategy

Inspire innovation and lead to ensure strategic and impactful state supports for special education.

  • Provide leadership and direction to support strategic planning and successful implementation of OSSE’s special education programs and services
  • Lead a team of 20-25 staff and oversee OSSE’s agency-wide Special Education working group to coordinate efforts to maximize OSSE’s impact on growth for students with disabilities
  • Lead cross-agency discussions and decision-making on issues that impact special education practice
  • Work closely with the Assistant Superintendent of Systems and Supports, K-12, and fellow directors in the K-12 division to coordinate policy, funding, monitoring, and technical assistance efforts that support achievement and growth for all students
  • Work closely with the Divisions of Data, Assessment, and Research (DAR) and Systems Technology (OIT) to ensure that data processes and technology infrastructure address special education programmatic needs

Program Management

Ensure OSSE provides high-quality programs that facilitate federal/local compliance and support for student learning.

  • Oversee DC’s system of general oversight and support under IDEA
  • Manage IDEA grant strategy and administration for +$25 million, including subgrantee applications and monitoring
  • Manage discretionary local funds of +$10 million to catalyze improvement of services to students with disabilities
  • Manage the identification and correction of noncompliance through the investigation of special education state complaints
  • Implement the certification and oversight of non-public special education schools and manage the placement of students with disabilities into nonpublic settings
  • Manage special projects related to special education compliance and/or system improvement

Policy and Stakeholder Engagement

In partnership with stakeholders, create an accessible and transparent regulatory environment that supports success for students with disabilities.

  • Work with key internal and external stakeholders to create, review, and implement regulatory and policy frameworks that support compliance and improve outcomes for students with disabilities
  • Support transparency and usability of special education information through guidance documents and innovative approaches to communicate with educators, families, and community partners
  • Serve as the primary liaison for the agency with special education stakeholders and advocacy groups

What you bring to OSSE

  • A proven track record in leading special education programs to achieve on-the-ground results
  • Ability to use data and information to plan and act strategically to improve outcomes
  • Knowledge of federal policy, grants, and legal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, Part B
  • Passion for educational equity and a commitment to believing that all students can learn and achieve at high levels
  • Experience in managing diverse teams to achieve ambitious goals
  • Excellent interpersonal and collaboration skills, including stakeholder engagement facilitation
  • [Preferred] Knowledge and understanding of the DC education landscape and the role of key entities, including OSSE as the state education agency
  • [Preferred] Experience in special education teaching, school leadership, and/or LEA leadership

Interested applicants should submit a resume and cover letter to [email protected].