Special Education

Head of Special Education Office to Leave Department

By Lisa Goldstein — November 26, 2003 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Robert H. Pasternack announced his resignation last week as the assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services, a post he has held since 2001. He will leave the Department of Education as of Jan. 2.

“There’s never a good time to leave,” he said in an interview. “It’s just time for me to leave.”

In a letter to President Bush, Mr. Pasternack, 53, said he believes he “can continue to serve children with disabilities and their families in the private sector while at the same time trying my best to achieve the educational goals that you have set for our country.”

Mr. Pasternack, a former state director of special education in New Mexico, came to Washington with the Bush administration and helped shape its goals for revision of the nation’s main special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The IDEA has been making its way through an already-overdue reauthorization process involving numerous changes. The House passed its version April 30. The Senate is expected to complete its bill early next year. Mr. Pasternack will leave before a reauthorized IDEA faces the complicated process of implementation.

“There’s a delay in the Senate, which is a good time to pause and think about everything,” he said.

Jim Bradshaw, an Education Department spokesman, said the departure wouldn’t hurt the reauthorization process.

“People in the department are committed to continuing to advance the goals of the president and the secretary,” Mr. Bradshaw said. “We do not know who will take his place. Not at this point.”

Mr. Pasternack said he does not yet know where he will go.

“It is too bad he is leaving because he is a school-friendly person,” said Bruce Hunter, a lobbyist for the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington, Va. “He knows what it looks like at the other end of the pipe. I wish he was staying through the regulatory process, because it’s important to have somebody who understands the impact of the law.”

Press Aide Resigns

Meanwhile, Dan Langan, the press secretary and chief spokesman for Secretary of Education Rod Paige since October 2001, also is joining the private sector.

Mr. Langan left the department as of Nov. 21 to take a job in communications and community relations for AT&T Corp. in Pennsylvania.

The 34- year-old Pittsburgh native, who was formerly a press secretary in the Pennsylvania education department, will be based in Harrisburg, Pa. He said he has enjoyed his role in the department.

“Not many people are blessed with that opportunity,” he said.

Susan Aspey, who has been deputy press secretary for the past year, will take his place as acting press secretary.


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Disability or 'Superpower'? The Push to Change Mindsets About Students With Learning Differences
Advocates are calling for a paradigm shift in how adults perceive, and educate, students with learning differences.
5 min read
Conceptual artwork, imagination dream and hope concept, Superhero boy
Jorm Sangsorn/iStock/Getty
Special Education What We Know About Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS), in Charts
More districts and schools are using a tiered system of supports for students, with a focus on social-emotional learning, a survey found.
5 min read
Vector illustration of diverse children, students climbing up on a top of a stack of staggered books.
Special Education New AI-Powered Sensors Could Tell Teachers What’s Really Going on With Students
Researchers are testing wearable sensors that track movement and body language of kids with autism and other conditions.
5 min read
Boy raises his hand to answer a question in a classroom; he is sitting on the floor with other kids and the teacher is sitting in front of the class.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Special Education Explainer MTSS: What Is a Multi-Tiered System of Supports?
MTSS, or multi-tiered system of supports, is a widely used framework meant to offer students personalized education that meets their needs.
7 min read
Illustration of people climbing stacks of books. There are 3 stacks of books at different heights with people helping people climb up.