Special Education

OSERS Left Out Again

By Christina A. Samuels — May 27, 2009 1 min read

Slowly, the Education Department is starting to fill out its top ranks. Just yesterday, it announced the names of nine new education officials, which you can read about here on the Politics K-12 blog.

But there’s been nothing but silence, so far, on the appointment of a new assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Right now, the office is headed by Andrew J. Pepin, an executive administrator “delegated the authority to perform the functions of Assistant Secretary for OSERS.”

One of the branches of OSERS is the Office of Special Education Programs, which is pretty hot right now, considering all the interest in federal special education stimulus funding and local “maintenance of effort.” Right now that department is being led by acting director Patricia J. Guard.

Months ago, I heard Connie Garner, the policy director for disability and special populations for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s office, was a possible OSERS pick. Her body of work proves her familiarity with the issues; in addition to being a parent of a child with a disability, she also did a great deal of work on the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004.

But since then, leaks have been few and far between. The word is now that Garner is busy working on health care reform. Would the department seek to bring back Judy Heumann, a former OSERS assistant secretary now with the District of Columbia’s Department on Disability Services? Might the department try to lure Alexa Posny back to Washington? Now the education commissioner in Kansas, Posny served for a time as the director of OSEP, and was known (at least, to me) for her really amusing PowerPoint presentations. Trust me, it’s hard to weave humor into presentations on federal special education policy, but she did a good job of it.

Do you have some tips? What kind of person would you like to see in these offices? Feel free to leave a comment.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.