By: Paul O’Neill, Senior Fellow
The California Department of Education (CDE) just announced that it has selected Kristin Wright to be the state’s new Special Education Division Director, effective September 1. The CDE has chosen an experienced, capable and thoughtful director to lead its special education work, serving more than 700,000 students with disabilities and their families. Ms. Wright brings a long tenure with the state through a range of impactful positions, as well as years of work as a researcher examining disability issues. Ms. Wright is also the mother of a child with significant mental and physical disabilities.
The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) is particularly pleased that Ms. Wright has been chosen for this position because her career reflects a commitment to equitably serving students with disabilities across public schools, including charter schools. She has done important research on how charter schools provide special education services, and has served for years as a trustee on the NCSECS governing board. California has approximately 1,130 charter schools; more, by far, than any other state. That gives the state an opportunity to prominently model best practices and innovative ideas that can be replicated elsewhere. We are confident that through her leadership Ms. Wright will help California ensure that families of students with disabilities can choose charter schools, and that those who do so will be excellently and equitably served.