Trump Taps New Special Education Chief
The nation may soon be getting a new top special education official.
President Donald Trump said this week that he will nominate Johnny Collett to be assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services at the U.S. Department of Education.
This is Trump’s first effort since taking office earlier this year to fill the post which is tasked with overseeing the federal government’s implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other laws.
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Collett has most recently served as director of special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers. He previously was the special education director for the Kentucky Department of Education and has worked as a high school special education teacher.
“Johnny recognizes we must set high expectations and provide the necessary supports for each and every child to create a more equitable education system,” said Chris Minnich executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “He has experience at the national, state and local level that will be a strong asset to the U.S. Department of Education.”
Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has faced significant pushback on special education issues since being nominated for the post. At her confirmation hearing in January, DeVos admitted that she “may have confused it” when speaking about the IDEA.
Since then, she has weathered a firestorm of criticism over troubles with a key federal special education website and her department has withdrawn dozens of guidance documents it determined were “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective” related to educating students with disabilities.
“We are cautiously optimistic about the experience that Mr. Collett brings to the job,” Denise Marshall, executive director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, said in a statement. “We look forward to the nomination process as the Senate vets Mr. Collett and urge great diligence on the part of the Senate to assure that Mr. Collett stands ready to do his part to support the secretary and assure (the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services) fulfills its obligations to students and families.”
Collett must be confirmed by the Senate before he can officially assume the assistant secretary position.
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