The federal government is getting a new top special education official.

Just before the end of the year, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Johnny Collett as the next assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the U.S. Department of Education.

The approval came relatively swiftly after Collett was tapped by President Donald Trump for the post in November.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Collett comes to the job after serving as director of special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers. Before that, he was the special education director for the Kentucky Department of Education and he worked as a high school special education teacher.

During his confirmation hearing, Collett faced questioning about what he would do to ensure parents of children with disabilities understand how their child’s rights to special education services are altered if they participate in voucher programs.

Collett treaded lightly saying only that he would work with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and other stakeholders to appropriately respond to a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office that families be better informed about how their rights change if a child moves to a private placement.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate’s education committee, called Collett “uniquely qualified” for the assistant secretary position.

Likewise, special education advocates largely welcomed Collett’s appointment.

“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 of the selection.