Trump Special Ed Chief Calling It Quits
The federal government’s top special education official is heading for the exit.
The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday that its assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, Johnny Collett, plans to resign at the end of this week. His last day at the agency will be Friday.
Collett has been at the helm of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services since the Senate confirmed his nomination to the post in late 2017. The office is tasked with overseeing the federal government’s implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other laws.
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Angela Morabito, an Education Department spokeswoman, said Collett is leaving Washington to spend more time with his family. He will be succeeded by Mark Schultz, who has been commissioner of the Education Department’s Rehabilitation Services Administration since August.
“Johnny is a strong and passionate voice for individuals with disabilities, and he was a valued member of our team. His work to rethink OSERS and focus all of its work around achieving better results for students will leave a lasting mark,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “I’m grateful for the time he spent in Washington and wish him all the best as he returns home to Kentucky.”
Under Collett’s leadership, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services pushed a new agenda to “rethink anything and everything” in its quest to raise expectations for people with disabilities.
Collett was also named in a lawsuit brought by disability advocates after the Education Department sought to delay implementation of an Obama-era rule designed to keep certain students from being wrongly placed in special education. The Trump administration dropped its appeal of the suit last month after a judge determined that the special education rule should be implemented.
Schultz came to the Education Department’s Rehabilitation Services Administration after serving as a deputy commissioner at the Nebraska Department of Education. He was inspired to pursue a career in vocational rehabilitation by his experience as a family member of a person with a disability, the Education Department said.
Though Schultz will take on Collett’s responsibilities, he would need to be nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in order to officially assume the role of assistant secretary.