NUSD Parents and Guardians,
After five outstanding years of service to our Natomas Unified students, Carol Williams, our Assistant Superintendent overseeing Special Education, social-emotional supports and more is moving to Southern California. Almost a year ago Carol Williams happily became Carol Swanson. Although I hate to see her leave, I understand the pull of family. She has a new home with her husband, will be close to one of her older daughters, and another daughter will be able to start her freshman year of high school and stay at one site. Over the past five years, Assistant Supt. Swanson has led a revamping and restructuring of our Special Education program to better serve students of all ages and disabilities. Her leadership has helped NUSD meet federal Least Restrictive Environment requirements for the first time, including federal and state standards for graduation rates of Special Education students and transition goals and services. Mrs. Swanson helped institute a K-12 continuum of social-emotional supports that won a statewide award for best practices. Mrs. Swanson played a key role in developing NUSD’s Crisis Response Team that provides emergency counseling and support to students or staff. She also oversaw development of our system to assess and intervene when students’ behavior poses a potential threat to themselves or others. To discourage bullying, Mrs. Swanson helped develop an online system for reporting such incidents immediately, 24 hours a day, and she assists with investigating allegations of bullying at any NUSD campus. Mrs. Swanson leaves behind a talented and hard-working staff and I am excited to announce a talented regional leader to take her place. In fact, Lisa Claussen, Earl Pavao and others will continue serving our students under this new leader.
Please welcome Josh Harris, our new Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Support. He has been active in Special Education for 19 years, holding jobs from Special Education teacher to principal to administrator. A licensed attorney, Mr. Harris is familiar with Natomas Unified’s Special Education program from serving the past two years as Executive Director of Sacramento County’s SELPA – Special Education Local Plan Area – a consortium overseeing Special Education service needs of students within the boundaries of member districts, including NUSD. Mr. Harris’ resume includes nine years as a Special Education teacher in the Marysville area, four years as a principal supervising Special Education in Yuba County schools, three years as Yuba County’s SELPA administrator, and one year as Yuba County Superintendent of Schools. In addition to his lengthy experience overseeing Special Education programs, Mr. Harris’ expertise as a former practicing attorney will benefit NUSD in serving the unique needs of our students with disabilities. Mr. Harris is trained both in mediation and facilitated IEPs, an acronym for Individualized Education Programs for Special Education students. We are pleased to welcome Mr. Harris to our leadership team.
Mr. Harris joins us at the right time. Natomas Unified has informed Sacramento County’s SELPA program that we will be exploring more options to strengthen our support to students with an IEP. About 10-12% of our student population has an IEP. These students, as do all students, deserve the best. More to come on changes for our special education program in the weeks ahead.
Superintendent Chris Evans