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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 10, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Seattle’s special education leader resigns after months of leave

Seattle Public Schools’ executive director for special education, who has been on paid leave since early August, has resigned for personal reasons, district officials announced Wednesday.

Zakiyyah McWilliams was placed on administrative leave in August amid a district investigation into the hiring of a special education consultant this past spring. Though a spokeswoman at the time said the review would take a few weeks, the district granted McWilliams medical leave on Sept. 10, effectively extending her absence. Spokeswoman Stacy Howard said Wednesday the district’s investigation into the consultant process is now complete, but the district has yet to provide any details.

Wyeth Jessee, who has been heading the district’s special education division in McWilliams’ absence, will take over the department full-time, the district said in a letter to parents. He will become the ninth person to hold the district’s top special education job in 10 years.

Seattle’s special education program is under federal watch, and $3 million in funding has been withheld pending the district meeting federal requirements.

In a statement Wednesday, interim Superintendent Larry Nyland said special education is one of his top priorities for the district. Since he started in August, Nyland has added a special education ombudsman and an interim director of school-based special education services. Nyland said he meets weekly with the district’s special education team.

See Nyland’s full letter here.

Comments | More in News | Topics: Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools, special education

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