It is unfortunate that, in lauding Dr. Fagan's accomplishments, the current and former board presidents failed to include any mention of special education, which serves almost 20 percent of District 97 students ("Collins will build on Fagan's success at D97," Feb. 23).
It is possible that this omission is a tacit acknowledgement of the several improvements that are still needed in this area. Yet, as a parent of a student with special education needs, while I wish there had been more progress much sooner, I must give Dr. Fagan a certain amount of credit. He assured that special services received a reasonable amount of resources. He was also responsive to parents' initiative to establish a D97 Special Education Advisory Committee and served as chair of that committee in its early years. And, importantly, he had the courage to publicly acknowledge that D97's special education system was broken. The hiring of Steve Castle as Director of Special Services has been an important step towards fixing that broken system but there is more work to be done. Mr. Castle is a proven and effective leader but he will need the support of the Board of Education and the new superintendent to establish a culture of accountability and success. I have every hope that Dr. Collins will support Mr. Castle's efforts while contributing her own unique blend of winning formulas. If so, a successful special education department can emerge under her watch.