Phyllis Harris, who has overseen Oakland’s special education programs since July 2003, leaves her job next week — a fact that many have speculated about or known for over a month. She’s moving East to be the deputy chancellor for special education in D.C. Public Schools.
Curiously, the head of the Oakland school district also just took a job in D.C. Last month, Kim Statham accepted a position in the Washington’s new state department of education.
Harris says she has trained Lisa Ryan Cole, a 25-year district employee and an “outstanding (special education) coordinator,” to replace her, at least on an interim basis. Ryan Cole was a teacher and, most recently, the middle schools coordinator for the department.
Harris said the D.C. offer was too good to pass up. “It’s an opportunity to change the special education system in the national capital, which has some improving to do.”
The Examiner last month reported she was offered a salary of $200,000.
Though Harris will soon join the growing list of departed administrators, she said she had nothing but good things to say about her experience in Oakland. “I learned a huge amount in the six years I’ve been here,” she said. (Before becoming the director of Programs for Exceptional Children, she helped create the new teacher support department.)
Her last day is next Wednesday.