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New leader for Center-based Special Education programs named

Kent ISD selects Paul Dymowski to lead transition


Paul Dymowski was enthusiastic when asked about being chosen as director of the center-based Special Education program that is transferring to Kent ISD from Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS). “It’s a really exciting opportunity to build off the work Grand Rapids has already done,” he said after he was named to the new job on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Dymowski, who currently serves as transition coordinator, part of the Special Education Department at Kent ISD, was chosen from a field of 28 applicants, according to Superintendent Ron Caniff, who announced the appointment.

“We’re confident that Paul will do a great job in this new role and will assist us through the transition occurring within these programs,” Caniff said in a letter to the staff and parents at GRPS. “He is excited for this opportunity and looks forward to meeting and working with you in the near future.

“The position will play a key role in helping Kent ISD prepare for the transition of operating special education center programs this school year and will be the administrator responsible for overseeing the center programs on a day-to-day basis once these programs transfer to Kent ISD beginning in July 2019,” Caniff continued.

(The GRPS School Board voted in August to turn over operations of its center-based programs to Kent ISD. These specialized programs serve nearly 1,400 students from throughout Kent County and part of Barry County. Most of the buildings for these programs, like Lincoln Developmental Center or Pine Grove Learning Center, are owned by Kent ISD, and all are currently operated by Grand Rapids Public Schools.)

In his current job, Dymowski provides technical assistance to transition coordinators and programs at local school districts for older students with special needs who are making the transition to adult life. He also supervises Kent ISD’s team of physical therapists and audiology staff.

Dymowski came to Kent ISD last year from Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, where he served as Assistant Director of Specialized Instruction. There he administered regional and center-based programs for students with cognitive and behavioral needs as well as Early On screenings and services for preschool students.

The 39-year-old Flint native also served as a director of special education for the Wayland and Hopkins school districts. Earlier in his career, Dymowski was a special education instructor at Northview and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The selection process began with a stakeholders group that included two parents of children receiving services from center programs, two teachers, two center program principals, two local district special education directors, and three representatives from Kent ISD. Three finalists were then interviewed by Caniff, Lowell Area Schools Superintendent Greg Pratt and the chairman of the superintendents’ Special Education Advisory Committee.

Dymowski will assume his new duties on a rolling, intermittent basis, Caniff said in his letter. Beginning later this month, he will devote a few days each week to the transition process, gradually increasing his supervision of the center program transition until it becomes his full-time assignment in January.

More information  about the transfer of center-based programs can be found on Kent ISD’s website at Center Program Review pages.

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James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

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