Kent ISD administrator named to federal special education post

Laurie VanderPloeg is the new U.S. Department of Education Director for the Office of Special Education Programs

Kent ISD Director of Special Education Laurie VanderPloeg, who has led special education in the county for the past eight years, is headed to Washington, D.C., to lead special education for the entire nation.

VanderPloeg was hired as U.S. Department of Education Director for the Office of Special Education Programs, in Washington D.C., and will begin her duties next month. OSEP leads the nation’s efforts to improve outcomes for children with disabilities and ensures access to fair, equitable and high-quality education.

VanderPloeg’s extensive work with national organizations has given her the knowledge, skills and abilities to move to the next level. “My passion is to prepare students for success by raising expectations and improving outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities across the country. It is important that we rethink special education and not allow anything to limit our children from being prepared for what comes next.”

VanderPloeg, who has a son with disabilities, has worked in special education in various capacities for nearly four decades. She spent 15 years as a special education teacher in Grand Rapids Public Schools and Wayland Union Schools; served as supervisor of special education for Grand Rapids Public Schools and as a special education consultant with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Before becoming Kent ISD Director of Special Education, VanderPloeg was its assistant director of special education, monitoring compliance and providing parental support.

At center, Laurie VanderPloeg stands with several of her staff members, from left, Susan Diedering, PowerSchool special education coordinator; Kindy Segovia, assistive technology supervisor; Lori Matthews, administrative assistant; and Paul Dymowski, director of Special Education Center Programs
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2012. Read Erin's full bio

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