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Kent ISD administrator named to federal special education post


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

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She 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, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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