Pulido named new special education director

With years of experience in her corner, Anna Pulido this week took over the Gilroy Unified School District’s special education team as Director of Student Services.

Gilroy’s 1,326 special education students, whose needs range from weekly speech therapy to 24/7 residential schools, have a new leader in charge of their care in the wake of the resignation of the woman who had run the beleaguered department since 2013.
Anna Pulido this week took over the Gilroy Unified School District’s special education team as Director of Student Services, according to a press release issued Tuesday.
The release also confirmed the number two position in the special ed program is vacant due to a resignation and candidates are being interviewed.
At the same time, the district announced in a separate press release that Christopher High School Principal Paul Winslow has been appointed to the post of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Caroline Calero, formerly a Monterey County high school principal, has been appointed as the new CHS principal.
Pulido takes over special education at a time when district records show that more than 15 members of that staff have resigned since June 1.
They include director Barbara Brown and her number two, James Howarth, who was Special Education Coordinator.
School trustee Mark Good this week said that Brown’s plans to leave were well known but that Howarth’s resignation was a surprise.
The sudden vacancies in a department that has been challenged to meet legally required special education mandates has parents of those students worried, insiders say.
In recent years, parents have complained in news reports about the GUSD programs.
In the past year or so, the district has made an effort to bolster its special education offerings by approving new hires and expanding resources.
And even as parents have hired attorneys to deal with what they have claimed are the district’s shortcoming, in the past two years GUSD reportedly has turned the tables on some families, suing three special education students and their parents over how the students are classified, according to experts familiar with the situation.
Classifications that label the students as autistic or in need of certain therapies determine care levels delivered by the district and, in come cases, and impact reimbursements to the district from the state and federal governments, the experts say.
District officials this week declined to discuss any of that, or whether staffers resigned or were fired, in the absence of Superintendent Debbie Flores.
Flores is on bereavement leave following the June 20 death of her husband, George. A highly respected science teacher at Britton Middle School in Morgan Hill, he had battled lymphatic cancer for years, according to his published obituary.
Flores was quoted in Tuesday’s press release reassuring the community about the special education program.
“School districts throughout California regularly face challenges with shortages in specialty teaching areas and resignations of staff due to circumstances like promotions and relocations,” Flores says.
“Our District has effective systems in place to handle these very situations,” she added. “Parents and staff in Gilroy can rest assured the District has excellent Human Resources staff, who were ready to snap up candidates who had already been recruited and to immediately expand the search process for others so that all vacancies will be filled prior to the start of the new academic year,” Flores says.
The release goes on to state that, “Ms. Pulido brings both her depth of experience and innovative approaches to ensuring excellent services and opportunities for our students.”
Pulido’s background includes a focus on special education, according to the GUSD, and most recently she served as a Manager of Special Education and Assistant Director of Special Education for the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
Regarding the other announcements, Paul Winslow has been with GUSD since 2006 and taught English at Gilroy High School ad CHS. He was Assistant Principal of Curriculum/Instruction at CHS before becoming its principal.
He also is a former president of the Gilroy Teachers Association.
He assumed his new position on July 1 and will be responsible for day-to-day operating procedures of certificated personnel, student transfers, teacher and substitute teacher recruitment and student enrollment.
“I’m honored to continue my service to the students and community of GUSD,” Winslow says in the press release.
Caroline Calero also started July 1. She was most recently a high school principal with the North Monterey County Unified School District.
She also has served as Assistant Principal for middle and high schools in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District; English Language Arts Coordinator for K-12; teacher on Special Assignment Literacy Coach; Professional Development Coordinator; GATE curriculum specialist; and as a classroom teacher for 11 years in Cupertino, Santa Cruz and Watsonville, according to the GUSD release.