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Chief of Diverse Learners, School District of Philadelphia



Philadelphia, PA, USA
Posted on Friday, April 28, 2023

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) is the eighth-largest school district in the nation, serving a historic and culturally vibrant community. We are a community of 19,000 dedicated employees working together with parents, families, volunteers, and community members to support the limitless potential of more than 203,000 young scholars. We are committed to educating and graduating generations of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, government officials, and change makers. Our goal is simple; to become the fastest-improving district in the country. Our mission is to deliver on the civil right of every child in Philadelphia to an excellent public school education and ensure that all children graduate from high school ready to succeed, fully engaged as a citizen of our world. To meet our mission, we seek leaders who have a passion for working with schools and communities dedicated to ensuring all students achieve. Serving a population as diverse as ours requires creativity, commitment, and vision. Will you join us?

Job Summary

The Chief of Special Education and Diverse Learners is charged with overseeing, supporting and monitoring the delivery of educational services to our special populations including Special Education Services, Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS), Multilingual Students, and Gifted Students for the School District of Philadelphia. This person in this role provides leadership to ensure that the District’s Goals and Guardrails are met and that the varied and diverse needs of students are addressed and incorporated seamlessly into academics, student supports, and instruction. The Chief of Special Education and Diverse Leaders reports to the Deputy Superintendent of Academics.

Essential Functions

Strategy and Leadership for Special Education and Diverse Learner Supports

  • Plans, develops, and implements a comprehensive program for diverse learners, and ensures that programming addresses the needs of students, establishes objectives and priorities, prioritizes strategies to achieve objectives, and evaluates programs.
  • Represents the Superintendent and other District leadership during public presentations, speaking engagements, or other activities associated with District business, as requested; facilitates forums and other public meetings.
  • Manages targeted, high-priority strategic projects on behalf of the Superintendent.
  • Advises District leaders on matters related to diverse learners.

Program Design and Effectiveness

  • Support parents and caregivers of diverse learners to ensure all SDP students are provided with the best services and resources to support high academic achievement.
  • Apply research and best practices to inform the development of theories of pedagogy, and intervention programs and improve the delivery of special education and related services including guidance counseling, and psychological and social services.
  • Establishes and maintains a system for monitoring the effectiveness of program implementation and ensuring compliance with individualized education plans (IEPs) for students with disabilities.
  • Directs the development and revision of programs, policies, and procedures to comply with federal, state, and local legislation and District policy.
  • Develops project plans, work breakdown structures, and schedules required to successfully complete projects on time and within budget constraints.

Diverse Learner Team Leadership

  • Plans, coordinates, and directs the teams who oversee the overall operation of services for special education, multilingual services, MTSS, and gifted education.
  • Defines, delegates, and evaluates the services of staff supporting the Diverse Learner departments.
  • Oversees recruitment, selection, placement, and evaluation of staff who support the Diverse Learner departments.
  • Provides professional development for staff based on established program goals and objectives.
  • Develops project plans, work breakdown structures, and schedules required to successfully complete projects on time and within budget constraints.
  • Provides appropriate supervision, mentoring, and professional growth and development to assigned staff; develops and implements professional growth plans to include keeping abreast of current developments, literature and technical resources of information.
  • Ensures direct reports and departments within their purview provide excellent customer service to schools, parents, and the community.

Effective Special Education Operations Management

  • Assesses the effectiveness of the department and effectively prioritizes, plans, and implements improvements, as needed.
  • Ensures responsive and efficient services including appropriate due process in the best interest of diverse learners.
  • Prepares and administers the annual department budget and grants and exercises proper financial controls.
  • Prepares reports for federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and ensures that all programs are in compliance with governing federal, state and local regulations.
  • Works in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Office for Civil Rights, and other agencies to meet the needs of students; prepare and monitor contracts with individuals and agencies for special services not available through SDP.
  • Responds effectively to matters related to special education litigation.
  • Establishes and maintains relationships with key stakeholders within and without the District including leaders and organizations in the civic, religious, political, philanthropic, business, and non-profit sectors to create trust and solidify a strong foundation to advocate for School District priorities.
  • Oversees the effective management of all grants related to diverse learners, including but not limited to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant, in alignment with District goals.

The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following:

Exceptional Communication

  • Connects authentically, purposefully, and thoughtfully with diverse stakeholders in the spirit of inclusivity and equity.
  • Communicates with clarity, respect, and awareness in conversations and interactions with others.
  • Embraces opportunities to push a group’s thinking and challenge ideas to enable better decisions.
  • Listens intently and actively to stakeholders; understands nuance, and skillfully interprets motivations and perceptions.
  • Build positive relationships and coalitions primarily with staff members and principals as well as district staff, students, parents and families, communities, advocacy groups, etc.

Organizational & Team Leadership

  • Fosters a culture of high expectations with shared strategic goals around measurable outcomes and continuous improvement and capacity-building in key stakeholders.
  • Prepares the leadership team for effective decision-making conversations, anticipating and organizing key questions and data that support productive discussions.
  • Builds coalitions and works collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels, including district personnel, students, families, community and political leaders, and advocacy groups.
  • Promotes targeted and differentiated professional learning and utilizes effective adult learning techniques for members of the team.

Advancement of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

  • Holds self and team accountable for extraordinary academic achievement of all students.
  • Collaborates with central office and site-based leaders to ensure equitable access for every student to effective teachers who represent the stakeholder community.
  • Acknowledges systemic racism, power, and privilege in organizations and commits to dismantling inequities.
  • Fosters a culture of inclusion by building relationships across lines of difference and including the voices of those closest to the challenge we seek to address.
  • Fosters, promotes, and drives inclusion across the district and community.
  • Collaborates with district leaders to develop and implement DEI performance indicators as a key aspect of assessing organizational health.
  • Demonstrates skill, respect, and honesty in addressing matters of equity, race, and bias in talent decision-making.

Special Education and Diverse Learner Expertise & Effective Execution of Strategy

  • Maintains a focus on goals and results; establishes clear metrics for success for how the office of diverse learners plays an essential role in the district meeting its defined student outcome goals.
  • Demonstrates excellent execution and leadership skills, including acute attention to detail; the ability to balance overarching district goals with detailed steps to achieve academic objectives.
  • Develops innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
  • Leads from the perspective of a service provider, policy advisor, thought partner, and capacity-builder for school leaders.
  • Understands all aspects of special education law, including legal mandates and regulations governing the provision of special education and related services.
  • Demonstrates ability to develop and deliver special education programming that improves academic performance.
  • Understands and implements promising, innovative, and effective instructional practices and models.
  • Provides direction and guidance on the principles, practices, and theories of diverse learners, especially for special education, gifted students, and English learners.

Minimum Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Ten years of full-time, paid, professional certificated experience in the field of special education and/or student support services, five of which have been in an administrative or supervisory capacity and have included responsibility for the development and implementation of program policies and procedures.
  • Possession of a valid Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility.


The salary for this position is competitive commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included.


The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified.


The School District of Philadelphia provides to all persons equal access to all categories of employment in this District, regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity, or genetic information.