Special Education Family Newsletter

May 2022

This month we celebrate our teachers and classified staff members

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2-6, 2022

We are saying 'thank you’ this week, and throughout the year, to the extraordinary educators who have worked tirelessly with students and families to keep things moving forward, despite such an unpredictable year.


Classified Employee Week: May 15-21

From our Instructional Assistants to the bus drivers, data technicians, community liaisons and our district interpreters, these employees are the dedicated workers who play key roles in creating a school environment that contributes to the whole child by promoting student achievement. The Special Education Department proudly recognizes our classified staff.

Congratulations to our Special Education VUSD STARS

The STARS program is for Selfless, Talented, and Reliable Staff members who go above and beyond. Our STARS are nominated by their colleagues for their outstanding work. Please help us celebrate our most recent STARS.

Irine Arrieta, Education Specialist, Vista Adult Transition Center

"Irine exemplifies all of the best VUSD and VATC have to offer, modeling creativity, compassion, wisdom and drive.”

Naomi Hayes, Education Specialist, Maryland Elementary


“Naomi is an outstanding resource for Maryland, and all staff members are lucky to have her onsite."

On April 20th we had a productive Professional development day

Kathleen May from the District Behavior Support Team presents to Instructional Assistants on positive behavioral supports.

Welcome to our new hires

Wendy Conlee, Instructional Assistant II - LH/CH/RSP, Lake Elementary

Vanessa Esparza, Instructional Assistant - Behavioral Intervention, Monte Vista

Sinnia Cordova, Special Education Assistant IV - SH/PH, Alamosa Park Elementary

Asher Lutz, Educationally Related Mental Health Services Social Worker

Workshops and Events for Families:

Upcoming VUSD Parent Training Opportunities

Parents as Partners in the IEP Process

Tuesday, May 17th

(5:30pm - 6:30pm in person at the Vista Innovation Center)


Parent Training Sign Up - May 17, 2022

North Coastal Consortium for Special Education (NCCSE) Resources

Additional Resources:

Free transit for youth is here!

Teen Guide Mental Health & Wellness

Resources for Transition to Adulthood

YMCA Behavior Support Services

Understanding Different Types of Learning Disabilities

Is Diabetes a Disability?

Support and Resources for Adults with LD

Famous People with Disabilities [a list of 650+]

What is the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA)?

"Special Needs" vs "Disabled" Perspectives



California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, (CAPTAIN):

CAPTAIN Website

North Coastal Consortium for Special Education SELPA is proud to partner with the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network, (CAPTAIN ) by promoting the use of evidence- based practices for students with Autism.


CAPTAIN is part of the California Department of Education Statewide System of Support in collaboration with Marin County SELPA

Interested in working in VUSD?

Vista Unified continues to look for dependable people that are excited about working with our students. Vista has a need for both permanent and substitute employees! We can get you working immediately! Come work with a district that is making a difference in the lives of children!


For more information, click below:

Instructional Assistant II - LH/CH/SP

Instructional Assistant - Behavior Intervention

Special Education Assistant IV - SH/PH

Special Education Supervisor Site List

Special Education Department

Nereida Gutierrez, Director, Special Education, nereidagutierrez@vistausd.org

Steffanie Rupp, Coordinator, Special Education, steffanierupp@vistausd.org

Chris Altona, Principal, Vista Adult Transition, chrisaltona@vistausd.org

Rachel Schmidt, Principal, California Avenue School, rachelschmidt@vistausd.org

Katherine Abraham, Program Supervisor, katherineabraham@vistausd.org

Tracy Zachry, Program Supervisor, tracyzachry@vistausd.org

Jennifer Gruman, Program Supervisor, jennifergruman@vistausd.org

Kursten Carlson, Program Supervisor, kurstencarlson@vistausd.org

Jean Potter, Administrative Secretary, Special Education, jeanpotter@vistausd.org

Araceli Sanchez, Community Liaison, Special Education, aracelisanchezmart@vistausd.org

Doris Cruz, Community Liaison, Special Education, doriscruz@vistausd.org

Special Education Department: specialeducationdept@vistausd.org