Special Education Staff Newsletter

December 2021

Happy Holidays

Wishing you all the joys of the season and happiness throughout the coming year. I am grateful to have a committed Special Education Team serving our students and families. I hope that you have a wonderful and relaxing winter break.

With gratitude,

Nereida Gutierrez

Director, Special Education

Congratulations to our Special Education VUSD Stars of Excellence & Innovation


Certificated Learning Recovery Positions:

Eric Walker, Inclusion/Transition Resource Teacher

Joshua Nelson, Learning Support Teacher

Shawna Mitchell, ERMHS Social Worker

Certificated Positions:

Ryan Cunningham, Speech Pathologist, VAVPA

Classified New Hires:

Monica Neill, Instructional Assistant, VIDA

Andrea Fiske, Instructional Assistant, Mission Meadows

Special Education Around the District

Special Education Supervisor Support

In order to maximize the support to our various SpEd teams and principals, our supervisors have begun to work directly from school sites at least 4 days a week. This practice will help to develop our SpEd systems at a personal level, build relationships, be available to support and provide PD to staff and support admin for IEPs as part of our Special Education Plan. Our Blueprint and Learning Recovery funds will be used to provide before and after school training and planning time for certificated and classified staff. The supervisors will create a monthly rotation schedule so that they can cover all school sites by covering 3-4 sites per month. In addition they will still be available to support their assigned school sites by being available via zoom. See the new SpEd Supervisor Site Support 2021-22.

Professional Development

CPI (Nonviolent Crisis Prevention Intervention): Thank you Dan Martin for training 20 VUSD staff members in November and to Dan Martin and Kathleen May for training 40 VUSD staff members in December.

Be on the lookout for more trainings after the Winter Break.

Site PD:

The Special Ed Department is available for specific trainings at your site during late start/early release Mondays for Ed Specialists, related services providers or IAs. Please reach out to your site admin or special ed supervisor and let them know your topic of interest (behavior, compliance, etc.), target audience and when.


Certificated PD:

January 27 - Understanding MDRs, Special Ed Eligibility and Writing Legally Compliant IEPs - (3:30pm - 5pm, Multicultural Center)

Certificated Office Hours (3:30 - 4:30 via zoom):

January 13, 2022

February 3, 2022

March 3, 2022

April 7, 2022

May 5, 2022

Classified PD:

January 25 - Trauma Informed Care (4pm - 6pm, Major General Murray High School)

Other PD Opportunities:

NCCSE Professional Development Opportunities

NCCSE On-demand webinars

PD Participation:

Thank you for attending the Professional Development Opportunities so far this school year. The Special Ed Department has offered 10 certificated PD opportunities and 13 classified PD opportunities (not including individual site PD). We have had 52% of our classified staff and 57% of our certificated staff attend PDs. Please help us achieve our goal to increase participation in the coming year by attending one of our many PD opportunities.

2021-22 Special Ed PD Plan

District Behavior Support Team


The purpose of the District Behavior Support Team (DBST) is to provide timely support to Vista Unified school sites with positive behavioral interventions (deemed educationally relevant) for both general and special education students with social, emotional, and behavioral barriers to learning.

The DBST is designated to provide sites with program support, staff training, and student-specific intervention. The intent is to build the capacity of general education teachers, special education teachers, and family members to support the behavioral needs of all learners.

Through a formalized referral process, school administrators, school psychologists, or school counselors can request support from the DBST to work collaboratively with the administrator, teachers, instructional assistants, support staff, and family members (when deemed educationally relevant), in identifying strategies and techniques to enhance instruction for students when other Tier 1 and Tier 2 strategies have been exhausted on the site level.

Behavior Support Team:

2 Behavior Specialist

  • Kathleen May

  • Kristen Perry

3 Instructional Assistants (Intensive Behavior Interventionists)

  • Crystal Hernandez

  • Erika Manning

  • Dahlyn Nall

DBST Referral Process

Additional Resources