Published : Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 4:20 PM
Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Brian McDonald today announced that he has named Elizabeth J. Blanco, Ed.D., as Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Director of the district’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). Dr. Blanco previously served as Executive Director of Special Education in PUSD from 2009-2011, and returns to Pasadena from the San Francisco Unified School District where she has been Chief of Special Education Services since leaving Pasadena.
“Dr. Blanco’s extensive experience in special education and strategic planning and her track record of strengthening collaborative relationships with parents while improving the organizational efficacy of the division make her uniquely qualified to lead the restructuring of the district’s special education services,” said Superintendent McDonald. “I am pleased to welcome her back to PUSD.”
As Assistant Superintendent of Special Education, Dr. Blanco will be responsible for administering all programs and services for children with disabilities, cross-departmental planning, working collaboratively with families to serve children, and delivering consistent and standardized procedures and training. She will also serve as director of the district’s SELPA and coordinate with schools and the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide a continuum of programs and services for disabled individuals from birth through 22 years of age.
“It is truly an honor and privilege to return to PUSD and serve the Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre communities,” said Dr. Blanco. “Inclusive education is a civil right, and I envision the Special Education Department as an integral part of an equitable, coherent system that creates opportunities for both general and special educators to proactively work together and provide services for students and families.”
As Chief of Special Education Services of San Francisco Unified, Dr. Blanco provided leadership and oversight of the redesign of Special Education Services (infant, preschool, K-12 and adult), including cross-departmental planning, negotiated agreements, parent and community advisory committees, and board relations. As a key leader in the superintendent’s cabinet, she led systemic change in the district to increase equity, access, and student achievement for all students.
During her previous time in PUSD, Dr. Blanco focused on strategic planning for the Special Education Department, the delivery of academic programs and services for students with special needs and the strengthening of collaborative partnerships with parents. She established Focus Point Academy, the small, highly structured program that incorporates daily supportive counseling and specially designed academic instruction for students diagnosed with emotional disturbances and specific learning disabilities; and the Adult Living Skills Center, the program that prepares young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for independent living and employment.
Dr. Blanco holds a doctorate in education in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California, Master of Arts degrees in Educational Administration and in Special Education from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), and a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, also from CSULA. She was named Special Educator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators, and has served as a mentor for aspiring administrators in the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.
Superintendent McDonald announced in May that the Special Education Department would be restructured to better serve students and employees.