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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-69
August 14, 2020
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Appoints Former Illinois Special Education Leader Heather Calomese as New Director of the Special Education Division

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Heather Calomese as the new Director of the Special Education Division at the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Special Education Division provides information and resources to serve the unique needs of individuals with disabilities so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills. As schools continue virtual learning in the weeks ahead, Calomese will support CDE’s efforts to provide assistance to schools and engage families and educators in ways that ensure the unique needs of students with disabilities are met.

“Heather is an accomplished leader in the special education field with a depth of knowledge regarding high-level special education laws and policies,” said Thurmond. “She is a strong advocate and champion for all students and believes that individuals should be lifted and supported to access the greatness that lies within. She brings to the position extensive experience with equity, human rights and social justice issues along with an unwavering focus and commitment to do what is best to ensure the needs of special education students and their families are being met. I am pleased to add an educator with her passion and dedication to the CDE leadership team.”

Calomese has worked in education for two decades. From 2000-02, she taught English and special education in Iowa City and from 2002-08, she was a special education middle and high school teacher in the Chicago Public School District before transitioning to an administrator role. Prior to joining CDE, Calomese was the Executive Director of Special Education for the Illinois State Board of Education where she focused on the alignment of systems and supports for students receiving early childhood, multilingual, and special education services.

Calomese holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education from the University of Iowa. She replaces Kristin Wright, who now works at the Sacramento County Office of Education. Calomese will start in her new position as Special Education Division Director on August 18.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, August 14, 2020
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