LCUSD Hires New Executive Director of Special Education

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette shares a smile with Derek Ihori, newly named executive director of special education and psychological services, at a May 2 special LCUSD Governing Board meeting.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette shares a smile with Derek Ihori, newly named executive director of special education and psychological services, at a May 2 special LCUSD Governing Board meeting.

In a unanimous vote, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board named a new executive director of special education and psychological services during a special meeting last week.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity and I want to thank you,” Derek Ihori told the board after he was voted in last Thursday. Ihori’s salary will be $151,080, said Debra Cradduck, executive director of personnel services.
Ihori replaces Tamara Jackson, who is set to retire on June 30. Jackson has been with the LCUSD since 2003, always as special education director, she said in a previous statement.
District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said Ihori, who has been the director of pupil services for the Las Virgenes Unified School District, was selected out of a strong candidate pool. He oversees 120 special education teachers and specialists for Las Virgenes.
“What struck me the most about Derek was that he’s extremely talented,” Sinnette told board members. “He was very engaging. I could definitely sense that he was a systems thinker and that he would bring great strengths to our district, help us flourish in areas that were going well and help us to build in areas where we might potentially look to grow.”
Officials said in a news release that Ihori has served in the Las Virgenes district since 2014 and earlier was a program specialist in the Oak Park Unified School District for four years. According to his biography on the Las Virgenes district’s website, he has a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and social behavior from UC Irvine and a master’s degree in counseling with specialization in school psychology from Cal State Northridge. He also has a doctorate from USC in educational leadership with a concentration in educational psychology.
Board approval was the final step in the process for LCUSD, as Ihori had been offered and accepted the position, Sinnette said. He will start his new post on July 1, she added.
In other actions, the board approved a number of projects that use funds from the $149 million Measure LCF general obligation bond that was passed in November 2017. Board members:
• Accepted a $678,000 bid from AZ Construction Inc., doing business as Ace Fence Co. Inc., for new perimeter fences at Paradise Canyon and Palm Crest elementary schools to improve campus security. The fencing is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 11, but gates will not be finished by then and will be installed afterward, said Mark Evans, the district’s chief business and operations officer, in an email to The Outlook on Tuesday.
• Accepted a $290,840 bid from Dash Construction Co. Inc. of Encino for a new perimeter fence at La Cañada Elementary School. The fence is set to be completed on Aug. 11 but the gates will be finished and installed later, Evans said.
• Accepted a $662,000 bid from ABNY General Engineering in Glendora for site work and the installation of new lunch shelters at Paradise Canyon. The lunch shelter is scheduled for completion by Aug. 11, Evans said.
• Approved a first reading of a resolution delegating authority to Sinnette to accept bids and award contracts on a cafeteria and a band room (including a parking lot drainage improvement) at La Cañada High School. While a board meeting is scheduled for June 11, staff members recommended that the projects be awarded no later than May 20. The construction budget for the cafeteria improvement is $1.5 million, and the budget for the band room and drainage upgrades is $1 million. Evans said the band room and drainage projects are set to be finished on Aug. 11 and the cafeteria on Sept. 30, with kitchen and serving areas to be functioning by the start of the school year.

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