Wahluke School District has new special education director

by RACHAL PINKERTON
Staff Writer | July 27, 2020 8:00 PM

MATTAWA — The Wahluke School District has a new special education director.

LaDonna Fogle has been an IEP coordinator in the district until recently, when she accepted the job of special education director. Prior to coming to Wahluke, Fogle, a Kittitas native, taught in the Kittitas Valley for 20 years. While there, she worked with a program to help special needs high school students into the workforce.

Fogle’s husband, who also used to work at Wahluke High School, told her that Wahluke students didn’t have a program to help transition special needs students from high school to the workforce.

“There was something tugging on my heart strings to get a program for them,” Fogle said.

At the time, Fogle applied for the special education director position, and was offered the IEP coordinator position instead. Since then, she has helped to build a transition center for special needs students 18 to 21 years old.

“These kids were sitting at home doing nothing after high school,” Fogle said. “We built a program to start training them earlier and transition to skills in the community. The teacher for that has done an excellent job.”

When the last special education director resigned in May, Fogle wanted to see the special education programs continue as they were. Now that she is special education director for the school district, Fogle hopes to get her administration credentials.

“I feel like it is going to give me a whole lot more knowledge,” Fogle said.

But that doesn’t mean that she is going to be leaving the school district.

“I am a lifelong learner,” Fogle said.

In her new position, Fogle hopes to work well with those under her and the other administrators in the district. Her goal is to continue building relationships with them.

Heading into a school year riddled with uncertainty because of COVID-19, Fogle said that she and her team are working to ensure that her special needs students, who tend to be medically fragile, are protected and are still receiving the services they need.

“A few parents say that they are not comfortable sending their kids back to school,” Fogle said.

For those students, and if another shutdown occurs, Fogle is looking at providing in-home services.

In spite of the challenges that await the Wahluke Special Education department this year, Fogle sees some bright spots in the year ahead.

“This is the first year that we are going in with certified SPED (special education) staff in all of our positions,” Fogle said. “To have certified teachers is so exciting.”

Fogle also said that she also feels the support of the district administration team.

As she goes forward with the school year, Fogle is looking forward to building relationships with the families that she serves.

“I want families to trust us,” Fogle said. “I want them to feel heard and to feel welcomed at our school.”

Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at rpinkerton@suntribunenews.com.