New Student Services Director has deep experience in all facets of special education

New Student Services Director has deep experience in all facets of special education

The Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board of Education at its April 11, 2018 meeting approved the appointment of Dr. Lea Anne Frost as the new Director of Student Services effective July 1. Dr. Frost replaces Mike Padavic, who has served as interim director since mid-December 2017.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Frost -- as an administrator with deep and varied experiences -- take the helm of our Student Services Department, which provides a rich continuum of services to meet the needs of students from early childhood through grade 8,” according to District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz. 

“We are confident that Dr. Frost’s warmth and empathy as a communicator coupled with her  leadership skills and deep understanding of all things special education will allow her to form effective partnerships with parents and staff as we work collaboratively to make D64’s student support services second to none,” Dr. Heinz added.

“During our extensive interview process, Dr. Frost repeatedly shared how much she welcomes the chance to work hand-in-hand with our staff members and families across District 64,” Dr. Heinz noted. 

Dr. Frost comes to District 64 with more than 20 years of experience in the field of special education, ranging from her start as a special education teacher to rising levels of responsibility and complexity as a special education program supervisor and assistant superintendent before heading multi-district cooperatives.

Most recently, Dr. Frost has served as Executive Director of Exceptional Children Have Opportunities (ECHO), a special education joint agreement serving students in 17 school districts at the elementary and high school levels in Chicago’s south suburbs. Previously she was executive director of the Northern DuPage Special Education Cooperative and also was Assistant Superintendent/Director of Instruction at the Special Education District of Lake County, among her earlier positions.

In addition, Dr. Frost has a long track record of leadership roles in a host of professional educational organizations. She is the current president of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE), and is also a member of the Illinois Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Special Education and chair of its subgroup: “Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as a Monitoring and Enforcement Agency.” 

ISBE has also enlisted her as a peer monitor for ISBE focused monitoring visits for many years, and she has also served as a reader for grants awarded for programs providing truancy prevention and intervention services and/or optional education. In addition, she has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Aurora University, among her other professional leadership experiences.

Dr. Frost holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from Illinois State University, a master’s from Northern Illinois University, and a doctoral degree from Roosevelt University.

“We look forward to a seamless hand-off in leadership of our student services to Dr. Frost as she transitions in coming months with Interim Director Mike Padavic,” Dr. Heinz noted. “Mr. Padavic has worked tirelessly with our administrative team since December to provide continuity for the department and to move forward in developing new avenues of communication with our staff and parents, as we launched a new Special Education Parent Support Group and a new Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3) initiative,” Dr. Heinz noted. “We look forward to Dr. Frost adding her expertise to strengthening and expanding these relationships,” she added.

The search for Dr. Frost followed District 64’s standard, rigorous hiring procedure for central office administrators, which includes a multi-step screening and interview process and extensive participation from all stakeholders.

Dr. Frost was selected from an initial pool of 21 candidates, from which seven semi-finalists were interviewed in person by a committee comprised of the District’s central office administrators, four building Principals and two Assistant Principals. Two candidates were then brought back for face-to-face interviews with three screening committees made up of two Board of Education members, 12 District administrators, eight parents, and 16 staff members. The two finalists then interviewed with the central office administrators again, before the final candidate had a last interview with a joint committee comprised of administrators, parents, and staff. After reviewing the feedback from everyone involved in the in-depth process and following extensive reference checks, Dr. Heinz offered the position to Dr. Frost.

PHOTO: Dr. Lea Anne Frost