News of their departure spread rapidly among parents of special needs children in the district.
Ken Chovil and Tracy Suchan Toothaker were co-directors of the special education program since 2010. Beforehand, Toothaker had been the planning principal for the Marysville Getchell High School campus and principal of Marysville Pilchuck High School. Chovil had worked with the district as a special education coordinator and director since 2006.
The reason for their sudden resignations midyear is unclear.
The special education program drew criticism last year after an incident at Marshall Elementary in which a special needs student was locked in a closet for a timeout.
District spokeswoman Jodi Runyon said that incident was not related to Chovil and Toothaker’s departures.
“It was their choice to separate from service,” Runyon said. She added that she was not at liberty to provide details about personnel matters, including if there was any severance agreement.
Runyon also said that the district’s audits of its special education programs have been clean for the past several years.
Approximately 1,650 children among the district’s 12,000 students receive some kind of help through the district’s Learning Support Services program.
Melody Plumb, the parent of a special needs student at Kellogg Marsh Elementary, said that the news of Chovil’s and Toothaker’s departures was sudden, but that she saw it as a potentially positive step that could bring some welcome changes to the special ed program.
“There’s obviously been some serious concerns and complaints filed against the school district, and things haven’t changed,” she said.
She said she’s had her own issues with the district. Her son, who was recently moved into another larger class, has had trouble adjusting.
She and other parents attended the school board meeting Feb. 18, mostly to let the board and district administration know they were concerned about how the special ed programs were being administered.
“We’re concerned,” Plumb said. “We want a parent voice on the hiring committee to replace those who have left.”
The district has hired two veteran administrators to run the program on an interim basis.
“It is definitely our goal to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Runyon said.
David Gow will be the interim executive director for special education programs. He worked for 30 years as a special education teacher and director for the Shoreline School District, and nine more years as a special education director with the Mukilteo School District. He retired in 2011.
Working for Gow as an interim director will be Robert Gose, who worked as a school psychologist and special education student services coordinator before his retirement in 2013. Gose will work primarily with middle and high schools.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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