On May 20, the District 65 School Board approved the appointment of Dr. Romy DeCristofaro as the Executive Director for Special Services. Dr. DeCristofaro will succeed Joyce Bartz, Assistant Superintendent, in leading special services and special education in District 65. Dr. DeCristofaro will officially begin in District 65 this July and will report directly to the Superintendent of Schools.
“Upon her retirement in June, Ms. Bartz will have dedicated more than 30 years of service to the students and families of District 65,” said Superintendent Paul Goren. “She has tirelessly and passionately advocated for students who receive special education services, brought restorative justice programs to the District, and focused a great deal of time to promoting a safe and supportive climate for both students and staff. She will be greatly missed by her District 65 colleagues.”
District 65 received a total of 45 applications for the position. To inform the hiring process, Superintendent Paul Goren and Ms. Bartz visited classes and schools across the District to reflect on services provided, roles and responsibilities, and departmental needs. Dr. Goren also engaged District 65 special education supervisors and staff from schools across the District as well as leadership from Evanston CASE (Community Advocacy Support and Education for families affected by disability) to identify characteristics and skills that they believed essential for a new leader. Using an equity lens, which included very specific equity-focused questions and probes, members of the Superintendent’s leadership team as well as two principals and a special services supervisor conducted screenings and extensive interviews.
“I am excited to have Dr. DeCristofaro join our team. Her focus on relationships and communication between parents, caregivers, and District staff stood out as an important quality that would serve the District well. In addition, she recognizes the importance of providing students with varying needs, abilities, and who represent different backgrounds and experiences with a range of high quality services and supports in a caring, trusting environment,” said Dr. Goren.
Dr. DeCristofaro is currently serving as the Administrator for Student Services in Wilmette District 39. She was promoted to this position after serving as Assistant Director for Student Services since 2015. She also held positions as a Learning Behavior Specialist (K-8) in School District 39 as well as a Learning Facilitator in Sycamore District 427. In her current role, she is responsible for coordinating special education programs and initiatives district-wide including budget development and grant monitoring. Dr. DeCristofaro also facilitates the Parent Association of Student Services in District 39. She has facilitated professional learning sessions for educators around disproportionality in special education, IEP compliance, trauma informed instruction, and restorative practices. In addition, she provides leadership and oversight in the following areas: English Learners, 504 Plans, health services, McKinney Vento, Multi-Tiered System of Support, bullying and discipline.
She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies from the University of Illinois-Chicago and Masters Degrees in both Educational Leadership and in Special Education Advanced Practices from Northern Illinois University.
“I am so honored and humbled by the opportunity to join the District 65 team. The District and community’s commitment to creating an equitable learning environment for all students is really important to me and I look forward to partnering with everyone to ensure we are meeting the unique and diverse learning needs of all students,” said Dr. DeCristofaro. “I am grateful for Joyce’s support through this transition and I want to acknowledge and respect the great things already in place while collaborating on future improvements. I have heard such wonderful things about the teachers, administrators, and families in this learning community and I can’t wait to meet everyone.”