Special Education

Greg Mizel, Associate Superintendent
Student Support Services

Lindsay Lerma, Executive Assistant
15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA  92128
(858) 521-2800  Ext. 2216 | Fax:  (858) 485-1501

Award Winning Team!


PUSD Special Education Directors Jodi Payne, Tiffany King, and Heather Schauder, along with Executive Assistant, Lindsay Lerma, were recently awarded with APSM Awards in recognition of special achievement in support of student learning. They have all gone above and beyond supporting the special education department through significant leadership transitions. They are an excellent example of what makes TEAM PUSD great. They are unselfish; they have demonstrated a willingness to do whatever the organization needs when the organization needs it; and each is well known for their unwavering commitment to supporting our students and staff.

2023 Inclusive Practices Schools of Excellence

Six Poway Unified schools rewarded for their inclusion programs


Top row from left to right:
Los Peñasquitos Elementary School, Morning Creek Elementary School, Sunset Hills Elementary School

Bottom row from left to right:
Twin Peaks Middle School, Del Norte High School, Poway High School

Poway Unified Receives Prestigious Golden Bell Award for its Special Education Inclusive Practices Program


The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is proud to announce that it is the recipient of the Golden Bell Award from the California School Board Association (CSBA). This prestigious honor, which highlights the best education practices across the State, is in the category of Special Education for PUSD’s Inclusive Practices Program.

The goal of PUSD’s Inclusive Practices Program is to re-design special education services and instruction to create more equitable opportunities for students in the least restrictive environment.

Learn more about Inclusive Practices | Press Release

Message from Associate Superintendent, Greg Mizel

Do you see Jonathan? He’s the young man in the picture seated rear left. Head tilted back, mouth open wide in laughter. The expression on his face says it all, doesn’t it? In the split second captured in this photograph, Jonathan is unimpeded, uninhibited, unobstructed, and gloriously unrestricted. Seated next to his classmates, he is - in a rare moment - one of the guys, and he’s euphoric. Weightless, traveling at speeds that approach 90mph, twisting and turning and barreling down the roller coaster track, suspended high above the ground, Jonathan is truly free. Free. Free from his chair. Free from the health challenges that constrain his ability to move and impede his ability to communicate. Free from societal prejudice. Free from community stereotypes. Free from the soft bigotry of low expectations. Laughing between breathless gasps and intermittent bursts of adrenalin, in this fleeting instant, Jonathan is like every other healthy, carefree 18-year-old. Do you see him?

I see Jonathan. In many ways he is just like everyone else. He wears cool kicks - timeless Converse tennis shoes - and he sports a hip Bristle Batons Bro-merang (mustache). He plays X-Box and Candy Crush. I see Jonathan’s uniqueness, too. He enjoys art, especially ceramics. And he likes the sport of wrestling. Yes. Wrestling. He and a classmate from his Special Day Class decided to join the high school wrestling team. Not as managers. As wrestlers. And in the spring 2017, at the annual State Wrestling Tournament, Jonathan was named the Most Inspirational Wrestler in CA. Mostly though, I see Jonathan’s great desire to be noticed and affirmed. I see his desire to be included – to have opportunities to learn with and alongside his peers. I see Jonathan. If we’re not careful, though, we miss seeing Jonathan, and all we see is his disability. We see Cerebral Palsy, a condition that impairs Jonathan’s movement, coordination, reflexes, as well as his ability to communicate. Jonathan is so much more than his disability. Look at that picture again. Do you see Jonathan?
I’m proud to work in a school district that is committed to seeing each and every one of our students as individuals first. Jonathan may be one of over 36,424 students attending schools in PUSD, but trust me, he is well known at the schools he’s attended and deeply loved. To be certain, Jonathan and the other 4,696 students we serve with learning disabilities face unique challenges; however, it is our conviction that when held to high standards and expectations, when afforded appropriate levels of support, extraordinary outcomes are possible. When we personalize learning in the least restrictive environment, we take a critical step toward ending the isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Think about it for a moment. What do you remember about school? If you’re like most people, you remember the teachers, the coaches, and your classmates. And you probably remember a few very special moments where you were a part of something amazing - often outside of class. For Jonathan, and for all the students he represents, for a whole group of people who have been historically isolated and excluded from participation in campus life, school has to become something more. All of our students have something amazing to contribute to our community; all of our students deserve an opportunity to explore and develop their interests and passion in inclusive learning environments.

It’s an awesome responsibility, preparing this next generation to take their places on the world stage. And it’s one that Team PUSD takes very seriously. Thank you for trusting us with your child. Together, we can create incredible moments for each and every one of our students – moments our kids will remember for a lifetime.

Greg Mizel
Associate Superintendent 
Student Support Services

The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, immigration status, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For more information, please contact: Title IX/Equity Compliance Officer, James Jimenez, Associate Superintendent of Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128, 1-858-521-2800, extension 2121, jjimenez@powayusd.com. For students, you may contact Title IX Coordinator/ 504 Coordinator Jamie Dayhoff, Director of Attendance and Discipline, Poway Unified School District, 1-858-521-2840, jdayhoff@powayusd.com

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POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800