I am a DCPS Employee: Brenton Higgins
Office of Special Education Critical Response Team
What is the role of the Office of Special Education Critical Response Team?
The primary function of the Office of Special Education Critical Response Team is to respond to stakeholders across the district, whether they are parents, special education teachers or advocates.
We act as a connector that helps families navigate the special education system. I respond to concerns about a variety of issues related to special education.
Why did you decide to work for DCPS?
I found the progressive mindset of the office very appealing, especially in its efforts to develop a data-driven style of decision-making. The passion and fire to improve is also evident amongst staff.
I have a background in community outreach and completed a year of service through National Civilian Community Corps and spent a great amount of time working in urban school districts. Originally, I wanted to be a teacher but realized my true passion was in community outreach.
My position is challenging but ultimately very rewarding because I try to imagine how overwhelming it must be to be a parent of a special needs child and feel like you don’t have an advocate in the system. I love providing that support.
What is the most important part of your job?
By far, the most important part of my job is providing a deep level of support and understanding to parents. Even if someone starts a conversation extremely upset, my job at the end of it is to determine how we move forward and fix the problem.
What does your schedule look like on an average day?
At any given time, I have between nine and eleven cases open and I receive anywhere from twenty to forty calls a day. Because we strive to close cases within ten days, a lot of my day involves calling principals, following up with special education coordinators and reconnecting with parents. Because school is starting soon, I have been working a lot on transportation issues.
What do you wish more people knew about DCPS?
I want people to know that we’re a community and we understand that in order to succeed as an education system, we need a collaborative effort between all parties involved. Furthermore, we have an open-door policy in that we are available to answer every question and that we want to work together. We need communication between everyone in order to be successful.
What is your favorite part of this role?
My favorite part of this work is helping a parent understand the system and helping the child get the services they need. The best part of my day is when a parent calls to say that the issue affecting their child has been resolved.