Administrative ranks replenished in South Washington County

  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 3:00 PM

The South Washington County School District finished restocking its administrative ranks by tapping internal candidates for the final two openings in the superintendent’s cabinet.

Kevin Witherspoon, an assistant principal for the past six years at Park High in Cottage Grove, will serve as the district’s director of special services. Robert Berkowitz, the district’s manager of systems and networks, was named director of technology.

Earlier, the district appointed Julie Nielsen and Michael Johnson as assistant superintendents, Matthew Dorschner as director of teaching and learning, and Dan Pyan as finance director. Nielsen and Dorschner also were internal hires, having served as an elementary principal and elementary curriculum coordinator, respectively.

Superintendent Keith Jacobus said in a recent statement that Witherspoon and Berkowitz would be filling “two very important and high profile positions” and that he was “pleased to have hired from within.”

Witherspoon has served as a special education teacher and coordinator, and is completing his doctoral work after having earned a master’s degree in special education, the district said. He has worked with students with autism and with students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

He looks forward to leading a department with “high-quality professionals who share the same passion for supporting students with special needs,” he said.

Berkowitz is a former corporate engineer hired by the district in 2012. During his tenure as systems and networks manager, the district has deployed instructional laptops and implemented a pilot program for one-to-one use of iPads at five schools, the district’s news release said.

“We have a very strong tech team and I’m very excited for the future in this district,” Berkowitz was quoted as saying.

The hirings complete a season of heavy turnover in the district. Earlier departures fueled speculation that there was dissatisfaction with the district’s leadership, but Jacobus and School Board Chairman Ron Kath have said such moves are common when new budget years approach and opportunities open elsewhere.

The two directors who previously held the positions now filled by Witherspoon and Berkowitz left for similar jobs in the Farmington Area and Edina school districts.

Anthony Lonetree

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