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Hillsborough special education chief is leaving the department

TAMPA — The head of Hillsborough County's embattled special education department is taking a transfer, effective Jan. 7.

Since 2008, Joyce Wieland has been general director of exceptional student education, a department that serves 29,000 students and is under scrutiny in the wake of two student deaths.

A district work group this week released an 88-page report suggesting changes in training, staffing, communication and technology. That project is expected to last through May.

Wieland, meanwhile, will become general director of student placement and support.

School Board members were told of Wieland's move shortly before Tuesday night's board meeting, said member Cindy Stuart. She said she was not given a reason for the transfer.

"It's a double-edged sword," she said. "If they are looking to make serious changes in ESE, maybe it is time for fresh blood and new people with new ideas."

At the same, she said, she would not want to see the district lose out on Wieland's knowledge of the department. "We don't want to make the same mistakes over."

Ana Sanders, president of the Superintendent's Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities, also said she hopes Wieland will be involved in the transition and hopes her replacement will be someone familiar with special education.

"Joyce is a capable person, always very open and willing to listen and work with the council very closely," said Sanders, who learned the news Wednesday morning in a phone call from Wieland.

"I'm sad to see her go, but I understand the transfer and all the circumstances about it. Sometimes when situations get to this point, you need to get new blood in, even a new perspective."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or

Hillsborough special education chief is leaving the department 12/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 12:10am]
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