South Washington County Schools

Director of Special Services selected from internal candidates

Selected from an internal pool of candidates, Michelle Barries, will begin her time as the Director of Special Services effective immediately, with final approval anticipated at the School Board level on July 20.

A graduate of South Washington County Schools herself, Barries has an extensive background that will ensure her success including 10 years in Special Education administration. Prior to serving as a Special Education Supervisor for the past two years in District 833, Barries was employed in two school systems in California, the Huntington Beach City District and Sylvan Union School District in Modesto. Her positions included being a Director of Special Education, assistant principal, program specialist, dean of students and teacher.

Superintendent Keith Jacobus selected Barries because of her proven skills in leadership, communication and problem solving. “I have confidence that Michelle’s ability to build relationships and her expertise in special education will serve her well as she transitions to the Director level responsibilities. I’m excited to have Michelle leading our department. Her background as a Director in California gives her a strong understanding of many of the issues we face in our system. Michelle firmly believes that every student can learn, can be taught and deserves a high-quality education. Her philosophy complements our district’s core values and outcomes for our strategic plan.”

Of the opportunity, Barries said, “I am excited and grateful to continue to serve District 833 in a new capacity. I have had the opportunity to work with a talented and dynamic team of special education supervisors and leadership team. I look forward to pursuing quality educational services and opportunities for students with special needs and their families.”

Highlights of her experiences over the past 20 years include home, non-public and public school settings. She has worked with student populations that are both diverse and have exceptional needs. She supervised special education programming for children from birth through age 21 in a variety of center based programs. Those programs include autism, developmentally and cognitively delayed, deaf and hard of hearing, physical challenges, learning and behavioral challenges. Her experiences have also included coordinating the Section 504 requirements of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibiting discrimination based upon disability.

Barries holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in special education and she is currently finishing her dissertation for a doctoral degree in education administration, all from the University of the Pacific in California. He received her Director of Special Education licensure through the University of St. Thomas.

Barries replaces Kevin Witherspoon, who has been appointed the Director of Human Resources.