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Coupeville to name special ed director

Coupeville School Board is expected to appoint a new special education director at its May 16 meeting.

The board will decide whether to hire Kristi Thurston as Special Services director, as recommended by Bill Myhr, superintendent of the school district.

Myhr said Thurston’s experience working as the Support Services director for the Quillayute Valley School District in Forks makes her the best candidate for the position.

He said the school district is fortunate to find a person with Thurston’s qualifications. It can be difficult to find qualified candidates to fill such a challenging position that deals with inadequate funding and frequently changing roles.

“Special education in today’s world is the most highly volatile and litigious area in education,” said Myhr.

The Coupeville School District had 15 people apply for the the position. Officials reviewed 10 applications and interviewed two candidates over the four-week hiring process.

Thurston takes over for Kathy Harada who is retiring at the end of the school year.

Prior to being named special education director in 1995, Harada had taught various grades in Coupeville. When her responsibilities expanded, her title was changed to special services director.

“Kathy is right up there with a number of veteran staff who provide key leadership to our district. She will be missed,” Myhr said. Harada has worked in the Coupeville School District for the past 21 years.

The special services director is responsible for special education, remedial programs and bilingual students. Thurston will also oversee the education of teenagers incarcerated in the county’s Juvenile Detention Center, which is now under construction in Coupeville.

Harada said she enjoyed her time working for the Coupeville School District. She cited the support from the school district and the collaboration with families as reasons for her long tenure as special services director.

Her three children, Brian, Eric and Jason all graduated from Coupeville High School.

Even though she is retiring, Harada will remain in the community. She plans to continue working with her husband, Steve, who owns Harada Physical Therapy and Rehab Services in Oak Harbor.

An open house for Harada takes place Friday, June 10, 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Coupeville Middle and High School.

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