Paper #1:

“What does an administrator of pupil services mean to me?”

Written by


Glen E. Dawursk, Jr.

February 18, 2007




EDAD 731

Administration & Supervision of Pupil Services

Dr. Deirdre Wells

It was around 1886 when a twenty-year old visually impaired teacher was hired by an Alabama family at the recommendation of Alexander Graham Bell.  This young teacher was hired to work individually with the family’s seven-year-old daughter who was both deaf and blind.  This child was mentally competent but because of her significant disabilities, the teacher had to seek out new methods to instruct her. In addition, the child’s behavior was outrageous as she sought attention to compensate for her challenges.  Through extreme patience and tenacity, this teacher broke through the child’s barriers with the simple letter “W” outlined on the palm of the little girl’s hand as the teacher poured water on it.  This was the awakening moment for this child.  She knew she could learn and now had the motivation to do it.  The child became so veracious in her desire to learn, that “she then nearly exhausted [the teacher] demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world including her prized doll.” (Wikimedia, Biography 2/10/2007)  This began a 49 year relationship between the teacher and the child.  The teacher was Anne Sullivan; the little girl was Helen Keller.  Their lasting freindship may have been the result, but it was the desire of a teacher to find that “awakening moment in learning” which was the impetous for success.  This is the goal and purpose of the student services department of any school district. 


In this report, I will describe the function and purpose of the person given the responsibility to oversee the “Anne Sulivans” of a school district; the person accountable to working against any roadblock which might hinder a child from learning; the person who’s job it is to equalize the learning platform for all students; the person most often called the Administrator of Pupil Services.



In 1965, congress authorized the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) which opened the door for drastic changes in education including the creation or expansion of federal programs for special education, ESL, and other disability or needs based learning.  These programs shared a common element, they were all student or “pupil” services and required specfic management and fulfillment of federal guidelines and regulations.  This was further complicated in 2001 with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). As federal laws such as Exceptional Education Needs (EEN) and Section 504 / Americans with Disabilities Act became more stridgent and the “student services” type programs offered by state and federal government became more involved, coordination amongst different service professionals necessitated an administrator. This individual would need to be responsible not just for the coordination and collaboration of the programs, but also for research, management, hiring, and evaluation of them – all aspects of effective leadership with coordination being the key element.  The school district of South Milwaukee demonstrates this collaboration in their website description for Pupil Services:

“The School District of South Milwaukee believes that effective Pupil Services delivery is contingent upon adequate availability of services from professionals representing each of several disciplines in the school setting, and that services are coordinated and delivered in a collaborative Pupil Services team manner with the support and leadership of the Pupil Services Director.”
South Milwaukee, 2/14/2007)

Coordination includes knowing which laws apply to which pupil service within the district.  This is done through research of trends in and outside of the classroom and a continuous monitoring of federal, state and local legislation.

Unfortunately, the responsibilites of Pupil Services departments are often not consistent from district to district, thereby also changing the coordination and management of the administrator in charge.  The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Office of Pupil Services has a plethera of services and has three divisions to accommodate them, while smaller school districts from New York and Ohio appear to have less responsibilites.  Only special education, school liason/support, social work, psychological, and health services are congruent services in each of these districts.  The Palmyra-Eagle Area School District in Wisconsin additionally includes specialized services titled Gifted and Talented, At-Risk, and Student Assistance Programs for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. (Palmyra-Eagle, 2/14/2007)


A Comparison of Pupil Services


Milwaukee Public
School District

Yorktown Central School District

Olentangy Local
School District

Milwaukee, WI

Yorktown Heights, NY

Lewkis Center, Ohio

Adminstrator of the Office of Pupil Services

Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services

Pupil Services Supervisor

Parent Information Center
1.  Special Education Parent Informational
2.  Parent Informational Specialists
3.  Child Find
Special Services
1.  School Liaisons
2.  Compliance & Monitoring Services
3.  Equitable Educational Opportunities
4.  Compliance & Management Services
5.  Non-Conventional Programs
6.  Psychological, Speech & Allied Health
7.  Social Work, Transition &
     Parent/Community Services
8.  Office of Instructional Support & Staff
Student Services
1.  School Support: Specialized Services
2.  School Support: Student
3.  School Support: Student Supported


1.       Special education and Section 504 / Americans with Disabilities Act

2.       School Psychology

3.       Social Work

4.       Nursing Services

5.       Speech Language

6.       Physical/Occupational Therapy

7.       Guidance Departments

8.        Instructional Support Team


1.      Special Education Programs

2.      Preschool Placement for Children with Special Needs

3.      Prevention

4.      Related/Supplemental Services

5.      English as a Second Language (ESL)

6.      School-Community Liaison

9.      Nursing/Health Services


(Division, 1/31/2007)

(Yorktown, 2/14/2007)

(Olentangy, 2/10/2007)


The Public Services Administrator must also set the department’s vision and goals, help design the strategic plan for the district, implement steps toward achieving district and department goals and develop a system for objective evaluation of the desired outcomes. The school district of Yorktown Heights, NY states that the Assistant Superintendant of Pupil Services “provides overall administrative direction and supervision of special education, and of the other support services provided to students.” (Yorktown, 2/14/2007)


Being a community and schools support / laison is also an essential aspect of being a Pupil Services Administrator.  The individual needs to work well with others on staff and in the community.  According to the Milwaukee Public Schools, the responsibilities of the Administrator of the Office of Pupil Services include “the planning, coordination, administration and delivery of special education services and parental involvement activities” and for “providing esssential services requested by parents, students, schools, communities, and offices related to school selection, student registration/records, student expulsion, student discipline, Chapter 220 and Open Enrollment.” (Division, 1/31/2007) These responsibilities clearly include a connection with the community.


Most importantly, the Pupil Services Adminsitrator must understand the issues which affect learning.  The Department of Instruction for the state of Wisconsin outlines that for licensure as a Pupil Servcies Administrator, the individual must understand the “complexities of learning, and strategies that support pupil learning” including their health, saftey and development and “be able to address the…wide range of social, emotional, behavioral and physical issues and circumstances which may limit a pupil’s abilities to achieve positive learning outcomes.” (DPI, Pupil Services, 1/31/2007) The administrator needs to be a compassionate teacher who truly desires for the well being of every student.


Finally, the school district of South Milwaukee’s listing of the elements of their Pupil Services program can also serve as guidelines for the responsibilites of a Pupil Services Administrator:

·        Improve the school environment to support the maximum development of each student by advocating practices that promote the attainment of District mission and goals, and that reduce practices or programs that inhibit or limit success for all students.

·        Collaborate with other members of the professional community to achieve program goals.

·        Promote the development of healthy behaviors that include students’ physical, emotional, social and mental health.

·        Promote student development of positive self-concept and cooperative relationships.

·        Use the tools of action research and comprehensive program evaluation to provide direction for continuous program improvement.

·        Use a variety of strategies to accomplish program goals in accordance with the preparation and certification areas within each discipline, including individual and group consultation/counseling, assessment, referral, placement, classroom activities and parent education programs.

·        Provide services that are federally mandated for students with Exceptional Education Needs (EEN). (South Milwaukee, 2/14/2007)



In summary, because pupil services is such a broad platform for government needs-based programs, assessments and regulation fulfillments, the Administrator of Pupil Services can be a misunderstood and inconsistent position. The administator of pupil services in some districts is more the “coordinator” of specialized services and less of a manager.  In others, the responsibilites are much more significant.  Across districts nationally, the Administrator of Pupil Services’ responsibilities are simply inconsistent. This may be due in part to differing regional needs assessments, but more likely, it is due to finances. While the title “Pupil Services Administrator” may seem somewhat inoculous, district budget cuts often combine pupil services with other unrelated responsibilities or simply put it under the auspices of another administator’s job description. None-the-less, the Administrator of Pupil Services is a critical role and one which our schools need.  


Alexander Grahm Bell once said about Helen Keller, “In this child I have seen more of the Divine than has been manifest in anyone I met before.” (Wikimedia, Quotes, 2/10/2007) Mark Twain said of Keller, “The two greatest characters in the 19th century are Napoleon and Helen Keller. Napoleon tried to conquer the world by physical force and failed. Helen tried to conquer the world by power of mind— and succeeded!” (Wikimedia) And finally, Winston churchill called her the “The greatest woman of our age.” (Wikimedia)  Simply stated, if Anne Sulivan had not offered Helen Keller “pupil services” – she would have remained in her darkness forever. 




Department of Public Instruction (DPI), State of Wisconsin. The Elementary & Secondary Education Act in Wisconsin--Background and Overview. Retrieved on February 16, 2007 from


Department of Public Instruction (DPI), State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Educator Standards - Pupil Services: Seven Standards for Pupil Services Development and Licensure. Retrieved on January 31, 2007 from


Division of Finance, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). MPS Fiscal Year 2004 Superintendents Proposed Budget. Retrieved on January 31, 2007 from, p.183, 187, 191, and 199.


Olentangy Local School District. Pupil Services Department. Retrieved on February 10, 2007 from ttp://


Palmyra-Eagle Area School District. Pupil Services Website. Retrieved on February 14, 2007 from


South Milwaukee School District. SDSM Pupil Services. Retrieved on February 14, 2007 from


Yorktown Central School District. Pupil Services. Retrieved on February 14, 2007 from


Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Biography: Helen Keller. Wikipedia. Retrieved on February 10, 2007 from


Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Helen Keller Quotes. Wikiquote. Retrieved on February 10, 2007 from


Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. No Child Left Behind Act. Wikipedia. Retrieved on February 10, 2007 from