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Special Education Department

What's Happening

Community Advisory Committee Meeting


Department Address:
1234 Arcadia Avenue
Vista, California  92084
Attn: Special Education Department

Department Phone#:
760.726.2170 ext:92900
Department Fax#:

Office Hours:
Monday through Friday
8:00am to 4:30pm


Instructional Assistants

VUSD Instructional Assistants or Para-educators are Special Education professionals who help support students and teachers in special education settings. Paraprofessional educators in these roles work with students with a variety of disabilities including learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, autism 
spectrum disorders, ADHD
developmental disabilities, and communication disorders.

Paraprofessional educators may work in special classrooms, learning centers, or serve as inclusion assistants who support classrooms and individual students throughout their day. Paraprofessional educators in these roles may require specialized training in behavior management, de-escalation, and personal-professional boundaries. Instructional Assistant webpage

Special Education is:

"Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the general instruction program..."

                                            - California Education Code(section 56031)



Our Special Education Staff has identified four key commitments that will ensure this mission is fulfilled:

  1. Responsiveness – timely communication with students, parents, and staff
  2. Guidance – program implementation in accordance with federal and state laws
  3. Support – to create stimulating learning environments
  4. Resolution – to ensure a free and appropriate public education for all students

Program Overview

The Vista Unified School District Special Education Department offers a continuum of specialized services to meet the unique and individualized needs of each student.  Comprising the largest program of the North County Consortium of Special Education (NCCSE), Vista Unified prides itself on the commitment to locating, identifying and serving over 3000 children with special needs from ages 3-22.  We are committed to supporting each student’s access to differentiated core instruction in the least restrictive environment, while aligning each IEP (Individualized Education Program) to the Common Core State Standards.  Our program spans the spectrum from full integration in the general education environment with accommodations, to separate special education programs addressing more significant needs.  The dedicated professionals working to support classroom teachers in achieving these goals include: school psychologists, speech-language therapists, occupational therapists, adaptive physical education specialists, behavior interventionists, visual impairment specialists, resource teachers, and instructional assistants.

It is important to note that special education is a service provided to students with exceptional needs. Special education is not a location or specific classroom. Special education is intended to provide a full range of services in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): the instructional setting that is most similar to the instructional setting attended by general education students.

The LRE requires that students with disabilities are to be educated to the maximum extent possible with children who are not disabled. The Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) 34 C.F.R. Section 300.114 to 300.117 provide specific federal requirements related to LRE.

Single District Selpa

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Special Education Task Force 2018

During the 2017-2018 school year, a Special Education Task Force, comprised of all stakeholders, met monthly to review the status of special education programming within the district. Anchored in evidenced-based instructional practices that promote high quality teaching and learning for students with special needs, the Task Force revised and strengthened the Strategic Plan for Special Education and its Instructional Programs.

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Informational Brochures

Mission Statement

Our Special Education Staff is committed to providing specialized academic and behavioral support and services to students with exceptional needs in order to fully engage them in high quality learning environments that challenge and prepare them to be well-rounded, active members of a global society.

Department Contact List:
Rebecca Nobriga
Executive Director
ext: 92902
Leslie Taylor
ext: 92903
Jean Potter
Administrative Secretary
ext: 92902
Tracy Zachry
Supervisor – Elementary Schools
ext: 92909
Tammy Parker
Supervisor – Secondary Schools
ext: 92906
Katherine Abraham
Supervisor – Secondary Schools
ext: 92904 
Chris Altona
Principal - Vista Adult Transition Center
ext: 83002
Rachel Schmidt
Principal – California Avenue School
ext: 84002
Jennifer Gruman
Supervisor- Cal Ave/Non Public Schools
ext: 84026
Debra Harris
Staff Data Technician
ext: 92908
Yvonne Fortin
Staff Data Technician
ext: 92910