Tonya Barnes Begins as U234 Special Education Director on July 1

Tonya Barnes will begin duties as the USD 234 Special Education Director on July 1.

Barnes was in District Level Leadership; Emporia State University in 2015; Building Level Leadership; Emporia State University, 2010; Master of Science; Major: Special Education, Behavior Disorders K-12; Emporia State University, 1997; and earned a Bachelor of Science; Major: Elementary Education; Pittsburg State University, 1988.

She is the current director of special education at USD 282, 283, 286 in Chautauqua and Elk Counties Special Services Cooperative, since 2018.

She was director of special education from 2015-18 for Coffey County Special Education Cooperative.

From 2012-15 she was special education coordinator at the Flints Hills Special Education Cooperative.

Barnes was a special education teacher from 1995-2012 at the ANW Special Education Cooperative.

Fort Scott: The Next Step, Coming to Her Home District

Barnes is a graduate of Fort Scott High School, class of 1984.

She is married to Kevin Barnes who is teacher and coach for Woodson USD 366 in Yates Center for 32 years. They have a son, Jon Barnes who is in his first year of teaching and coaching at Fort Scott High School.

Her parents are Karen and the late Ron Billiard, Fort Scott, and her sister is Robin Hartman, Fort Scott.

Her community involvement through the years has been family focus – church activities, youth events, 4-H parent, supporting school district activities and sporting events, Kansas University basketball enthusiasts, spending time with family, and “spoiling our beloved pets,” she said.

For Barnes, the best part of being the special education director is working with the students and staff, and learning their stories, she said.

“The relationships we will build together takes time and intentional work,”  Barnes said. “Our special education team has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and I look forward to learning from them.”

“The special education team (at U234) consists of approximately 30 licensed teachers and related service providers, and 80 paraeducators,” she said.

“USD 234 has approximately 22% of the district’s enrollment receiving special education services,” she said.

Her office will be located at the district office, 424 S. Main, and her time at the district office will be combined with time in the different age-grouped buildings, Barnes said.

USD 234 Board of Education Building, 424 S. Main

“The biggest challenge of the position is time to be sure the most important work is accomplished, which is matching student needs with the most effective intervention or strategy, supporting teachers, providers, and paras with the knowledge, resources, time, and energy to deliver what is needed, and valuing their contributions,” she said.


The following will be her duties:

*Build relationships with staff, students, parents, patrons, and the entire learning community;

*Partner with the district’s special education team to learn the processes, successes, and strengths of the special education staff and programming in each building;

*As a team, access areas of desired and needed professional development…for best practice in providing programming to students and families, in addition to supporting their professional growth;

*Being accessible … connecting with staff… learning the culture, observing instruction first-hand to support our providers in their work of providing solid learning opportunities for students;

*Work with the…business office to learn the special education budget in USD 234 and become familiar with how revenue streams, expenditures, and funding are managed,

*Assist and support the procurement of needed materials and resources to meet student’s needs;

*Work with the USD 234 Administrative Team to assist and support special education matters in their buildings;

*Represent USD 234 in contacts with local, state, and federal agencies in matters pertaining to special education;

*Assist and provide support in securing the needed staffing for special education programs and provide induction for new staff;

*Collaborate with building teams to ensure a comprehensive curriculum is being provided;

*Work with all providers…to ensure students are receiving equitable evaluations, consistent services, and access to research-based curriculum and instruction, while maintaining best practices;

*Attend required and selected professional development opportunities to support…to provide guidance and leadership with special education mandates and new initiatives;

*Collaborate with building teams to provide the opportunities necessary for successful post-secondary transition success;

*Assist management of grants available for special education funding and the submission of staff information to maximize state special education categorical aid;

*Prepare and submit all reports within guidelines and timelines;

*Comply with legal and regulatory requirements of various governmental agencies;

*Ensure all special education programs perform within state and federal statutes, and adhere to the policies and procedures of the USD 234 Board of Education.






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