FRIDAY December 13 2019  

9:30 am - 10:00am Networking/Refreshments

10:00 am - 12:30 am - Presentation


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Hampton Inn Boston/Natick 
319 Speen Street
Natick, MA 01760

Driving Directions 


Member $40 early/$50 after Dec 9th

Non-Member $60 early/ $70 after Dec 9th

Early registration closes on Dec 9th. Walk-in registrations are welcomed, please email for availability.  


Refund policy

  • No cash refunds will be offered for pre-registration if a workshop is held
  • If a pre-registrant provides a written request at least four (4) business days prior to the scheduled workshop; the registration fee can be applied to an upcoming workshop in the same programming year 
  • Read full policy click here


Ned deBary

Event  Coordinator 
Special Needs Advocacy Network, Inc. 
(508) 655-7999 


DESE Update: Disproportionality and Current DESE Initiatives in Special Education

A Morning with Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner, DESE

Senior Associate Commissioner and State Director of Special Education Russell Johnston, will provide an update on the latest initiatives in special education from the state perspective, including an assessment of where we stand today and current plans to tackle disproportionality in, and across school districts. Dr. Johnston will also address the work being done as part of the state’s inter-agency IEP Improvement Project and what SPaN can do as an organization to assist on a state level. 

Networking and Refreshments - 9:30 am - 10:00 am

Presentation - 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Attend in person at the Hampton Inn, Natick

or Via  Live Webinar

Attention Current Members: please follow this link to sign up for this workshop.

Member-Event Registration 

(current member has paid an annual fee of $75 or more in the past 12 months)


Meet the Speaker 

Russell Johnston, Ph.D. has served as a Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's since August 2014. There, he manages the state's accountability and assistance system for all public schools and districts to support their work to raise achievement for all students. Dr. Johnston also oversees the implementation of various initiatives to assess effectiveness, monitor improvement, and identify appropriate interventions.

Dr. Johnston, who began his career as a special education teacher and administrator, also led the West Springfield Public Schools from 2010-2014. In West Springfield, Dr. Johnston led work to increase the depth and rigor of the district's curriculum; to create a collaborative process between school committee members, administrators, and the local teachers' union to promote student learning and effectively implement the state's new educator evaluation system, and to reach out to and engage families to address students' barriers to learning.

After graduating from DePaul University, Dr. Johnston served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a Language Arts teacher in Phoenix, Arizona and a special education instructor in Mobile, Alabama. He then was an elementary special education teacher in Newton, Massachusetts for five years before heading the elementary special education department for the Wellesley Public Schools. In 2004, Dr. Johnston earned a Doctorate of Philosophy and Education Leadership from Boston College. That same year, he became administrator of special services for the West Springfield Public Schools, a role he held until becoming superintendent in 2010.

He and his family reside in Melrose, Massachusetts.