Intersections of Race and Class in Special Ed Policy
    • About:

      Kristen Harper serves as Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities and to improve the quality of correctional education services. She previously led the Department’s work to advance the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to reduce inappropriate and disparate use of suspensions and expulsions. Before coming to the Department’s special education office, Kristen worked for four years in the Department’s elementary and secondary education offices to improve school climates, support educator efforts to improve student safety and health, and strengthen the Department’s human capital management initiatives. Her accomplishments include the establishment of the Department’s first grant program, in 2010, to support state and district efforts to use survey measurement to improve school climate programming; a rewrite of the 2012 Teacher Incentive Fund program, to improve the implementation of performance-based compensation; and, this year, the Department’s proposed rule to improve racial equity in special education. Prior to her work with the Department, Kristen provided consultation to an afterschool volunteer organization in Cambridge, MA, and data support for a character education program for middle and high school girls in Washington, D.C. Kristen holds an Ed. M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.