Phil Tanner reinstated as Mingus special education director

Phil Tanner, pictured speaking to the Mingus Union School Board in July, was reinstated as the school’s Special Education director Wednesday by the board. Tanner will resume his duties in January 2019. VVN/Bill Helm

Phil Tanner, pictured speaking to the Mingus Union School Board in July, was reinstated as the school’s Special Education director Wednesday by the board. Tanner will resume his duties in January 2019. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – In July, the Mingus Union School Board relieved School Psychologist Phil Tanner of his dual duties as director of the school’s Special Education department.

Wednesday, the board voted to reinstate Tanner in his dual role as director of the Special Education program.

Tanner will direct the Special Education program on an interim basis from January 2019 through June 2019 and has agreed to renegotiate his school psychologist and SPED director contracts in spring 2019 “to ensure that any contracts moving forward reflect the nature and time allocations of his respective positions,” Mingus Union Principal and Acting Superintendent Genie Gee stated in a letter to the board that was included in the Dec. 12 agenda packet.

“This restructuring is in the best interest of the department, the school and our Mingus students and families,” Gee stated in her letter.

Tanner said Wednesday that he will “focus on the future” as he resumes his role.

“I’m happy to be back in,” Tanner said. “I’m pretty confident we’ll be moving in a positive direction pretty soon.”

Tanner will replace special education co-coordinators Marti Gilmore and Erin Boisrond, who will remain as teachers in the department, Gee stated.

According to Gee’s letter, both Gilmore and Boisrond resigned their leadership positions in the department “in favor of a different structure.”

Tanner will be paid an $8,000 stipend for the remainder of the school year.

The board also voted to solicit special education consultant services from Yavapai County Educational Services Agency.

The board will contract the agency’s Joe Donaldson to provide the services for two days per month – a total of 10 days.

Gee stated that special education can cost a district “much more in litigation costs.”

“We want to be preventative and ensure that we have proper expertise, availability and compliance,” Gee stated. “We also want to be sure that parents have access to professionals during the school day to answer their questions and provide information.”

Donaldson’s duties, as outlined in the agenda packet’s contract addendum, include facilitation of the development of special strategies and interventions for pre-K through grade 12 students with disabilities.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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