The District 95 Board of Education members hired a new director of special education at their meeting Aug. 11, ending a months-long selection process that brought together administrators, teachers and parents to fill the position.

Superintendent Dr. Douglas Rudig said that Lesley Gottlinger was chosen from about 25 applicants for the position. A committee made up of administrators and teachers from both schools, as well as two parents in the district, whittled the pack down to two candidates they suggested to the school board. After a closed session during the Aug. 11 meeting, the board officially hired Gottlinger.

Rudig said Gottlinger has had extensive experience in special education, coming to the district after serving as a technical assistant supervisor with the Leyden Area Special Education Cooperative in Franklin Park. In an interview, Gottlinger said her responsibilities at LASEC included supervising the special education programs in two school districts, as well as the early childhood program for the entire cooperative.

Gottlinger has also worked in special education for multiple local school districts, including Berwyn and Chicago Public Schools. She currently teaches as an adjunct professor at Triton College in River Grove, as well.

Gottlinger said she was “thrilled” about the appointment. She said she applied for the position because she wanted to return to district-level administration, and that District 95 has impressed her throughout the selection process.

“The interview process in District 95 says a whole lot for the district itself,” she said. “They included the parents, which said to me that a lot of parents are involve and care about education. I felt very welcomed from the first phone call.”

Gottlinger’s responsibilities as special education director involve not only overseeing the special education programs at both schools, but also the English as a Second Language Program. Rudig said she would also be working with the district’s gifted program.

Gottlinger said her first task this year will be to create an assessment of the special education program, which she will present to the board after the first quarter.

“I’m looking forward to a wonderful year with lots of communication and interaction,” she said.

Gottlinger replaces Jennifer Ames, who was the special education director for the district for seven years. Ames resigned the post in June to take a similar position in LaGrange Highlands District 106.