The new special education director for Lyons School District 103 impressed members of the interviewing committee as a sincere advocate for children.
That’s one reason that on June 25 the school board voted 5 to 0 to hire Dr. Gregory Bublitz as the district’s new director of student services, replacing Janine Gruhn, who resigned this spring after two years at District 103.
“I really liked him,” said Helen D’Ambrosio one of two parents on the interviewing committee. “He was very pro-child.”
D’Ambrosio has been a vocal critic of the district’s special education services at George Washington Middle School.
The other parent on the interviewing committee, former school board member Deanna Viti-Huxhold, also liked Bublitz.
“He was very precise when you asked him about kids,” Viti-Huxhold said. “He wanted to be hands-on. He was very student-oriented.”
Bublitz, 48, is coming to District 103 after 15 years at East Maine School District 63 which serves parts of Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles, Morton Grove and Glenview. He began his career in District 63 in 2004 as a special education resource teacher at Gemini Junior High School. After four years as a teacher he became a special education facilitator, and then in 2012 became the district’s special education director.
That experience, and his upbeat, friendly personality appealed to District 103 Superintendent Carol Baker as well as the other members of the interviewing committee.
“Being the director of special ed is often not an easy position, and often you have to deal with parents who may not necessarily be happy,” Baker said.
As special education director in District 63, Bublitz reduced the number of students who were sent to out-of-district private schools and increased mainstreaming of special education students by significantly reducing the number of students who spent their school days in self-contained classrooms.
“One of the things that I am most proud of is helping the district move from a not-very-inclusive model to a district that is very successfully inclusive,” Bublitz said.
But, Bublitz was not universally popular in District 63. This past year, he and District 63 Superintendent Scott Clay came to a joint decision that Bublitz would not return as special education director. In fact, Bublitz’s successor was hired on June 7, more than two weeks before he was hired at District 103.
“Greg has been there during times of tremendous change,” Clay said. “He has helped us move our district forward a lot, and we felt that at this point in his career he needed to try a new challenge and we needed someone to come in with a fresh look at things.”
Clay said that some of the changes Bublitz championed generated push back, but he also called Bublitz child-centered and a dedicated special education director.
“He’s a tremendous advocate for children with special needs,” Clay said. “He works great with parents. He truly is someone who believes in the rights of all children, but especially children with special needs.”
Bublitz, who lives in Park Ridge, said that after 15 years in one school district he wanted a change.
“I helped initiate a significant amount of reform, it was very successful and for me it was time to move on,” Bublitz said.
In both 2015 and 2017, Bublitz ran unsuccessfully for the school board in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, where his wife works as a special education teacher.
Bublitz, who grew up in Minnesota, graduated from Loyola University in 1992 where he majored in English. He worked in the restaurant industry and began working in private therapeutic day schools and also taught adult education.
He received a master’s degree in special education from Northeastern Illinois University in 2003, and in 2006 received a master’s degree in writing from DePaul. In 2016, Bublitz received a doctorate in education from Loyola.
Bublitz received a one-year contract and his salary will be $114,000.