Alexa Posny was confirmed as assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the Department of Education by the U.S. Senate on Oct. 5, 2009. In this position, she plays a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting special education and rehabilitative services. She directs, coordinates and recommends policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of students with disabilities ages birth through 21, as well as adults transitioning from secondary school to higher education, employment or both. She helps ensure equal access to services leading to such improvement for all children, particularly children with disabilities. She fosters educational improvement at the state and local levels, and overseas the distribution of financial assistance to local education agencies whose local revenues are affected by federal activities. She also serves as the principal adviser to the U.S. secretary of education on all matters related to special education for individuals in pre-K, elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.
Prior to arriving at the Department, Posny served as the commissioner of education for the Kansas State Department of Education since 2007. During her tenure, she was responsible for helping over 450,000 students meet or exceed high academic standards, licensing over 45,000 teachers, and overseeing a state education budget of over $4.5 billion. She provided leadership for the Kansas State Department of Education to carry out the policies and programs proscribed by state law and the state board of education; ensured Department personnel were providing the necessary oversight and support for all schools, educators and students to meet their academic goals; promoted many initiatives, including increasing academic standards, improving literacy skills, bringing technology to the classroom and making schools safer; provided oversight of the department's teams responsible for state and federal programs, student support services, teacher education and licensure, research and planning, school accreditation, fiscal services, communication and recognitions programs, fiscal services and operations, information technology, fiscal auditing, school finance, human resources, and child nutrition and wellness; advocated for all infants, toddlers, children and youths across the state; and implemented the state's standards and assessments.
From 2006 to 2007, Posny served as the director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Here she focused on providing leadership and fiscal resources to assist state and local efforts to effectively educate children and youths with disabilities in order to improve results for those children and on ensuring equal protection of the law. OSEP's programs assist public agencies to provide all infants, toddlers, children and youths with disabilities early intervention services and a free appropriate public education that emphasizes challenging standards and access to the general curriculum to the extent appropriate.
From 2001 to 2006, Posny served as deputy commissioner of education at the Kansas State Department of Education, where she was responsible for the overall operation of the Division of Learning Services. In this position she provided leadership and supervision in the delivery of services for school districts, other local education agencies and teacher preparation institutions regarding school improvement and accreditation, state assessments and accountability, licensure and teacher education, state and federal education programs, special education and technical education, and planning and research.
From 1999 to 2001, she served as the state director of special education at the Kansas State Department of Education. And from 1997 to 1999, she served as the director of special education for the Shawnee Mission School District in Shawnee Mission, Kan. In years prior she served on the board of directors for the Chief State School Officers and the National Council for Learning Disabilities, and chaired the National Assessment Governing Board's Special Education Task Force. Posny has also been a teacher at the elementary, middle, high school and university levels.
Posny has been recognized frequently for her educational leadership. In 2005, she received the Kansas High School Activities Association Governor's Award, an honor accorded to one individual in recognition of outstanding contributions in the field of secondary education in the state of Kansas. In 2004, she was named Administrator of the Year by the Kansas Association of Educational Office Professionals and, in 2001, she received the Outstanding Contributor Award for the state of Kansas from the Council for Exceptional Children.
Posny earned her Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she also minored in special education. She earned a master's degree in behavioral disabilities from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. She has one son, Alek, a civil engineer, who is currently a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology pursuing master's degrees in transportation systems engineering and city and regional planning.