David J. Cantrell, Deputy Director, Office of Special Education Programs, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services—Biography

Color photo of David J. Cantrell, Acting Director, Office of Special Education Programs
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David J. Cantrell, Ph.D., serves as the deputy director in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education (Department). In this role, he assists the OSEP director in overseeing administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which authorizes formula grants to states under IDEA Part B and to lead agencies for the infants and families program under IDEA Part C. IDEA also authorizes discretionary grants under IDEA Part D to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support grants for state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent training and information centers.

Prior to joining OSEP, Cantrell worked as a director in the Department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education where he administered grants to states and local education agencies for the Rural Education Achievement Program and the Consolidated Grant to the Insular Areas. Additionally, he spearheaded technical assistance activities for states by leading the Office of Program and Grantee Support Services which oversees the Equity Assistance Centers and Comprehensive Centers.

Prior to working at the U.S. Department of Education, Cantrell worked at the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity where he taught students with disabilities, served as a district coordinator, school administrator, and then as director of special education and student support services.

Cantrell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Louisville, a Master of Education in special education from North Carolina State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in special education policy from the University of Maryland-College Park.

Last Modified: 12/10/2021