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    Seattle Public Schools Welcomes Dr. Diane DeBacker as Chief Academic Officer
    Posted on 01/07/2019
    Photo of Diane DeBacker

    Seattle Public Schools Welcomes Diane DeBacker as Chief Academic Officer

    On Mon., Jan. 7, Dr. Diane DeBacker took the reins of Seattle Public Schools’ academic programs, and the shared responsibility of educating close to 53,000 students.

    DeBacker’s passion for public education has taken her from her first high school classroom of students in Manhattan, Kansas, to advising the education system in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

    DeBacker has served in nearly every educational role including high school teacher, district curriculum facilitator, high school principal, director of a statewide curriculum center, associate superintendent, adjunct university professor, and elected board of education member.

    “Seattle Public Schools has made great gains in the last decade – from increasing graduation rates, especially for students of color, to increasing academic success for many students. Despite our successes, we continue to underserve our students of color. I cannot let this district fail another generation of students. Dr. DeBacker has the background and demonstrated experience to move racial equity forward in Seattle and ensure that every student graduates prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to have a great life. I look forward to working with Dr. DeBacker to fulfill the district’s promise of educational excellence to every student and family in our district,” said Superintendent Denise Juneau.

    In her 35 plus years in education, DeBacker has provided clarity to complex education issues including state education governance structures, school finance, federal education legislation, education policy, and workforce development and training. Under her leadership, Kansas put forth many education initiatives including free career and technical education at technical and community colleges, implementation of multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS), and development of a model teacher and leader evaluation system.

    DeBacker’s insistence that school accountability systems be expanded to include metrics other than student test scores led to a new accreditation system that incorporates relevance, rigor, relationships, responsive culture, and results.

    She’s served with three governors during her time with the Kansas Department of Education as commissioner, deputy commissioner, and director of school improvement and accreditation, and as executive director of business and education innovation with the Kansas Department of Commerce. She will bring this same collaborative spirit to Seattle and to her work with central office staff, school leaders, and the broader community.

    As a senior advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates, DeBacker led the P-12 sector consisting of curriculum and instruction, national and international assessments, special education, teacher standards and licensure, education policy, professional development and school health.

    “I’m thrilled to join Seattle Public Schools, Superintendent Juneau and the Seattle community in the journey to excellence for each and every student. Education in Seattle and the United States is at a critical turning point. We know that a cookie-cutter approach to education does not work and we finally have the autonomy to tailor our systems to meet the individual needs of each student. I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated staff and community to put systems and programs into place to move Seattle Public Schools forward,” said DeBacker.

    DeBacker earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from Kansas State University, a masters in curriculum and instruction from Washburn University, and a bachelors in science from Emporia State University.

    Read more about curriculum at Seattle Public Schools.