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Linda Wernikoff

Former Executive Director
Office of Special Education Initiatives
New York City Department of Education

Ms. Wernikoff has been involved in providing special education services to students with disabilities for over thirty three years with the NYC Department of Education. Beginning as a Teacher of Speech Improvement and then moving to the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Related and Contractual Services, Ms. Wernikoff presently serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Special Education Initiatives and is responsible for developing policies and capacity building to ensure the provision of high quality special education services to students with disabilities.

For the last seven years, Linda has been at the forefront of special education innovation in New York City. She has been instrumental in making jurisdictional changes that give building principals more flexibility in assigning special education staff and allow previously itinerant staff to become active participants in the mainstream school culture. Most notably, she was the project coordinator for the Department of Education's Continuum of Special Education Services, which re-emphasizes concepts of least restrictive environment and home-zone schooling so that students with disabilities can be surrounded and supported by their siblings and non-disabled peers in their neighborhood schools.

She continues to be a vocal advocate for the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream school culture with the ultimate goal of improved student outcomes for all students.