Weather Forecast


Ulmer named 2008 Special Education Administrator of the Year

As executive director of the Bemidji Regional Interdistrict Council, Denny Ulmer works extensively with a network of area school superintendents on special education issues.

Minnesota Administrators for Special Education is recognizing his efforts by naming him the 2008 Special Education Administrator of the Year.

"I'm very flattered," said Ulmer, who has worked as the BRIC executive director for the past 14 years. "It's an honor."

BRIC is a large special education services cooperative serving 11 member school districts in north central Minnesota.

One of Ulmer's main responsibilities is working with the superintendents from the member school districts on special education funding and compliance issues. He said he helps the school districts maintain compliance with special education regulations while working within their budgets.

"We're very, very heavily regulated," Ulmer said.

He also said special education funding poses challenges.

Ulmer said the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act signed into law in the 1970s and reauthorized by Congress in 2004 promises to provide states with 40 percent of funding for the cost of the services the act mandates.

However, Ulmer said, the federal funding has consistently fallen short of that promise. In 2008, the appropriations from Congress to states will be about 17 percent.

"That remains a very big challenge," Ulmer said.

Despite the challenges, he said his job as BRIC executive director is "rewarding work."

"With the staff we have, we're able to offer quality services," Ulmer said.

Carl Remmers, superintendent of the Cass Lake-Bena School District and director on the BRIC Executive Board, said Ulmer does an excellent job providing for the needs of students in special education and is diligent with budgeting to make sure schools can afford special education services.

"We appreciate all the work he does with us," Remmers said. "We congratulate him on being the Special Education Administrator of the Year."

MASE is recognizing Ulmer for his "longtime dedication to providing quality, comprehensive and cost-effective services in public schools for students with disabilities and their families as well as his active involvement in professional and community affairs," according to a press release.

Mia Urick, director of communications and professional development for MASE, said a group of Ulmer's colleagues nominated him for the honor.

She said Ulmer has years of outstanding experience as a leader in education in Minnesota. She added that he is very active in informing legislators about policymaking.

"And he's been a tremendous resource for his colleagues," Urick said.

Ulmer is a past MASE president and board member and was appointed last year as the MASE representative on the state's 2007 Legislative Task Force on Special Education. He also has represented MASE on several other committees, including the Minnesota Mental Health Action Group.

Ulmer has worked as a special education administrator for 23 years, serving numerous public schools throughout north-central Minnesota.

Bob Doetsch, superintendent of the Blackduck School District and chairman of the BRIC Executive Board, said Ulmer deserves the recognition as 2008 Special Education Administrator of the Year.

"He's an outstanding administrator," Doetsch said.

He said Ulmer is very knowledgeable about laws and special education regulations and is politically active.

"Congratulations to Denny for a job well done," he said. "And his job continues to be well done day in and day out."

Ulmer will be recognized at the MASE/Minnesota Association of School Administrators Spring Conference April 3-4 in Bloomington, Minn.