District 158 appoints new head of equity, special populations
The Huntley Community School District 158 school board has appointed a new assistant superintendent focused on equity and special populations.
Rocio Del Castillo, currently District 158's director of curriculum for bilingual programs, will start in her new role as assistant superintendent for special services July 1. She will lead the district's special education services, bilingual education/dual language program, social-emotional learning, and educational equity.
She replaces previous associate superintendent Terry Awrey, who retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
The district also is launching a review of its regular and special education services, programs, procedures, and staffing for serving struggling students.
More than 25 percent of District 158's roughly 9,600 students are nonwhite and speak more than 50 languages. About 12 percent of students are on Individualized Education Programs, and the district last fall launched a dual language program for a growing English Language Learner population.
"We serve a diverse student body in terms of demographics, languages spoken, learning styles, socioeconomic status, and many other measures," Superintendent Scott Rowe said. "We've made a focused effort to resist aiming for 'equality' or 'sameness' within our student body, and rather aim for 'equity' by providing each student what they need to succeed."
In her current role, Del Castillo oversees District 158's dual language program launched in some classrooms at three kindergarten buildings, PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) and gifted education. This school year, she also has been leading the review and development of an action plan to implement educational equity efforts. She will continue to oversee the dual language program rollout in kindergarten through fifth grade in her new role.
Rowe said Del Castillo brings a "unique combination of qualifications, experience, and passion for educational equity" to the district.
"This new role is one of great importance and great complexity," Rowe said. "It will be vital for us to have this position on the cabinet to help ensure that equity is the lens through which we are looking when we make big decisions."
A native of Peru, Del Castillo is a trained school psychologist with a master's degree in special education from Quincy University, a master's degree in educational administration from Concordia University-Chicago and a doctorate in educational leadership from Aurora University. She previously worked as coordinator for second language learners in West Chicago Elementary District 33 and as principal of St. Joseph School in Elgin.