Alma Advisory Group is supporting Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with their search for a Chief Officer, Office of Diverse Learner Supports & Services (ODLSS). We would love your help identifying leaders to join the CPS team.

If you would like to learn more or to submit your resume, please click on the link and one of our team members will reach out with more information. 


Chief Officer, Diverse Learner Supports & Services (ODLSS) 

About Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest school district in the United States, serving over 360,000 students in 600+ schools and employing nearly 36,000 people, most of them teachers. CPS has set ambitious goals to ensure that every child—in every school and every neighborhood—has access to a world-class learning experience, resulting in graduation from high school college- and career-ready. The district has made historic academic progress in the past decade and is embarking on an ambitious five-year plan focused on three core commitments to CPS students: academic progress, integrity and financial stability all linked together through the unifying thread of equity.

About the Chief Officer, Office of Diverse Learner Supports & Services (ODLSS)

The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) is responsible for providing critical, equitable and transformative supports to students with diverse learning needs across the city. This role represents an opportunity to have a unique impact on the academic success of over 14% of all children served by CPS, nearly 52,000 young people. In their capacity, the ODLSS Chief would have direct ownership of all activities targeted at improving instructional practice, and ultimately driving outstanding academic outcomes for all CPS students. This role provides strategic direction to both central office and school-based leaders and staff to ensure that all students receive high-quality, grade-level instruction in their least restrictive environment. As a critical member of the senior leadership team, the ODLSS Chief will layout a clear vision and plan for curriculum and instruction, staff development and accountability, and operational excellence of the department, designed to ensure equitable supports and services for diverse learners. 

Essential Role Responsibilities

Reporting directly to the Chief Education Officer, the Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services will direct and supervise a department of over 167 employees city-wide. Duties and responsibilities include the following:

Equity Leadership and Student Success

  • Establish, communicate and build commitment to a shared vision for serving diverse learners in a manner that drives high expectations and outstanding academic outcomes while eradicating inequities between peers;

  • Improve the quality of the continuum of services for diverse learners to ensure instruction and services are highly effective, inclusive, culturally relevant and centered around the needs of students;

Instructional Leadership and School Support

  • Leverage research, best practices and deep personal expertise around special education to design and articulate clear theories of pedagogy, develop intervention programs, implement curriculum and assess efficacy to improve the delivery of special education and related services;

  • Lead the design of a comprehensive assessment and progress monitoring system to both outline the annual cadence of diverse learner assessments, including appropriate modifications and accommodations, as well as to evaluate the equitable distribution of diverse learner supports and services to ensure that they are equitably allocated to meet the needs of all CPS students, families and schools;

Systems and Policies

  • Create a culture of continuous improvement by proactively establishing systems to gather feedback from schools and families intended to influence both policies and practices at the district level that support the education of diverse learners;

  • Increase accountability by developing, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education special monitor, strategies and procedures to ensure that CPS meets all state and federally-mandated regulations and requirements for diverse learner programs;

  • Manage the quality assurance process of instructional and intervention materials for diverse learners, including those in bilingual programs to inform and ensure alignment with the district’s framework;

Team Leadership and Talent Management

  • Assess, develop and implement an appropriate organizational structure for the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services that aligns to the department’s strategic plan and maximizes the strengths of each team member;

  • Build effective, productive working relationships with internal departments throughout CPS to champion diverse learner education, ensure that all instructional materials are universally designed for all students and that all strategies for improving diverse learner outcomes are implemented successfully and with fidelity;

  • Manage a high functioning team of administrative employees, citywide teachers and clinicians to deliver best-in-class services to diverse learners, families and communities in CPS, Charter, Contract, Private and Residential Schools;

  • Partner with the Budget Director to develop and maintain the annual department budget that advances educational outcomes for diverse learner students, including forecasting, budget-building and monitoring;

Professional Learning

  • Build the capacity of school leaders to champion and implement fair and consistent academic practices for diverse learners by establishing robust learning opportunities and clear protocols;

  • Develop and oversee delivery of training essential to support all educators to be fully equipped and committed to providing diverse learner instruction that results in achievement of student performance goals;

  • Support central and school-based staff and the community to make decisions based on research and best practices in special education, psychology, social work, health, counseling, student support team, and related services.

Key Competencies

The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following:

Vision and Courage to Ensure All Students Achieve

  • Maintain a belief, and hold self and others accountable to ensuring that all students achieve at high levels;

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

  • Serve as an influential communicator with the ability to tailor messages, effectively interpret motivations and perceptions, manage change and gain stakeholder buy-in to overcome resistance;

  • Build positive relationships and coalitions. Maintain visibility internally and externally and work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels, including but not limited to city and district leadership, board members, staff, students, families, communities, and/or advocacy groups;

Strategic Planning and Effective Execution

  • Possess an unyielding commitment to continuous improvement and the ability to analyze data, identify trends, and diagnose root causes to inform both short and long-term decisions;

  • Exhibit excellent project management skills, including close attention to detail, ability to balance the big picture with detailed steps to reach the end goal, and ability to balance multiple projects under tight deadlines;

Team Leadership and Management

  • Serve as an impactful organizational and team leader with the ability to champion and develop team members to their highest potential, motivate and align the department behind unified and ambitious performance goals for diverse learners and encourage collaboration and accountability for diverse learner outcomes across the district;

Special Education Knowledge and Expertise

  • Proven track record / Demonstrated ability to develop and deliver programming that drives improved academic performance in diverse learner populations;

  • Deep knowledge of federal, state and local regulations and policies related to diverse learner services and programs, including IDEA, Section 504, ADA and others;

  • Proven history of building capacity through engaging professional learning opportunities;

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in special education, educational administration, or a related field from an accredited college or university. Doctorate preferred.

  • Teaching and Administrator license issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (or out of state equivalent) required. Director of Special Education ISBE licensure required.

  • Minimum of 10 years of professional experience in education is preferred with five or more years implementing district-wide strategies related to teaching and learning for diverse learners and managing teams, preferably in a large urban school district.

  • Expertise in legal mandates and regulations governing the provision of special education and related services.

  • Expertise in best practices for the instruction of diverse learners.

Residency Requirement

As a condition of employment with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), employees are required to live within the geographic boundaries of the City of Chicago within six months of  their CPS hire date and maintain residency throughout their employment with the district.

Compensation & Benefits: Salary for this position is competitive commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included.

For More Information: We strongly encourage interested applicants to review recent CPS Five-Year Vision materials available at

Alma Advisory Group is supporting the search for this position. Please contact Lesley Brown Rawlings at with questions