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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

New Special Education Program Specialist joins school with 20 years of experience in education

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Angela Tan
Carota speaks to students in the quad.

This year, Dustin Carota joined the school as the new Special Education Program Specialist to support and manage the special education program. Carota supports teachers in helping to ensure Individualized Educational Plan’s (IEP) goals for students with disabilities are met. 

 Carota looks forward to working with special education students at his fourth high school.

Carota grew up in Modesto and graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in education. He was first introduced to the field of special education during his college years through an internship at Marvin Elementary School.

“I find that kids with disabilities are always happy to be at school,” he said. “Compared to general education students oftentimes, they love to participate and get up in the morning and see their teachers and friends. I really liked working in that type of environment, teaching more life skills than academic subjects.”

After the internship, Carota obtained his credentials in special education and teaching and also earned a master’s degree in special education from Sacramento State. 

Carota went on to receive his administrative credential at the National University to prepare himself for new managemental positions within schools. Following his graduation, he moved between three different school districts — Oakland, New Haven and San Jose — before ultimately coming to LGSUHSD this fall. 

He chose to work here due to its proximity to his home in central Willow Glen, and because the position he was offered allowed him to be at a high school and interact more directly with students rather than work at a district office, unlike his previous job as a program specialist at Orchard School District. 

At SHS, Carota spends one-tenth of his time working with parents who have concerns and questions about their children’s curriculum and progress. 

His responsibilities, which previously fell on the assistant district superintendent Heath Rocha, are critical for the district’s ability to work with special education students’ parents.

However, for 90% of his week, Carota works with teachers who are helping students achieve their potential.

“Teaching is the most important job there is,” he said. “Our children and our students are the most valuable asset we have and we should ensure that they are happy, comfortable, and able to learn at an ambitious rate.” 

After his first month here, Carota has familiarized himself with all the Community-Based Instruction (CBI) students after interacting and working with them every day. These students often have the main goal of preparing to live independently after high school.

His other goal for these students is to have them participate as much as possible in the general education curriculum and with their peers so they can work on both their social and academic skills. 

 “When they observe their General Education peers and witness their behavior and classroom work, it sets clear expectations for them,” Carota said.

Carota can usually be found in his office in the 500 wing, facing toward the main hallway that runs parallel to the school front. Outside of school, he spends time with his two young children and explores the mountains with his family. 

Although he has yet to interact much with general education students, his experience at SHS so far has been positive.

“The staff is very friendly, supportive, cohesive and collaborative, and the parents have been extremely involved and supportive,” Carota said.

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