In Memoriam Nissan Bar-Lev

Picture of Nissan Bar-Lev

We’d like to take the time to honor Nissan Bar-Lev who unexpectedly passed away on August 2, 2022. Nissan Bar-Lev dedicated his life to helping Wisconsin’s children with disabilities, their families, and the educators who serve them. Nissan began his career as a speech and language pathologist and worked at Cooperative Education Service Agency #7 for 44 years as the Director of Special Education. Under his leadership, children with disabilities in Calumet County and throughout northeastern Wisconsin were served with high expectations and compassion. Nissan was committed to making a difference and had a vision to bring parents of children with disabilities and educators together in a collaborative partnership. In 1996, he co-created the nationally recognized Wisconsin’s Special Education Mediation System, a non-adversarial way for schools and families to find common ground when discussing the needs of children. Nissan brought a heightened awareness of the importance of family engagement, calling on districts to engage families as part of the IEP process, making Wisconsin the first state to do so. Nissan chaired the State Superintendent’s Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired, served on the Governor’s Council on Autism, as the past president of the Autism Society of Wisconsin, and member of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Autism Council.

Nissan was a long-time advocate at the legislative level bringing about positive changes in programming for students on the autism spectrum and ensuring schools were proactive in their approach to students with challenging behaviors. Nissan was one of three recipients in the history of Wisconsin to receive the “Friend of Special Education” award given by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Nissan was a Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services (WCASS) President and for many years served on the WCASS Board of Directors as the Special Projects Co-chairperson. Most recently he worked on resources to ensure students with disabilities had the necessary tools to become successful readers. He created the federally recognized WCASS Guide for IEP teams: Supporting Students with Print Disability and the Guide on How to Use Text-To-Speech in the Classroom. This is just a snapshot of the incredible legacy Nissan left behind. While he will be remembered for his accomplishments, he will be remembered because of the type of person he was: Lifelong Learner; Tireless and Steadfast Leader; Fierce Advocate; Esteemed Colleague; Wisconsin’s Father of Special Education.