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President's New Freedom
Commission on Mental Health

Robert H. Pasternack, Ph.D.


Robert H. Pasternack serves as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the principal adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Education on all matters related to special education and rehabilitative services.

Prior to being sworn in, Mr. Pasternack served as State Director of Special Education for the New Mexico State Department of Education since 1998. As state director, Mr. Pasternack led the development and implementation of state regulations for special education and created a variety of statewide initiatives designed to improve results for students with disabilities, including dropout prevention; a statewide inclusion initiative; research?based professional development; research?based screening and assessment in reading; entrepreneurship programs; mental health in the schools; and various programs targeted toward low-incidence disabilities.

Mr. Pasternack was chief executive officer of New Mexico's first licensed Comprehensive Children's Community Mental Health Center from 1993 to 1998; superintendent of the New Mexico Boys' School from 1990 to 1993; and a school psychologist from 1980 to1993. He also started New Mexico's first Residential Treatment Center in 1978.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Pasternack holds a Ph.D. in special education, with a minor in neuropsychology, from the University of New Mexico, a master's degree in guidance and counseling from New Mexico Highlands University, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Florida. He is a nationally certified school psychologist; certified educational diagnostician; licensed special education teacher for grades K?12; and licensed school administrator. Mr. Pasternack has received numerous awards and recognition and has been repeatedly included in Who's Who in the West, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Medicine and Health Care.

Mr. Pasternack has lifelong personal experience with people with disabilities. For nearly 20 years, he has served as the legal guardian for his brother, who was born with Down syndrome. Mr. Pasternack also has two daughters and two grandchildren.



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This page was last updated on July 17, 2002