A Kent Community Member Since 1999
At a special board meeting on April 20, 2022, the Kent School District (KSD) Board of Directors named Mr. Israel Vela as the next superintendent, after previously serving as the Interim Superintendent throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Mr. Vela was chosen after an extensive search process, based on his distinguished career as a teacher, principal, and district leader in Washington State and years of service in KSD.
Israel Vela returned to the Kent School District as the Chief School Operations and Academic Support Officer in July 2016. As Chief, Mr. Vela oversees a wide variety of programs in the district. First and foremost, he is responsible for overseeing the Office of School Improvement, a team of executive directors supporting school leaders through transformational leadership.
He is highly respected for his knowledge of state and federal support programs serving the district’s highest-need students and families. In addition to his leadership role with School Improvement Planning teams, Mr. Vela also steered support implementation for early learning, inclusive education, and Multilingual Education (ELL). His work in Student and Family Support Services encompassed important work, including family connections, refugee transition services, truancy, and oversight of Categorical Programs and Grants (including Title I, LAP, and McKinney Vento/Homeless). In his previous role as Chief Officer of School Operations and Academic Support, Mr. Vela oversaw Athletics and Activities, School Safety, Transportation, Capital Planning, and Facilities Maintenance and Operations. In the unprecedented times of COVID-19, his team also led health services for KSD, including campaigns for Student Wellness, support of counselors, and 504 services.
From 2012-2016, Mr. Vela served as Executive Director of Schools, overseeing the Southwest Region of Schools in Seattle Public Schools, the largest district in Washington state. Chief Vela returned to the Kent School District in July of 2016. He served as Director of Student Services and Executive Director of Student and Family Support Services from 2005-2012, and Principal of Meridian Elementary from 1999-2005. Before coming to KSD, Mr. Vela served as a classroom teacher for a combined total of 10 years in the Moses Lake and Lake Washington School Districts and coaching athletes. His experience and expertise relative to ensuring success for English Language Learners (ELL) have been sought by professionals in other districts, community-based organizations, and OSPI state officials throughout his career. He recently served as Chair for the Bilingual Education Advisory Council. He was a state-appointed member of the ESSA Consolidated Plan Team. He has had first-hand knowledge of how critical it is to have support and high expectations that ensure all students are prepared to be highly skilled and productive citizens.
Mr. Vela has served on the Kent Youth and Family Services Board of Directors since 2007, serving as Board President from October 2011 to September 2013, the Community Center for Education Results (CCER) Board, another non-profit community-based organization that has a strong focus on equity and access for all under-resourced students and families in the road map region, and is a member of Kent Rotary.
Israel Vela, his wife, and his family have been a part of the Kent community since 1999. His daughter and son are both Kentwood High School graduates and attended Meridian Elementary and Mattson Middle School. He and his family enjoy attending Mariners games, UW Husky football events and traveling.