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Community Briefing

TUOLUMNE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT LEAVING

The superintendent of Tuolumne County's Sonora Union High School District has resigned to take a job in Half Moon Bay beginning in January. Rob Gaskill, 58, has led the 1,700-student district since 2000. His last day in Sonora will be Dec. 31, after which he will take over as superintendent of the Cabrillo Unified School District, which has twice as many students as Sonora schools. "We love the coast, it's a larger district, it's a new set of challenges for me," Gaskill said Monday. School board President Ed Clinite said in a statement that the board's goal is to hire a new superintendent by April 1. Gaskill, whose public education career spans 35 years, said he is proud of gains in many areas during his tenure. "I think we've done a great job of hiring, the teaching ranks have been strengthened, and the site administration is very competent," he said.

AUTISM MEETING

Katie Wallace, a 21-year-old from Virginia and award-winning autism advocate, will present a program titled "Normal, Just Different" on Thursday at the Merced County Office of Education. During her senior year of high school, Wallace, who is autistic, was elected homecoming queen and was involved in many extracurricular activities. Since graduating, she has toured the East Coast, giving speeches on autism awareness and inclusive education. In April, Wallace received the "Yes I Can!" award for self-advocacy, sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children. Wallace also has been recognized by President Bush for her efforts as an advocate for those with autism, special needs and disabilities. Wallace and her mother, Michele Sweeney, each will give a short speech, followed by a question-and-answer period, during which they will address issues voiced by parents, teachers and families on autism-related issues. The program will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Clark Room at the Merced County Office of Education, 632 W. 13th St. in Merced. For more information, contact Judy Rehling at 385-5314.

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