I. Call to Order – Nancy Sherburne called the meeting to order. The following
Board members attended the meeting: Bill Guthlein, Nancy Sherburne,
Caroline Jarvis, Sasha Stavsky, Lynne Zawada, Valerie Ryan. Also in
attendance were Pupil Services representatives Matt Kidder and Julie Towell
and School Committee members Mike Coppolino and Xuan Kong.
II. Approval of September and November 2009 Minutes – It was noted that the
September minutes had not been approved at the November meeting due to
lack of a voting quorum. The September minutes were reviewed and a motion
was made to approve them. That motion was seconded and the minutes were
unanimously approved. The November minutes were reviewed. A question
was asked about the home log section, specifically what RCS is. The reply
was that RCS is an abbreviation for the consulting group Realizing Children’s
Strengths. Julie stated that the district uses them for specific cases and staff
training. A motion was made to approve the November minutes. That motion
was seconded and the minutes were unanimously approved.
III. Organizational/Business Issues
A. Need for monthly PAC meetings – Nancy stated that she and Bill agree
that there is a need for more frequent business meetings. There was
general agreement among the group that monthly business meetings would
be useful. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were thought to be the most
convenient evenings. It was noted that in February we have scheduled a
Federation presentation so a separate meeting will be scheduled.
Action Item – Nancy/Bill schedule February business meeting.
B. Update on 501c3 process and proposed PAC by-law changes – Sasha
updated the group regarding the requirements of obtaining 501c3 status.
Sasha stated that the organizational by-laws must stipulate what the funds
will be used for. Sasha pointed to two examples of by law language by
groups with 501c3 status. The Groton Dunstable SpEd PAC had by-laws
with general language while the California Garden Clubs had very specific
language. Examples of language necessary for 501c3 status in by-laws
include statements that members will not be reimbursed for services and
members will not lobby for political offices. Sasha recommended that the
PAC obtain the services of a legal professional to review the by-laws and
to make sure that legal documents are in place. It was pointed out that
once the 501c3 status is filed it would need to be submitted to the Attorney Page 2 of 5
General’s office. The fee for 501c3 status is based on projected short-term
revenue and would be $300.00 for the PAC. An additional filing fee of
$50.00 would be charged by the Attorney General’s office. Nancy
mentioned the importance of adding a statement in the by-laws referencing
Robert’s Rules of Order as a guide to govern meeting proceedings. It was
agreed that this was a good practice for the PAC to adopt into the by-laws.
Action Items: Sasha to follow-up on finding a legal professional to
review the by-laws and ensure legal documents are in place.
C. PAC Priorities for 2009 Survey Follow-up – Two priorities were discussed
i. Autism Parent Focus Groups – Nancy noted that Liza has proposed
4 forums with the parents of children on the autism spectrum in
response to the survey results for this subgroup. The forums have
been scheduled for January and February. Three of the forums are
designed for in-district parents and are grouped by the children’s
ages – pre-k-2
grade; grades 3
; and grades 7
forth forum is designed for out-of-district parents. All parents of
autism spectrum children are invited to attend any of the forums,
however. Nancy and Bill will meet with Liza this week to
formulate questions and discuss format.
Action Item: Nancy/Bill meet with Liza regarding Autism
ii. Bullying Prevention – Nancy mentioned that the Bullying Policy
Task Force met recently and that the four sub-committees continue
to meet. Nancy noted discussions surrounding legal underpinnings
about search and seizure and reasonable grounds to pursue
investigation of reported incidents. One potential conflict
surrounds anonymous reporting and legal credibility of those
reports as a basis for pursuing investigations. The value of
facilitating anonymous reporting was not disputed, as there are
other benefits –e.g. increasing school staff awareness of issues –
even if the reports are not legally viable. The task force has
brought up the idea of providing written guidance identifying what
the district is able, and unable, to do depending on how an incident
is reported. Nancy mentioned that policy and procedure
recommendations would be available within the next few months.
One of the goals for the PAC outside of the task force is to identify
resources for parents and post information on our website.
D. Special Education Cost Savings Proposal – Nancy compiled a list of cost
saving ideas discussed by the PAC Board and has shared that list with
Liza. Nancy proposed sharing the list directly with Steven Mills as well.
The full list was e-mailed to PAC Board members; Pupil Services
administration, Mike, and Xuan prior to the meeting. Additional copies Page 3 of 5
were provided at the meeting as well. A discussion took place regarding
several of the items on the list as follows:
i. Shift district practice to accepting recommendations from quality
Independent Education Evaluations (IEEs) – It was pointed out
that other districts, such as Concord, routinely accept outside
evaluations. Several suggestions were made with regard to this
1. Determine the number of times internal vs. external
evaluations are conflicting
2. Provide a set of guidelines for acceptable evaluations
3. Define conditions for either accepting or rejecting outside
4. Define patterns/conduct a study of rejected vs. accepted
Nancy pointed to the consistent feedback she has received from
families on this issue over the last several years – as recently as
January. Parents share that the recommendations from IEEs
(performed by highly respected professionals) sometimes appear to
be rejected in toto by the district, i.e., not incorporated into
students IEPs. It was observed that the district often does not
provide verbal or written explanation to families when rejecting
recommendations by outside evaluators. Matt stated that the
district is obligated to consider the results and the process for
doing so is to have a Team meeting. Matt went on to say that from
the district’s view the recommendations may be aligned with the
diagnosis but be counter to the whole child based on the child’s
performance in the school setting. Nancy pointed out the need for
the district to strive for consensus among Team members. There
was general agreement that it is likely the children with more
complex needs are the ones who receive outside evaluations such
as neuropsychological exams. Sometimes the district wants to hold
off implementing recommendations until they’ve had a chance to
retest the child. It was suggested that a potential solution might be
for the district to implement recommended services on a
conditional basis until the results of their own testing are available.
Mike suggested that the issue be pushed forward to the next level
as soon as possible. It was suggested that Dr. Mills be invited into
the discussion to seek resolution on this issue.
ii. IEP Technology Task Force – Nancy shared her frustration that
progress within this task force has been excruciatingly slow. The
Technology Task Force has only met two times in the past two
school years – once in April 2009 and once in October 2009. The
six months between meetings meant that most of the time in the
second meeting was spent refreshing peoples’ memories about
what was discussed in the original kick-off meeting. Page 4 of 5
iii. Increase the use of IEP Amendments –The time saved by the
district and parents (who have to compare the revised IEP to the
old one line by line) would be very valuable. Savings in paper and
copying would also be realized.
iv. Increase teaching of special education students by qualified
teachers vs. assistants – beneficial in terms of progress vs.
v. Other recommendations were briefly mentioned. These include:
Move more of special education responsibility/decision making to
school principals; Hire duel-certified teaching staff (qualified to
teach regular and special education); Increase collaboration
between regular and special education staff.
Mike suggested we ask Liza to comment on each recommendation.
Bill asked if Mike would be willing to find a time to speak to the
PAC about what his thinking is on special education cuts. Mike
deferred to Dr. Mills and staff. Nancy emphasized the importance of
letting the school committee know that the first line of cuts have
already directly impacted teaching time for special education
children because the assistants – whose hours have been cut – are
teaching the special education children directly. Bill pointed to the
Student Growth Model now being employed in MCAS data
interpretation as a way for the school committee to determine the
effectiveness of the special education programs. Mike agreed that
this was a good model.
Action Items: 1. Bill send Mike the Student Growth Model
presentation given to the Lexington School Committee.
2. Nancy to get input from Liza on the cost savings
recommendations and forward the information to Mike.
E. Special Education Parent Handbook – Multiple other priorities have taken
precedence. However, examining the newest changes planned for the
Federation Handbook will be useful as we work on our version. Mike
suggested setting a reasonable deadline. Note: Nancy took this
opportunity to mention that she has been invited to sit on the Mass PAC
F. Upcoming presentations – Caroline shared with the group a presentation
opportunity on the subject of Sensory Integration (SI). Caroline made
contact with Debbie Bauch, M.S., OTR/L. Ms. Bauch is a Clinical
Director of the Astra Foundation. Caroline discussed Ms. Bauch’s
considerable expertise in sensory integration and processing issues in
children, as well as her background in early intervention. Ms. Bauch has
agreed to present the workshop and provide packets at no charge to the
PAC. It was agreed that this would be a desirable speaker for PAC
membership. The Transition Workshop by the Federation of Children
with Special Needs scheduled for February 10
was mentioned, as were Page 5 of 5
several additional relevant presentations sponsored by other groups but
held in the area. A discussion regarding finding a speaker with expertise
in the area of ADHD also took place. Val had looked into scheduling Ned
Hallowell but it was largely agreed that the fee, even at the reduced rate of
$2,500, seems cost prohibitive at this time. There were also concerns that
the presentation might market the Hallowell Center in part. Other
speakers with expertise in ADHD will be investigated.
Action Items: 1. Caroline to schedule SI Presentation with Debbie
Bauch (Val will assist in securing location and equipment); 2. Val to
investigate ADHD speakers
G. Task Force Meeting – regarding technology use in IEP development and
IEE incorporation. It was mentioned that another meeting would be
Action Item: Matt to send dates to Nancy regarding next meeting
H. Budget Update – Nancy mentioned some of the ideas currently being
considered by Dr. Mills. The ideas include: Re-framing FTEs so that two
part-time employees could be considered one FTE; increasing class sizes
to 30+ in Minuteman Tech and up to 40 in some lecture sections at the
high school; and cutting staff. Nancy expressed the need to get the
information out regarding the seriousness of the proposed cuts. Mike
cautioned the need to wait until we get numbers from the state. Julie
stated that some information would likely be detailed in tomorrow’s paper.
Bill mentioned the idea of borrowing money and paying it back when
student population numbers decrease (a decrease in numbers is projected
by the school committee). Bill expressed concern that the current student
body is carrying the full burden of the budget crisis and its potential longterm impact.
Note: Nancy encouraged the group to attend the full-day budget
workshop scheduled for February 6
IV. Adjournment – A motion was made to adjourn the meeting. The motion was
seconded and unanimously approved.
V. Next Meeting – General PAC meeting February 10
at 7:00 in the Junior High
Library – Federation for Children with Special Needs workshop entitled
‘Transitions 101, High School to Adulthood’ is scheduled.
Respectfully submitted by Valerie Ryan, Secretary.
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