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March 26, 2008- Special Education Advisory Committee Minutes
Special Education Advisory Committee
March 26 , 2008

A meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee was held in the Board Room on Wednesday, March 26, 2008, at 7:00 p.m.

Present Trustees:
Elaine Crawford, Co-Chair
Paula Murray

Helen Brown
Present Staff:
Marg Akey, Supervising Principal
Kristin Check, School-to-Community Coordinator
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Kathy McVety Kavanagh, Special Education Program Coordinator
Rob Pearson, Vice-Principal, Educational Services       

Present Other:
Kathy Bennett, Community Living Kingston
Nadine Carson, Epilepsy Kingston
Pat LaLonde, Autism Society
Charlene Whalen, Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington
David Williams, Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston
Nicole Eddington, C.N.I.B.
John Freeman, Member-at-Large (Queen’s University)
Lori Gammeljord, Member-at-Large (Chamber of Commerce)
Nicholas Kaduck, Parents for Children’s Mental Health
Winton Roberts, Community Living - North Frontenac
Brad Shoniker, Member-at-Large

David Allison, Principal, Educational Services
Lauren Wale, Educational Services Coordinator
The meeting was chaired by Trustee Crawford, who welcomed those present to the meeting.

Approval of the Agenda

MOVED BY Trustee Murray, seconded by David Williams, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Approval of Minutes

MOVED BY Pat LaLonde, seconded by David Williams, that the minutes of the February~ 20, 2008 meeting, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Ms. Akey advised that the February 27, 2008 meeting of the SEAC Committee did not constitute as a meeting of SEAC because there was no quorum.  However, Kevin Cameron, Director of Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, did provide an overview about risk/threat assessment.

Bill 212 (Safe Schools) Presentation

Supervising Principal Akey introduced Charlene Whalen, a member of the SEAC Committee. She said that Ms. Whalen had joined staff at a Safe Schools Strategy Training session in Napanee last Fall, and became a member of the Safe Schools Steering Committee. She advised that Bill 212 (Safe Schools) was passed, and as a result of the new legislation that came into effect on February 1, 2008, some of the Board’s administrative procedures and policies have been changed to incorporate the new legislation. Ms. Akey stated that Principals have also been provided with Safe Schools Strategy Training. Ms. Akey advised that the new legislation has now been incorporated into the Education Act.

Ms. Whalen provided an overview of the training. She outlined the Ministry of Education Goals, as follows:

Ms. Whalen provided an overview of the training. She outlined the Ministry of Education Goals, as follows:

•       A strong, vibrant, publicly funded education system that is focused on three goals:
        •       High levels of student achievement,
        •       Reduced gaps in student achievement, and
        •       High levels of public confidence.

Ms. Whalen advised that on June 4, 2007, the Education Amendment Act (Progressive Discipline and School Safety), 2007 was unanimously passed. The amendments were as follows:

•       support a progressive discipline approach to choose the appropriate course of action to address inappropriate behaviour.
•       more effectively combine discipline with opportunities for students to continue their education, and they would come into force February 1, 2008.

        Ms. Whalen reviewed the purposes of the Provincial Codes of Conduct – PPM 128, as follows:

1.      To ensure that all members of the school community, especially people in positions of authority, are treated with respect and dignity.
2.      To promote responsible citizenship by encouraging appropriate participation in the civic life of the school community.
3.      To maintain an environment where conflict and difference can be addressed in a manner characterized by respect and civility.
4.      To encourage the use of non-violent means to resolve conflict.
5.      To promote the safety of people in the schools.
6.      To discourage the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Ms. Whalen advised that the training spoke to progressive discipline which is to promote positive student behaviour. She said that the other interesting thing added to the Code of Conduct was information around bullying, which was not included prior to the amendment.

Ms. Whalen advised that the province has provided the following definition of bullying, noting that now Principals and school boards can address that as it pertains to the Code of Conduct:

•       Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent, aggressive behaviour that is directed at an individual/s that is intended to cause (or should be know to cause) fear, distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation.
•       Bullying occurs in a context where there is real or perceived power imbalance.

        Ms. Whalen reviewed the following information with regard to Progressive Discipline:

•       Progressive discipline is a whole school approach that utilizes a continuum of interventions, supports and consequences that include opportunities for reinforcing positive behaviour while helping students make good choices.
•       When inappropriate behaviour occurs, disciplinary measures should be applied within a framework that shifts the focus from solely punitive to both corrective and supportive.

        A progressive discipline approach includes:

•       early and ongoing intervention strategies;
•       addressing inappropriate behaviour;
•       opportunities for the student to learn from the choices he or she makes; and
•       parental awareness and involvement.

Ms. Whalen reviewed the following early and ongoing intervention strategies:

•       help prevent unsafe or inappropriate behaviours in a school and in school-related activities;
•       provide students with appropriate supports to address inappropriate behaviour; and
•       sustain and promote positive student behaviour and/or address underlying causes for inappropriate student behaviour.

        Ms. Whalen reviewed the following information with regard to addressing inappropriate student behaviour:

•       When inappropriate behaviour occurs, schools should utilize a range of interventions, supports and consequences as well as include opportunities for students to focus on improving behaviour.

•       The following should be taken into consideration:
        •       particular student and circumstance;
        •       nature and severity of the behaviour; and
        •       impact on school climate
        •       For a student with special education needs, disciplinary interventions, supports and consequences must be consistent with the student’s strengths, needs, goals and expectations contained in the Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Ms. Whalen stated that there have been changes to Board policies and administrative procedures regarding suspensions and expulsions.

Ms. Whalen stated that boards must now take into consideration mitigating factors. The responsibility to an incident taking into consideration the IEP, the identification of a child and the needs that child has. Decisions to suspend will have made careful consideration of all factors involved.

Ms. Whalen reviewed the following highlights:

•       No mandatory suspensions. The list has been changed to read “infractions for which a principal shall consider suspension”. Only principals can suspend, not teachers. This has been the practice in the Limestone Board.

•       Suspension will be considered for the following:
        •       Uttering a threat to inflict serious bodily harm on another person.
        •       Possessing alcohol or illegal drugs.
        •       Being under the influence of alcohol.
        •       Swearing at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority.
        •       Committing an act of vandalism that causes extensive damage to school property at the student’s school or to property located on the premises of the student’s school.
        •       Bullying.
        •       Any other activity that is an activity for which a principal may suspend a student under a policy of the board.

Ms. Whalen reviewed the following legislative changes for suspensions:

•       Removes the terms “mandatory” and “discretionary”;
•       Adds “bullying” to the list of infractions for which a principal must consider suspension;
•       Defines a suspension as no less than one school day and no more than 20 school days;
•       Gives only the principals the power to suspend students;
•       Requires principals to take into account mitigating and other factors when considering whether to suspend a student, including duratio
•       For suspensions that are longer than five days, requires boards to offer programming to students who are suspended; and
•       States that all suspensions are appealable to the school board.

Ms. Whalen advised that school boards must provide programming in order for a student to continue learning; however, a student is not required to participate. In order to support ongoing learning, community partners, parents, the student and other resources as necessary are now to be involved.

Ms. Whalen advised that the Safe School Steering Committee provided input regarding the Student Action Plan. This document will be utilized by principals across the district. It provides clarity regarding the plan for everyone involved with the child. The Board will continue to develop and engage services to meet this expectation. Ms. Whalen advised that an academic component is to be provided for a suspension of 6-10 days, and an academic and non-academic component for a suspension lasting 11-20 days.

Ms. Whalen reviewed information relating to expulsions. She advised that all recommendations for expulsion will go to a committee of three trustees for a hearing. With regard to an expulsion, the committee will either expel the student from the student’s school or expel the student from all schools of the Board. Students who are expelled can attend a program at a board school. The emphasis is maintaining, if at all possible, the child in the educational system.

Trustee Murray advised that the Board had held its first Expulsion Hearing, and it is mandatory that expelled students be provided with academic programming and Trustees on the Expulsion Hearing Committee be provided with all documentation. She said that the process was very thorough, and the work Educational Services staff did was amazing.
Ms. Whalen stated that the time lines for suspensions and expulsion are quite tight.

In support of Ms. Whalen’s comments, Supervising Akey stated that the new legislation is all about supporting students both academically and alternatively, and supports a student’s re-entry to school.

Supervising Principal Akey stated that supports from Educational Services, such as Risk/Threat Assessment, Behaviour/Safety Plans, IEPs, etc., are brought to the table as decisions are made to support the student.

In response to a question from a SEAC member about students who have been expelled from schools just transferring to another school in the District, or into another district school board, Ms. Akey said that it was made clear at the time of training, that students could not enter another school without that school being made aware of the expulsion. She said that boards of education are about helping students get the supports they need in order to be successful. Ms. Akey said that the Steering Committee is still working through the Codes of Behaviour.

Ms. Whalen stated that the Progressive Discipline Model is a continuum. All services within the Board are for students who are struggling with behaviour issues.

Ms. Akey commented on some of the programs for students who are struggling, such as the Jeopardy Program, Streetsmart, SNAP, MENDing Circles, etc.

Ms. Whalen said that she likes the Progressive Discipline Model as it focuses on maintaining children within the educational system for as long as they can be in it.

Ms. Akey thanked those present for the comments about Educational Services staff and the work they do. She thanked those involved in suspensions, such as Secondary Administrators, Adolescent Care Workers, Guidance personnel at the secondary level, and classroom teachers for their work in supporting students.

Trustee Crawford thanked Ms. Whalen and Ms. Akey for their presentation on Safe Schools.
Educational Services Update

Mr. Pearson advised that Mr. Allison has sent his regrets.

Mr. Pearson advised that Symposium East is taking place on April 7, 2008 at the Board Office. It is a workshop for those working with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students with multiple exceptionalities. The contact person is Eva Carlin, Educational Services.
Mr. Pearson advised that the Canadian Hearing Society is holding a session, Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child Attending a Mainstream School, on April 9, from 7-9 p.m. The contact person is Eva Carlin, Educational Services.

Mr. Pearson advised that an Autism Spectrum Disorder course for teachers and administrators is being held every Wednesday evening, from April 9 until May 21, 2008, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., at the Board Office. Kathy McVety-Kavanagh is the contact person.

Mr. Pearson advised that an in-service for Student Support Teachers and LPS teachers will be held on April 17, 2008, at the Board Office. Information about the Ministry IEP Review, Mental Health Issues and Bill 212 will be provided.

Mr. Pearson stated that Lauren Wale, Educational Services, has advised that transition meetings for children with autism have begun. Teachers and administrators at schools will be reviewing some assessments done through Queen’s University to make sure the program is on track. Meetings are taking place during the months of April and May.

Mr. Pearson reported that Saganoski Demonstration School has provided application packages for student who may be applying to the school. He said the school wants to ensure that all information is completed and the applications arrive on time in order to offer the best programs for students.

Mr. Pearson advised that ABA training for teachers and administrators is being held at the Italo-Canadian Club March 31 and April 1. He further advised a second group of EA training will be provided by Geneva Centre staff on April 24 and 25. The last round of ABA training for teachers and administrators is May 1 and 2.

Supervising Principal Akey reported that she had spent today in Toronto at the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding its Passport Initiative. She advised that Donna Abbink, Transitions Planning Coordinator for the Limestone District School Board, and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, spoke and that she was well received. Ms. Akey congratulated Ms. Abbink and her team, including Kristin Check, for the work they have done. Ms. Akey also shared information about the Student Support Leadership Initiative. She said that the LDSB, ALCDSB and Prince Edward-Hastings District School Board are working together with social service agencies of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide service for children outside of school. Ms. Akey advised that the boards have received funding, and the three boards and Ministry of Children and Youth Services representatives have planned to meet on April 4 to develop a program. She said that she would provide a report on this matter at a future meeting.

Trustee Crawford thanked Mr. Pearson and Ms. Akey for providing an update on the activities at Educational Services.

Association Updates

Epilepsy Kingston

Ms. Carson advised that Epilepsy Kingston is holding its “Starry Night” gala on April 12, 2008 at the Confederation Place Hotel. The cost is $40 per person.

Nadine Carson reported that the Be Heard Program has been launched and is underway, noting that the Epilepsy Alliance of Ontario is now seeking 30 students who have a knowledge of epilepsy to attend a training session so that they can go into schools to talk about epilepsy to reduce the stigma attached to it.

Ms. Carson advised that Tim Eichholz, Executive Director of Epilepsy, has resigned as Executive Director, and he has taken a position with the Saskatchewan College of Physiotherapists in Saskatchewan. She advised that Epilepsy Kingston is now looking for a new Executive Director.

Trustee Crawford thanked Ms. Carson for her update.

Autism Society

Pat LaLonde advised that the United Nations has declared April 2, 2008 as World Autism Day.

Pat LaLonde advised that the 10th Annual Old Timers Hockey Tournament will take place in Napanee April 9-12, 2008, with the proceeds being donated to the Autism Society. She said that the organizers of the tournament are looking for volunteer score keepers and suggested that perhaps secondary school students who need volunteer hours may like to volunteer for the tournament.

Ms. LaLonde reported that April is Autism Month and they are holding their “Together for Autism” campaign during that time. She said that packages were forwarded to all schools in the Fall and the schools wishing to participate were directed to register on line.

Ms. LaLonde advised that the Autism Society of Ontario, Kingston Chapter, is holding a fundraiser on May 21, 2008, which is a play.

Trustee Crawford thanked Ms. LaLonde for her update.

The Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston

Mr. Williams advised that the third and final Bluegrass concert, in support of the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston, is being held on April 23, 2008, at The Christ Church Parish Centre, 990 Sydenham Road, Kingston. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $23 at the door. He advised that band accommodation is compliments of LaSalle-Travelodge, Kingston.

Mr. Williams reported that the Annual General Meeting of the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston will take place on April 28, at its office located at 417 Bagot Street.

Trustee Crawford thanked Mr. Williams for his update.

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16, 2008, at 5:00 p.m. at the Board Office. Supervising Principal Dale Midwood will provide an update on Student Success.


        MOVED BY Pat LaLonde, seconded by Nadine Carson, that the meeting adjourn at 8:00~p.m.–Carried