Your browser does not support JavaScript!
June 8, 2011 - Special Education Advisory Committee Minutes
Special Education Advisory Committee
June 8, 2011

A meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee was held in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 7:00~p.m.

Present Trustees:
Elaine Crawford
Present Members:
Kathy Bennett, Community Living Kingston
Nadine Carson, Epilepsy Kingston
Andrea Martin, Member-at-Large (Queen’s University)
Anne Peace-Fast, Member-at-Large                                        
Brad Shoniker, Member-at-Large
Charlene Whalen, Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and
David Williams, Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston

Present Staff:
Drew Boyce, School to Community Coordinator
Eva Carlin, Resource Teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Kristin Check, Coordinator/Projects Lead
Scot Gillam, Principal, Educational Services
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Ann-Marie Lacoursière, Principal, The Prince Charles School
Alison McDonnell, Supervising Principal, Special Education
Kathy McVety-Kavanagh, Special Education Program Coordinator
Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson, District Autism Resource Teacher
Steve Ward, Vice-Principal of Educational Services
Karen Jeffrey, Lennox and Addington Resources for Children
Pat LaLonde, Autism Ontario
P. Murray, Trustee

        The meeting was chaired by Kathy Bennett, who welcomed those present to the meeting.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell introduced Ann-Marie Lacoursière, Principal at The Prince Charles School, welcoming her to the Educational Services Leadership Team.  She stated that Ann-Marie will be replacing Scot Gillam as Principal of Educational Services, noting that Mr. Gillam will be taking on the role of Principal at The Prince Charles School in September.

        Those present introduced themselves.

Approval of Agenda

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

Approval of Minutes

        MOVED BY Anne Peace-Fast, seconded by Nadine Carson, that the minutes of the May~25, 2011 meeting, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Business Arising From the Minutes

SEAC Orientation Package Update

        Ms. Bennett advised that the information to be included in the SEAC Orientation package was distributed to Committee members via e-mail prior to this evening’s meeting.  She asked if anyone had any feedback.
        Ms. Peace-Fast suggested that the range of special education services provided by the Board be included in the information.

        Ms. Bennett advised that she would add this information to the package to be available for distribution.

        Ms. Bennett indicated Trustee Murray, Nadine Carson, Kristin Check and she were the subcommittee members who worked on SEAC Orientation package, and she thanked them for their work in developing this package.

Letter from Ministry of Education Re: Funding

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that at the May 25, 2011 meeting, she had indicated that a letter was received from the Ministry of Education with regard to special education funding, noting that the information contained in the letter was to be shared at this evening’s meeting.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell reported a letter was received from Barry Finlay, Director, Special Education Policy and Programs Branch of the Ministry of Education related to the type of funding that would be provided for special education in 2011-2012.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell provided a brief overview of what the funding would look like in the province for special education for next year.  She reported that in 2011-2012, the government will once again be increasing funding for special education, as the Special Education Grant is projected to increase to almost $2.52 billion.  She said that this is an increase of $196.4 million over 2010-2011 and an increase of $893.3 million or 55 percent since 2002-03.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell indicated that the 2011-2012 Special Education Grant will include additional support for educational assistants, as per Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) agreements, through the Special Education Per Pupil Amount.  She said that the government is providing a $120.2 million enhancement in 2011-2012 for educational assistants, to support working conditions for educational assistants and improve services and programs for students with special education needs.  She advised that in Limestone, the funding will be to increase the hours that educational assistants currently work, noting that they will move from a six hour day to a 6 hour 40 minute day.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that the Board is excited about the opportunity to have educational assistants working with students for an extended day.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell reported that the Special Equipment Amount (SEA) funding will continue to be allocated for 2011-2012.  She further reported that the Ministry will continue to fund the Special Incidence Portion (SIP) claims.  She indicated that Principal Gillam had worked hard to get this funding for our highest needs students.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that the Ministry will continue to fund the Facilities Amount Grant in support of education programs for school-aged children and youth in Government-approved care and/or treatment, custody and correctional facilities operated by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and/or the Ministry of Community Safety and Correction Services.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that we will continue to receive funding through the Behaviour Expertise Amount to hire board level personnel with Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) expertise to support principals, teachers, and multi-disciplinary transition teams.  She said that this funding was provided last year and will continue for the 2011-2012 year.

Correspondence from Parent

        Ms. McDonnell advised that at the May 25, 2011 SEAC meeting, she had indicated that a letter was faxed to Director Hunter and herself from a parent expressing concerns about students in school to community programs and examination scheduling, noting that the contents of the letter were to be shared at this evening’s meeting.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that the letter indicated in the first paragraph that the letter was an open letter to Trustees, SEAC members and other groups; and therefore, the letter could be shared.  She read the letter that was received from the parent, which was in response to the procedures in place in the Limestone District School Board for a number of years around those students who receive school to community services and the secondary examination periods.

        Ms. McDonnell advised that she and Director Hunter have discussed this matter, and that contact with the Ministry will be made.  She said that if indicated by the Ministry, the Board would make changes as warranted.

        Mr. Ward advised of the process in place in the LDSB.  He reported that a district-wide letter is sent home to the families whose children are receiving school to community services, that is customized by the school.  He said that the Principal communicates the dates of examinations and indicates that if there are concerns about programming, to please contact him/her.  He advised that the letter went home May 25th this year and the examinations begin June 21st.  Mr. Ward stated that individual telephone calls home are also made.

        Mr. Ward indicated that when students are transitioning from Grade 8 to 9, as part of the transition, the procedure for how examination periods work is outlined (how semesters work and what is available for students during the examination period).
        Mr. Ward said that for students who wish to attend schools, or parents who want their children do so, the Board does provide educational assistant support for the students so there is continuity in programming.

        Mr. Ward reported that when this most recent procedure was put in place, Board staff did consult with Community Living and its other community partners to establish a process that works best for those concerned.

        Ms. Whalen stated that some of the families she works with whose children receive school to community services have interpreted the intent of the letter incorrectly.  She said that some of the families find it exceptionally difficult to have their children home for those blocks of time as they are working and find it difficult to arrange for childcare.

        Ms. Peace-Fast suggested that it might be useful if the letter had a check box for the options.

        Ms. McDonnell thanked SEAC members for their feedback and stated that staff will review the letter.

Annual Accessibility Plan, September 2011-August 2012

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that the Annual Accessibility Plan is brought to the Special Education Advisory Committee each year for information sharing.  

        Ms. McDonnell reviewed the Annual Accessibility Plan, September 2011-August 2012.  She advised that the Executive Summary talks about the purpose of the Ontarians for Disabilities Act 2001 (ODA 2001), which is to improve opportunities for people with disabilities and to provide for their involvement in the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to their full participation in the life of the province.  To this end, the ODA 2001 mandates that each school board prepare an Annual Accessibility Plan.  On June 13, 2005, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA, 2005) received Royal Assent and is now law.  The purpose of the AODA, 2005, is to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by providing for the development, implementation and enforcement of mandatory accessibility standards respecting food, services, facilities, accommodation, employment and buildings by January 2, 2025.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that the Annual Accessibility Plan is a collaborative effort between Facility Services and Educational Services staff members, as well as the members of the Accessibility Committee.

        Ms. McDonnell said that for the 2011-2012 year, the LDSB has again committed itself to the continual improvement of access to school and board premises, facilities and services for students and staff with disabilities; the participation of people with disabilities in the development and review of its annual access plans, and the provision of quality services to all students, parents and members of the community with disabilities.  It has committed to work on not only the identification and removal of Physical and Architectural barriers, but also to identify at least one barrier in each of the following areas: Informational, Communicational, Attitudinal, Technological and Policy or Practice.  Ms. McDonnell thanked Manny Brandao, and Facility Services staff for their work.  She said that more Human Resources and Educational Services staff are involved in the Working Group for the 2011-2012 Plan.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that once the Plan has been approved by the Board, it will be sent to the Ministry and posted on the Educational Services Department and public area of the Limestone District School Board web-site.  It would be available in every school to be shared with School Councils.

        Ms. McDonnell outlined the Table of Contents information.  She said that the Executive Summary provides a history of how the Accessibility Plan came into place.  She reported that the Members of the Working Groups for the 2011-2012 Plan are listed on page 6 of the Plan.  She extended an invitation to any member of SEAC who would like to be involved in the Accessibility Committee to come forward.  She said that the Accessibility Committee would be most pleased to have their expertise on the Committee.  She reported that the Committee meets approximately four times each year for about 1.5 or 2 hours each meeting.  She indicated that part of the Committee’s role is to develop the Accessibility Plan.

        Ms. McDonnell reviewed Appendix A, which lists the recent Barrier-Free Projects completed as of May 2011.  She said that there has been some comprehensive work completed to address the concerns and issues of barriers.  She advised that Manny Brandao, Facility Services, has worked closely with Educational Services staff to review the accessibility requests.

        Ms. McDonnell reviewed Appendix B which includes the Transition to School Profile, and Appendix C which lists the Status of 2010-2011 Goals, as well as the Goals for 2011-2012.  She said that the goals are established collaboratively on a yearly basis.

        Ms. McDonnell advised that Appendix D includes a Sample Occupational Therapist Report; Appendix E includes a Sample Request for Renovation; Appendix F includes the Accessibility and Accommodation Survey by Family of Schools; Appendix G includes the Overview of Schools Requiring Accessibility Upgrades; Appendix H includes the Accessibility and Accommodation Status Report by Family of Schools (April 2011); Appendix I includes information about the Consultation Session for the Accessibility Plan; and Appendix J includes a list of all In-Service Communication and Information.  She said that Appendix J outlines the work that has been done at the Education Centre in terms of addressing barriers around information.  She said that the types of professional training opportunities the Board provides is listed in Appendix J.

        Ms. McDonnell reported that Appendix K includes Compliance Information Regarding Customer Service Ontario Regulation 429/07, as well as LDSB Accessibility Standards for Customer Services.

        Ms. McDonnell advised that the Accessibility Plan has to be sent to the Ministry of Education by mid-July, and therefore, if any member of SEAC has any comments to please contact her prior to July 1, 2011.

        Kathy Bennett thanked Ms. McDonnell for providing the above-noted information.

Educational Services Update

        Mr. Gillam provided an Educational Services update, as follows:

Professional Learning

  •         Pathways Autism Symposium – May 16 and 17, 2011 – Treating Severe and Challenging Behaviour via Proactive Strategies and Skills Building that Produce Lasting Change – Dr. Richard Foxx from Penn State University
  •         SCS Secondary Learning - May 27, 2011 – focus on Assistive Technology – Mark Ryan, Drew Boy and Amy Kennedy-York
  •         PSSP PA Day – Cathy Renfrew and Terri Houlihan Working Together – Effective Educational Team
  •         CTCC/Section 23 – CTAP
  •         Geneva – ASD supports – August
  •         Professional Learning Plan – 2011-2012
Technology Talk

  •         Special Equipment Amount (SEA)
  •         EQAO – OSSLT and Grade 3 and 6 Testing
  •         Compass
Curriculum Council

  •         Autism – Junior Class – Laura Carroll – using her Smartboard and other Assistive Technology in the class
  •         SCS – May 28, 2011 – Sharbot Lake High School – sharing some of their projects

  •         Life Beyond School – May 10 – Donna Abbink – family, students sharing their stories
  •         Budget information/EA process
  •         Deaf/HH Fun Night – June 22 – Garrison Bowling – Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB students and families invited as well
Information – Staff

The Prince Charles School to Community – Tiffany Christian
Assistive Technology Resource Teacher – Mark Ryan
Primary Autism Class – Stacey Murphy
PDD/LD Class – Harley Gallagher
IBI Pathways Class – Anna Schukei
Principal – Ann-Marie Lacoursi re

        Mr. Gillam thanked Committee members for their support of Educational Services.  He said that they care about our students, wanting an inclusive environment where everyone gets what he/she needs.  He also thanked them for their support of him during the past three years he has been the Principal at Educational Services.

        Kathy Bennett thanked Mr. Gillam for his update and for his comments.  She wished him well in his new role as Principal at The Prince Charles School, and thanked him for his work at Educational Services for the past three years.

Association Updates

Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington

        Charlene Whalen stated that Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington’s  amalgamation with the Kingston-Frontenac Children’s Aid Society is progressing, and she will provide further information in the fall.

        Charlene Whalen reported that Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington is running a camp for children with special needs in its community, noting that 100 children are being supported over a seven-week period.

Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston

        David Williams reported that the LDAK Board and Volunteer Orientation on May 30, 2011, was well attended.  He further reported that the Queen’s University Vogue Charity Fashion Show raised $27,000 in support of the Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston.

Andrea Martin

        Ms. Martin reported that the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University will be filled to capacity with teacher candidates for the 2011-2012 school year.

Epilepsy Kingston

        Nadine Carson reported that this Saturday, June 11, 2011, is Extend-A-Family’s Walk and Wheel event.  It is being held from 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at 361 Montreal Street.  She indicated that it is in support of programs.

Community Living Kingston

        Kathy Bennett read the following correspondence from Gordon Kyle, Community Living Ontario, regarding a successful joint advocacy initiative:

“In late 2008, Community Living Mississauga and Brampton Caledon Community Living, along with other members of the Peel Region’s Education Committee, sent a letter to the Ontario College of Teachers with respect to the College’s draft guidelines on teacher training in the area of special education and developmental/intellectual disability.  Among other points raised in the letter, was an excellent critique of the language in the guideline that described students in very negative ways, ‘clumsiness, anxiety, outbursts, aggression’ etc.  They argued that such stereotypes reinforce negative attitudes towards students and lead to a degrading of the quality of education that the student receives and, further, reinforces an impression among teachers that providing education to all students would prove too difficult.

Representatives from Community Living Ontario, including Ann Smith who is a long time education advocate with both Brampton Caledon Community Living and the Provincial Association, met with the College of Teachers shortly after that letter was sent to provide our thoughts on the draft guidelines.  We promoted the positions that had been put forward in the letter from the Peel Region Education Committee and asked the College to make changes to the guideline consistent with the recommendations of that letter.

Yesterday, Community Living Ontario met again with the College of Teachers to provide input into another set of guidelines, these dealing with general special education training.  During the meeting, we asked for an update on the action taken with respect to the letter from the Peel Regional Education Committee.  We were delighted to learn that the joint 2008 advocacy initiative had a profound impact.  Not only were the draft guidelines on developmental/ intellectual disability changed to reflect the recommendations, other significant changes occurred including: a redrafting of regulations to the Education Act to reflect these recommendations; the removal of 8 course guidelines from the College of Teachers’ website and a redrafting of these 8 guidelines to reflect the recommendation of the letter.

This is a terrific example of the success that can come from joint advocacy efforts.  Congratulations to Community Living Mississauga and Brampton Caledon Community Living for their excellent work on this important issue.”

Other Business

        Steve Ward reported that Kathy McVety-Kavanagh will be leaving Educational Services and going back to teaching in a classroom at Fairfield Elementary School.  He thanked her for her work with children, youth, families, staff and the community during the past several years at Educational Services, and wished her well in her new role.

        Ms. McVety-Kavanagh stated that SEAC has been a long-time adventure, noting that there has been a long history.  She said that she is counting on SEAC members to keep that history alive and to remember the way it was, and to never return to that way.

        Trustee Crawford, on behalf of SEAC, thanked Scot Gillam for his work at Educational Services for the past three years.  She wished him well in his new position as Principal at The Prince Charles School.

        Mr. Gillam thanked Trustee Crawford for her kind words, indicating that he has enjoyed his time at Educational Services.

        Kathy Bennett stated that it was her pleasure, on behalf of SEAC, to thank Kristin Check for her work during the past eight years at Educational Services, and she wished her well in her new role as a kindergarten teacher at Fairfield Elementary School.

        Ms. Check thanked SEAC for their support of Educational Services over the years, and for their true commitment in wanting the best for all children.

        Ms. McDonnell thanked Kathy, Kristin and Scot for their exceptional work and exemplary services to the Limestone District School Board students, staff and families, noting that all stakeholders have been positively impacted by their outstanding service.  She said that they will be missed.  She wished them well in their new placements.

Next Meeting Date

        The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. at the Education Centre.


        MOVED BY Brad Shoniker, seconded by David Williams, that the meeting adjourn at 8:10 p.m.–Carried