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November 16, 2011 - Special Education Advisory Committee Minutes
Special Education Advisory Committee
November 16, 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, November 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
E. Crawford
P. Murray, Co-Chair
Present Members:
Kathy Bennett, Community Living Kingston
Karen Jeffrey, Lennox and Addington Resources for Children
Pat LaLonde, Autism Ontario
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 Addington   
David Williams, Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston
Present Staff:
Drew Boyce, School to Community Coordinator
Jennifer Davidson-Harden, Chief Psychologist
Christine Herron, Educational Services and Safe Schools Liaison Coordinator
Alison McDonnell, Supervising Principal, Special Education
Steve Ward, Acting Principal of Educational Services
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Nadine Carson, Epilepsy Kingston

        The meeting was chaired by Trustee Murray, who called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.

Approval of Agenda

        Trustee Murray advised that following the Approval of the Minutes section of the agenda, Supervising Principal McDonnell would provide information with regard to staff changes at Educational Services.

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

Approval of Minutes

        MOVED BY Anne Peace-Fast, seconded by Brad Shoniker, that the minutes of the October 19, 2011 meeting, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Staff Changes at Educational Services

        Supervising Principal McDonnell reported that Principal Lacoursière is currently on leave and Steve Ward is the Acting Principal at Educational Services in Ms. Lacoursière’s absence.  She further advised that Anne Jacobsen, a retired Principal, has agreed to take on the role of Vice-Principal at Educational Services during this time.

        Those present introduced themselves.

Mental Health Initiatives

        Chris Herron and Jennifer Davidson-Harden provided information about mental health initiatives in the Limestone District School Board.

        Ms. Herron showed the “Open Up, School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse” video, a collaboration production of the Canadian School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium, Mental Health Commission of Canada Youth Council, and the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.  The video outlined the following:

•     1 in 5 students in Canada struggles with a mental health problem
•     many more experience distress (bullying, loss, isolation, pressure)
•     serious enough to interfere with academic performance and social well-being
•     up to 80% of these children do not receive treatment
•     many researchers suggest that school is the best place to identify and prevent child and youth mental health problems
•     one caring adult can make a powerful difference in a young person’s life
•     the best thing an educator can do is to listen to a student

        Ms. Herron provided information about a pilot project the Board started last year in three of its secondary schools, as the result of a project by Dr. Kutcher from Dalhousie University who is the Sunlife Insurance Chair of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry.  She said that the LDSB has adopted Dr. Kutcher’s program, “Opening Doors to Teen Mental Health Awareness.”  She indicated that because it is a research project, HDH/KGH Child & Adolescent Psychiatry was involved, as well as Queen’s University.  She said that this project was piloted at LCVI, QECVI and Frontenac Secondary School.

        Ms. Herron provided the following information:

Why We Got Involved

•     Our Principals and Vice-Principals also reported mental illness among our students as a significant concern
•     Top request was for staff training and involvement from Educational Services staff
•     Goals
        •     One:    to reduce the stigma by talking openly about mental illness and providing accurate information in a supportive environment
        •     Two:    to help students develop coping strategies and identify those who need help


•     Initial collaboration with Hotel Dieu Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to determine interest and feasibility
•     Pilot project development
•     School identification for involvement
•     Target students and class delivery
•     Issues and concerns
•     Implementation
•     Launch
•     Follow-up

Community Partners

•     Recognition of need for support built into pilot project
•     Collaboration with community partners, including HDH Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Pathways for Children and Youth
•     Development of Communication Care Pathways for both organizations
•     Inclusion of In-School Teams in Launch Day and training
•     Continuation of Communication Care Pathways

        Dr. Davidson-Harden reviewed  the following information:

Research Questions

1.      To examine the feasibility of implementing a mental health curriculum
2.      To study the impact of curriculum on knowledge and attitudes about mental health
3.      To examine the impact on referral rates to mental health agencies

Assessment Tools

•     Teachers and students were asked to complete:
        •     Mental Health Knowledge Test
        •     Mental Health Attitude Questionnaire
•     Materials were given as a pre-test, immediate post-test, and delayed post-test
•     Results are pending at this time

Curriculum Topics

•     Training and self-evaluation tools provided
•     Six modules provided with written material, videos, discussion guide and suggested activities
        1.      The Stigma of Mental Illness
        2.      Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness
        3.      Information on Specific Mental Illnesses
        4.      Experiences of Mental Illness
        5.      Seeking Help and Finding Support
        6.      The Importance of Positive Mental Health

        In response to a question asking if there are adequate supports in the community, Ms. Herron stated that the Board has a very strong working relationship with its service providers.  She said that; however, there could always be more resources.

        In response to a question regarding wait times, Ms. Herron stated that Pathways for Children and Youth is working hard to bring down the wait times.  She said that there is a wait list for outpatients to be seen at the HDH Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department; however, they take our referrals and prioritize them.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden stated that we do recognize the importance that staff be aware of the process to be followed in the case of a student having mental health issues.  She said that the staff that they spoke to did indicate that they were given information to better help them to handle a situation.

        Pat LaLonde commented on the importance of letting all teachers know what is available with regard to the Board’s mental health initiatives.

        Pat LaLonde commented on the prevalence of anxiety and depression in teens.

        Charlene Whalen stated that she likes the piece about students being another student’s support, and students having the knowledge about mental health issues.

        Kathy Bennett stated that the whole idea of peer support is huge, and suggested that curriculum around mental health should be mandated by the Ministry of Education.

        Ms. McDonnell advised that she has a Ministry of Education update around a Ministry of Education memorandum, dated November 7, 2011, with regard to mental health and addictions supports for district school boards.  She said that the Ministry of Education says that all district school boards face challenges in addressing student mental health needs as it has been found that up to 20 per cent or more of children and youth experience mental health problems at any given time.  She commented that student mental health issues do impact a number of areas, including student achievement and well-being.  

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that to build on the effective work being done by school boards to support students with mental health and addiction needs, the Ministries of Education, Children and Youth Services, Health and Long-Term Care, and Training, Colleges and Universities are working collaboratively to:

•     Implement mental health literacy and cross-sectoral training on early identification and intervention for educators;
•     Hire new workers through schools and community-based agencies to enable early identification and referral for treatment; and
•     Enhance mental health resources in schools.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell reported that all district school boards in Ontario will benefit from education-focused provincial initiatives, such as a mental health and addictions resource guide, professional learning opportunities for educators, and the support of new mental health workers and nurses with mental health and addictions expertise.

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that all district school boards are receiving substantial funding ($20,000 each) for capacity building for staff members around mental health and addictions issues.

        Ms. McDonnell reported that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has allocated funding so that their agencies can hire additional mental health workers to support students to remain in and enhance achievement in school.  In this area, the agency is Pathways for Children and Youth.

        Ms. McDonnell advised that the Board is now working with its community partners to establish protocols and parameters around mental health workers in schools.

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has allocated funding for the hiring of Registered Nurses and/or Registered Practical Nurses with mental health and addictions expertise.  The nurses will assist school boards in recognizing and responding to student mental health and addictions issues and will work with boards to help develop strategies to address student mental health and addictions needs in their region.  She said that 15 district school boards will be funded to hire Mental Health Leaders, to provide support in the development of comprehensive strategies focused on school based delivery of mental health supports.

        Ms. McDonnell remarked that we are excited about this initiative, and are looking forward to the impact this initiative will have on student achievement and well being for our students.  She indicated that further information will be brought to the committee, as we receive it.

        Trustee Murray thanked Ms. Herron, Dr. Davidson-Harden, and Ms. McDonnell for providing the above-noted information.

Educational Services Update

        Mr. Ward stated that Educational Services is involved with many ongoing initiatives and supports around mental health needs.  He commented on the urgent care path at Hotel Dieu Hospital, noting that they have a number of psychologists and doctors who work collaboratively with the Board.  He said that there is an incredible staff within Educational Services who not only support the needs of our students, but who also build capacity amongst teachers, administrators, and support staff.  He thanked the Board, Senior Staff, and Trustees for their support in this area.

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

Staffing Update: PSSP

•     School Attendance Counsellor/Safe Schools: BAT Team – Kevin Hulton was the successful candidate.
•     LTO 0.50 School Attendance Counsellor/0.50 Student Support Counsellor – Tanya Heyman was the successful candidate.

Staffing Update: Teachers

•     Secondary Autism Support Teacher – Heather Stewart returned from leave at the end of October; thanks to Ashley Lamont who got the year off to a great start for us!
•     Intermediate Autism Program (Cataraqui Woods) – Program Teacher Melissa Hulan has accepted a secondment to Sagonaska.  Debra McLeod (Arden Court) is the new teacher.

Staffing Update: Office Staff

•     Joan Fox has joined Educational Services as Interim Educational Services Technician for the duration of Joy Gillam’s leave.
•     Aymee Watt is our new part-time (afternoons) Educational Services Secretary. She replaces Louise Alton.  Many thanks to Louise for her many contributions during September and October.

Curriculum Councils

•     School to Community Curriculum Council met on November 8th.  Topics included: Grade 8/9 Transition Processes, the SCS Transition Program at KCVI, Life Beyond School evening, and Developmental Services Ontario update.
•     Autism Curriculum Council will meet on November 23rd.  Focus will be community building within autism classrooms to promote connections to social thinking and positive peer relationships.

Professional Learning

•     A total of 27 LDSB teachers participated in the 16 hour SST/LPS Course during October and early November.  The course will be offered again in Spring 2012.
•     Behavior Exceptionality Course will begin next week and run over four evening sessions.  The course is running over capacity.
•     Elementary Vice-Principal/SST – November 22nd.  Focus areas will include: Behaviour Management and instructional strategies for Math and French.
•     A number of Educational Services staff members will be offering workshops at the November 25th LDSB/OSSTF Secondary PA Day at Frontenac Secondary School.  Topics include: Assistive Technology (Smartboards, Kurzweil, and Word Q), VTRA, and Autism.
Educational Services Update (continued)
•     VTRA Level 1 Training will take place on December 9th and 12th at the Education Centre; these sessions will be delivered by LDSB trainers.

Assistive Technology Update

•     Mark Ryan, Hazel MacDonald, and Jennifer Murphy provided a Professional Learning Session on October 4th for secondary LPS, LST, and Guidance teachers.  Follow-up visits to schools are occurring now.  Two additional sessions will take place at the Education Centre during the first half of 2012.
•     Mark and Hazel delivered a Professional Learning Session on October 28th to teachers from secondary Alternative Learning Centres.
•     Mark and Hazel delivered workshops at Ernestown Secondary School on the October 24th PA Day.
•     Mark provided a workshop for occasional teachers that focused on Smart Boards.
•     Mark will be attending two professional learning sessions on Smart Board technology; Hazel will be participating in an I-Device workshop.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Update

•     QECVI and Winston Churchill P.S. were visited recently through the Barrier Free Initiative.
•     LDSB hosted Symposium East (a symposium for Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing in Eastern Ontario) on November 8th.  A major focus this year involved utilizing the iPad2 for students with hearing loss.

Report Cards

•     Elementary Progress Reports
•     Secondary Mid-Semester Reports
•     Revised School to Community Alternate Report
•     Alternate Report Format Pilot for District Learning Centres (Behaviour, Autism, LD) and Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind/Low Vision Teachers

Quick Updates

•     SIP Claims in progress
•     SEA Claims continue
•     Educational Services Strategic/Department Plan – It is Educational Services’ School Improvement Plan
•     Social Committee – is operating again.  It is to keep Educational Services staff  connected

        Trustee Murray thanked Acting Principal Ward for providing the above-noted update.

        There was no correspondence this month.

Association Updates

Autism Ontario

        Pat LaLonde thanked Tara Wild for posting the upcoming activities that Autism Ontario-Kingston Chapter is hosting, for Principals and SSTs so that it could be distributed to families.

        Ms. LaLonde provided the following update:

November 15:            Support meeting, at 6:30 p.m., at 6 Ordnance street, Kingston, for families, caregivers and professionals.  Guest speaker is an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.

November 20:            Sensory Sensitive Movie Screening of Happy Feet 2, at the Empire Capital 7 Cinema, 223 Princess Street, Kingston.  Doors open at 9:30 a.m.  Admission is at the regular rate, and you pay at the Box Office.

November 30:            Deadline for Christmas party registration.

December 4:             Christmas Party, at École Cathedrale, from 1:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

December 8:             Anne Borbey-Schwartz, Regional Family Support Coordinator will be in the Kingston office, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

December 17:            Family Swim at the YMCA, from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.  The cost for members is $2 per person or $5 per family, and for non-members, the cost is $4 per person or $10 per family.

December 20:            Family Support Meeting – Holiday Social.

        Ms. LaLonde advised that the Awesome Possums program runs Monday nights at École Cathedrale, 301 Johnson Street, Kingston, from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.  It is an after-school drop-in for children with autism and their siblings.  The following activities are taking place:

•    November 14 – December 5: Music & Dance
•    January 9 – February 13: Cooking
•    February 27 – March 19: Photography & Painting
•    March 26 – April 9: Sports

        Ms. LaLonde advised that research participants are wanted.  This project will ask you questions about your recent contact with health professionals regarding your adolescent (12+) or adult son or daughter with ASD.  We want to know if your son or daughter is getting the health care he or she needs, what types of health services he or she is using and your satisfaction with these services.  Also, if you are not using any services, they would like to know why and whether you are satisfied with your situation.  Parents will receive an honourarium for their time.  If you would like to participate, click on the following link: or call Maggie Slusarczyk at 416-535-8501, extension 7806.

Learning Disabilities Association

                David Williams advised that LDAK had a proposal approved by the Cataraqui Rotary Club to support their new series of workshops to support parents/guardians/caregivers who care for children with learning disabilities.  He indicated that part of the funding will subsidize families who cannot afford to pay for the workshops.  He said he would provide a further update at a future meeting.

Community Living Kingston

        Kathy Bennett reported that an Inclusive Education Workshop, is being held on Saturday, November 19, 2011, at Lord Strathcona Public School, 215 McMahon Avenue, Kingston, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.  It is being sponsored by Community Living Ontario’s Inclusion Initiative in partnership with Community Living Kingston and the Limestone District School Board.  The registration fee is $20.

        Ms. Bennett advised that the Inspiring Possibilities Holiday Sale is being held November 20, 2011, at the Community Living Kingston office, 1412 Princess Street, Kingston, at 11:00 a.m.

Other Business

Ministry Update

        Ms. McDonnell stated that there was only one Ministry update this month, and that she presented the information around Mental Health under the Mental Health Initiatives presentation.

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that a Ministry Update with be a standing item on each agenda, under the Other Business section.

Special Education Report

        Drew Boyce provided information around the Transition to School for Student with Special Education Needs process.  He reviewed the following information:

Transition to School for Students with Special Education Needs:

The school principal or Educational Services receives information about new students by parent contact or through preschool community agencies.

The school principal or Educational Services shares student information and arranges a transition meeting at the school with parents, appropriate school staff and preschool agency.

During the meeting the student’s strengths and special needs as well as supports that may be needed will be discussed.  In addition an action plan will be determined which outlines next steps.

This may include:

•     school visit
•     day care visit
•     transportation arrangements
•     gathering of assessments for planning
•     other specific details to ensure a smooth transition

After Enrolment:

As appropriate, the school, through the Principal, Vice-Principal, Student Support Teacher or other Special Education Teacher will make referrals with parental consent to school board services or external agencies such as Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

The parent may be invited to a meeting in the fall to provide consultation in the development of their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) if one is required.

At any time the parent may request a meeting to share information and discuss their child’s progress, needs or program.

        Trustee Murray thanked Mr. Boyce for providing the above-noted information.

EQAO Results for Students with Special Needs

        This matter was deferred to a future meeting.

Recommendations to Change SEAC Time

        Following discussion, Committee members recommended that the start time for SEAC meetings remain at 7:00 p.m.  They suggested that this matter be re-visited annually.

LDSB Strategic Plan

        Trustee Murray indicated that beginning in November 2011, the Board asked its many partners in education for their input regarding the Board’s Strategic Plan, and annual initiatives.  She said that if anyone has any feedback, their comments should be forwarded to Director Brenda Hunter at, by January 3, 2012.  She reported that the Strategic Plan can be accessed through the Board’s website.

Program and Accommodation Review Committees

        Trustee Murray reported that a few of the Board’s PARCs have been completed.  She indicated that at a future meeting, she would ask a representative of the Facility Services Department to attend a SEAC meeting to present information on the new schools that will be constructed.

        Trustee Murray stated that the Trustees are selecting their Committee choices at their Committee of the Whole Board (Caucus) meeting on November 28, 2011, and she indicated that this might be her last meeting as Co-Chair of the SEAC.  She stated that she has enjoyed her role as Co-Chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee.
Next Meeting Date

        The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., at the Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston.

        The January meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, at 7:00 p.m., at the Education Centre.


        MOVED BY Brad Shoniker, seconded by Pat LaLonde, that the meeting adjourn at 8:50 p.m.–Carried