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January 18, 2012 - Special Education Advisory Committee Minutes
Special Education Advisory Committee
January 18, 2012

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, January 18, 2012, at 7:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
Elaine Crawford
Paula Murray, Co-Chair
Present Members:
Kathy Bennett, Community Living Kingston
Pat LaLonde, Autism Ontario
Andrea Martin, Member-at-Large (Queen’s University)
Anne Peace-Fast, Member-at-Large                                                                 
Brad Shoniker, Member-at-Large
Present Staff:
Drew Boyce, School to Community Coordinator
Jennifer Davidson-Harden, Chief Psychologist
Christine Herron, Educational Services and Safe Schools Liaison Coordinator
Anne Jacobsen, Educational Services
Ann-Marie Lacoursière, Principal of Educational Services
Alison McDonnell, Supervising Principal, Special Education
Jennifer Murphy, Special Education Program Coordinator
Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson, Special Education Program Coordinator
Steve Ward, Vice-Principal of Educational Services
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Nadine Carson, Epilepsy Kingston
Karen Jeffrey, Lennox and Addington Resources for Children
Charlene Whalen, Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington   
David Williams, Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston
        The meeting was chaired by Kathy Bennett, who called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting, especially Principal Ann-Marie Lacoursière.  She thanked Steve Ward for serving as Acting Principal, and Anne Jacobsen for serving as Acting Vice-Principal, while Ms. Lacoursière was away from work.

Approval of Agenda

        Ms. Bennett reported that this evening’s presentation New Schools: Meeting the Special Needs of Students, will be deferred to next month’s meeting, as Mr. Fowler was unable to attend tonight’s meeting.  She further reported that an item regarding the School Year Calendar Survey that was distributed to various groups, including SEAC members, will be added to the agenda under the Other Business section.

        MOVED BY Brad Shoniker, seconded by Anne Peace-Fast, that the agenda, as amended, be approved.–Carried

Approval of Minutes

        MOVED BY Brad Shoniker, seconded by Anne Peace-Fast, that the minutes of the December 14, 2011 meeting, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Business Arising From the Minutes

Expansion of the Mental Health Initiatives Pilot Project

        Supervising Principal McDonnell reported that Chris Herron and Jennifer Davidson-Harden spoke to SEAC members a couple of months ago about a Mental Health pilot project called “Opening Doors to Teen Mental Health Awareness: A curriculum based approach..  She said there were further questions as to whether this may be an initiative that could re-occur in our system, as well as questions around data collection that occurred for the project.

        Ms. Herron reported that Dr. Roberts and Dr. Parker were interested to meet with Ms. McDonnell, Dr. Davidson-Harden and herself with regard to exploring an opportunity to expand the pilot project into further secondary schools.  She advised that the meeting is to be held Friday, January 20th.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden stated that students who participated in the pilot project were given a pre and post questionnaire around attitudes.  Dr. Parker and Dr. Roberts continue to collate the results.

        Dr. Davidson-Harden stated that preliminary results indicate that students have a more positive attitude towards mental health issues, after participating in the curriculum.

        Ms. McDonnell reiterated that this initiative is a secondary project only.

Addictions and the Mental Health Initiative

        Supervising Principal McDonnell advised that at the December 14, 2011 SEAC meeting, Ms. Peace-Fast brought forward some questions related to the Mental Health Initiatives that are beginning to roll out in the Province through a number of Ministries.

        Ms. Peace-Fast reinforced the excellent relationship that LDSB has with Lennox and Addington Mental Health, Youth Diversion and Kairos over the past 30 years.  She did express concerns around the potential impact of the Ministry’s roll out of Mental Health & Addictions Nurses in District School Boards Program.  Specifically, Ms. Peace-Fast expressed concerns about the use of a medical model of intervention within addictions.

        Supervising Principal McDonnell stated that the implementation of mental health and addiction nurses is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  She said that according to information shared,144 Registered Practical Nurses with mental health and addictions expertise will be hired to 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 addiction needs in their region.  Ms. McDonnell said that we still have received no further communication from the Ministries as to what this model will look like.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that it would be prudent to have a standing item on our agenda that will help to any address questions or concerns we have, as the mental health initiative rolls out.

Election of Agency Co-Chair

        The matter of the election of the Agency Co-Chair was deferred to the February 15, 2012 meeting.

New Schools: Meeting the Special Needs of Students
        The New Schools: Meeting the Special Needs of Students presentation to be provided by Dave Fowler, Manager of Facility Services, was deferred to the February 15, 2012 meeting.

Educational Services Update

        Mr. Ward provided the following Educational Services Update:                    

January/February Overview

•     End of Semester 1 and start of Semester 2 at secondary.
•     End of Term 1 and start of Term 2 at elementary
•     Report cards for both elementary and secondary.
•     Early work on Transition to School and Grade 8/9 Transitions for September.
•     Opening of the new Primary Learning Centre located at Rideau Heights P.S.

Curriculum Council

•     SCS Curriculum Council met today from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. at LCVI.  The focus of the session was “Resource Sharing”.  Teachers brought items to share with the group – an idea, a resource, a tool, etc.
•     A number of resources from our School to Community Lending Library were also on display and available for teachers to borrow.

Educational Assistant Professional Learning

•     Educational Assistants will be participating in professional learning at LaSalle SS on the upcoming February 3rd PA Day.
•     Guest speakers include: Rosetta hall (Motivational Speaker) and Dr. Wendy Craig (Bullying Prevention Strategies).
•     Educational Assistants can also sign up for Behaviour Management Systems Training (full day initial training or half-day refresher session).
•     The Autism Team and Pathways are also offering full-day Introductory and Advanced ABA sessions by sign-up.
•     The Limestone DSB Exceptionality Course starts Thursday, January 19th and runs for four consecutive Thursday evenings at the Education Centre.
•     The course will provide a broad overview of a variety of exceptionalities (Development Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, Autism and Behaviour) as well as strategies and resources that can be used by Educational Assistants when supporting students.

Professional Learning

•     December Educational Services Staff meeting focused on the topic of “Wellness – Taking Care of Ourselves, Taking Care of Each Other” (Guest speaker – Karen Wells, Kingston Community Counselling Centre).
•     January Staff Meeting focused on Health & Safety and an overview of Mental Health Initiatives to support students.
•     Connections teams participated in professional learning on Friday, January 13th, which explored strategies to increase independent skills in students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
•     The Educational Services Lending Library has moved back to Educational Services from Fairfield Elementary School.

        Ms. Bennett thanked Mr. Ward for providing the above-noted update.

        Trustee Murray indicated that she had received promotional correspondence from Together We Rock! Building Accessible and Inclusive Communities, dated November 18, 2011, which included a “Together We Rock!” School Leadership Program DVD.

        Kathy Bennett advised that she had an Inclusive Education Month 2012 poster distributed, noting that an Inclusive Education Day is being held February 8th.

        Trustee Murray indicated that she would bring information from any budget announcements forward, as they are received.

Association Updates

Autism Ontario

        Ms. LaLonde reported that at the Autism Ontario - Kingston Chapter meeting last night, a retired educational assistant was the guest speaker.  She advised that one of the things he spoke about was including students with exceptionalities at lunch time and recess time, as it was a good learning time for them to build friendships.  She stated that one of the things students with exceptionalities struggle with is how to participate during lunch and recess times.  Ms. LaLonde indicated that she had mentioned how her daughter participates in a Buddy Program at her school, indicating that the building of new friendships is important.  Ms. LaLonde stated that the parents asked her, as the SEAC representative, how to bring this concern around building social skills at recess to the Board’s attention.  She said that she told the parents that they should contact their school.  

        Ms. McDonnell said that she appreciates that Ms. LaLonde has brought this concern to our attention.  She reiterated that it is important that parents bring individual concerns to the school so that they can be addressed.

Community Living Kingston

        Kathy Bennett advised that Executive Director Alan McWhorter is retiring and that he will be replaced by Peter Sproule, former Director of Operations for Community Living Kingston.

        Ms. Bennett reported advised that Community Living Kingston has acquired new space adjacent to its existing space, which will alleviate its problem of space.   She said that one of the activities they are going to focus on has an educational aspect, and that they will be purchasing state-of-the-art equipment.  She reported that they plan on expanding into their new space this spring.

Other Business

(i)     Ministry Update

        Ms. McDonnell advised she has received no new information from the Ministry related to Mental Health Initiatives.  

        Ms. McDonnell commented on the Partnering for Student Success Agreement, which was formalized at the end of November, with the three co-terminus school boards (Limestone DSB, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB and the Hastings-Prince Edward DSB), as well as the local Children’s Aid Societies (Hastings CAS, Prince Edward CAS, Lennox and Addington Family and Children’s Services and Kingston CAS).  She advised that this protocol supports those students who are in the care of a Children’s Aid Society.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that the purpose of the protocol between the local school boards and local Children’s Aid Societies is improve the educational experiences and outcomes of children/youth in care.   

        Ms. McDonnell advised that the protocol was released to the greater community in November at a press conference at the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, noting that a great deal of media were involved.  She reported that this protocol will be rolled out within the district school board and Children’s Aid Society members in early spring.  She indicated that training will occur collaboratively, noting that a training plan is being established with our agency partners.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that we focus on student success in many different ways.  She said that this protocol will assist in providing consistency of service to some of our most at-risk students.

        Chris Herron reported that a Crown Wardship Education Championship Committee has planned a post-secondary convention, which will be held on March 23rd.  It is being hosted at St. Lawrence College, Kingston campus.  Students in Grades 11 and 12 in care of a Children’s Aid Society, foster parents and staff are being invited to participate in this day.  She said that a motivational speak will be present, and that workshops will be held.  The focus will be to highlight opportunities that exist at the post-secondary level.  Ms. Herron reported that representatives from the University of Ottawa, St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University will come together to help plan this day for our students.

(ii)    Special Education Report

        Supervising Principal McDonnell advised that the matter of the Special Education Report is to be deferred to the February meeting of the SEAC, as what she was bringing forward connects to Manager Fowler’s presentation – New Schools: Meeting the Special Needs of Students.

(iii)   School Year Calendar Survey

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that SEAC members would have received, within the last couple of weeks, an e-mail from Safe and Caring Schools Supervisor and Assistant to the Director Burra, regarding the School Year Calendar Survey.  She said that various groups have been asked to complete the survey to provide feedback around the School Year Calendar for 2012-2013.  She asked those members who have not completed the survey to please do so, noting that we would value their input through that process.

Next Meeting Date

        The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, 2012, at 7:00 p.m., at the Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston.  The remaining meetings for the 2011-2012 school year are scheduled for: March 21, 2012, April 18, 2012, May 23, 2012 (4th Wednesday), and June 6, 2012 (2nd Wednesday).


        MOVED BY Pat LaLonde, seconded by Andrea Martin, that the meeting adjourn at 7:55 p.m.–Carried