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October 17, 2012 - Special Education Advisory Committee Minutes
Special Education Advisory Committee
October 17, 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, October 17, 2012, at 7:00 p.m.
Present Trustees:
P. Murray, Co-Chair
E. Crawford
Present Members:
Karen Jeffrey, Lennox and Addington Resources for Children
Pat LaLonde, Autism Ontario
Andrea Martin, Member-at-Large (Queen’s University)
Brad Shoniker, Member-at-Large
David Williams, Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston
Present Staff:
Chris Herron, Educational Services & Safe Schools Coordinator
Alison McDonnell, Supervising Principal
Darlene Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Nadine Carson, Epilepsy Kingston
Erin Sheldon, Community Living Kingston
Charlene Whalen, Family & Children’s Services, Lennox and Addington
Ann-Marie Lacoursière, Principal of Educational Services
Steve Ward, Vice-Principal of Educational Services
Drew Boyce, School to Community Coordinator
Jennifer Davidson-Harden, Chief Psychologist
Jennifer Murphy, Special Education Program Coordinator
Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson, Special Education Program Coordinator

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

Approval of Agenda

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

Approval of Minutes

        MOVED BY Brad Shoniker, seconded by Karen Jeffrey, that the minutes of the September 19, 2012 meeting, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Business Arising From the Minutes

        There was no business arising from the minutes.

Special Equipment Amount (SEA) Presentation

        The Special Equipment Amount (SEA) presentation was deferred to a future meeting, as both Ms. Lacoursière and Mr. Ward were unable to attend this evening’s meeting.

Educational Services Update

        Chris Herron and Alison McDonnell provided an Educational Services update, as follows:

Professional Activity Day
•     September 28th
        •     Special Education Plan Review and Feedback
        •     Mental Health Overview and Resource Mapping
        •     Team Building

Professional Learning
•     Student Support Teachers – Literacy
•     Mental Health Awareness Workshop
•     Mental Health Teacher Training
•     Behaviour Management System (BHS) training for Educational Assistants
•     First Aid/CPR Training scheduled for early November
•     Training around Special Education Data

North Addington Education Centre Section 23 Class
•     RESTART (Respect, Empathy, Strength, Trust, Attitude, Responsibility, Teamwork)
•     0.50 Teacher and 0.50 Educational Assistant
•     Consultative support from the Section 23 partner – Pathways for Children and Youth
•     Collaborative support from Educational Services Vice-Principal, Educational Services and Safe Schools Liaison Coordinator, Attendance and Student Support Counsellors

•     Direct support for a number of students with a range of special education, social/emotional, and mental health needs
•     Initiatives being planned for other classes and the whole school
•     Outreach to families in the North Addington Education Centre area by Pathways for Children and Youth
•     One-year pilot project for 2012-2013

Upcoming Events
•     Community Partners Meeting – Wednesday, October 31st, beginning at 8:45 a.m., at Educational Services – SEAC Members are welcome to attend
•     October 29th PA Day – focus on EDI data
•     Elementary Progress Reports
•     Secondary Mid-Semester Reports

        Trustee Murray thanked Ms. McDonnell and Ms. Herron for providing the above-noted information.


(a)     From the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board SEAC Chair and Chair, a copy of a letter dated July 4, 2012, addressed to the Minister of Community and Social Services, advising that they concur with the concerns of the Upper Grand District School Board, around eligibility for services and supports that very specifically deals with the issue of requirement for psychological assessment.

(b)     From the Near North District School Board SEAC Chair, a copy of a letter addressed to the Minister of Community and Social Services, that documents concerns from their SEAC regarding the Ministry’s intent to cut Special Services at Home Funding (SSAH) to individuals, who have an intellectual disability, and their families, when they reach the age of 18.

Association Updates

Lennox and Addington Resources for Children (LARC)

        Ms. Jeffrey advised that LARC is still consulting with its school partners with regard to the transition to school process, noting that it is going well.

        Trustee Murray thanked Ms. Jeffrey for providing the above-noted information.

Brad Shoniker

        Mr. Shoniker stated that on December 9, 2012, Ongwanada will be going through its accreditation process.

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

Autism Ontario

        Ms. LaLonde stated that Autism Ontario Kingston is continuing with its activities during Autism Awareness Month.  She reported that on Friday, October 19, 2012, they are having a Hallowe’en Party at Zorba’s Banquet Facility, from 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m.  Advanced tickets are $12/single or $20/couple, and at the door, they are $15/single or $25/couple.

        Ms. LaLonde indicated that Autism Ontario Kingston has just started a Facebook Page, and that one can find a list of activities on that page.

        Ms. LaLonde said that the Lego Club is going well, and that they are still looking for participants for that club.

        Ms. LaLonde advised that Autism Ontario Kingston just closed its Buddy process, and that they will be interviewing applicants, and matching them with the children.

        Ms. LaLonde reported that the “God’s Middle Name” production, a story of one mother’s ten-year episodic journey through the unchartered territory of raising her autistic child will run from  October 24-27.  All proceeds to go the Quintilian School and Kingston Foundation for Autism.

        Trustee Murray thanked Ms. LaLonde for providing the above-noted information.

Learning Disabilities Association of Kingston

        Mr. Williams reported that a Career Planning workshop is being held this evening, at Duncan McArthur Hall, Faculty of Education, Queen’s University.  A presentation on an on-line program called “Career Cruising” will be provided.

        Mr. Williams stated that LDAK started again this past week, a Board Leadership program with the School of Commerce at Queen’s University.  He indicated that Queen’s students involved in this program become Board members for one year, after which time they can choose to remain on the Board or to leave.  He said that this is a wonderful opportunity for the students involved in the program.

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

Andrea Martin

        Andrea Martin advised that she had received a request from the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) at Queen’s University, that she share with the SEAC Committee, information regarding the new Grade 8 Transitions Program that they are in the midst of developing and implementing.  She said that RARC is currently conducting a two-year project to assist students with learning disabilities to make a successful transition from Grade 7 to secondary school and beyond.  She said that the program is specifically for Grade 7 students with specific learning disabilities.  She said that the letter indicates that research has shown that despite having the intellectual ability to attend college or university, students with learning disabilities are significantly less likely to start or complete post-secondary education.  By providing students, their parents and teachers with a deeper understanding of the student’s learning profile and challenges, they hope to increase the chances of students succeeding in secondary school and beyond.

        The program involves providing each student with:

•     an updated psychoeducational assessment
•     after school intervention sessions focusing on self-advocacy and self-knowledge
•     parent training sessions
•     summer programs
•     individualized adaptive technology training

        To be eligible for the program students must:

•     Currently be enrolled in Grade 7 in the Kingston area
•     Have previously been identified/diagnosed as having a learning disability with weakness in reading and/or writing
•     Currently be working below grade level expectations in reading and/or writing
•     Have average intellectual functioning (reasoning ability above the 25th percentile)

        Over the course of the two-year program, students will:

•     Receive an updated psychoeducational assessment during fall 2012 (approximately 3 one-hour sessions at RARC on Queen’s University campus)
•     Participate in after-school intervention sessions in winter/spring 2013
•     Participate in a one-week adaptive technology camp during early July 2013
•     Receive 8 one-hour individualized adaptive technology training sessions during fall 2013 or spring 2014 (this training will be for a randomly selected group of students)
•     Receive a one-hour follow-up testing session in winter 2014
•     Participate in 3 one-hour evening intervention sessions in winter 2014 (with parents)
•     Participate in a one-week secondary school transition camp in August 2014

        Transportation is not provided.

        Ms. Martin reported that RARC is looking for more participants.  She said that it is her understanding from the RARC Program Coordination that Vice-Principal Ward is abreast of this information.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that this is an excellent service for our students and their families.  She said that documentation has already been sent to schools about how to access the service.  She said that she understands that RARC has not received as much interest in the program as what they had in the past.  She advised that the information was sent to schools again last week, asking that the information be provided to the parents/guardians of students who would be eligible.

        Trustee Murray thanked Ms. Martin for providing the above-noted information.

Other Business

Special Education Plan 2012-2013

        Ms. McDonnell distributed copies of the Special Education Plan: 2012-2013.  She said that the Plan has been posted on the Board’s website, as required by the Ministry of Education.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that the Plan is updated and reflective of the Board’s service delivery model.  She stated that within the document, one will find the updated details related to people and allocation of resources.

        Ms. McDonnell asked SEAC members how they would like staff to share the document with them.  She said that SEAC members could go through the document at their leisure, and following their review, an opportunity could be provided for them to ask questions.  She said that SEAC members could also let staff know which sections they want reviewed, and we could leave it as a standing item on the agenda.

        Trustee Murray indicated that the Board’s Strategic Plan refers to all of the programs listed in the Special Education Plan.

        Ms. McDonnell said that we could make links back to the Strategic Plan, and talk about taking a deeper look at how students with special needs are reflected in the Board’s Strategic Plan.  This matter could be placed on the November SEAC agenda.

        Andrea Martin stated that she finds the document helpful.  She indicated that in terms of format, the document appears to be similar year to year.  She asked if any particular changes to the document could be highlighted based on demographics and exceptional situations in the Board.

        Ms. McDonnell indicated that the changes related to resources.  The document provides a listing of services provided and what the services look like.  She said that this section is where one sees more significant changes.  Ms. McDonnell stated that the sections with additions are related to the early learning team, that would not have been reflected previously.  She said that there is a tiered intervention approach, and the Special Education Plan makes that approach clearer.  She reported that any new partnerships would be added in the back of the document, and where the title or service has changed, that would be reflected as well.
Ministry Updates

        Ms. McDonnell provided information from the Regional Special Education Committee (RSEC) meeting with regard to an overview of special education, which was held today.  She reported that Barry Finlay, from the Ministry of Education, provided a special education update and that over the next number of SEAC meetings, she will share information from the meeting.

        Ms. McDonnell shared information from the Ministry of Education Strategic Directions, detailing the EQAO results.  She said that at the last SEAC meeting she shared the Grade 3 and 6 results, noting that we celebrated the improvement in achievement for students with special needs that we saw across the Board, in Levels 3 and 4 and in the reduction in the deferred rate.

         Ms. McDonnell stated that in the Provincial Grade 3 achievement results for 2011-2012, the percentage of Grade 3 students at or above the provincial standards increased by 1% in Reading (up to 31%), 4% in writing (up to 52%) and the results remained the same in Mathematics at 34%.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that in the Provincial Junior Division (Grade 6) achievement results, reading was up 4 percentage points, writing was up 4 percentage points and Mathematics remained the same.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that the Special Education goals in terms of the Province are as follows:

•     improvement in achievement and well being of all students with special needs
•     focus on increasing capacity of schools to effectively meet the needs of learners
•     focus on Individual Education Plans – support the development and implementation of Individual Education Plans
•     enhanced collaboration among Ministries, schools, families and community partners, improving the balance between teaching and learning
•     transitioning for students – community, through and exiting from the system

        Ms. McDonnell shared the EQAO Grade 3 results for students with special needs from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011, commenting on the growth in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.  She also commented on the improvement in the exemption rate from 2006-2007 to 2010-2012.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that there is the same type of growth in the Grade 6 achievement results in reading, writing and mathematics.  She said that we are on a downward trend in the exemption rate.  She said that we are seeing an upward trend in our students achieving at Level 3 and above.  She said that mathematics is the exception.  She said that there is focus on numeracy provincially.

        Ms. McDonnell reviewed the highlights of the Limestone District School Board 2012 results for students with special needs regarding the Grade 10 literacy test.  She said that within the Limestone District School Board, our demographics for students with special needs is 31%.  She said that percentage of students with special education needs in Limestone District School Board is higher that the provincial average.  She indicated that 55% of Limestone District School Board  first-time eligible students with special education needs (excluding gifted students) were successful in writing the test, compared to the provincial rate of 44%.  She advised that in Limestone District School Board, 1% of first-time eligible students with special needs (excluding gifted students) deferred writing the test, compared to the province’s deferral rate of 12%.

        Ms. McDonnell stated that our students with special needs performed very well.

        Ms. McDonnell shared information related to the provincial Learning Disabilities Working Group, comprised of educators, researchers and advocates.  She said that the Ministry is in the process of consulting on the new guideline and P/PM.  She said that the Ministry will release all of these documents in the fall of 2013.  She said that there was an indication that once this particular review has been completed, work groups would be established for giftedness and mild disability.

        Ms. McDonnell said that we have three programs that service students with learning disabilities.  She said that we have a majority of students who remain in their home school and access curriculum.  She said that we look forward to these new documents as we refine our service delivery model.

Other Business

                Supervising Principal McDonnell asked if there were any SEAC members who would want to be a member of the Limestone District School Board School Council Liaison Committee (Parent Involvement Committee).  She said that the Parent Involvement Committee consists of a group of School Council Chairs who represent their particular school group areas, related to topics around parent engagement. She reported that the Special Education Advisory Committee member does not have to be a parent.

        Both Pat LaLonde and Karen Jeffrey expressed interest about serving on the Parent Involvement Committee.  Pat LaLonde asked if there could be an alternate SEAC member on this committee.

        Ms. McDonnell said that she would send information out to SEAC members regarding the Parent Involvement Committee.

Next Meeting Date

        The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at 7:00 p.m., at Southview Public School, 18 Golf Course Lane, Napanee.   The remaining meeting dates for the 2012-2013 school year are:  December 12, 2012 (2nd Wednesday), January 16, 2013, February 20, 2013, March 20, 2013, April 17, 2013, May 22, 2013 (4th Wednesday), and June 5, 2013 (1st Wednesday).


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