Jan. 15, 2020 Special Ed. Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Special Education Subcommittee

Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Chair
Mr. Doug Gutro & Mrs. Emily Lebo, Subcommittee Members

**This meeting is a Committee of the Whole**

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm
Coddington Building

  1. Significant Disproportionality Presentation - Ms. Anderson, Ms. Forrester, Ms. Graham

  2. Special Education Rights & Responsibilities - Ms. Perkins Ms. Carey, Ms. Cunningham, Ms. Leary

  3. Inclusive Programs Update - Ms. Perkins

  4. QPAC Update - Ms. Beck


Quincy School Committee

Special Education Subcommittee Meeting ~ January 15, 2020 

A meeting of the Special Education Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were Mayor Thomas P. Koch, Mr. Anthony Andronico, Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Emily Lebo, Mr. Frank Santoro, and Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Special Education Chair and Mrs. Emily Lebo, Teaching & Learning Chair. Also attending were Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Ms. Sarah Anderson, Ms. Catherine Carey, Ms. Donna Cunningham, Ms. Julie Graham, Ms. Jennifer Leary, Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla; Quincy Parent Advisory Council to Special Education President Cassandra Beck; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Ms. Perkins introduced the Significant Disproportionality Presentation. Ms. Anderson reviewed that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to collect and examine data to determine if significant disproportionality in special education based on race and ethnicity is occurring in school districts. The rate is calculated based on identification of students ages 3 through 21 with a disability, placements of students with disabilities, ages 6 through 21, and disciplinary removals involving students with disabilities ages 3 through 21. The goal is to ensure that the likelihood that students of all racial and ethnic groups have similar likelihood of being identified.

Mr. Gutro asked about the term “overidentifying” and Ms. Forrester clarified that this is DESE’s term. Mrs. Hubley asked for and received confirmation that the students in the Health Impairment group are medical diagnoses. Mr. Gutro asked if the theory is that all ethnic groups should be at a similar percentage. Ms. Forrester said it is more complicated than that, the state calculates a risk ratio based on a complicated formula. Students with a Health Impairment is the only category that QPS is at risk of overidentifying and these are students who are diagnosed by doctors.

Mayor Koch asked to see data about which schools the students attend, perhaps there are environmental factors that the City and School Committee should be aware of.

Ms. Graham will follow up with data broken out by school. There are 88 students total, 74 with ADD/ADHD and 14 with medical diagnoses. 35 are elementary students, 26 are middle school students, and 27 are high school students. 84 are in-district and 4 are out of district students.

Ms. Perkins said the bottom line is that students will continue to receive all of the services they need. Team administrators will be collaborating to streamline primary and secondary disability identification and to monitor the category of “Health” as the primary disability.

Mr. Andronico thanked the presenters for looking into the issue.

Director of Special Education Erin Perkins and the Special Education Team Administrators Catherine Carey, Donna Cunningham, and Jennifer Leary shared the annual Special Education Rights & Responsibilities presentation, the goal being so that educators will understand their role regarding special education; to enhance collaboration between family and school personnel; and so that parents and school personnel will participate in special education matters as knowledgeable partners. The Quincy Public Schools Special Education Department operates under the federal Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Massachusetts Special Education Law administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Students are eligible for Special Education if all three of the following are true: (1) the student has one or more disabilities; (2) the student is not making effective progress in school as a result of their disability or disabilities; and (3) the student requires specialized instruction in order to make effective progress. There are 12 different types of disabilities defined by state and federal regulations: Autism, developmental delay, intellectual impairment, sensory impairment/hearing; sensory impairment/vision loss; sensory impairment/deafness and blindness; neurological impairment; emotional impairment; communication impairment; physical impairment; health impairment; a specific learning disability; or any combination of the above.

Special Education is specially-designed instruction to meet the unique needs of an eligible student and/or related services necessary to access and make progress in the general curriculum. The timeline for entry into Special Education is up to 45 school working days, beginning with the parents’ consent to evaluate, followed by evaluation and a team meeting to determine eligibility. A proposed IEP is then generated and /or placement recommendation. Services begin upon parental consent.

There are six principles of Special Education: (1) parent and student participation – it is the obligation of the school district to make strong efforts, in multiple ways, to ensure parental and student participation; (2) Free and appropriate public education; (3) Appropriate evaluation and three-year re-evaluation; (4) Individualized Education Program (IEP) which contains written information on the parents’ concerns and the students skills, a written explanation of how the disability affects the student’s ability to learn and to demonstrate his or her learning; an identification of specific, measurable goals which can be reached in a year’s time; and a listing of the services to be provided to the student. (5) Least Restrictive Environment – to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities have the right to be educated in the general education environment and in the classroom they would have attended if they did not have disabilities. Removal from the general education program occurs only if the nature or severity is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be satisfactorily achieved. (6) Procedural Safeguards include right to written notice; right to consent/refuse; right to “stay put”; problem resolution system; mediation and due process; timelines; confidential records; right to receive any evaluations 2 days in advance of Team meeting, if requested.

Mr. Santoro asked about the identification process and distinguishing between language for English Learner (EL) students and learning disabilities. Ms. Perkins said that the High Needs team is a collaboration of EL and Special Education teachers who have developed a flowchart with benchmarks for interventions. EL teachers have been trained in Orton Gillingham, Central Registration is gathering information during registration process, and Integrated Learning Team meetings provide opportunities to revisit student progress.

Mr. Gutro asked about the number and type of Special Education students, Ms. Perkins said there are consistently around 1700 students, with Autism as a growing diagnosis, second to Social Emotional disability. Mr. Gutro asked about a timeline for the Learning Center program development, Dr. DeCristofaro said this can be on the agenda for February 12 School Committee Meeting. Mr. Gutro asked about parent involvement, Ms. Beck will assist in recruiting parents to be part of program development collaboration.

Mrs. Lebo asked about the new regulation about dyslexia screening, Ms. Perkins said no guidance has been shared by DESE yet on the implementation. Mrs. Lebo asked about having a School Committee member on Learning Center team, Ms. Perkins said Mr. Andronico has been involved as he was Special Education Subcommittee chair.

For the Inclusive Programs update, Ms. Perkins is working with Ms. Beck and other QPAC parents. The first Beyond the Bell Saturday program is confirmed, Drums Alive. The flyer is being shared this week and there is an online signup link for interested families. Hopefully, this is the first of many such programs.

The QPAC Update was shared by Ms. Beck, who introduced two new interim board members: Vice President Ms. McGill and Outreach & Public Relations Chair Ms. Woods. A QPAC meeting was held in mid-December and monthly meetings will be held the first Tuesday of each month February through June. Gingerbread Night was held in December, a very successful event, as was the annual trip to Enchanted Village. Ms. Beck is looking forward to collaborating on the Learning Center program development.

Mr. Gutro made a motion to adjourn the Special Education Subcommittees meeting at 7:00 pm. Mrs. Lebo seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.