Nov. 18, 2020 Special Ed. Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Special Education Subcommittee

Per Governor Baker’s order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A sec. 20, the public will not be allowed to physically access this School Committee meeting. Members of the Public can access the meeting audio live on QATV Channel 22 or at The meeting will also be recorded for rebroadcast and posted on the QPS SchoolTube website on Friday, November 20, 2020.

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

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Coddington Building

  1. Special Education Rights & Responsibilities - Ms. Perkins

  2. Special Education Pathways Update - Ms. Perkins

  3. Special Education Director Update - Superintendent Mulvey

  4. DeCristofaro Learning Center Update - Superintendent Mulvey, Ms. Perkins

  5. QPAC Update - Ms. Beck


Quincy School Committee

Special Education Subcommittee Meeting ~ November 18, 2020

A meeting of the Special Education Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 5:30 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Emily Lebo, Mr. Frank Santoro, and Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Special Education Subcommittee Chair. Also attending were Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Assistant Superintendent Erin Perkins, Ms. Sarah Anderson, Ms. Donna Cunningham, Ms. Julie Graham, Ms. Jennifer Leary; Quincy Parent Advisory Council to Special Education President Cassandra Beck; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk (remotely).

Director of Special Education Erin Perkins and the Special Education Team Administrators Julie Graham, 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.

Mrs. Lebo asked about the pending change to add dyslexia as a Special Education diagnosis; Ms. Perkins said this is still pending and there is no official guidance

Mrs. Lebo asked about Special Education evaluations in the remote environment. Ms. Perkins said testing has been going on since last spring and continued through the summer. Evaluations are done in person when parents are comfortable and remotely if no other alternative. Ms. Cunningham said that the Snug Harbor Community School is piloting an iPad-based remote evaluation system.

Mrs. Lebo asked about the resolution system, Ms. Perkins clarified that mediation is part of the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education and the Board of Special Education Appeals is separate and completely neutral.

Mr. Santoro asked about out of district placements, have we had any issues with service delivery. Ms. Perkins said the Special Education Team Administrators are continuing to monitoring their students and the unique circumstances for their programs based on their local issues. Out of district schools are generating COVID Learning Plans and sharing them with the student’s family and Quincy Public Schools.

Mr. Santoro asked about the Carroll School, they have converted to a private pay program, will not take

Mrs. Hubley asked for confirmation of the age that students are invited to participate in IEP meetings and Ms. Perkins said when students are age 13.

Assistant Superintendent Erin Perkins, Coordinator of Middle & High School Special Education Sarah Anderson, and Team Administrators Jennifer Leary and Julie Graham presented an overview of the Special Education Pathways for in-person and remote learning for the 2020-21 school year. At the Pre-Kindergarten level, the goals are to identify students as early as possible, to maximize exposure to language, to meet students at their developmental level both academically and socially, and to prepare students for the transition to Kindergarten and beyond. Integrated Kindergarten classes are at the Amelio Della Chiesa Early Childhood Center, Snug Harbor, and Point Webster. The CARES Pre-Kindergarten program is at the Della Chiesa ECC and Point Webster. For Kindergarten, students may attend their neighborhood school, the Transitional Kindergarten program at Atherton Hough or Lincoln Hancock, or the CARES program at Snug Harbor or Squantum.

For elementary school students, the goal is to provide a free and appropriate education for all of our students so that they may be successful in the least restrictive environment. Educators work to identify students as early as possible and provide scientifically research-based reading, math, and writing interventions based on individual student needs. General Education students with Special Education needs are supported through Literacy and Special Education Resource Room services at all elementary schools. There are four citywide specialized programs: CARES (for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders) at Squantum and Snug Harbor; the Learning Center (for students with intellectual or developmental delays) at Squantum; the Language Development class (for students with a language-based learning disability) at Atherton Hough and Snug Harbor ; and STARS (for students with emotional impairment) at Parker.

For middle school students, the focus expands to promote collaborative practices across educational settings between general education staff, special educators, and related service providers. In addition, the academic, social, and emotional supports necessary so that students enter high school on the path to college and career readiness are emphasized. Inclusion support is an important component of the middle school experience. The same four citywide specialized programs are available: CARES students from Squantum and Snug Harbor will attend South~West Middle School, along with the Learning Center students from Squantum. Language Development students from Snug Harbor and Atherton Hough attend Broad Meadows Middle School. STARS students from Parker transition to the PASS program at Atlantic Middle School or the stand-alone GOALS program, depending on student needs.

For high school students, the emphasis is on providing academic, social, and emotional support necessary so that students fulfill their potential and become productive members of society. Both Quincy and North Quincy High School offer Resource Room supports and Inclusion classes for core curriculum areas. NQHS is home to the PASS, Learning Center, and LEAP (for students from 18-22) programs and QHS is home to the PACE program for LDC students. Four LEAP students are currently attending classes at Massasoit Community College through the MAICEI program.

In addition to the many in-house special programs, Quincy Public Schools currently has 161 students in Out of District Special Education placements tailored to specific student needs.

Mr. Gutro asked if Ms. Perkins was surprised with the number of Special Education students who elected to be remote students. Ms. Perkins said it was consistent with summer program enrollment decisions. The teachers, speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists have been very creative working with families, keeping students engaged in the remote learning environment and utilizing parents to support and extend.

Mr. Gutro asked if a parent who had originally opted for remote learning can change to in-person and Ms. Perkins agreed this can and will happen.

Mr. Gutro asked about Out-of-District schools and their instructional modes. Ms. Perkins said all of the schools have a remote option and most have hybrid and/or full in-person options. In addition, there are residential students who have remained in their placements throughout the pandemic. Parents seem very supportive and comfortable with the options available to them.

Mr. Santoro asked how many current Out of District students will be able to attend the DeCristofaro Learning Center when it is open. Ms. Perkins said this program will be for students with an autism diagnosis, so potentially 30-40 students.

Superintendent Mulvey reviewed that the interviews for the Special Education Director position were held on Tuesday, November 17. Seven licensed candidates were interviewed and two finalists will be reviewed with School Committee in Executive Session later tonight.

Superintendent Mulvey also presented an update on the DeCristofaro Special Education Learning Center, the conceptual design by Wessling Architects will be presented at the December 9, 2020 School Committee meeting, along with the bidding timeline. Superintendent Mulvey and Assistant Superintendent Perkins thanked Mayor Koch and the City Council for the appropriation for the DeCristofaro Learning Center.

The QPAC Update was shared by Ms. Beck, who reviewed the recent QPAC meeting. At upcoming meetings, there are plans to vote on an interim Board and create goals. There were a number of new parents on the Zoom meeting, so Ms. Beck is looking forward to hearing their input at the next meeting. Ms. Beck would like to plan virtual extracurricular activities for students, looking at grants to support materials.

Mr. Gutro thanked Ms. Beck for her continued support to Quincy Public Schools families.

Mrs. Lebo thanked Ms. Beck for looking into options for extracurricular activities.

Mr. Gutro made a motion to adjourn the Special Education Subcommittees meeting at 6:40 pm. Mrs. Lebo seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.