4/30 Board Agenda Posted – Elizabeth Turnage Retiring

The agenda for Thursday’s, 4/30, board meeting is posted here.

Please make note of two items – Appointment of New Principal at HAVEN and Elizabeth Turnage retiring – listed under item #10 Superintendent’s Report.

  1. Superintendent’s Report
  • Items Requiring Action following Executive Session
    • Personnel Matters including:
      • Appointments
        • Director, SPLOST Management, Operations Division
        • Principal, Blackwell Elementary School
        • Principal, Davis Elementary School
        • Principal, Keheley Elementary School
        • Principal, Sope Creek Elementary School
        • Principal, Sprayberry High School
        • Principal, H.A.V.E.N.
      • Retirements
        • Director, Legal and Policy Issues, Special Student Services
    • Legal Matters

Inclusive Higher Education Options

Today I attended a Down Syndrome conference and got the chance to speak to the Kennesaw State University representative from their Inclusive Learning program.

In speaking with her, she mentioned that Kennesaw’s Program may not be the right fit for everyone. I didn’t quite understand her statement until she further explained how she use to be a special education teacher believing that students with disabilities should be educated in a small group self contained classroom with no need for learning more than life skills. However, after years of teaching she soon began to wonder why aren’t schools preparing students with disabilities for post secondary education.

Students with disabilities can not earn a degree from a post secondary school with a special education degree, they must have a general education degree. Yet the public schools don’t foster a mainstreamed/inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities preferring to keep them contained in small group special education classes. And although the Kennesaw’s Inclusive Program is a good program it is not a degreed program.

She passed on the website – www.thinkcollege.net – which is dedicated to providing inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability.

Although I have a while before Michelle is ready for college, I am preparing now for her to be able to pursue a post secondary education. And that begins with educating her IEP team about all the post secondary options available to students with disabilities. Changing their mindsets just as the Kennesaw representative changed hers.

Special Education Item from 4/15 Board Meeting

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 4/15 board meeting, be sure to watch the video available online.

During the budget discussion, Brad Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer, mentioned the transfer of Special Student Service Positions to School Based Leadership – transferring fourteen positions out of the central office into school locations to help manage special education functions.

So it seems the consultant’s suggestion to deploy more staff at the school level rather than district level was taken into account.

I also understand there are some more major changes coming soon, so I will keep everyone posted as soon as I learn of them.

If anyone hears of any other changes please post in the comments section.

Special Education Program Review Report from 3/26 Board Meeting

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 3/26 board meeting where the Mid-term report was presented, click on Special Education Program Evaluation Mid-Term Report to view the presentation slides.

Unfortunately the 3/26 board meeting video is not available yet, but I encourage you to watch the video as soon as it posted.

Considering the short notice, some parents were able to make the meeting. I also noticed special education staff members in attendance as well, including Special Education Director, Susan Christensen and Special Education Supervisors Brenda Watkins and George Morgan.

One public comment, by Elizabeth Foy, was given regarding special education. Two points from Beth’s comments stood out – there needs to be a systematic change in the mindset and end segregation of small group.

Below are points presented by SRG Technology:

  • Program Review began in January 2015
  • Over 14,000 SWD students
  • 12.5% of student population are SWD
  • Commendations – strong collaboration among district staff, strong speech and preschool programs
  • Recommendations – transparency, improve communication both internal and external, and consistency of practices
  • Other suggestions – deploy more staff at school level rather than district level, problems should be solved/handled at lowest level that they occur, and create a formal parent advisory board.

Board Member Susan Thayer asked how many parents were consulted, were enough parents represented. Chief Academic Officer Mary Elizabeth Davis stated sufficient parental input was given. However, parents in the audience clearly made it known that only 10 parents were interviewed. At that time the consultant acknowledged the turnout wasn’t what they wanted, reasoned it was because of the bad weather, and recommended an alternative survey to reach out to more parents.

The next step is for the consultants to complete data gathering and deliver the final report to the board before the end of the school year.

So I will be keeping a close eye on the board meeting agendas to see when the final report will be presented. Below are the remaining board meetings’ dates before the school year ends. So do keep your schedules open so we can be in attendance.

  • Wed, 4/15 at 8:30 am
  • Thurs, 4/30 at 7 pm
  • Wed, 5/13 at 8:30 am
  • Thurs, 5/28 at 7 pm