Delaware To Get Federal “Needs Intervention” In Special Education Again As Incompetent DOE Lies At Public Meeting

Delaware WILL get a “Needs Intervention” label for their Annual IDEA Determination from the Office of Special Educations Programs at the United States Department of Education.  The Delaware DOE knows this, but they aren’t announcing it.  My guess is they are waiting for the “formal” letter to come from the feds before they publicly release this information to the public.  Even though they were told this information at least four weeks ago.  If I were a betting man, we won’t find this out until after June 30th.  I predicted this three weeks ago when I found the letters that went out to the districts and charters.

At the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens meeting on Tuesday night, the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the DOE gave a presentation to the council on the Local Education Authority (LEA) portion of the annual determination.  The presentation was given by Barbara Mazza and Maria Locuniak from the DOE.  In this presentation, there were several absolute lies that are in this article, for which I caught them red-handed.  It is very alarming they would try to dupe a state council devoted to the improvement of outcomes for persons with disabilities. Continue reading

Comment Rescue Regarding Rodel, Autism, & Special Education

Well, this is mighty interesting.  Marie-Anne Aghazadian, the former Executive Director for the Parent Information Center of Delaware from 1989-2014, a former member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, and the founding President of the Delaware Autism Program, wrote a comment on an article I published over a year ago about the introduction of Senate Bill 92.

I, too, find it highly suspicious that Paul Herdman is now interested in improving special education. A group of students he had disdained for years. But then things have been rather quiet for Rodel since the demise of the RTT grant and the unsuccessful Mark Murphy reign.

And what better way to get into the fray again than to suggest interest in special education. Really?

I have found that Matt Korobkin (with whom I have worked on the Autism Advancement Package aka SB92/93), although well-intentioned, has indeed little spec. ed. background and seems to be pushing Delaware to replicate the education collaborative model prevalent in Massachusetts and other states.

Until society values students with disabilities as much as their AP students and is willing to pay forward to ensure their success as productive and self-sufficient adults, we will continue to waste time, money and children’s lives on costly, trivial pursuits such as studies and lawsuits brought on by legitimately frustrated parents.

Aghazadian raised several talking points.  Why is Rodel, in the past couple of years, dabbling in special education.  Dr. Paul Herdman, the Executive Director of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, did teach special education once upon a time.  But the policies Rodel pushed over the past ten years seem to be special education killers and not helpers.  I agree 100% with what she wrote.  I would love to chat more with her about all of this as she seems to know the history and education of Delaware education better than most based on her vast history in the system.

This is what we need more of: those in a position to speak out and actually doing it!  Nothing will change if more people don’t speak up.  Use your voice.  You have it for a reason!

THIS IS WAR!!! Rodel’s Plan To Take Over Education In Delaware & Dump Special Education, The DOE & Markell Letting This Happen

I received the below information today, and it is very disturbing.  From what I have heard at various DOE Board Of Education meetings the past few months and what I read about with the Rodel Vision ED25 “Performance Learning” after their conference the other day, I am convinced more than ever that Rodel is just assuming they can do whatever they want because Governor Jack Markell is going to let them.  This is the final straw, and I will be taking a very strong stand against this invasion.  EVERY SINGLE DELAWARE PARENT NEEDS TO AS WELL! 

The below are draft strategies Rodel and their ED25 Committee have formulated in regards to their personalized learning idea that 2Revolutions would be implementing if this goes ahead:

Increase student and parent ownership over learning experiences by creating individual student learning plans that track mastery-based progress from birth to career and clearly articulate skills and knowledge required to progress and graduate. Build on best practices in special education that engage families and students in plan development and make plans accessible online

Build capacity of an organization to support innovation statewide by investing in the development of new school designs or instructional approaches, evaluating what works, and identify mechanisms for scaling ideas with a track record of success. This organization would also be responsible for supporting the change management process for schools and districts and engaging with parents and the public on personalized learning

Support the redesign of schools that provide a broad array of wraparound services to students  (e.g., psychological, counseling, and behavior supports), engage partners to support the whole child and their families, and provide extended hours to expand student and family access to technology

Strengthen use of comprehensive screenings and provide interventions to address student needs and issues at a young age

Create multiple, rigorous learning paths anchored in key industries and the “North Star” and linked to a range of academic and career options that integrate educational and workforce experiences. Provide all students and families with ownership over selecting the pathway that best meets their needs and aspirations

Increase in-person and technology-enhanced counseling supports to engage students at an early age and help students and families navigate the system, targeting those at risk of falling off track or dropping out

Raise the bar on new teacher certification by strengthening pre-service requirements for content and special education expertise. Increase the number of teachers receiving special education certification.

Publicly share performance of teacher preparation programs, both traditional and alternative, and tie state funding of programs to performance. Incentivize programs to train teachers in high-need subject areas (e.g., math, special education) to enable the supply of graduates to better match school demand

Support teachers in developing cultural competencies by ensuring all pre-service teachers are exposed to different school settings during student teaching and providing high-quality professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers on family engagement and working with different communities

Support a robust and transparent evaluation system that enables continuous improvement and incorporates feedback from multiple parties, which could include peers, subordinates, students, and families in educator evaluations

Develop school, district, and state-level scorecards that track growth and performance, utilize multiple mechanisms for measuring performance, and are simple and easy to understand by the public

Incentivize the development of student and parent engagement models that include activities such as student led conferences, academic parent-teacher teams, and parent institutes for advocacy and information development. Moreover, encourage the use of communication strategies between schools and families that is two-way and utilizes a variety of in-person and technology based approaches

Require or incentivize employers to allow employees to take time for school engagement activities

Update student counting procedure to count students more than one time per year in order to better account for student transitions, to support student needs identified throughout the school year, and to incentivize attendance

Publicly share district and school budgets as well as key district/school financial performance metrics that are accessible and understandable to the public

This is it!  This is Rodel’s takeover of Delaware schools.  This is the overhaul the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell have been planning for years and Rodel is the waiter bringing it to the parent table.  But where is the legislative input on these ideas?  If every student has their own personalized learning plan, what does that do to the federally mandated IDEA Individualized Education Plan?  By essentially giving every student their own IEP they have just negated special education in one fell swoop.  Yes, these are drafts, but the reality won’t be much different.  I called this one last summer:

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/special-education-in-america-where-is-it-going-spread-this-link-all-over-reblog-netde-edude-delaware-usedgov/

If you like your kid playing sports, or doing the school play, or playing an instrument in band, or joining a club after school, then you need to be against this.  Here’s why, and make sure you take the time to go the links and read about your child’s future.  The other day I posted this article:

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/breaking-news-the-future-of-education-in-delaware-and-america-and-why-common-core-standardized-testing-are-only-the-first-part-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-dianeravit/

This is just more evidence that Rodel & Markell want to do away with school buildings and make everything online and from home in the future.  And I am sure they will profit greatly from this endeavor.  Or allow their corporate buddies to.

All these groups in Delaware: The GACEC, PIC, Delaware PTA, DSEA and anyone who endorses this should be IMMEDIATELY DISBANDED!!!  You are here for the people, not whatever Markell and Rodel want.  You have been serving them for years, and it stops NOW!!!!  We don’t pay tax dollars and union dues so you can just drink the Kool-Aid and shove it down unsuspecting parents throats.

Every single legislator needs to convene and seriously consider impeachment proceedings against Governor Jack Markell and get rid of Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and cut state funding to all of these “non-profit” groups and education think tanks.  If not I will make it my mission in life to get as much support as I can and make sure this does not happen.

Here’s the deal folks, if you thought I was motivated before, that was NOTHING!  I will take this all the way to Washington D.C. if I have to.  We have spent millions and millions of dollars in this state on NOTHING but ideas that financially benefit groups like Rodel and all their idiotic Vision groups.  They have allowed you to think education is messed up to justify their money-making schemes.  Rodel and the Delaware Community Foundation are run by millionaires.  Look at all their boards and their staff.  They are all aligned together.  Markell is aligned with all of them AND the US DOE and Arne Duncan.

Their Common Core invasion of America has allowed them to put teachers in the crossfire over standardized testing scores and it monopolizes educators’ time with professional development and lesson plans based on a curriculum they ALL HATE!!!  Students hate it too.  Whenever you hear someone really enthusiastic about this crap it’s because they belong to one of these Markell groups whose sole purpose is to sell you on these agendas.  NO MORE!  SAY NO!

Go to these town hall meetings the DOE is planning and RAISE HELL!!!!!

IEP Task Force #3, Live From Dover and Wilmington @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

Live from Dover (and Wilmington), it’s the third meeting of the IEP Task Force.  It’s hard to tell with the video feed from Wilmington, but the task force looks a little bit slimmer this time.

Roll call, Brian Touchette is in the house, introduced himself as Director of Assessment.  I wonder where this is going….

Minutes won’t be approved for last meeting and this meeting until the next meeting.  Lieutenant Governor Denn said task force may need to be extended past December if they are not able to get to all matters in the Governor’s report.

Top 4 Matters to address:

What additional information should be provided to parents in the IEP process to make it more understandable?

What assurance should be required over life of IEP that teachers and schools are following the IEP?

What technical assistance is needed to prepare appropriate IEPs in schools and charters?

Language in IEPs, fewer acronyms and jargon

PIC rep: Needra Surratte, going over what PIC does for the state, to help parents become more informed and to be better advocates, provide services to parents just finding out about disabilities in child, give resources, their main goal is to educate parents so they can advocate for our children, under IDEA every state is required to have a PTI, which PIC is for the state of Delaware.   Partners with other organizations across Delaware to make sure there is consistency for parents in all areas

Denn asked Surratte if they go to IEP meetings, she said not usually, said they will prepare parents for meeting and let them know their rights, said IEP meetings can be recorded by any party, said level of service is based on what the parent needs, said there are circumstances where they have to attend IEP meetings, in situations where environment is adversarial they will sometimes go to meetings.

Senator Dave Lawson asked Surratte how parents know about them, Surratte said often they don’t.  She said some school districts will give parents information about PIC at the first IEP meeting.  Said has received complaints from parents that they would have like to have known that prior to first IEP meeting.  Lawson said it is after the fact to which Surratte agreed.

Bill Doolittle said in an ideal world parents would know all of this as soon as there is even a suspicion of a disability, said until parents go through it, it is very difficult for them to understand.  Suggested each school district has parent that has been through the process to provide support to new parents going through it.

Surratte said PIC used to have something close to that but it was very difficult to implement statewide.

Someone (my apologies to someone, hard to hear and see from my vantage point) suggested there is a special education council in each school district.  What kind of things should they be asking for in an IEP.

Deb Heffernan said parents should be used as mentors (as it was through ARC- will find out what that is).  Ruth Lavelle talking about difficulty getting parents to the point of utilizing the IEP process.  Frequently parents with disabilities are not always given accommodations (e.g. deaf-no interpreter, someone in wheelchair not given access to school).  Mary Ann Mieczkowski said parental safeguards are sent once an evaluation is requested.  She said when she worked for a district (Appoquinimink), a psychologist would call the parents giving them information on the IEP process and parental safeguards.  Diane Eastburn said in the 94 IEPs she has advocated for in Kent County, no parent has ever received a copy of the parental safeguards prior to the first IEP meeting.  She said each district needs to be consistent statewide.

Deb Heffernan stating task force is being too picky, going over everything but the very first part of SCR 63, which is making the process easier for parents.  She said we are getting very bogged down.  Said they are getting to far from the charge.  Surratte agrees in the respect there is a lot being said but many items are already written into law.  She said compliance is a separate issue.  Doolittle said the four parts talked about today.  Denn said as the writer of the resolution it is his opinion that helping to make sure parents is the most fundamental part of the task force.

Mieczkowski said the PLEP, the meat of the IEP, said there are projects with DOE to develop educational standards into IEPs (and so it begins), she said they build a parent component into each project they are working on.  She wants parents to know they are always thinking of the parent in the process.  Said at the Center For Disabilities Studies at University of Delaware there is a parent assigned to work on data for the project.

Doolittle said no school has a formal training group like PIC for students in transition.  Heffernan agreed with this.  Said she and Ruth Lavelle created a special needs PTA in the Brandywine School District.  She said due to privacy issues districts don’t want to share names with other students.

Liz Toney (sorry for being late) said she sees lots of problems with transition between elementary school and middle school.  She said it is very difficult for these students due to completely different environments.  Surratte said task force would need to be clear at what this would look like.  Said typically is at age 14, but is worth exploring but need to define what this looks like.

Senator Lawson bringing it back to the parents.  He said “It’s like climbing a tree but we haven’t planted it yet.” (love this guy!)  Denn agrees.  Surratte said they are funded and there has been a decrease in funding.  She said the best way to meet those needs is to leverage the capacity with the resources they have.  Denn guessing there are two types of parents: one who needs to learn the process and the other having adversarial conflicts with the school.  Surratte agreed, said often parents may be requesting certain services but school district won’t provide them.  She said they will provide the parents with their rights in this.  She said they won’t get involved if there is an attorney involved.

Doolittle said as an advocate they spend 5:1 time getting to know the parents and knowledge about the child.  He said he tells parents to relax and be the parent and the advocate will take care of the technical aspects.  He said it is designed to be a collaborative process between the schools and the parents.

Touchette talking about working with DAP (Delaware Autism Program) and parents would get a packet about services available and what resources they could utilize.  Someone brought up the fact that there are a good number of parents who either may not be able to read or understand written English.

Tricia Dallas said there are different types of parents so there may be a need for a differentiated response to parents, a multi-tiered support system.

Liz Toney said she received a bag when her child was in hospital due to hearing loss, she was given a bag and had no clue what the information was.  Diane Eastburn talked about Childwatch program, talked about the Amish population in Kent County and they don’t have the resources to obtain a great deal of information at all.  Denn said the far end is a parent has a lawyer, and the other end is being a parent by themselves in an IEP meeting, with PIC in the middle.  Denn wondering if there should be additional resources on this balance beam.

Someone in Wilmington talking about another program in place like PIC that provides services similar to them.  Dafne Carnwright said it is an excellent idea to have a parent-peer support program.  Eastburn said it should be listed on the DOE website (a list of parents willing to help).  Doolittle said districts would be very supportive of this.  Toney said districts shouldn’t be as divided as the IEP Process.  Ruth Lavelle said there is a need for a central location for all of this information.  Talked about issues with PTA and getting lists of parents and that has gone on for twelve years.  Heffernan said issues with funding and getting this material out to parents.  Surratte agreed.  She said she has seen several parent resource centers spring up but not all parents are serviced.  She said there are parents who do not have good relationship with schools due to trust factors and this is very difficult.  Doolittle said he is shocked by how many parents ask to become advocates after they are helped.

Deb Heffernan asked if other states are utilizing the practices brought up as ideas? Denn said it is something to look into.  Doolittle said no state in the country is consistent with this information.

Item #2: What assurance should be required over life of IEP that teachers and professionals are implementing the IEP?  Doolittle said “Is the IEP being followed” in a way that is helping the child.  Carnwright said the GACEC was faced with questions from parents trying to find out when the students related services were provided.  Tracy Bombarra said she has folder for every speech-impaired student and parents have access to it indicating when every meeting took place between therapist and student.  Toney said things like Friday folders are good places to get information, or during interim reports.  Mieczkowski talked about data provided from the goals.  Doolittle said as they are moved into a more inclusive environment it gets more complex and parents have a good sense of when the IEP is NOT being followed (been there, done that).

Eastburn said if providers hours are insurance billable, the logs are excellent.  She said if they are not billable, the records are less likely to be completed.  Touchette said worried that talk is more about process than outcome.  He said he is cautious about too much talk about process and not enough about outcome.  (He’s dropping hints already.  Fellow Delaware bloggers, we all know where this is going…)

Toney talking about assistive technology and substitutes and implementation issues.  Suggested putting provider information on school computer system that parents have ability to access.  Ruth Lavelle said another task force is needed for IEP implementation!

Eastburn talked about a Southern California system called Wellington and it is an excellent IEP system that parents have access to via password and providers can put notes on it.  She also said there are multiple language providers for those who speak languages other than English.

Talk going back to IEP Plus.  Denn wants to table this for another time.  Denn wrapping it up and wants to allow time for public comment.