March 2/15: Combined Ed Policy / Operations: The Record Off The Record: Special Education Update / Discrimination


03-02-15 Ed Pol OPPS 103-02-15 Ed Pol OPPS 203-02-15 Ed Pol OPPS 3Full agenda with attachments here.

Education Policy Development Committee & Operations Policy and Planning Committee March 2, 2015
Chairs: Nohr/ Leonard

Territory Acknowledgement900

Student Representative: [September  2013 original motion for Student Trustee]

  • A different student from the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Group, a group of students recommended by their principals or otherwise selected at their school to work with the Superintendent as representatives of the student voice in SD61, attends Standing Committee and Board meetings each month. These nine students meet every 6 weeks with the Superintendent. [This is probably the best way to establish student engagement in governance and interest in a possible future elected Student Trustee, as student councils have long been politically inactive in SD61.]
  • In a past report the Superintendent reported that each school has a different way of selecting their student representative. The group is developing a consistent format and process. For example, one rep was nominated by a vice principal; one was drawn from scholarship group that answered 5 question form for final selection.

1. Approval of Agenda: Adopted, with amendment : Whiteaker report from BCSTA at 5.B.2
2. Approval of the Minutes:
a) Ed Policy February 2/15: Approved . Lined Paper report here
b) OPPS February 10/15: Approved. Lined Paper reported here.
3. Business Arising From Minutes: Whiteaker: discussion on BCSTA Council request re a proposed resolution that each Board develop its  own resolution asking for increased funding and that Boards / Trustees seek appointments with MLAs to advocate for public education.

4. Education Policy: Chair Nohr
A. Introduction of Student Representative by Superintendent: Lydia Biegun, Grace 11, Lambrick Park Secondary

B. Anti-Bullying Day Activities: Superintendent

  • K-5 assemblies, talks about pink shirts and origin, talking about friendship
  • Middle schools: advisory classes discussions, assemblies, videos
  • High Schools: Culmination at Legislature steps; guest speakers Reena Virk’s parents; police officers; Reynolds student Hannah Berry performed her poem  The Quiet Ones.
  • Board office staff decorated doors of offices to make anti-bullying statements.

C. Special Education Update: Debra Mackie, District Principal, Special Education [District Principal’s presentation summarized, not quoted, below]

  • The Ministry of Education no longer has a Special Education Branch. It is now “Learning Support”. [Special Education page still up.] SD61 Special Education Department guides / principles: community and social acceptance, appreciating of diversity, meeting curricular needs and delivering quality instruction and effective management, ensuring access to adequate personnel support.
  • Classroom teacher brings requests for support to the School Based Team composed of the school principal, learning support teacher, allied specialists. Every school has a learning support teacher, a contact teacher for gifted students, and CUPE Education Assistants. Some schools have Reading Recovery, one or more Youth and Family counsellors, contact with and service from a District special Education teacher, an Aboriginal Counsellor.
  • Itinerant services [high case loads] are delivered by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Augmentative Communication specialists , counsellors, educational psychologists who do testing and assessments, specialist teacher of the Visually Impaired, specialist teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and a District Learning Support teacher. Additional service is available from the District Special Education Teacher, and the District Behaviour Consultant. Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy services are contracted from Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.
  • Other services located in SD61 are Special Education Technology BC [moving to a central service model in Vancouver by the end of this school year], POPARD, POPFASD, and Inclusion Outreach [formerly PISP].



Presentation Special Education Services 1Presentation Special Education Services 2Presentation Special Education Services 4Presentation Special Education Services 5Presentation Special Education Services 6Presentation Special Education Services 7Presentation Special Education Services 8Presentation Special Education Services 9Presentation Special Education Services 10Presentation Special Education Services 13Presentation Special Education Services 14Presentation Special Education Services 15Presentation Special Education Services 16Presentation Special Education Services 17


  • The Ministry of Education supplies supplemental funding  for students in low incidence (occurs relatively rarely) categories (Dependent Handicapped, Deaf-Blind, Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disability , Autism, Deaf, visually Impaired, and Intensive Behaviour / Severe Mental Illness). No additional funding is available for students designated in High Incidence categories (occurs relatively often) Learning Disable, Mild Intellectual Disability, Moderate Behaviour , or Gifted.

Here is the protocol from SD85 for Students with Intensive Behaviour Support Needs / Severe Mental Illness in the School District # 85 Vancouver Island North Special Services Handbook Revised 2012 : Designation of Students who have Intensive Behaviour Support or Serious Mental Illness. Students identified in this category are those most in need of intensive interventions. They are expected to be less than one percent (1%) of the student population province-wide. These students should have access to co-ordinated school/community interventions, which are based on inter-service/agency assessment processes that are required to manage, educate, and maintain the students in school and in their community.

Students Requiring Intensive Behaviour Interventions are eligible to be reported in this special education funding category if they exhibit:
• antisocial, extremely disruptive behaviour in most environments (for example, classroom, school, family, and the community);
• and· behaviours that are consistent/persistent over time.

Students with Serious Mental Illness eligible to be reported in this special education funding category are those with:
• serious mental health conditions which have been diagnosed by a qualified mental health clinician (psychologist with appropriate training, psychiatrist, or physician); and
• serious mental illnesses which manifest themselves in profound withdrawal or other negative internalizing behaviours; and
These students often have histories of profound problems, and present as very vulnerable, fragile students who are seriously ‘at risk’ in classroom and other environments without extensive support.

In addition to meeting one of the conditions above, to be eligible for special education funding, these behaviour disorders and or illnesses must be:
• serious enough to be known to school and school district personnel and other community agencies and to warrant intensive interventions by other community agencies/service providers beyond the school [if there is no “outside agency involved, the school will not get funding for a support person. Some parents choose not to get “outside help” ie a psychiatrist or counselling] ; and
• a serious risk to the student or others, and/or with behaviours or conditions that significantly interfere with the student’s academic progress and that of other students; and
• beyond the normal capacity of the school to educate, provided “normal capacity” is seen to include the typical special education support / interventions such as school-based counselling, moderate behaviour supports, the use of alternate settings, and other means in the school environment. [School personnel / teachers have to go far beyond the “exta mile” to show that the school cannot educate the student without additional support.] Reduction in class size or placement in an alternate program or learning environment is not by itself a sufficient service to meet the criteria.

  • Autism designations have increased by 70-80 students over the last 4 years, while number of students with sensory impairments is dropping. If a student has autism and an IQ below 70, that student receives special support after graduation.
  • Victor School has 2 teachers and 18 students, some with very high needs including autism, non verbal and aggression. Sometimes only 2 students per room. Finding a way to engage students means some are out in nature for a walk or at a pool swimming which are big steps in life skills. Special programs in high schools: Reynolds, Esquimalt. Oak Bay did have a program but eventually had only 4 students so was closed. Behaviour Support programs are located at Braefoot and Vic West (K-5), and Cedar Hill (6-8). These students may not have a designation but need special support for behavioural challenges.
  • Students may be designated by a District psychologist [there is a significant waiting list] or by an education psychologist at UVic.  Gifted students are not designated by the District until grades 4 or 5.
    • McNally: What are the caseload numbers for speech-language pathologists?
    • District Superintendent of Special Education: No real numbers.
    • Nohr: Not long ago was 100 students on caseload; difficult to provide services for students who need it.
    • District Superintendent of Special Education:  Actual program often delivered by CUPE Education Assistant.
    • John Bird, President VCPAC: Will a student who moves out of a program have the same level of support?
    • District Superintendent of Special  Education: Less teacher specialist time, same Education Assistant time.
    • Loring-Kuhanga: What is the case load for elementary school counsellors?
    • District Superintendent of Special  Education: 7.6 elementary school counsellors for all K-5 schools. Possibly 4 schools each to serve.
    • Celestina Azzoni, GVTA: One counsellor reports 1200 students to oversee.
    • McNally: Is it still the case that parents must involve a community service provider in order for the child to get funding for support including an education assistant for some hours a week in the category “severe behaviour / mental illness”?
    • District Superintendent of Special Education: Yes.
    • Theresa Stokes, teacher: Non-replacement of CUPE Education Assistants who are off sick is an issue. Another EA is often pulled from other students of “lower need” to cover. What is the District situation with apparently not enough EAs on the spare board?
    • Superintendent: We need qualified people . Requests for leaves are increasing.

A professional set of standards of practice for EAs must be established so that students who possess the most complex needs in our school system receive the best possible education by the EAs who support them. … Breton (2010) concluded “often the least qualified personnel are in a position of providing the majority of instruction and related services to students presenting the most complex learning challenges” (p. 35). …. The issue of lack of educational preparation for the EA roles is reflected in Malcolmson’s BC research report published in 2009 by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE BC) following a provincial survey of 4,000 of its members, titled “Recognition and Respect: Education assistants in British Columbia: An Educational Profile and Agenda”.


  • Parent A: If our kids don’t have an EA that day they don’t go to school. The EA job constantly with high needs kids is too stressful. Should be half a day with high needs student and half a day in another assignment. People burn out. Child was in a private school where this was how it was done and it worked well.
  • Orcherton: Recruitment and retention are problems since the jobs don’t have enough hours for full time.
  • Parent B (Leanne): Child has a new EA every year, even if the previous one is willing t do another year. Builds up relationships. Changing every year leads to inconsistency and child doesn’t want to go to school.
  • District Superintendent of Special  Education: This is up to the school principal who does the assignments.
  • Bird: Have taken many advocacy cases with parents of kids with special needs. Flexibility should exist in every school and for every student. But not all school staffs and principals work that way. And there are not enough EAs trained to work with very high needs students, along with not enough hours to attract those who are. Need to expand the job. Structurally and financially not set up to serve the needs of all students. Kids get just enough so not too many people will complain.
  • Paynter: Are EAs part of School Based Team?
  • District Superintendent of SP Ed: They can be.
  • McNally: But EAs don’t get paid for time before or after school, and School Based Teams most often meet before school since everyone has other responsibilities in the school (principal, teachers, learning support, itinerant specialists). [A previous Board member seemed, from discussion, to believe that there is a standing school based team of specialists in every K-12 school always on call and ready to intervene as needed, like fire response personnel. No. Every member of a school based team has other full time responsibilities.]
  • District Superintendent of Special Education: The Learning Improvement Fund sometimes helped with that. [In 2012 government froze education funding again until 2014/15, with the exception of the $165 million Learning Improvement Fund, distributed over three years.  ]
  • Paynter: Timeline for assessments?
  • District Superintendent of SP Ed: 8 psychologists for entire District, and they must reassess all designated students in high school for adjudication purposes; significant time and workload.
  • Azzoni: Learning Support in French Immersion does not always have enough hours; know of example 1 ½ days for 60 students with learning challenges.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: How long is the wait for a student to get an assessment?
  • District Superintendent of Special Education: Each school is allocated a certain number of assessments per year, and the School Based Team sets the priorities.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: With 8 psychologists, how many assessments are done in a year?
  • District Superintendent of Special Education: 40.
  • Parent B: Would like shadowing to help with transition to high school.
  • District Superintendent of Special Education: The current principal will contact receiving principal; current case manager will contact new case manager; they will set up transition meeting with parent of child transitioning to new school. These meetings take place in February and March.

Adjournment for Ed Policy: 8:25 pm.

5. Operations Policy and Planning Committee
A. Presentations:
1. Cindy Graf, GVTA Pro-d Chair: Teacher Professional Development Funding: Postponed to March 23 Board meeting

B. Finance and Legal Affairs
1. Budget Discussion: Special Education: Debra Mackie, District Principal, Special Education

  • The Special Education budget amount $28,928,955 = 15% of total SD61 operating budget. This is a commitment by the District to support students. $13,267,855 comes from the general operating budget; $15,661,100 is Ministry of Education funding for unique student needs.  A significant %age of the total amount goes for EA time.
  • $15 million is generated through the designation process that determines if a student meets criteria for low incidence category. Three major categories: I (Dependent Handicapped and Deaf-Blind) x 21 students at $36,000 each; II (Physical Disability, Chronic Health, Visually Impaired, MIPD, Autism, Deaf / Hard of Hearing) x 667 students at $18,300 each; III (Intense Behaviour / Severe Behaviour / Severe Mental Illness) x 292 students at $9,200 each. These amounts are used exclusively on personnel, close to $12,000,000 for CUPE EAs.
  • EAs often deliver the communication program – the SLP works with the EA and the EA delivers the program on a daily basis. Special Education teachers are enormously valuable and attend to curricular needs. Learning Assistance teachers do case management plus coordinate of services for low incidence designated students.
  • Azzoni: About 1,000 students are bringing in extra funding.
  • District Principal, Special Education : About 11% of students are designated; probably half of those are learning disabled gifted and moderate behaviour [who get no support funding]. Out of 20,000 students, about 2,000 have a Ministry designation and 1,000 bring in funding.
  • Stokes: Are Aboriginal children over-represented for receipt of services?
  • District Principal, Special Education: Some families don’t want the children tested.
  • Ferris: Assuming designations are done at the beginning of the year [not a safe assumption; they are  done when psychologists get to the testing on their schedule], who does the designations?
  • District Principal, Special Education: Me, plus a team. Families often come in to the District / to school with information from Queen Alexandra, physicians or preschools.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Any recommendations for the budget?
  • Ferris: The Needs Budget Committee could address this since many students with needs aren’t funded.
  • Superintendent: The Learning Improvement Fund and Education Fund  funding did contribute some money to special education. Schools consulted internally regarding best use of those funds.

Special Education Budget Presentation 1Special Education Budget Presentation 2Special Education Budget Presentation 3Presentation Special Education Services3Special Education Budget Presentation 4Special Education Budget Presentation 6

2. WorkSafe BC Premiums 2014-15: Secretary-Treasurer

  • Premiums set by WorkSafe using industry trends. SD61 paid a premium surcharge 2011-2014; as a result of shared services with School District 23 for WorkSafe claims management, SD61 is not paying a premium this year resulting in saving of $35,000.
  • Paynter: What aspect of the Claims is being managed?
  • Secretary-Treasurer: SD23 has expertise in appeals management ; SD61 is helping employees to return to work sooner resulting in shorter claims. The calculation is based on everyone’s salary aggregate x premium = assessment paid. Last year SD61 paid $778,957.
  • Nohr: How is SD61 helping employees to return to work?
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Director of Human Resources SD23 administers the claims. Attendance management individual SD61 does the disability management.[Position currently vacant.]
  • Nohr: What is “disability management”?
  • Director of HR: Managing return to work. Supporting for example graduated return to work or accommodations.

[BCTF / GVTA and CUPE 382 and 947 already have and have had  for some time union-related disability management in place.]

3. BCSTA: Whiteaker (Elected Board rep):

  • Draft BCSTA budget approved by BCSTA Council. Will be no Spring Trustee Academy, to bring in cost savings. BCSTA received a $30,000 gaming grant for the next Academy. Collaborating with other groups for pro-d events. Lease costs less. Audit costs lower. No longer a professional photographer at Academies. 22 page document.
  • Whiteaker: That the Board support the BCSTA draft budget. / Carried. Unanimous.
  • Orcherton: Basically a status quo budget.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Are BCSTA Board and Provincial Council going to video conferencing? Aboriginal Education Committee did that.
  • Whiteaker: Different Districts doing this in different ways.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: “Elluminate” software can reduce costs significantly. How many Boards have withdrawn and what is the financial impact?
  • Whiteaker: 2 Boards [Vancouver School Board and Kootenay Lakes] have withdrawn; loss of $130,000 revenue.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Costs for the last Academy seemed high.
  • Whiteaker: Will be no Spring Academy or December Academy next year.

C. Public Disclosure of In Camera Items: None (means either no vote to disclose was proposed as a motion, or if there were, it failed in majority vote)

D. New Business / Notices of Motion: [New Business and Notices of Motion will be separated on future agendas as they are not the same thing. New Business is business for this meeting. Notices of Motion are notices of motion that a Trustee intends to bring to a future meeting. It’s not me;  blame General Robert. These motions below are New Business. No one brought forward a Notice of Motion for a future meeting.]

1. Paynter: That the Board direct the Needs Budget Committee [names] to evaluate current District funding levels and allocations in consultation with the Superintended and Secretary-Treasurer and report to the board with recommendations and rationale for funding levels necessary to meet its operational requirements and to discharge its responsibility for the improvement of student achievement in the school district. / Withdrawn. [Replaced by Loring-Kuhanga motion from the floor, below.]

  • Leonard: Submit this after the actual budget.
  • Orcherton: Ministry cuts will affect the budget.
  • McNally: Some of this information is already on file with the Secretary -Treasurer. Would not be difficult to produce.
  • Secretary -Treasurer: Good information is available to do this.
  • Whiteaker: Don’t have enough formation until after the actual budget is done.
  • McNally: We need to submit this along with the compliance budget. The needs budget won’t change to any great degree. It’s a statement of what SD61 would need to meet the needs of students as used to be the case. We are not listened to on this by the Ministry but incumbent on us to make the statement as defenders of public education.
  • Orcherton: Board has done “restoration budget” in the past. Implication of this motion is that SD61 is not meeting operational requirement of discharging responsibility.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Late in the year for this; should we look at Needs Budget Committee meeting with Superintendent and Secretary-Treasurer to revise the previous needs budget so it ca be sent in with the compliance budget?
  • Paynter: Motion withdrawn.
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Schools’ expressed needs will help with determining needs by April 22.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Instead of Paynter’s: That the Board direct the Needs Budget Committee to work with the Superintendent and the Secretary –Treasurer to develop a needs budget based on the information collected from schools for the allocation of the Teacher Education Funds. / Carried. Unanimous.

What is the Education Fund? The latest capricious, ad hoc  and insufficient  “good idea” from the current provincial government / Ministry of Education  : “…[T]his REPLACES the LIF, {Total funding in 2011/12 fell $217 million short of being 35 per cent above 2001/02 funds. In 2012 government froze education funding again until 2014/15, with the exception of the $165 million Learning Improvement Fund, distributed over three years}  [so] the only new positions are those created by the extra $5 million and the funding that was previously used on Educational Assistants…. In [SD61] the LIF was used to hire 6 additional teachers. With the changes to the Education Fund, this will likely change to 10-15. But as we have 45 schools, this means only 5-10 schools will see an additional teacher. Most schools will see no change whatsoever…. [T]hese positions are TEMPORARY. Both the Education Fund and the previous LIF were allocated each year on a year-by-year basis. So we will not see new additional teachers each year. Just like the LIF, we will see a couple of new hires in September who are then excess in June, and the process repeats.

2. Whiteaker: That Trustee reports be submitted in writing in time to be included as attachments with the board agenda package./ Carried as amended below. Unanimous.

  • Amended to read “Trustee Representative reports”. / Carried. Unanimous.
  • Whiteaker: If Trustee is paid to go to a Council (BCSTA, BCPSEA) as an official representative of the Board, should submit a written report. It’s a history for the Board, and can avoid spending a lot of time listening to long verbal reports that can be read.
  • Orcherton: Trustees should still have 2 minutes each to give verbal reports on activities. [All agreed.]

3. Nohr: That the Board request that senior administration provide a summary of the 2014-2015 Class Size and Composition Report including the number of classes over the class size limit per grade, the number of classes with 4 or more special education designated students, the number of ELL students, the number of international students, and the number of challenge students for each elementary , middle and high school to be reported out at the March 2015 Board meeting./ Carried as amended below.  For: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr, Paynter, Watters   Against: Ferris, Leonard, Orcherton, Whiteaker

  • Superintendent: Don’t have the International Student numbers as would have to call every school in SD61 for numbers for each classroom.
  • Nohr: Amend to remove “the number of international students”. / Carried. Unanimous.
  • Stokes: Why 4 or more students with IEPs?
  • Nohr: At one point, there was a limit of 3 students with IEPs per class in legislation in order to allow teacher time with each student with special needs.
  • Azzoni: Averages will not give the whole correct picture.
  • Leonard: Get the summary first and have per class in a binder which can be requested f desired from the Superintendent.
  • Orcherton: Used to have mandated class size and composition reports.

From Lined Paper January 21, 2013, at D.1 : Nohr requested that a class size and composition report be provided. The Vancouver School Board SD39 did receive such a report from the VSB Associate Superintendent at the Personnel and Staff Services Committee meeting, January 15 / 13. The report identifies classes with more than 3 students with IEPs in all grades and classes.

  • The [then] Minister of Education, Don McRae, sent a letter to the then-Minister of Education, Shirley Bond, stating his concerns with class sizes and composition in September 2008: “If I continue to teach classes of this size and composition, I do not see how the system will get 18 more years of service from me,” he said. “I will eventually break or stop caring, and then it will be time for me to move on.” He did move on – to his current job as Minister of Education, and seems to have forgotten this letter. Or perhaps, would like to forget it.

School District 61 no longer reports  class composition. Board minutes from October 20, 2008 are no longer available in the “Archive” section on the SD61 website but a hard copy record contains the following motion, moved by then-Trustee Mark Walshnow SD61 Labour Relations manager:

  • That the Board of Education joins [sic]the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils as co-authors in writing to the Minister of Education calling for the repeal of all clauses in Section 76 of the School Act that directly relates [sic] to individuals with individual education plans.

The motion was carried. Votes were not recorded at that time, but then-Trustee John Young had his negative vote recorded on his request.

  • Bird: You want this information to be made public? What will it be used for?
  • Nohr: This information needs to be shared in a public meeting for informed  decision making around the budget. It’s information for parents and the public on erosion of support for students with special needs.
  • Bird: Classroom Resources Fund [a project of the VCPAC Executive] is going forward. This motion isolates a group of kids and creates systemic discrimination toward a group. [Bird related two undeniably appalling and hurtful anecdotes – no names – from social media regarding kids with special needs in class. But what do awful social media anecdotes have to do with funding adequate support for students  with special needs from a teacher and specifically trained and educated Education Assistants? Bird, along with Ferris and Orcherton (neither are assigned members of OPPS, so are not required to attend for quorum or business), left the meeting right after this motion carried.]

4. Nohr: That the Board request that senior administration provide an overview of the MyEducationBC implementation process including the privacy requirements and the IEP data transfer by teachers./ Withdrawn

  • Whiteaker: This has been dealt with. Letters are on SD61 website.
  • McNally: Transfer of data by hand is a major issue. As former special education teacher / case manager, have done it more than once. Used to be some TTOC relief time for teachers to get some of this massive time consuming clerical work done.

5. Watters: That the Board direct the Chair to write a letter to the Minister of Finance, copying the Minister of Education and the Opposition’s Education critic, expressing alarm at the 2015 Budget’s decree that school districts cut administrative expenses by $54 million over the next two years, a move that will cost our district approximately $1 million in the first year and result in increased hardships across the district./ Carried. Unanimous [without Ferris and Orcherton]

6. Nohr: That the Board establish a Technology Stewardship Committee for the following purposes: review of the current status of technology in por schools, review of the EMF research findings (1011-2015) based on peer reviewed independent scientific studies, review of cost implications for the operating budget based on the goals of the I.T. Department, review of health and safety procedures / directives for all of or schools and consideration for establishing one elementary school that provides technology  using hard wired internet connections only for student learning; this Committee shall met starting in March 2015. / Motion to refer  to OPPS April 13 / Unanimous.{Expected that this motion will be refined.]

E. General Announcements: None.
F. Adjournment: 10:10 pm

2015 March hebe rock garden crop

About Diane McNally