P1: Education Policy and Directions Standing Committee Meeting notes
SD61 Elected Trustees: Leonard (1996), Ferris (1999), Orcherton (1999), Loring-Kuhanga (2011 – not standing for election), McNally (2011), Nohr (2011 – not standing for election), Paynter (2014), Watters (2014), Whiteaker (2014)
Civic elections BC October 20/18.
Lined Paper is my personal record of and commentary on SD61 Board and Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved minutes are on the SD61 website, one month after the meeting. Board meetings are video’d and audio recorded; Committee meetings are not.
SD61 Greater Victoria School District includes students in Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, parts of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
District Strategic Plan here.
October 17/16: That the Board amend Bylaw 9130 Standing Committees to remove the words “with voting rights” from Item #4 and Item #5. / Carried. Unanimous. This had the effect of allowing only members of the Standing Committee to vote on motions, though other Trustees, if they attend, can participate in the debate. The Chair of the Board ex officio member both Committees, with voting rights. Quorum is a majority of Trustee members on the committee (3/4).
Dialogue with the public is welcome during Standing Committee Meetings.
Ed Policy & Directions Standing Committee September 10 2018
Members: Ferris, Nohr (Chair,), Orcherton, Whiteaker; Loring-Kuhanga ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present: Ferris, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker
Not present: Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga
A.Commencement of Meeting
A.1 Agenda adopted, with addition of two late motions from Whiteaker at C.6 and C7. proposed by Whiteaker as replacements for McNally’s motion at C5, and McNally’s correction to the topic descriptor of motion at C5: “Reports to Trustees on Inclusion / Exclusion Practices”.
A.2 Minutes of June 4, 20189 approved, – Lined Paper record here – with change proposed by McNally, withdrawn when Whiteaker commented that presenter Water Chief would be unhappy with the change. (Am checking on that with Water Chief.) My correction to the minutes (withdrawn):
The minutes list the topic that Water Chief and Gadd spoke to as “Inclusion”. Should be changed to clarify what they spoke to : “Request to keep Low Incidence / District Programs open”. One parent was holding back tears out of concern for his son, and wanted the low incidence program at his son’s school to stay open, and the other was deeply concerned for her son at Arbutus and asked for the low incidence program there to stay open. It dishonours and devalues these parent concerns to describe their presentation as “Inclusion”.
A.3 No Business Arising
B. Presentations to the Committee: None
C. New Business
- McNally: Reading Recovery was mentioned in the former Achievement Contracts as contributing positively to grad rates. Reading Recovery provides ongoing monthly intensive professional development for RR teachers after an intensive training year, with the Teacher Leader expert and via constructive critiques of teaching by colleagues who observe lessons.”Tiers of Support” slide shows 1-7% of students needing intensive 1:1 supports, yet general learning disability research and Reading Recovery research suggest that up to 20% of students in any classroom struggle with literacy and would benefit from Reading Recovery. SD623 Sooke and SD63 Saanich have full implementation in all elementary schools. We could do that in SD61. Both Lower Island Recovery Teacher leaders here here tonight.
- Louise Sheffer, Learning Team: Top tiers are an ebb and flow.
- Superintendent: SD61 team has chosen not to go with full implementation but a broader perspective.
- McNally: A question re “pull out” vs “push in” learning support: have spoken wit students who say any stigma associated with going to a “pull out” program is worse if singled out with “push in”. And push in would not work with Reading Recovery. What’s the position on this?
- Superintendent: Reading Recovery is not the only thing to consider in pull out or push in. Push in might be guided reading in a small group.
- Watters: This is what’s happening now? This is the idea of this and following presentations? Not what we are planning to do. [Sheffer: Yes.] How are we evaluating what we are doing and addressing improving as we go?
- Turcotte, GVTA: Need French Immersion learning support teachers at middle schools and Aboriginal Education teacher at every school to support Indigenous students.
- Superintendent: Will reconvene the French Immersion Committee, and have been talking with HR re hiring and training – recognize the need.
- Robin Toczak, GVTA Reading Recovery teacher:Every RR teacher collects a lot of data , and willing to share it. It’s collected for a district wide picture and former RR students are tracked through later grades. SD61 needs equity of access to Reading Recovery. Other interventions and supports are available to all, except RR which is only in a few schools in SD61. Concerned that it is not available to all students in all schools.
C. 2 Parent Education Fund
- Whiteaker: Have been approached by high school students with projects, for example Oak Bay High, some students are working wit the Foundry.
- Watters: Is carry forward of $2000 consistent with past years? Could increase the $250? VCPAC / DPAC an opinion?
- Deputy Superintendent Whitten: $2000 first year, $1800 second year.
- Smith, DPAC: That money was taken from VCPAC [ Some BC school districts don’t give any money to their DPAC – this is entirely discretionary on the part of a Board] and should go back to VCPAC, not to student initiatives. How are PACs contacted, when they all have different email addresses? Do you follow up on events and how they went?
- McNally: What are we doing to ensure all PCs have the information on successes at a group of schools? And how to apply? How can we ensure Trustees know about these workshops, some of which I’d like to attend (like the Reynolds substance use education presentation which was excellent)?
- Superintendent: Recording secretary Karen Walters-Edgar contacts them all more than once, personally. Does extensive followup. Followup information difficult to get in written form though word of mouth is very positive.
- Smith: Suggest on application: Did you receive money last year? Would like a report. Ask if willing to invite staff / trustees. Parents often don’t know how to apply, and one time short time line means application window can be missed.Since money is left over, allow late applications, or give the money to VCPAC to manage.
- Superintendent: We did extend the time frame.
- Orcherton: This has been going on for 3 years and it’s time for a review. Something for students would be a separate table.
C. 3. Strategic Plan : Recommended motion [recommended by Superintendent]: That the Board direct the Superintendent to strike a committee to develop a process to review the strategic plan in the fifth year of implementation (2019-20). / Carried. Unanimous.
C.4 Nohr: That the Board direct the Superintendent to provide a report on school counselling processes including the process for informing parents, and report out at the October 1 2018 Ed Policy and Directions meeting. / Withdrawn.
- Nohr: Recent discussions in policy development around gender identification and expression brought up questions about when parents would be informed about the issues. When will parents be involved if such concerns were brought up by student in counseling? Where are parents positioned in terms of being involved? Has to be a triad for problem solving for the student. Issues such as anxiety or suicidal ideation are areas where it’s important to have parents as part of the counseling process to strengthen family dynamics.Not sure what professional standards are for counselors regarding how and when parents would be informed, for example gender identity issues might come forward in K-5 grades. Would like to see Policy 4305 article 4 communication amended to describe how parents are engaged in work of our staff. Online searches on “mental health support for students” bring up many old SD61 documents and policies that are no longer relevant. There were no helpful results. There should be some reference to the legal age of students at which parents should be informed.
- Orcherton: We need to define what types of issues we include parents on and what would not include a parent. A bigger issue is parents getting information and students don’t. Chilliwack is a good example of contention around SOGI issue. School could be a safer place for some students than home.
- Ferris: Similar concerns and like the general idea. Want the Superintendent to come back with more effective wording.
- McNally: Yes, we need legal information regarding what is to be disclosed when. Students need that information as well .
- Superintendent: Will bring back legal information re legal ages and disclosure to parents.
- Watters: This looks like a trustee question. It’s concerning in context of Alberta and outing kids. Remember United Nations Rights of the Child – children have a right to privacy.
- Ferris: This meeting has given direction to the Superintendent to bring back information.
- Nohr: Will withdraw motion.
C.5 McNally: That the Board direct the Superintendent to provide a monthly report to Trustees on students with special needs that specifies the number of incidents, as per each point: 1. Being asked to stay home 2. Being sent home 3. Being dropped off late and / or picked up early by busing services 4. Being excluded from field trips 5. Being sent out of the regular classroom to the resource room, sensory / isolation room, or other space, if no breakout room is available./ Carried. Unanimous
- McNally: These points have been developed by BC Ed Access, a group of parents of children with special needs, with a membership of 1400 parents across province.(Their annual provincial conference is coming up in October and I will attend; you might want to as well. BC Ed access parents do say”special needs”, not “diverse learners”, a term that flattens the conversation.) These concerns are part of a survey to parents from that provincial parent group. Parents are having difficulty across the province getting information on these aspects of their children’s school day experiences and their overall education. Parents have also told me that their children are recorded as present for the day even if the student is sent home part way through the day or even soon after arrival at school. Parents are keeping these records even if districts and schools aren’t. Parents have also told me of their concerns that the special bus schedules curtail their child school day and contravene the minutes for education mandated in the School Act. Parents of children with special needs across BC fight for their children’s well being every day. They are exhausted. They want real information about their children’s experiences and have a hard time getting that they tell me. For anyone thinking “micromanagement”, adhering to cockpit management concepts as presented to newbie trustees in the first BCSTA Academy I ever attended in 2012 – and that I never bought into – makes Trustees irrelevant . Current on twitter: Valerie Irvine, UVic Prof at TIE lab: ” Valerie Irvine @_valeriei Replying to @McNallySD61BC @sd61schools: Wonderful news. Also, as a 61 parent, I have been forced to homeschool twice. There should be a mechanism to report and log within district when system is breaching human rights.”
Trustees get data on school suspensions; if we are not collecting this data for students with special needs we need to start. Really, most of it is already in schools. It’s essential that trustees have access to our own District’s data to guide our decision making in regard to supports for inclusion – space, EA support, minutes of instruction, and provision of the most enabling learning environment for each student, in order to have fact based conversations with parents and the wider community, and in order to make informed decisions during budget deliberations regarding resource and money allocation.
- Orcherton: Support this motion. Supports advocacy for kids with special needs. In SD61 we spend more than we get fro the Ministry on kids with special needs. Hearing abut these problems anecdotally. Don’t see it as micromanagement; we need to know where the gaps in service are.All sort of issues attached.Whiteaker’s #1 seems the same as McNally’s – what is different? [Whiteaker’s doesn’t ask for a report to Trustees.] Don’t see the need for Whiteaker’s motion.
- Whiteaker : Don’t support the wording of the motion.BC Ed Access concerns are province wide. Punitive approach. Sometimes parents are keeping the kid home. Maybe the school doesn’t have an EA [and that’s ok?] . Sometimes those absences are a benefit to the child. Motion is not empower parents to work together as a team so parents and the school can work together. [BC Ed Access is a parent team of 1400 members working together.] Against this motion. We can do better.
- Ferris: Agree with Whiteaker. Important for parents to have the information but I don’t need the information. All I need to know is, there is a process for parents. This is an operational issue.
- Superintendent: To put questions just in these areas is problematic.
- Deputy Superintendent Whitten: For some students have worked though a modified day plan [provided document below] with administration regarding why the student doesn’t have a full day schedule, and involves parents.Document outlines how modified days are discussed. Have looked at student support in a different way- flexible and fluid – shifting EAs among students within schools.
- Orcherton: Parent decision to keep their child home is always their prerogative. There are issues behind this motion. Don’t see Whiteaker’s motion as necessary at all.
- Jennifer Wark, SD61 parent, representative from BC Education Access: What Orcherton is saying is correct. Want information on instances where kids are sent home and otherwise excluded. I have two kids at View Royal school. Every year there are problems and lack of consistency. Important to listen to parents’ concerns. Am also a member of VSCA. Many parents in that group have had children sent home. In my school the “Jungle” retreat room was removed, creating problems for students. These issues have to be addressed.
- Whiteaker: Amendment: Strike #5, will be difficult to create the record, and strike #4, parents already know. / Defeated.
- Wark, parent: Parents are exhausted and some don’t speak English. Many parents are very tired and just give up. We need these records.
- Audrey Smith, SD61 DPAC Chair: It’s important for trustees to know the numbers about kids being affected. The last two , #s 4 and 5, are the two that are particularly important to parents. Parents will do home schooling if there’s too much of this. I’m not sure about how to help parents who reach out for help. Parents lose jobs, miss promotions, lose hours at work. If you take numbers four and five out you will not get a comprehensive picture . [BC Ed Access parents have said home schooling is increasing exponentially with parents of children with special needs, as they see no recourse but to remove their children from the public school system.]
- Ilda Turcotte, GVTA rep: Not just get the data but do something with it. [Advocacy piece, based on data, not anedotes.] Student arrived at school and teacher knew nothing about child. Uses technology to communicate and no tech in the classroom yet, needed an upgrade? Not a good situation for child or teacher.
- Orcherton: Not supporting amendment. If child is sent out it’s because of lack of support.
- Vote on amendment: Defeated. For: Whiteaker Against: Ferris, Orcherton, Nohr
- Vote on main motion: Superintendent: These points are if the points are not part of the child’s IEP, right?/ McNally: Right. / Carried. Unanimous.
C.6 Whiteaker : That the Board direct the Superintendent to ensure all absences be recorded appropriately for all students with special needs, including absences due to being asked to stay home, excluded from field trips, or sent home due to lack of appropriate care. / Carried.
- Orcherton: Amendment: Strike everything after appropriately (already addressed in McNally’s motion.)./ Defeated. For: Nohr, Orcherton Against: Ferris, Whiteaker
- Back to Main motion: Carried. For: Ferris, Orcherton, Whiteaker Against: Nohr
C.7 Whiteaker: That the Board direct the Superintendent to survey schools in November regarding space pressures and use of resource, sensory and breakout rooms./ Carried. Unanimous.
- McNally: In support of this motion. Have heard in community that a parent showed up with her son for Grade 6, expecting him to be attending a district program she was comfortable with, that was an educationally enabling and emotionally safe environment for him, only to hear that to her surprise, the program no longer existed. The boy was quickly overwhelmed by anxiety in the regular classroom he had suddenly been expected to cope with, and sought retreat in a breakout room only to find that this “inclusion support room” – the retreat or breakout room – was indeed still there, but was filled with other students. Space is an issue in all SD61 schools and trustees need to know the status of spaces for all students in order to make budget decisions re resource allocations.
- Nohr: Secretary-Treasurer will be providing a report soon so possibly this motion is unnecessary.
- Superintendent: Yes, report coming soon.
- Whiteaker: Spent $900,000 on space upgrades and want to know results.
- Orcherton: Amendment: Add ” each November” because this will be an ongoing issue. / Carried. Unanimous.
- Whiteaker: Hoping for this report in December .
D. Notices of Motion: None
E. General Announcements: None
F: Adjournment: 9:10 pm