SD61 Board of Education: Duncan (2018), Leonard (1996), Ferris (1999), Hentze (2018), McNally (2011), Painter (2018), Paynter (2014), Watters (2014), Whiteaker (2014)
Facebook: Diane McNally SD61 Greater Victoria School Trustee Twitter: @McNallySD61BC Instagram: diane.mcn
My question from Trustee Questions October Board meeting:
Q: Could the Board have a reporting chart of administrative positions including Superintendent, Associates, Superintendents of anything and Directors of anything? (Got one of most senior admin by roles but that’s about 6 people.) A: (Superintendent): I’ll try.
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.
Dialogue with the public is welcome during Standing Committee Meetings.
Only appointed members of the Committee can vote. 17 people in the public seats!
Ed Policy & Directions Standing Committee Dec 3/18
Members: Duncan (Chair), Ferris, McNally, Painter, Watters ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present: Duncan, Ferris, Hentze, McNally, Painter, Paynter, Watters
Not present: Leonard, Whiteaker
A.Commencement of Meeting: Agenda adopted. Minutes Nov 13/18 approved. Official minutes here; Lined Paper report here. No Business Arising.|
B.Presentations to the Committee:
a) ADHD / ADD Students in BC Schools: Sandra Goth: [Published here with permission]
“ADHD is a Neurological, often inherited, condition. The DSM 5 defines ADHD as a predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, predominantly inattentive presentation or combined presentation. To be diagnosed, these presentations need to interfere with development. Children with ADHD are often prone to impulsiveness, and risk-taking behaviours with an inability to foresee the consequences. The poor judgment related to this condition requires a solidly structured routine and constant supervision, to aid in prevention of injury or disturbances in classroom environments. As well as guidance to learn appropriate behaviour and tactics to manage the overwhelming factors of this condition.
“Doctors tend to diagnosis ADHD after children have reached school age. This is due to a couple of variables. The ability to measure the child’s developmental delays and behavioural symptoms is better documented when seen alongside their peers and the medication to aid in symptom reduction are not approved for those under the age of 5. This unwillingness to make definitive diagnosis’s prior to school starting leaves the responsibility of recognizing and stimulating diagnosis and designation to teachers; who may or may not be educated about ADHD and its complicated behavioural issues.
“A child with ADHD lives in a world where there is no turning off the white noise. Every change in lighting, chair scrap, gum chewing peer, or movement is a distraction to their education. They have an internal vibration, not easily settled, as a constant ally to their verbal and physical impulsivity.
“Imagine for a minute that every sound in this room is a distraction. The person next to you, who is uncomfortable in their chair and moving a little bit, is prominent in your mind. Just as prominent as the other person yawning and someone else texting. There are also the changes in lights as cars drive by, the noise in the hallway, and the fact that your feet don’t quiet reach the floor. All of this is in the forefront of your mind as you are trying, with every ounce of who you are, to pay attention and retain the information being provided.
“You know that if you act out or wiggle too much or loose the plot, you will be called out and punished in front of all your peers. And then you have a thought or see a bug crawling on the wall or even remember that the sweater you are wearing is the one with the sleeves that are just that much too tight, and with that you have completely lost focus of what is being said. It will be at this point that the person in the front of the room has asked a question and is looking at you to provide some sense of an answer, but you don’t even know what the question was, because the room is too loud and the bug was bright green and your sweater doesn’t fit right in the arms, so you tell them about the bug and are told you are wrong.
“With this, you lash out, you are angry with yourself for not knowing what is going on, because you have been told that you need to pay attention, but you can’t turn off the white noise. You are anxious that your peers are going to make fun of you, and you are ashamed that you can’t be like everyone else. You know you are different, but you have no support in learning, despite those differences. And then you are labeled as That kid, the one with behavioural issues, who is overtly talkative, who is sent to the principal’s office and other parents see as the “Bad” kid or in need of greater discipline. Even though you are doing the best you can but can’t prioritize your focus.
“Now imagine you are that child’s parent and there are no resources available to you for supporting your child’s learning. You are so overwhelmed, because you know the battles your child is facing; you once had to face those challenges as an unsupported ADHD student.
“My name is Sandra Goth. I am an only parent of 2 children, both diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Their father, who has not been in our lives since 2008, was diagnosed with ADHD and other commodities at a young age. This Neurological condition has granted our family with many challenges as well as an abundance of energy.
“Throughout the years we have been faced with social stigma, out-casting, discrimination and othering, from both peers and professionals. Watching my children be ostracized from play groups, daycares, birthday parties, and other social events became the norm very early in their lives. I knew by the time my eldest was 2 that there was something different about him, compared to other children, and, although not to the same severity, my youngest by 4.
“I was blessed with a kindergarten teacher who had a life time of experience and education, allotting her an open mind to my eldest son’s struggles. She helped me begin the process of getting him a diagnosis and a designation. But the school principal did not see him as a priority student for assessments, which would lead to an IEP or other accommodations. Instead stated that there are other children who were in a greater need and to not expect any supports, specifically an IEP, until at least grade 5. To me, this was too late, by then he would be too far behind to ever feel he could catch up to his peers.
“After multiple meetings, pediatrician appointments, complications with behaviour and medication, and finally the support of his kindergarten teacher, he was placed in a grade 1 class where an EA was already in place for another child and could share her time with my undesignated child.
“In his grade 2 year I was challenged with a teacher who did not acknowledge that his diagnosis was a condition of nature and not nurture; ignorant to the fact that this is a Neurological Condition. After numerous ignored requests to provide him a mid-day medication or aid in getting accommodations in the classroom, I again started the fight for an IEP. This teacher’s response was to suggest I find a suitable husband who could be a strong male role model to my children and would provide proper discipline to prevent my son’s behaviour from disturbing her classroom.
“His ADHD diagnosis was not significant enough for him to receive an IEP or any accommodations. Here I was watching my child fight every day to fit into a box that society has set out for him, knowing that he would have to fight this battle his entire life. And our education system was balking at his need for supports. It was hard enough to know that he would not be the kid invited to birthday parties because he was considered “too busy” and that he regularly spent his time alone or in the company of adults, as his peers didn’t understand that his behaviour was not always in his control. But to know that he may never achieve a full grade 12 education due to ignorance, stigma, and stereotyping was unacceptable to me.
“Since this experience I have become a strong advocate for both my children. The next year, I moved them to a school with a better understanding to what they needed and taught acceptance throughout their classes. Where the principal, teachers, and other staff seemed to be more open minded to the challenges we faced. However, that school was a 30 min drive from our house. We got up and left our residence before most of our neighbors’ alarm clocks went off. They were placed in before and after school care, so I had the time to make the trip to and from school and work a full day. I even changed jobs.
“Even though this new school was more accommodating to my children’s needs, I still had to battle for them to get accommodations and IEPs. My youngest was again not tested and provided supports before grade 2; again, far too late in his education and he is still behind his peers by 2 years.
“I had to hunt down an outside agent and agree to testing and diagnosis of learning disabilities. Disabilities I feel would not have been an issue had they received accommodations and IEP’s when their diagnoses first came to light. This is because ADHD is not a significant enough diagnosis for an IEP but, learning disabilities are. So, schools wait until the child has fallen behind their peers with their education to test for Learning Disabilities, so they may get IEP’s and Accommodations.
“I had to seek out my MLA so my eldest had access to Psych education testing prior to middle school, as the wait list is years long and only a handful of children have access to them annually. And finally push for him to get access to a program specific to his needs for middle school.
“It is exhausting and overwhelming to feel that if you are not ready to fight you are giving up or giving in because those seem the only options a parent of an ADHD child has. My children are now 13 and 15. They are in programs or schools that are accommodating, supportive, and accessible, with resources for their success. I have spent the last 10 years educating myself and fighting one battle after another to ensure they receive the smallest of accommodations.
“The main thing I have learned is that an early intervention provides the best results. This is a neurological condition that you are born with. It is one that comes with behaviours that our society does not always see as acceptable or becoming of a child or an adult. Although adults with ADHD are often seen as eccentric a child is just seen as disruptive, over talkative or in need of discipline.
“On December 4, 2017 our education Minister, Rob Fleming, made a promise to incorporate ADHD as a stand-alone diagnosis / designation for an IEP. Currently, a diagnosis of a learning disability along with ADHD is how schools are allotting IEP’s for this vulnerable population of youth. The unfortunate aspect is most ADHD children do not walk into school with pre-existing learning disabilities. They come after years of, what I call, educational neglect; teachers do not have access to supports or resources specific to the ADHD child’s needs. So those with ADHD are sent out of the room to prevent class room disturbance, hindering the child’s ability to maintain educational standards, as our school system allocates.
“The access to IEP’s for ADHD, as Mr. Fleming promised, will benefit the child, the teachers, family dynamics, and education funding. It provides the child with a knowing that they are not alone in their situation, that there are people available to support them with their learning and empower them to advocate for what they need, as they continue their education.
“It will aid in decreasing the burden teachers feel when faced with a child who may seem difficult or uninterested. The teacher will have a written and supported plan for that child’s education and access to supports within their classroom. This will increase the teachers knowing about the neurological condition as it is left to teachers to aid families with a diagnosis.
“Knowing that your child has an IEP relives family stress. It prevents family helplessness when trying to aid their children in the struggles of everyday life. Currently parents are required to knock on a multitude of doors, only to learn that accommodations, supports and even counselling are only available for a short period of time and only after being on a long and daunting wait list. When a child with ADHD has an IEP the family can relax in knowing that there is a plan in place, at least at school, that aids them with their child’s success in life.
“Finally, providing IEP’s for ADHD will provide governing bodies with the ability to track the number of children requiring specific additional supports. Having a Learning Disability designation does not provide enough statistical evidence to ensure there is adequate funding available for the growing population of ADHD students. With this analytical data, the government can ensure they are appropriately funding schools and districts with our newly formed inclusion model of education.
“Grade 5 and above is too late to provide support for our ADHD population. They need intervention during the first years after being diagnosed (kindergarten/ Grade 1). Their peers and teachers need education and supports early, so these children feel included and empowered in their education. With 8 – 10 % of our student population diagnosed with ADHD, Mr. Fleming needs to be held accountable to his promises. So, I am here, asking you to bring this fight to his door and ask him to provide a timeline for when he will follow through with his promise of December 4th, 2017.
“Supported ADHD children become healthy and supportive adults. Thus, preventing long term mental health challenges, addiction, homelessness, and broken families. Thank you, Rob Paynter, Diane McNally, Ryan Painter, and Chair Jordan Watters, for showing your support of ADHD being a stand-alone designation for IEP’s during the election. Knowing there are so many who publicly support our children to becoming their best selves is invaluable to their confidence and success. Thank you for your time and attention.”
C. New Business:
C.1 Student Rep: Rosemary Alberts, Reynolds Secondary
C.2 ISP Annual Report / PPT Presentation (Pp11-50 agenda): Jeff Davis
- Davis: ISP in existence since 1992. 7 homestay coordinators, 1 major coordinator. Homestay placements can be a challenge if a student has special needs for support; capacity challenge for homestay parents; maybe issues of incompatibility. Contacts at every high school.ISP office capability in Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese. Student travel to Belgium, China, Japan. All expenses except airfare paid for Japan trip by Japan partners. 10 students going to Tokyo in December. Added many homestay families recently so not pursuing dormitory options (Strategy 1.5). International Baccalaureate program on hold (Strategy 1.6). [Parkland School SD63 IBI fees:annual school fee $11,000; students about $170 for registration plus additional exam fee $119 for each subject. Can take up to 6 IB courses as part of the Diploma. Startup costs teacher education $600 for 4 week online course per teacher and costs for materials, professional development workshops and textbooks.] Global and Intercultural Skills program : SD61 is one of 8 public school districts offering this program.
- McNally: Pleased to see the SD61 logo on the ISP site and handouts.Urged this in the past, since the ISP program presentation online looked like a private school that had nothing to do with SD61. “Outbound student mobility program” is a student international travel opportunity, correct? Still concerned with inequity of access to this, even if it is just the plane fare cost and the rest is paid for, with the Japan trip.
- Davis: Ministry grants so students can get subsidy if they can’t afford the trip, but not sure if they are well publicized.
- Public question : What is ease of access for student travel to other countries for students with autism?
- Davis: have had students with diverse learning needs on trips.
- Superintendent: No “gateposts” for who can participate.
- Ilda Turcotte: Nothing on the SD61 website about ISP. And access to counselling seems quite assured – we need access to counselling easily, for all students.
- Davis: It’s under “programs” on the website. Strategy 2.4, Expand Academic Transition program at Uplands Campus: Grades 10&11, 4 courses – language upgrading and cultural adjustment. 3 cohorts, September, February, April.
C.3 Annual Report: Learning Team Operational Plan (Pp 51-74 agenda) :Louise Sheffer, James Hansen, Jon Hamlin, Carey Nickerson, Dave Shortreed
- Sheffer: Last 2 1/2 years as a team. 3 years ago wanted to create a symbol of the team mission. “Graduate with hope and purpose”.
- Paynter: How will we evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies under each of your goals?
- Sheffer: Focusing on how best to collect data. The answer is for those people who are working on it. [? Should have asked.]
- McNally: Is “support for learning team” different from “learning team”? / Yes.
- Nickerson: 10 school literacy teams last year, 10 more this year. Partnership with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations re support for Indigenous learners.
- Hansen: Need numeracy to understand the world – number sense and flexible thinking.
- Hamlin: Grade 10 new curriculum into play this year. 11,12 in September 2019. Aboriginal Education Department has been focussing on Western science vs Indigenous science.G Suite is used to strengthen inter school curriculum connections.Revising Grades 11 & 12 BAA courses [discussion at 8.A here.]. Attention to discussion of First Peoples’ Principles of Learning.
- Nickerson: Early Learning: 3 & 4 year olds in Ready Set Learn, 6 Strong Starts. Early Childhood Educators support families and connect to services. 23 schools host “Welcome to Kindergarten” days provided by the Learning Partnership Early Learning vision for SD61 – government staffing and structures are in flux. EDI reveals trends in child development.
- Shortreed: SD61 hardware is good; working on software consistency.
- Christianson: P 84, EA “collaboration” issue … not a lot about EAs here. How do they fit into teams? What happens to the money that should pay for a substitute EA, when EAs are not replaced? [McCArtney: Don’t know yet. Looking at how to improve EA situations and examine inequities.] If 3 EAs in a school are away, we might get one replacement. School based teams participation could give EAs more hours.
- Audrey Smith , DPAC: Re profile funding, parents and staff frustrated that resources can’t be provided quickly. DPAC developed a “classroom resources” fund proposed as part of September funding that could respond to needs quickly. Ministry would have to figure out how it would work.Get the staffing there, and data to support it would come later. EAs are redeployed in schools. Parents are dependent on EAs that their child knows. 28 hours doesn’t yield a living wage.
- Sheffer: Everyone in the school is part of the team. Trying to provide pro-d that everyone can participate in. We have work to do on that.
- Turcotte: Will kindergarten teachers be given time to fill out the EDI? And how does the Learning Team support French Immersion?
- Nickerson: EDI is pat of HELP… voluntary for teacher to participate; 20 minutes release time for each question.
C.4 Unpacking Inclusion / Learning For All (Extensive slides and backgrounder Pp 75-96 agenda): Deb Whitten, Harold Caldwell, Sean McCartney, Pam Halverson
Summary (McNally): District Teams: Aboriginal Education, Pathways and Partnerships, Support for Learning team (different from Learning Team and not support for that team), Learning Team, Modern languages, Tech for learning Team (different from Learning Team). “Goals for this series” slide: The team will report back in in the New Year re “shifting practice. There was some frank discussion of challenges, which was appreciated. Re segregated / District programs [all were situated in schools, except for Victor School in its own building] , some parents were supportive and enthusiastic about them and others were not. [Staff described them as “siloed” and “inequitable”.] What other ways can we provide support apart from heavy reliance on EAs? Gathering feedback on inclusion from parent groups. A work in progress, a lot of work to do still, trying to move inclusion to where it can be. Looked at 3 models – Whole School Delivery Model, Needs-Based Delivery Model, Profile Funding – and saw good pieces in all but no one model was right for SD61. Submitted request [supported by unanimous vote of the Board] to move to Profile Funding for Category H to avoid the documentation required [it is extensive and takes months to create documentation to support an application for Category H designation – descriptors here.] About 460 Intensive Behaviour / Severe Mental Illness files. But this did not work out. How would we better fund schools to better respond to changes ? Strength and needs based approach; rethink supports; stability and efficiency; equitable process.Slide 91 shows hires of EAs exceeds those for teachers from 2016 to 2019. Perception that fewer EAs because of EAs and Learning Support Teachers are spread across more classrooms a a result of the BCTF win in court. District wide, an increase in designations by 131 from last year. Positive directions: 1. new process for allocating funds – administrators are positive 2. more opportunities for collaboration 3. increase in elementary counseling time 4. more integrated District team planning. Some challenges forthrightly stated (p 94).
- McNally: Needs based – who identifies the needs? Who assesses what appropriate support is and how is that documented and communicated to parents, more often than a once a year IEP review?
- Halvorson: Addressing challenges – how to mitigate them – Intensive Behaviour designations going up, mental health designations going up provincially.
- Watters: Systemic underfunding- how to effectively advocate for systemic change? Anxiety re new funding formula.
- Winona Waldron (GVTA): Profile funding school by school? Different schools have different profiles.
- Whitten: We didn’t implement it.
- McCartney: Reviewing Collective Agreement language in current reality.
- Paynter: Struggle with inclusive learning the way it’s rolling out.Anecdotal reports are distressing. Are the changes making things better for our students? What’s the purpose?
- Marilyn Campbell, Principal Quadra School: Moving in the right direction but only 16 months into the journey. For students in Tier 3 [Category H] , we need to partner with the community. Recently 17 people around the table for 1 student. Strengths of partnerships.Lack of funding is broader issue than with public education – includes Child and Youth Mental Health.
C.5 McNally: That the Board direct the Superintendent to provide the Board with a report on the current status of items 1 and 2 from the Nov 27 Ed Policy&Directions meeting recommended motion [D on that agenda] : 1. The Whole School Service Delivery Model and a list of the schools that are participating 2. The status and explanation of profile funding for students with severe Behaviour and Mental Health diagnosis (Category H) , along with provision of District-wide number for students in that category for the 2018-19 school year. / Withdrawn as questions answered above.
C.6 ADHD Designation : Painter: That the Board direct the Chair to write a letter to the Minister of Education requesting a timeline on when the Minister will add ADHD as a stand alone designation in special education in order to streamline receiving accommodations and IEPs./ Carried. Unanimous.
- Painter: “What ADHD is Not”, Centre For ADHD Awareness website. US statistic 40% of people with ADHD don’t finish high school. High rate of incarceration.
- Ferris: A year ago the Minster would not have known what the complexity around ADHD is.Singling out ADHD is not the way to go. This is bits and pieces.
- Amendment: And appropriate funding.
- Paynter: The Minister would have had 4 years as education critic so likely would have had a good idea of the implications of his statement. As a first step would be satisfied with recognition.
- Tracey Humphreys (founder, BC Ed Access): This would move some kids from Category H, for specific attention.
- Smith (DPAC) : You get blamed for poor parenting, then a clinical diagnosis, then the school recognizes the issue. With this, a parent doesn’t have to explain every year to the school what the child needs. No longer the parent’s fault. Will provide ways to help and remedy. Recognition is a win for parents, kids, school system.
- Goth: Clarifies parent- teacher conversations.
C.7 Watters: That the Board direct the Superintendent to prepare a report that outlines the school-based inclusive learning funding and staffing allocations for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years in the context of school population and number of enrolling classrooms and that this report be presented at the January 2019 Education Policy and Directions Committee meeting.
D. Notice of Motion: None
E. General Announcements : None
F. Adjournment : 10:30 ish