October 7th Meeting Notes

October 7, 2019 

General Meeting 7:00pm-9:00pm

Wilde Lake Middle School Cafeteria


  1. Call to Order 7:05pm
  2. Welcome and Introductions 
    1. Purpose and Vision 

The Howard County Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee (SECAC) advises the school system on the needs of students with disabilities. We collaborate with other community disability advocacy groups to improve special education and the lives of our students in Howard County, MD.

b. Purpose of tonight

i. Welcome Dr. Martirano, Howard County BOE Superintendent 

1. Other government officials and school system staff present:

a. Del Jen Teresa, Del Eric Ebersole and Sen Clarence Lam

b. CE Office Kim Pruim

c. Bill Barnes, Chief Academic Officer

d. Dr. Savage, Exec Dir DSE

e. Other DSE staff, Emily Kinsler, Elizabeth Augustine, Janice Yetter

ii. Facebook Live Event. In order to include as many HoCo residents as possible, we will be livestreaming this meeting. If you would not like to be in the video, please sit towards the tables near the door, or watch for when a hand is raised to ask a question next to you. As such, we ask that any names or personal information not be shared.

iii. How the evening will flow: Dr. Martirano will begin with some remarks. His staff from the Department of Special Education will be available to assist in answering questions. He will answer questions submitted online first. If you have further questions, please write them down on an index note and flag one of us down. He will try to address them given the time.

iv. Norms of Collaboration: Some things to keep in mind as we gather here tonight. Two intentions of asking questions are: To explore and To specify thinking. For example, “what might be an example of that?” Meaningful dialogue and discussion are used when we are conscious of our self and others. We should be aware of what we are saying, and how we are saying it, and how others might respond to it. Always assume that others’ intentions are positive and that it helps to create meaningful dialogue.

Approval of Minutes

Action Required: Motion to approve minutes. See attached minutes

Minutes approved and passed.

Guest Speaker 7:30

Dr. Martirano, Howard County BOE Superintendent

Coming here during the public hearing for redistricting. 

Transparency is important to him. He hired Trish Gunshore to be the SPED parent liaison.

Doesn’t like legal action against families re: IEP. 

Focus on strong foundation around budget.

IEP process is the place where the children are affected. It’s a legal document.

IEP teams don’t always meet the full needs. Working on that.

Talked to special educators during Professional Days.

Arena around SPED in Howard County is fluid.

5300 who receive SPED services. ~300 preschool, ~250 non-public.

400 new students were registered in the county after staffing decisions in the spring. 

Special Education Advisory Committee in addition to SECAC – working on IEP process. IEP eval form. Parent opportunities for training.

First annual Empowering Parents as Partners – Oct 12th. Keynote speaker Ananta Hejeebu. ~150 parents have signed up. 

Vision/Hearing screen. Advocacy of Cat Carter. Early identification of vision and hearing issues. 

Redistricting process – going on currently. A few questions about that. Capital Improvement Plan budget.

A common question he’s hearing is “Have SPED students been considered?” Yes, they have.

If students are receiving regional programs they will continue to receive transportation to their regional program. RECC programs could move depending on where the students are.

Policy 6010 – Rising 12th grades will not be moved.

Possible to exempt 5th and 8thas well. Previous boards have done that. Students on IEPs, 504s and military families have also been exempted in the past.

Board directed supt to come up with a comprehensive redistricting plan. 

Concern from SPED parents that they’d get the same services at a new school. 

School system will help with transition and articulation.

Question and Answer Session

Pre-submitted questions.  List can be found below.

Compliance questions

Q8 - We should know about any issues with non-compliance. 

Support full continuum of placement options as outlined by federal law. How is it communicated? 

Q9 - Outreach is important. Event on the Oct 12th. 

Doesn’t like that there are folks aren’t here to hear information. Socio-economic factors can hold people back from coming out.


Q10 - # of IEP students in the class doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in work load. It’s more about the level of intensity of the need. Administer class size guidelines with fidelity. If not, then pull from the pool for more teachers when need emerges. 

Sharing best practices with other teachers.

Q11 – Staffing formula update? Need community support for funding?

That work is ongoing. Working with HR to provide more supports. 

Q12 – He is sure there is SPED space there. Overcrowding causes an issue with space for SPED.

Redistricting can be related to this. HS13, Hammond reno. 

Funding is not available for Hammond reno and Talbott Springs replacement. 


Q13 – DIBELS as a universal screener for reading in the past. We are currently working with a WG and Bill Barnes to identify a universal screener for R2R. Important to identify issues before 3rdgrade. Poverty widens achievement gap. Researched based practices.

Q18 - How does staff know when to refer or re-refer students for reading or other SLD? Need to train staff, even paras, better. Better job with subs. 1 year of 13 will be by a sub. 

Classroom teachers may not have exposure to specialized skills to address these issues.

Need more training. Pre-service days before school starts. Hard to do that with paras. Subs would have to be paid extra for training. 


Q19 - Each school has an ITL for SPED. Multiple case managers for kids with IEPs. Gen educators in support role to identify students with learning issues. Not qualifying for IEP or 504 doesn’t mean they can’t be eval again. School counselors and psychologists for coping skills, anxiety in addition to IEP students. Could have IEP goals in that area. 

Q22 – PD days, school based learning as well. Training gap is hard to fill. It’s the biggest concern for Bill. K-2 teachers just learned new reading curriculum. SIPPS. On-going training throughout the year. Training reading specialists. Bringing in a new compliment of interventions for dyslexia. No one program is best for everything. 

Calendar has PD days. ITLs still have full case load. Not at MS and HS, though. 

Q23 – Grad rate is important. Equity would be 100% graduation rate. SPED grad rate has increased by 3% but still only in the high 60s%. Not just an HS issue. Issues start to emerge in ES. Attendance is an issue. Academic issues can cause discipline issues. Overidentified for SPED and suspensions – WGs.

Q25 – Non-public tuition for SLD. Can there be a regional program for SLD/dyslexia? Use that money to develop own program? Good idea. Many students in non-public have unique needs that can’t be met here. Long term vision would be to provide local, signature, magent programs that would meet those needs. Funding issue but philosophically agree.


From the floor:

IEP students are often denied access to GT/AP classes? Not consistent with the vision. Heard about this issue in the past Continue to work with teachers, counselors, examine institutional practices. Reach out if that is happening. We can’t let that go. Report statements from staff that aren’t nice. 

Why can parents advocate for GT but not advocate for SPED? Not quite the same to compare GT and SPED but there are guidelines for each. 


Final comments from Dr. Martirano. Needs to go back to public hearing.

Asks we stay engaged, continue advocacy. Continue advocate for budget. Budget philosophy – aspirational budget last year. 


DSE will answer the rest of the questions.

HCPSS Autism specific program like in PG County? Have many students in gen ed but know there is a need for specialized programs. There are some programs. Looking at adding programs at the MS level. They would like to replicate what’s going on in non-publics. To replace non-publics, the programs and staff set before kids are able to be move from non-public. Takes about 18 months to advance something like that.

SPED students need outside services and don’t know about. Staff doesn’t generally recommend that.

Resource Fair with community partners. Every other year. Will be fall 2020. Bring a friend. Keep coming to various events. Let us know if there are places. Family Support and Resource Center has things as well. School pysch has a list of resources as well. 

How is SEAC picked and coordinated with SECAC? Dr. Savage heads that group. Reached out to community supts and principals. Make sure to reach all demographics, SECAC board member at large (Camille) is in SEAC. Meets 4-5 times last year. Working on a parent resource guide. Bringing in student voice. 

Disproportionality for race and income level? CCEIS plan. Looking at particular disabilities and particular demographics. Identification, placement, discipline. Written a plan to address discipline, it includes training. 

Budget. Staffing increases? 60 less staff than requested in the initial budget from last year. Training for paras, etc…What can we do? Working on job descriptions. SECAC board has been involved. Nicole Carter, exec director of HR leading that work. Continue to ask DSE for info. Unify voice. Do a better job as team to discuss with the community.  

SPED training for related arts? Cost challenges. Time, resources. 

End of Q&A


Closing  Remarks

Reminder that SECAC is here for you. Encourage schools to put info in PTA newsletters. secacchair@gmail.com – for questions. 

  1. Next Meeting Dates
    1. November 13, 2019, December 11, 2019 - End of the Year Social Event, January 8, 2020, February 12, 2020 - 2nd Annual Advocate Night, March 11, 2020, April 15, 2020 - SECAC Awards planning, May 13, 2020, June 10, 2020

Adjourned 8:45


Dr Martirano Pre-submitted questions (xlsx)