November 13th Meeting Notes

Howard County SECAC Agenda

November 13, 2019 General Meeting 7:00pm-9:00pm

Wilde Lake Middle School Cafeteria


Call to Order - 7:05pm

Welcome and Introductions

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.

Approval of Minutes

Action Required: Motion to approve minutes. See attached minutes

Minutes approved.

Guest Speaker

Dr. Kevin Gilbert oversees the integration of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion principles throughout the educational program and school system culture.  Bio available on the HCPSS website.

Pre-submitted questions will be read first.  Then questions from the floor. 


What is the county's plan for kids with dyslexia who are in second grade and above? Not just testing for dyslexia but action?

(Decoding Dyslexia will be speaking to SECAC at a later meeting).

Dr. Gilbert - Not really a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issue but wanted to honor the question asked.  Reading specialists are learning about dyslexia at meetings and receiving professional learning about dyslexia.  SIPS or Really Great Reading is being used.  There at least 1 full time Reading Specialist in each elementary school and will assist teachers and special educators.  

Dr. Savage – special education with specific learning disability will get interventions above.  If they aren’t making progress there is Wilson (Orton-Gillingham based), Reading FUNdmentals.  There two Bianca Roberts and Yvonne Cox are literacy coaches.  More to come on that.  Idea for a speaker for another meeting is having the curriculum folks come talk.  Ebony Langford-Brown. 

The Superintendent NEVER mentions students with disabilities when he discusses equity and at least one Board of Education member is actively attempting to reduce special education resources in order to increase resources for other populations. What are you doing to ensure that special education receives appropriate services and attention and to educate the Board, Administrators, and the general public on the requirements and needs of students with disabilities?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was created to coordinate that work.  Build a “climate of belonging and culture of dignity.”  Create common language around those terms.

Those are the guiding principles we use to do the work.

Is not sure why the perception is that students with disabilities doesn’t fit into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion but they do.  They want everyone to see themselves in the word equity.  We work with all divisions, all schools, Department of Special Education, curriculum, program innovation and student well being, etc…  “All means ALL.”

We are working through our adults.  Adults create the culture in a school.  

Feels sad that we feel that way.  Let’s work together.  Let’s commit tonight to work together.  Want families of students with disabilities feel part of their work.

There are members of the Board of Education as well as members of the Diversity and Equity committee that continue to highlight the achievement gap, but only for students receiving FARMs or students of color. However, students with disabilities and English Language Learners have the largest gap and may also be receiving FARMs and be students of color. What are we doing for these two populations that is new or different than what we have been doing? How are we focusing on these two populations in particular?

Program innovation and student well being.  Offer support and guidance, superintendent’s cabinet, opportunity gaps and yes for special education.  Especially special education students of color.  Looking to work collectively to solve these issues.

Many problems arise when administrators and staff are unfamiliar with the rights of students with disabilities and the requirements of school staff to support these students. Are we going to be doing anything new or different to provide this knowledge to our administration and general education teachers?

Student support team.  School improvement process.  Identifying cultural issues that cause these gaps. principals meeting they talked about “inclusion mindset, access to general education, teacher assignments, parent involvement” and more. 

What current evidenced based education is being provided to the staff within your office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to ensure they understand the need to include disability etiquette in their own practice? There is concern that the staff within Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office are NOT bought into the concept that students with disabilities are an imperative part of the discussion around equity. Please share with us what exactly is being done to ensure the internal staff within Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office have a heightened sensitivity and agree that students with disabilities must be included in all.

Work together to remove the perception that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion doesn’t include special education.  Lots of research on creating a climate in a school where all students feel like they belong.  They always include special education.  Share articles on special education.  Level 2 cultural proficiently project looking at how to solve issues like relationships.  One SECAC rep and one parent of students with disabilities on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

Micro-aggressions workshop that leaders got.  Pulled out examples for students with disabilities.

There are Diversity, Equity and Inclusion liaisons in all schools and education centers.  6 of them are special educators.  Trying to be as intentional as they can calling out special education.  If this is not showing up for you, please email him.  Report and give suggestions.

Dr. Savage - Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course for gen educators.  Last year on IEP basics.  This year for behavior.  Any teacher is available to take these courses.  There is a CPD catalog.  There’s a weekly newsletter with lists of upcoming training.  Training for administrators.  Instructional Team Lead meeting getting info from non-public and compliance team case law, etc..  (She passes around a copy of a presentation to administrators from last year.) Department of Special Education was involved in the school improvement plan.  Anchored in MSDE TAB.  The TAB they used for this presentation was for special education.  2nd part was a handout.  Asks the administrators things to master schedule should think about students with disabilities.

Direct training to administrators , starting with behavior, in December.  Teaching them what they should be looking for.  Working with their special educators.  

What does HCPSS have planned for Inclusive School's Week? Dec 2-6, 2019.

Dr. Savage - Inclusive schools committee meeting all year.  Information provided to principals in October.  Posts given to them in packets last week.  Instructional Team Leads getting that info.

Posters developed sent to each school sent Nov 14th.  Google doc folder with ideas to share with principals and Instructional Team Lead.  Daily practice slogans.  Seeking Dec 5th seeking students to speak at the Board of Education meeting public forum.  Grant with Arc of Maryland for 24 schools have a guest speaker with a disability.  In the process of identifying schools. 

Questions from the floor.

Several key metrics not being met (proficiency in ELA and math, grad rates, etc..). What is the school system doing?  Since money is tight what can be done without more money.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has staff in all these meetings.  Looking at structural and culture issues.  They are looking at ways to narrow the gaps.

Dr. Savage – our values are espoused in our actions.  Last year’s historic ask shows that.  Community support was a big part of that.  We have to do the work with the resources they have.  Asking for more resources so progress can be accelerated.  As a department, they are committed to advocating for the resources to improve outcomes – behavioral, academic, social.  High rate of growth.  Going to continue to ask for the resources needed to not just follow the law but accelerate the progress.  Need to work with others in the Central Office and Board of Education to balance needs of other students as well.

Regarding inclusion goals – Strategic Call To Aaction.  Why are students with disabilities not included in the desired outcomes?  

Dr. Savage – it is.  “Consistent and collaborative.”  (Look at the

Is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working with Department of Special Education on disproportionality?

Yes.  Dr. Savage – discipline, placement, identification as it relates to special education.  

Dr. Gilbert – discipline.  Restorative program trying to change the climate.  Training Department of Special Education staff on peace circles.  How the restorative work applies to Department of Special Education.

3 underlying concepts: Respect (valuing each other), Mutual concern (look at each other as human beings), Dignity (treating all students).

When students feel valued, they can achieve.  Build successes and close gaps.

An inclusion starts with upper leadership.  Does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have a rep on the Inclusive Schools Committee?

There are about 35 people on the committee.  Every teacher will have access to materials.  Teachers are able to give input.  

Vanderbilt University has a website with resources that they added to that area.

Follow on Twitter.  @hcpssdse  #isw2019 

Show community that HCPSS that disabilities are a priority, does the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee that has a disability?

No but if someone is recommended they’d be on the committee.  Dr. Savage says there may be but the person may not have disclosed that.

They aren’t turning away anyone that is interested.  

SECAC Recommends seeking out  parent/community member with a disability to be on this committee.

Follow up from the floor – has the school system sought out a disabled adult?  High functioning autism, neuro diverse. Department of Special Education is doing that.  Project SEARCH intern worked with Dr. Savage and Janice Yetter.  Met with different departments on that.  

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is under HR now.  They have regular meetings.  Will bring this to the HR department.  

SECAC Recommends hiring a person from a diverse pool of abilities as well as race, gender.

In definitions he read earlier - add intellectual and developmental delayed not the same as “mental”.  

Workshopped those definitions.  They were much longer than what they settled on.  

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

Dr. Savage - Variety of ways to get teacher training – MSDE approved training.  But they are not required.   Vanderbilt University training.  Janice Yetter worked with CPD office to give credit for those courses.

Follow up from the floor  – why is behavior training not mandatory?

Dr. Savage - They have this conversation a lot.  Admin meetings soon – asking principals to sign up for the BCBA, behavioral specialists.  Not mandated.  Would like to see it done in all schools.  Will do follow up after the training.  Talking carefully about what to mandate.  Did a paid after school training but it was low attendance.  Re: teachers that spoke at Board of Education.  Spoke to elementary school Instructional Team Leads and one was there.  

Follow up from the floor – Can they go to a certain admin in a schools with issues and ask they take the training?

Elizabeth Augustin (Instructional Facilitator for Middle School) – Yes, they do that sometimes. Meeting with grade level teams on issues they are having.

Are schools that are more diverse more inclusive for special ed?  

Not really.  It comes down to the culture of the school.  Research shows that diversity helps everyone.  Culture and climate play a part.  

What training do support staff (recess monitors, bus drivers), specifically for anxiety and depression?  

Did a presentation on transportation as a service. Student info sheet for bus drivers and aides.  Consultant working in transportation former administrator and special educator.  Looks at the survey of needs to do training need.

Janice - Worked closely last year to develop training. Added additional component for students with disabilities.  special education bus and aides get a second training.  Mandatory.   Adjust training as needs arise.  Behavior analyst and specialists do training.  Bus ride is an extension of the school day.

Department of Special Education and Transportation meet monthly.  Reviewing and revising plan.  Not specific for needs.

Dr. Gilbert sat through one of the trainings.

There is no training for recess monitors.  Case managers meet with recess monitors about strategies for recess and lunch.  But will take that note back.  

Question from Vicky Cutreneo (Board of Education SECAC Liaison) Disability awareness for students.  There are some PTA generated.  Parent does in her child’s school.  Parents need the training.  Kathy Alfonso “Different is the New Cool” at Atholton Elementary School.

Acceptance and Belonging – Confronting Bias training.  Standalone curriculum. Bias awareness.  Dignity workshops. Student to student relationships. Can include specific topics.  

Parent story about students help her child when she’s upset.  Parent story about a child standing up for her son when he was being teased.  Bullying goes on more than we know because it happens in small groups.  

When this happens Diversity, Equity and Inclusion works with admin to put in a plan in place and how to educate the student so it doesn’t happen.  

Vicky – upstanders are affected.  Need systemic plan. Will save money in the end.  

Disability awareness was brought up in SECAC Board of Education Community meeting last year.  Disability awareness used to be a department 10 years ago.  Need it now more than ever.  HCAS has done some presentations.  Janice - Inclusive schools committee started as just for the Inclusive Schools Week but they want it to be a daily practice.

DAP (Disability Awareness Program ) Day used to be celebrated every year.  

Parent - Cedar Lane feels isolated from the county.  Is there a way make it more part of the county?  Bring other students to Cedar Lane.  Get service hours for it.  Best Buddies with Reservoir high school?  Can talk offline.  High School students at Cedar Lane go to Reservoir HS for lunch.  There is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion rep at Cedar Lane.  

Board Reports


Invited Shannon Cannedy to present her experience at the Wright’s Law Workshop.  SECAC paid for half of the tuition to promote parent education and support.  Great example of SECAC empowering parents.  

Shannen – It was a 6 hour day.  Emphasis on the language in the law.  Federal law overrides state law.  Statutes regarding disabilities are codes 1400-1415.  IDEA 2004 “ensure all children with disabilities free and appropriate education….designed to meet unique needs…”

If a student with an IEP that moves across jurisdiction “the same or equivalent services”.  If the school can’t provide it they have to use the current IEP.  

“The best way to avoid litigation is to prepare for litigation.”  Every communication with the school is evidence.  Be respectful and consider it a partnership vs going in angry.  Suggested bringing snacks to IEP meetings.  “Make sure the student is learning and then worry about the free and appropriate.  Avoid using words like “the best”.  “  

Vice Chair



SECAC flyers, IEP survey card at every meeting.  Let us know if you aren’t receiving them.  

Issue with sending emails from Gmail to Hotmail. Will send meeting follow up from her Hotmail account if there’s an issue.  

Member at Large

Not in attendance.

Committee Reports

SESAC – Wendy Balda

Meetings are open to everyone.  SESAC is the state version of this meeting.  Wednesday mornings.  Read through the Technical Assistance Bulletins (TABs). State level changes, things that will be sent out to the districts.  

Forming committees to tackle the following issues: Legislation, Student Achievement and Outcomes, Transition, Family Engagement and Community Outreach.  Let Wendy know if you are interested.

Policy 1050/9230 Alcohol, prescription drugs – Lori Scott 

Discussion about changing laws for CBD/THC.  Currently not allowed in schools.  The kids on the committee are really smart.

Department of Special Education Reports - Executive Director and staff

Trish Gunshore – Special Ed Parent Liaison (since 2017).  Support families through the IEP process.  Majority of  referrals are either new IEP families (new vocabulary, etc..), new to the county (why do you do it this way), parents having problems.  Work directly with the families, read documents.  Working with international families.  Went to Hispanic Liaison, Chinese Liaison to provide trainings in those committees.  Coordinate system wide schedule for workshops.  60% of the families are coming to her are about the IEP process. 

The DSE had a Parent Empowerment Seminar a few weeks ago to explain each part of the IEP.

Create resource – Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Howard County.  Asked if anyone got one.  No one raised their hand.  

Last year only 50% of referrals came from families.  75% are now from families.  This means that word is getting out about her office.

There is a calendar on the HCPSS Department of Special Education website.  Weekly email from school system for larger events, Family Support Resource Center emails for IEP parents and now non-publics, 504 coordinator is working on their own mailing list. 

Dr. Savage – Would like to do the Parent Empowerment Seminar every year.  Parents co-planned and presented. 

IEP Survey Cards came out of strategic plan.  Ask for the card at the beginning of the meeting.  

Department leaders get Professional Development all the time.  Thirteen central office staff members were at the MSDE conference last week.  National experts spoke as well as local and state.  

Newest TAB, Assistive Technology guide was released.  SESAC looked at those documents.  

Info gets pushed out to school admin.  Good partnership with them.  Emergency plans.  Include students with disabilities in drills.  

Board of Education Reports - Vicky Cutroneo

Winding down redistricting.  Tomorrow is the last work session.

Monday is preliminary votes.  Full vote on Thursday.

Policy can exempt students with IEPs.  For students that are moving, articulation, meetings with receiving schools. Question from floow about about staffing plans when kids are moved.  Regional programs should be okay.  Budget work sessions coming soon.  Redistribute staff based on students.  

Latest plan is on Board Docs.  Every polygon is up for movement.  Written testimony is being accepted until 4:30pm Monday.  

Question - Concern about emphasis on high school and not elementary school/middle school.  Suggestion to dedicate work sessions for each level.  Vicky has a lot of lessons learned for next time.  Can’t say too many specifics about redistricting.

Important Dates:

Dec 4th – Rep on school health counsel?  Nope.  Topic suicide prevention.  4-6pm.  Elkridge Library.  Report to the Supt and Health Department.  Mai will volunteer.  

Dec 11th – Bullying and Cyberbullying work session of the Board of Education.  

Dec 17th- Budget is presented.  Hearings start in Jan.  

Teachers that spoke at Board of Education on November 8th.  Vicky is going to shadow staff.  

New Business

December: at the next meeting, we will discuss how different committees can be used to collect and share information about important topics. You are encouraged to see what your passions are and join a committee to be involved in this process! 

Open forum/parent questions

For next month. 

Next Meeting Dates

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



Presubmitted questions for Dr. Gilbert

Dr. Gilbert Meeting Questions (xlsx)