Highlights of the May State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA – May 16, 2011 - Recommendations from the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) on the use of seclusion and restraint for children with disabilities was on the agenda when the State Board of Education met Tuesday, May 10, in Topeka. Last January, the State Board asked SEAC to review the state’s procedures for seclusion and restraint and provide recommendations.
Katherine Kersenbrock-Ostmeyer, chairperson of SEAC, told Board members that after reviewing comments provided during a February public meeting, as well as written testimony submitted on the topic of seclusion and restraint, SEAC members were unanimous in their support for the recommendations brought to the Board. While the current guidelines already require training in positive behavioral supports and use of effective behavior intervention plans for school staff, SEAC is recommending that the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) collect data on the types of training and positive behavioral interventions being used by schools that use seclusion and restraint
Currently, KSDE collects information regarding incidents of seclusion in schools, but not on incidents of restraint. SEAC recommends that data on incidents of restraint undergo similar data collection procedures as incidents of seclusion, and that the data collection on both seclusion and restraint not be limited to students with disabilities. SEAC is recommending that incidents of seclusion and restraint be reported whenever they are used, whether with students with disabilities or among general education students. The final SEAC recommendation is that KSDE closely monitor discussions related to legislation on seclusion and restraint at the federal level to ensure Kansas regulations mirror the federal position.
Kersenbrock-Ostmeyer also told Board members that one recommendation that is not included in the written report was to change the terminology to begin describing incidents of seclusion and restraint as emergency safety interventions. This would reinforce the fact that seclusion and restraint is not something used for behavior modification, but something that is used in emergency situations for safety purposes. Board members are scheduled to vote on the recommendations in June.
In other business, Board members received information on the process for the development and review of state curricular standards, as well as a timeline for the development and review of the history/government standards. Board members learned that state academic standards must be reviewed every seven years and that the review process typically takes from one and a half to two years. A 25- to 30-member committee consisting of representatives from the educational constituency is appointed to review the standards. State Board members are able to recommend two members for the committee. The committee is divided into two subcommittees, the writing committee and the review committee.
The timeline for review of the history/government standards begins this month with a request for Board member nominations to the standards committee as well as a request for participation from the field. Membership on the committee is slated to be finalized in July. A first draft of the standards is scheduled to be available in December 2011, with comments from the field being solicited through March 2012. A second draft is slated to be available in April 2012. That draft will again be shared with the field for feedback. A third draft is scheduled to be available on the KSDE website in September 2012, with final adoption of the standards slated for December 2012.
The Topeka Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has asked the State Board to develop Black History standards and require the inclusion of Black history as part of the social studies curriculum. It is KSDE’s intent to address the NAACP concerns during the scheduled review of the history/government standards.
Also in May, State Board members received an update on the state’s superintendent mentor program. Funding for the program was approved by the State Board in March 2010 and five superintendents were selected from a field of 30 applicants to attend a Harvard University Leadership Institute for Superintendents. During that institute, the superintendents were trained on systemic reform. Upon returning to Kansas, those five superintendents formed five subcommittees based on the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC) with membership consisting of the remaining twenty-five applicants. Those subcommittees worked to design a mentoring program for new superintendents in Kansas. During the year-long mentoring process a more substantive mentoring need was realized, leading to the development of the Kansas Educational Leadership Institute (KELI).
KELI will become institutionalized during the 2011-12 school year, with the inaugural opening event in May, 2011. In addition to assisting new superintendents, KELI has also attracted participation from veteran superintendents. While the priority in the first year of the institute is to support new superintendents with onsite mentors, going forward, the activities of the institute will be driven by the needs arising from the field.
In Board action, members approved their strategic agenda, including goals and objectives, through December 2012. Board members began strategy sessions in February to identify the goals and objectives that would guide the Board’s work over the next two years. Board members reviewed recommendations from the Kansas Education Commission, the Governor’s Commission on Graduation and Dropout Prevention and the Recovery and the Kansas P-20 Council in developing its strategic agenda. The goals the Board adopted are:
• Provide a flexible delivery system to meet our students’ changing needs
• Provide an effective educator in every classroom
• Ensure effective, visionary leaders in every school
• Collaborate with families, communities, constituent groups and policy partners.
A full list of goals and objectives can be found on the KSDE website. With the Board’s adoption of the strategic goals and objectives, KSDE staff will now work to develop the strategies to be used to achieve the Board’s goals.
Also in May, Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis provided Board members with an update on education legislation. At that time, a bill to allow the Kansas State School for the Blind to conduct training programs year round rather than only in the summer months had been adopted. In addition, a resolution requested by the State Board designating the first full week of October as Anti-Bullying Awareness Week in Kansas had been adopted.
Other education legislation that had been agreed to in conference committee included a bill that would allow school districts to offer teachers an employment contract of up to two additional years at the end of their probationary period, thus extending until the sixth year of employment the ability of the teacher to gain due process rights. Other legislation agreed to in conference committee would require the board of education of a school district to award a high school diploma to any person requesting one who is at least 17 years of age, is enrolled or resides in the school district and is or has been a child in the custody of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services or the Juvenile Justice Authority after turning 14 years old and who has achieved the minimum high school graduation requirements adopted by the State Board of Education. There were several other education bills still pending in conference committees.
With regard to school budgets, a proposed conference committee report was being reviewed that would reduce the Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP) for the current fiscal year to $3,937, which is a drop of $75 from the current BSAPP of $4,012. There was still no agreement on the FY 2012 BSAPP. The Governor’s recommendation was $3,780, a reduction of $232 from the current BSAPP of $4,012. The House had passed a FY 2012 BSAPP of $3,762 and the Senate had approved $3,786.
In federal legislation, Dennis shared that the budget being considered in Congress did not include funding for the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship program. The program provides $1,500 a year to about 68 eligible Kansas students each year. The scholarship is renewable for an additional three years provided the student continues to meet the criteria. Notices regarding the discontinuation of funding were being sent from KSDE to existing recipients as well as those high school seniors who had applied for new scholarships for the 2011-12 school year.
In other action, the State Board appointed Board members John Bacon, Carolyn Wims-Campbell and Janet Waugh to hear a grievance submitted by a tenured teacher at the Kansas State School for the Deaf.
The next State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 14 and 15 in Topeka.