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Kansas State Board of Education February 2019 highlights: School Mental Health Advisory Council recommendations approved by board

Posted: Feb 20, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

The Kansas State Board of Education during its February meeting approved recommendations from the School Mental Health Advisory Council and instructed the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to take necessary action to put each recommendation into place. 

KSDE’s Myron Melton, an education program consultant with Special Education and Title Services (SETS), discussed the recommendations with board members. The advisory council was formed in July 2017. Its primary function is to identify and advise the State Board of Education on unmet needs in school mental health. State Board of Education chair Kathy Busch serves as the School Mental Health Advisory Council chair. 

The council first presented recommendations to the board regarding the Jason Flatt Act and mandated child abuse and neglect reporter training at the January State Board of Education meeting. 

Recommendations regarding suicide awareness and prevention, which align with requirements of the Jason Flatt Act, are:

  • At least one hour of training each calendar year based on programs approve by the State Board of Education.
  • A building crisis plan developed for each school building which would include steps for recognizing suicide ideation; appropriate methods of intervention and a crisis recovery plan.


The committee recommended the State Board of Education provide guidance to districts on the implementation of the Jason Flat Act that includes:

  • Initial overview for all new staff and staff members who would benefit from a comprehensive training.
  • Differentiated training provided for successive years based on years of experience and role of the employee.
  • Districts develop and implement suicide protocols embedded in a crisis plan with the support of the materials and resources provided by KSDE.
  • The School Mental Health Advisory Council also recommended that KSDE revisit how it monitors the implementation of the suicide prevention requirements within the accreditation regulations and provide support and resources to districts for families, students, community and others related to suicide awareness and prevention. It also recommended the Kansas Communities That Care Survey be promoted and aligned to the Attorney General’s Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force recommendations. 

With mandated reporter training, the council recommended:

  • Required staff training on mandated reporting requirements and procedures with guidance and resources provided by KSDE.
  • Required training that would help identify signs of abuse and neglect, which would include child sexual abuse, with guidance and resources provided by KSDE.

KSDE’s Cheryl Johnson, director of Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW), gave board members an update on the School Breakfast Leadership Grant. Kansas’ goal through the Breakfast Leadership Grant is to increase statewide breakfast average daily participation by 5 percent by June 30, 2019. 

The total number of enrolled Kansas students during the 2017-2018 school year was 515,794. The number of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals was 231,004, Johnson said. 

The number of children eating free and reduced-price school lunch was 180,071, and the number of children eating school breakfast was 89,772. 

KSDE’s Jill Ladd, grant and program specialist for CNW, discussed the Kansas No Kid Hungry Breakfast Plan. Through the Kansas No Kid Hungry Breakfast Plan, KSDE awarded funding to up to 20 districts to implement innovative breakfast delivery models; cultivate a network of breakfast champions; and explore strengthening the state breakfast policy. 

There are 11 targeted districts – Wichita Unified School District 259; Great Bend USD 428; Liberal USD 480; Topeka USD 501; Kansas City USD 500; Turner USD 202; Derby USD 260; Haysville USD 261; Dodge City USD 443; Salina USD 305; and Garden City USD 457. 

Also to help increase the number of students participating in school breakfast, 43 schools throughout the state were awarded a total of $114,107. Schools used the funds to purchase kiosks, cooking equipment, promotional materials, trash cans and point-of-sale systems. 

David Paul, director of nutrition service for Wichita USD 259, shared with board members about the Wichita USD 259 alternative breakfast plan. The district utilizes mobile carts/kiosks for grab-and-go breakfasts, offers second-chance breakfasts and offers extended serving times. The district also is piloting Breakfast in the Classroom at Coleman Middle School. 

Through these initiatives, Wichita has seen an average increase of 27 percent in the number of middle school students eating breakfast and an average increase of 53 percent in the number of high school students eating breakfast. 

The district will continue to work to increase the number of students eating breakfast, Paul said. 

Noah Francis, principal at Erie High School, Erie USD 101, also presented. He said the high school started a Second Chance Breakfast in December 2018 and has seen an increase in breakfast participation by 50 to 60 percent. 

KSDE will continue its efforts to increase the amount of students participating in school breakfast by offering a second round of Innovative Breakfast Delivery subgrants and exploring strengthening the state breakfast policy. 

State Board of Education members recognized the two 2018 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Kansas Schools – Kathryn O’Loughlin McCarthy Elementary School, Hays USD 489, and Roesland Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512. 

State Board of Education members also recognized National PTA School of Excellence recipients from Kansas. The honorees from Kansas for the two-year distinction (2018-2019) are Shawnee Mission North High School, Shawnee Mission USD 512; Mill Creek Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512; and Eisenhower Middle School, Kansas City USD 500. 

KSDE’s Lizette Burks, an education program consultant for Career Standards and Assessment Services, introduced Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, which was designated a 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability awardee. 

Across the United States, 46 schools, six districts and six postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs; improve health and wellness; and ensure effective sustainability education. 

Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 was selected from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity.

Noah Busch, a science teacher at Manhattan High School, and Lucas Shivers, director of elementary education for the district, discussed how they created a long-lasting vision to educate each student and how the district is championing responsible and ethical decision-making to highlight long-term zero waste goals. 

Members of the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year team presented to board members, too. Whitney Morgan, a high school English language arts and English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Wyandotte High School, Kansas City USD 500, is the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year. 

The 2019 team members are:

  • Jennifer Brown, a first-grade teacher at Sheridan Elementary School, Geary County USD 475.
  • Megan Clark, an art teacher at Clear Creek Elementary School in Shawnee, De Soto USD 232.
  • Signe Cook, a fifth-grade mathematics and science teacher at Park Elementary School, Great Bend USD 428.
  • Nicole Corn, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Hill Elementary School, Lawrence USD 497.
  • Lan Huynh, a third-grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy, Wichita USD 259.
  • Sharon Kuchinski, a social studies teacher at Leavenworth Senior High School, Leavenworth USD 453.
  • Tim T.J. Warsnak, a social studies teacher at Halstead High School, Halstead-Bentley USD 440.

Luanne Barron, superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Deaf, and Jon Harding, superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind, gave board members updates on their schools. 

KSDE’s Tate Toedman, an education program consultant for Special Education and Title Services (SETS), presented recommendations to change the requirements for a Kansas paraprofessional to become highly qualified. 

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires the state to have in place requirements for paraprofessionals to be highly qualified to be paid with Title I funds in a targeted assistance Title building, or any instructional paraprofessional in a school-wide Title I building. 

KSDE is recommending the following updated requirements for paraprofessionals to become highly qualified using the WorkKeys test:

  • Workplace documents (level 4 score to pass).
  • Applied math (level 4 score to pass).
  • Graphic literacy (level 3 to pass).

Kansas currently has the following in place for the requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and
  • Complete 48 hours at an institution of higher education or
  • Obtain an associate’s degree (or higher) or
  • Pass a state-approved assessment that assesses the ability to assist in instructing reading, writing and mathematics (or reading, writing, mathematics readiness).

The three tests are the ParaPro Assessment, ParaEducator PD Now! And the WorkKeys by ACT Inc. The previous requirements that Kansas required under the WorkKeys need to be updated based on changes made by ACT. 

KSDE’s Keith Dreiling, director of the School Bus Safety Unit, updated board members on school bus stop arm violations, other bus safety information and options for camera enforcement. The board asked that more information on camera enforcement be compiled and presented at a later date. 

KSDE’s Laura Jurgensen, assistant director of SETS, provided proposed amendments to Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) regulations. In November 2018, the Special Education Advisory Council requested the State Board of Education chair and State Board-SEAC liaison work with the Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) and other stakeholders to clarify the definition of seclusion within ESI regulations. 

The stakeholder group agreed upon proposed changes to the definition of seclusion. SEAC then approved the changes at its January 2019 meeting. Those proposed changes to the ESI regulations were what the State Board reviewed. The State Board of Education is slated to take action on the proposed changes at its March meeting. 

Board members received a final report from the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia. 

The Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia was created by the 2018 Substitute for House Bill 2602 to advise and make recommendations to the governor, legislature and the State Board of Education regarding matters concerning the use of evidence-based practices for students with dyslexia. Board member Jim Porter served as chair of the task force. The task force is required to prepare a report and submit it to the governor, legislature and the State Board of Education.

The task force recommends that the State Board of Education:

  • Should modify the Educator Preparation Program Standards to include the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.
  • Should require candidates for K-6 teaching licenses, English Language Arts endorsements, reading specialist teaching licenses and special education teaching licenses to pass an exam of their knowledge of the science or reading. The board should study and approve a test or multiple tests to satisfy this requirement.
  • Should require school systems to provide evidence-based and consistent professional development opportunities consisting of training regarding the nature of dyslexia; an introduction in procedures to identify students who are struggling in reading; and an introduction to intervention strategies and procedures.
  • Should encourage colleges of education in Kansas to develop a course study with a specialization in dyslexia and dyslexia-like characteristics.
  • Should require every accredited school district to screen and identify students at risk of dyslexia or demonstrating the characteristics of dyslexia.
  • Should amend the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation model to require districts to implement a rigorous tiered system of supports subject to external review.
  • Should develop and provide to school districts criteria for vetting and approving tools and materials for screening and assessing students for characteristics of dyslexia.
  • Should require each accredited school district to utilize structured literacy as the evidence-based approach to teaching literacy skills to all students and promote earl intervention for students with characteristics of dyslexia.
  • Should direct the creation of a dyslexia handbook for use by school in Kansas.
  • Should identify a dyslexia coordinator within KSDE.


The task force also recommends that the Legislature should reappoint the task force to meet once per year for three years to monitor progress of implementation of the recommendations. 

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis introduced Doug Jorgensen, with the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Jorgensen led discussion on the school district fire inspections required by law conducted by staff of the fire marshal’s office. 

The board will meet next March 12-13 at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson in Topeka.


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