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PALS November 2018 - Open Forum, School Security, resolve & CACTIS, GeneSight, Non-Compliance, B

PALS Meeting Minutes

November 28, 2018 9:15 a.m.

Market District Café

933 Freeport Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Open Forum

Open Forum is an opportunity for participants to come together and discuss a variety of topics, offer resources, and ask questions related to special education. We welcomed a number of first time parents and encourage friends new, old, and still to be made to join us at our meetings as we work together to support each other.

Below are a few of the main topics we discussed:

School Resource Officers

FCASD recently hired Joe Kozarian as the FCASD School Safety and Security Coordinator. At the same time the FCASD Police Force was implement and School Resource Officers (SROs) were placed in all elementary schools. Officers from Indiana Township and O'Hara Township already cover the middle and high schools. These officers work in the capacity of safety and security for all people in the school they serve. They are trained to work with all students. They do not handle discipline issues with students.

Kerr SRO Scott Bailey reached out to PALS earlier this month and we have invited him to join us for part of the January 30, 2019 meeting. Scott will discuss the specialized training officers receive to work with all children and will specifically talk about training that occurs in working with children who may have a disability that inhibits their interactions with an emergency responder. Scott will also discuss trainings he provided to parent and children on how to identify and engage with emergency responders.

Resolve & CACTIS Crisis Services

As we discussed the FCASD implementation of SROs the topic of Resolve and CACTIS Crisis Services came up as it related to some public schools calling on them for emergency services. Below please find a description of both.

A crisis can be anything from feeling lonely and needing to talk, to feeling overwhelmed with life. Stress and problems — both large and small — fill each of our lives and we all have moments of crisis.

No matter how big or small these problems seem, it helps to talk with someone.

There's no need to wait until a problem spirals out of control to reach out for help. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call 1-888-796-8226. resolve Crisis Services will answer.

resolve is a 24-hour, 365-day crisis service. It's free to all residents of Allegheny County, regardless of your ability to pay. Both Allegheny County and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital sponsor our services.

*Services for children and teens: We offer 24-hour-a-day crisis treatment, interventions, and home visits. Call our Child and Adolescent Crisis Team Intervention Services (CACTIS) program at 412-864-5067 or the resolve Crisis Services hotline at 1-888-796-8226.

Child and Adolescent Crisis Team Intervention Services (CACTIS)

CACTIS supports children, teens, and their families for up to six weeks. In most cases, treatment consists of three visits per week on an outpatient basis.

Our team helps kids and family members with coping skills and teaches ways to prevent a crisis by looking for triggers.

Contact the CACTIS program at 412-864-5067 or through the resolve hotline at 1-888-796-8226.

LEA Attendance at IEP Meetings

There is concern over a school LEA (Local Educational Agency) represenative not attending a recent IEP Meeting. Generally at a school level, the Principal is the LEA and the Vice-Principal is the alternate. The LEA representative must be "qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities; knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the LEA", in this case, the school district as a whole.

The FCASD parent indicated the IEP Meeting was held with only the parent(s) and the Special Education teacher. Other parents then questioned who signed the IEP Team Signature page. Regardless, both not attending the meeting and signing the IEP afterward are both violations under state and federal law. In addition, the IEP Team and IEP Meetings should consist of "the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the student, at least one general education teacher, at least one special education teacher, the LEA, an individual who can interpret evaluation data, any individuals or agencies the parent deems knowledgable and appropriate to discuss the needs of the student, and when appropriate, the student."

Non-Compliance of IEP

The parent of a Dorseyville Middle School (DMS) student indicated their child came home during the most recent STAR assessment complaining that they had to take the test within the regular classroom setting and was not pulled out. The student has accommodations under part IV of the IEP for both local and state assessments. Click on the photo below for an annotated copy of part IV of an IEP provided by The Peal Center.

When the parent addressed the concern with DMS administration they were told that it is "DMS' policy that no child be pulled out for STAR assessment." The parent reminded the DMS representative that not meeting the requirements of the child's IEP was a clear violation which created a non-compliance issue. The child was pulled out and received the accommodations for the remainder of the testing window. However, the parent still has concerns over this supposed policy as other students were not pulled out.

Within the same conversation, there is concern that a large number of students receiving Special Education services are being lumped together in academic classes. Upon first hearing of this situation the thought is that these students are not in an inclusive setting if they are being specifically placed together in certain class. Students are reporting that there are so many of them in the class struggling and in need of more one-on-one help with accommodations that the teacher is unable to meet all their needs. While some students receive the help they need, others are left leaving the class period having learned nothing and with no where to turn. Ultimately, a conversation with the guidance counselor resulted in a switch in schedule for the student.

Annotated part IV of an IEP

Requesting an Evaluation for a Student Attending K-12 Private School

The parent of a Kindergartener attending a private school questioned the likelihood of the school district evaluating the student for special education services prior to enrolling in public school. Under IDEA and Child Find, "school districts are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state." (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))

For more information on Child Find and having your child evaluated for special education services, please see the following articles from and Wrightslaw.

GeneSight® Testing

"The GeneSight® test analyzes your DNA and helps your doctor get a better understanding of what medication might work best based on your genetic makeup. Using the GeneSight® test report, your doctor can personalize your treatment plan, finding the right medication faster and avoiding medicines that may cause side effects."

GeneSight® currently offers Psychotropic, MTHFR, ADHD, and Analgesic testing:

Psychotropic testings covers FDA approved medications to treat "neuropsychiatric conditions, including: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia."

MTHFR testing "analyzes an important gene to predict your body’s ability to convert folic acid into its active form of L-methylfolate. Folic acid must be in its active form so your body can use it. In its active form—L-methylfolate—folic acid is important in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. With the GeneSight MTHFR test, your healthcare provider can determine whether you would benefit from folic acid or L-methylfolate supplements."

ADHD testing "can help doctors to identify and avoid ADHD medications more likely to cause side effects based on your genetics."

Analgesic testing "analyzes how your genes affect your body’s response to FDA-approved opioids, NSAIDs and muscle relaxants commonly prescribed to treat acute or chronic pain, opioid dependency and osteoarthritis (OA)."

GeneSight® testing is often fully covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Patients with Medicare Advantage, Employer or other insurance often pay less than $330. If the cost will be more than $330 GeneSight® will let you know before continuing their analysis. If you are uninsured, you can contact GeneSight® for information on their financial assistance program.

Visit the GeneSight® website for more information and research data.

A. W. Beattie Career Center

A parent was concerned about the inclusion of a representative from A. W. Beattie Career Center at her child's latest IEP Meeting. The parent indicated there was no advanced notice of the person's participation and was taken aback by it. Just as the school district appreciates the courtesy of being notified when a parent plans on bring other people, whether family, friend, or professional to an IEP meeting, so it is the same for when the school district brings someone who has not previously been a part of the meetings.

More information on A. W. Beattie Career Center:

Students may enroll in a one, two, or three year technical program and must have completed the ninth grade in his/her member high school. Students must have the approval of their sending school district before entering A.W. Beattie Career Center. Sending school district's include; Avonworth, Deer Lake, Fox Chapel, Hampton Township, North Allegheny, North Hills, Northgate, Pine-Richland, and Shaler.

Students attend A.W. Beattie Career Center for one half of the school day, in either the morning or afternoon session, and complete the other half of the day at their sending district, where they will complete their academic courses. The morning session begins at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 10:15 a.m. The afternoon session begins at 12:00 p.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.

A. W. Beattie Career Center offers the following Programs of Study:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Attending A. W. Beattie:

  • Q: Does attending A.W. Beattie Career Center affect my chances of getting into the college or university of my choice?

  • A: No. In fact, due to the advanced nature of our programs, many offer college credits that you can earn while you are still in high school. We have articulations with many local colleges, universities and technical schools, giving you a great head start to your future educational goals!

  • Q: If I choose to attend A.W. Beattie Career Center, will I be given a different high school diploma?

  • A: No. A.W. Beattie Career Center only takes the place of your elective credits at your sending district on your schedule. You will still be attending your high school for all of your academic courses, regardless of your academic level. There is no difference or indication on your high school diploma to show that you attended A.W. Beattie Career Center instead of staying at your sending district.

  • Q: As a student at A.W. Beattie Career Center, am I still elligible for all of the sports and activities at my school?

  • A: Absolutely! We have a lot of students every year who play sports, cheer, play an instrument in the band, or participate in any number of after-school activities at their sending district. If you are worried about getting to practice on time, we can work with your high school counselor to ensure that your needs are met.

  • Q: Do I have to go straight into the work force upon graduation when I go to A.W. Beattie Career Center?

  • A: No. While A.W. Beattie Career Center will give you the basic knowledge and training to obtain an entry-level position in your field, more and more of our graduates do go on to additional training at colleges, universities and technical schools to complete their education. Like most college students today, they may even work while they are in school, using the training they've received with us to earn more money than your average minimum wage positions.

  • Q: Can I attend A.W. Beattie Career Center if I am in Advanced Program classes?

  • A: Yes! Students of all levels attend A.W. Beattie Career Center, just like at your high school. Since the programs available at our school only affect the elective credits at your sending district, you are still elligible to take whatever academic courses (math, science, english, etc) you need. If there is a program at our school that represents your personal career goals or interests, we highly encourage you to attend! Discuss your goals with your high school counselor and your parents/guardians to ensure that your schedule is created to fit your educational needs as well as your personal and career interests.

Best Buddies

Tim Mahoney, FCASD Director of Special Education provided the following schedule for upcoming Best Buddies events at Dorseyville Middle School and Fox Chapel Area High School.

Best Buddies Program Fox Chapel Area School District

Next Meeting: January 30, 2019, 9:15 a.m. Eat'n Park Meeting Room 849 Freeport Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

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