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PALS May 2019 - Best Buddies, ESY, MA Transition, Middle School Transition, Mental Health, Communica


PALS Meeting Minutes

April 24, 2019 9:15 a.m.

Eat'n Park

849 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.

ESY Concerns

We continued our conversation about ESY disqualifications for this coming summer break. Parents who have children who have received ESY services in the past are confused with the change and looking for answers. A few parents expressed they are waiting for another IEP meeting to continue the discussion.

We discussed the following questions:

Why is SLA instantly being offered when parents question why their child is suddenly being denied ESY?

Why are ESY qualification meetings being held 2 to 3 days prior to the state's reporting deadline of February 28th?

What is the benefit to the district to deny previously qualifying students?

What about circumstances that develop after the February 28th ESY determination deadline?

What can be done about the district determining ESY eligibility prior to an IEP Meeting when parents/caregivers who are a parent of the IEP Team are not involved?

Why is there no transparency in the ESY determination process?

MA Transition After Age 22

What does Medical Assistance transition at age 22 look like? It can be difficult to understand your responsibilities when it comes to your child's Medical Assistance benefits when they turn 22 years of age. If you do not have a service coordinator and have questions please contact the PA Health Law Project at 1-800-274-3258 or visit their website at http://www.phlp.org. You can also read our notes from a May 2017 Medical Assistance Training for more information.

Middle School Transition

Questions about what to expect in a Middle School Transition Meeting. It is not an IEP Meeting, it is not a meeting were decisions about the IEP are made. This is a meeting to discuss the needs of the student as they move from elementary school to middle school. The meeting typically consists of and LEA representative (principal or vice-principal of the elementary school), current Special Education Teacher, incoming Special Education Teacher, current General Education Teacher, and parents/guardians.

This meeting is a great time to ask questions like;

What do pull outs look like?

What is a learning support class?

What type of courses will my child be assigned? (remedial, regular/typical, advanced/AP, etc.)

Mental Health Initiatives

At recent PALS meetings we have discussed the importance and in some cases the lack of Mental Health Initiatives within in all schools. Recently FCASD received a $908,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Within the statement regarding the grant on the FCASD website, Ms. Pawlishak, the district's business manger and co-author of the safety grant, stated, "This money will significantly offset the cost of personnel and upgrades to the technology infrastructure, as well as pay for training for teachers in identifying and addressing student mental health issues." You can read the full statement here.

Communication with High School Staff

A parent raised the concern that she has been directed to only communicate with her child's Special Education Service Coordinator instead of individual teachers. This is a similar situation to what we have heard at the middle school level.

Best Buddies

A graduate of both FCASD and Dayton University explained his experience with Best Buddies to parents with high school age children. He shared that the Best Buddies program was a great experience and highly recommends it explaining that he enjoyed the all of the activities with his peers.

Best Buddies is an international organization focused on educating middle school, high school, and college students, community members, corporations, and employers about the emotional, functional, and natural needs and abilities of people with disabilities.

Currently FCASD offers Best Buddies as a club at the high school level and lists the purpose as; "to make a connection between students with and without disabilities in different social activities. Students have the opportunity to make new friends and lasting memories. The club aims to include everyone within the school environment as well as the community."

FCASD is in the process of extending Best Buddies to the middle and elementary schools.

Next Meeting: *Tentatively Scheduled for September 25, 2019 9:15 a.m. Eat'n Park Waterworks Mall Meeting Room 849 Freeport Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

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