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June 24, 2020 Meeting - Open Forum - FCASD Coalition

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

PALS Meeting Minutes

June 24, 2020 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom

Scroll down for the latest COVID-19 Resources & More.

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 discussed:

School Districts Planning for the Future

As school districts work toward developing a plan for 2020-2021 school year many have developed COVID Coalitions to involve all stakeholders in the process. Fox Chapel Area School District (FCASAD) Superintendent-Elect, Mary Catherine Reljac, Ed.D., recently sent out the following e-mail about their Return-to-School Coalition:

A parent taking part in this coalition asked for input (feedback, questions, concerns, suggestions) to share in upcoming coalition sub-group Special Education meetings. Since there will be three of these coalition meetings prior to the next PALS meeting, we will be happy to forward your input to the parent involved. You can send an e-mail to and we will forward it to the parent representative. In addition, we will include input in our next meeting minutes as reference for parents everywhere. Here are ideas shared today:

  • Looking for the district to implement a specific health and safety plan.

  • Masks for all.

  • Compensatory Education

  • Clear/Transparent statistics for passing students during the fourth quarter AND final grades of the 2019-2020 school year.

  • Equity in Education

Notes/Contingencies on a NOREP

A parent was looking for more information on writing notes and contingencies to the ESY NOREP when agreeing in part, but not in whole, and THEN signing it. Is it possible? What are the implications? Parents have done this with IEPs, but what about NOREPS?

Although no one in attendance had experienced this exact scenario it was suggested to reach out to The Peal Center for guidance.

How Parents Receive IEPs

COVD-19 shutdowns have left some families feeling left behind in more ways than one. In some cases school closures happened just before scheduled IEP meetings or evaluations and re-evalutations. In some cases district's worked with families to implement a virtual solution. But what is the recourse if a family could not review the IEP sent to them by a school district prior to its implementation and ultimate the family does not agree it it? Additional factors include the family's written request that documents (like and IEP) NOT be sent via e-mail due to the family's inability to obtain the document while confined at home with children. Despite the family's notification, the IEP was ONLY sent via e-mail, the family did not receive the IEP, and ultimately the school district implemented the IEP, AND cited it in the ir ESY determentation.

Here were the thoughts:

  • There is no mandate in HOW an IEP must be delivered to a family

  • If a family intends tor or does attend an IEP meeting but does not receive a copy of the IEP to review, why would they sign it? a parent when they can show that they could not persuade the family to attend/participate.

    • If a family intends to/does attend an IEP meeting but does not receive a copy of the IEP to review, why would they sign it?

It was recommended that the family inquire with Attorney Nancy Potter from McAndrew Law Firm.

Next Meeting: July 29, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

**NEW Log-in and Password for this and all upcoming meetings will be sent in all upcoming newsletters.






Getting Back to School:

Find the latest updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Education about the reopening of schools:

Find the latest updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services about the reopening of child care centers:




Disability Rights Network May Newsletter




In response to COVID-19, changes have been made to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). "The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020." For more informaiton please use the links above or visit the Department of Labor (DOL) webiste.


From Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Intellectual Disability (OID)

AC DHS is preparing for what COVID-19 means for changes in service delivery today and into the future. As the situation continues to evolve, we want to get a feel for what people who are receiving services are experiencing—what is working well and what is not—to continue helping those who need it the most.

Please share the survey with family members and individuals that you support and assist them in completing it online if necessary.

First, ask clients if they will answer a few questions about the help they are receiving. Let them know their responses can be anonymous and we will use their input for planning. Then share the survey link ( with them if they’re able to complete it independently on a computer, tablet or mobile device. If they cannot, please respond on their behalf:

  1. Go to

  2. Scroll down to Share Your Ideas

  3. Click “Answer” underneath each question

  4. Click sign in or sign up to comment. Signing in or up is not required to respond. You will be able to choose to Participate Anonymously on the next screen.

  5. Type in the text box and click “Post” when you are finished. Responses post immediately and are visible to anyone with a link to the website.

Do not forget to complete the survey yourself! You will be able to enter multiple responses after clicking “Post” after each response. We know you are busier now that ever.

Thank you for taking the time to help shape the future of our human services system. 

Brenda Bulkoski

Deputy Director, Office of Intellectual Disability (OID), Allegheny County Department of Human Services (AC DHS).



From Open Up Pittsburgh

The Open Up team has been working hard to bring plans for accessible virtual practice to life. Today, we published our first digital book with written content as well as a video collections for all ages.

We look forward to sharing more resources from Open Up as we continue to work in the hopes of bringing a bit of lightness to our spaces.


From Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Intellectual Disability (OID)

The Integrated Supports Star, a Charting the LifeCourse tool, is a way to brainstorm and share support strategies throughout the COVID-19 response.  

Find information about a May webinar, Supports Star examples, an Allegheny County COVID-19 star and an Allegheny County blank star for you to complete on the OID Key Communicator Announcement page here

Also from OID

Supplemental Security Income Recipients Will Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments SSI Recipients with Dependent Children Should Still Go To to Provide Their Information

News release Wednesday, April 15th 2020

“The Social Security Administration announced today that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department. Treasury anticipates these automatic payments no later than early May.

SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic.

SSI recipients who have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should now go to the IRS’s webpage at and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info section to provide their information. By taking proactive steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If SSI beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child.”

For more information and a print version of the news release visit

Also from OID

Also from OID

Find this latest resource list, Resources especially helpful during the COVID-19 response on the OID webpage here

Please take some time to explore…I hope you find some things you can use… Your feedback would be appreciated!

There are lots of remote activities and ways to stay connected, supported and informed including:

  • Resources related to supporting individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism, their families and the people that support them

  • Resources related to supporting individuals with specific communication needs, their families and the people that support them

  • Basic Needs

  • Find support and connection

  • Ways to keep busy

  • Education  - students learning from home

As always, these lists are also available on our page:



The Statewide Support & Referral Helpline is staffed by skilled and compassionate staff that are available 24/7 to respond to those struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff at the Helpline refer callers to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs.

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational.

The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The Helpline was created by the Department of Human Services DHS and the Center for Community Resources (CCR). Helpline staff are trained to be accessible, culturally competent, and skilled at assisting individuals in the ID/A community as well as anyone else who might have a need – teens, adults, special populations and their supporters. Staff use the principles of trauma-informed care to listen, assess needs, triage calls, and provide appropriate referral to community resources to children, teens, adults and special populations.


Autism Connection of Pennsylvania's Spring Newsletter


Center for Community Resources



Reference Material

Need information regarding the rights to special education in Pennsylvania? The Education Law Center’s “A Guide for Parents and Advocates” is a great start.


Next Meeting: July 29, 2020 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

**NEW Log-in and Password for this and all upcoming meetings will be sent in all upcoming newsletters.

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