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June 30, 2021 Meeting Minutes - ESY, COVID Compensation, TSS, 21-22 School Choice

PALS Meeting Minutes

June 30, 2021 9:30 a.m.

Virtual Meeting using Zoom


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

What do you do, what can you do, when faced with a last minute change in your child's Extended School Year Services (ESY) placement? Of course, you immediately make contact with your child's in-school IEP Team or in this case the district director of special education services. But while you wait for that return call or e-mail, how do you not feel let down? When advocating for children it is important to take a deep breathe, rally your support team and start thinking about how to handle the situation and ask the right questions.


We often talk about using "their" (the district, the school, the teacher's) own language when advocating for our child. In this case, the conversation between family and school might start off by the family asking what changed. A review of the original plan and goals is definitely in order followed by asking what the new goals are. This strategy may help remedy the situation.


In this particular case, the new placement includes working with a teacher that the family believes is not best suited to work with the student based on past experience. An experience that is well documented by the district and the family. This of course opens old wounds for the family as a whole and learning about it at the last minute, without warning or conversation is re-traumatizing.


This was a good time to refresh our memories on Extended School Year (ESY) Services in Pennsylvania and that, "There are seven factors, and no single factor can be used to determine eligibility for ESY services. The IEP team must consider all seven factors when determining eligibility. The student may be eligible by meeting just one of the criteria, but all seven factors must be considered by the IEP team." Read more about ESY in the link above.


It's also a good time to discuss the trauma that can be caused by situations at school. Trauma can take many forms for students and parents, and teachers and school staff. We hear about the trauma caused by student-on-student bullying all the time. More recently we have heard about teacher trauma, that being the situations traumatizing teachers. Although we have heard about incidences of unacceptable and abusive behavior by teachers with students which cause trauma, most of these most of these involve inappropriate relationships. We don't often hear of the actions of teachers toward a student that are traumatizing for both the student and family. In fact it was difficult to find any articles on the subject. The question is, what is a family to do when they are faced with a situation that is re-traumatizing?


COVID Compensation

A family successfully approached the school district about utilizing their designated COVID Compensation funds to pay for a week at Glade Run Adventures Camp as a part of the student's Extended School Year (ESY) services. This opened up a conversation about the reactive approach to special education since it was the family that had to inquire about the use of funds. It raises the question to how many families with eligible students do not know about the COVID Compensation Fund and the ways in which a school district can use those funds and how school district's are accounting for the way they spend the funds. In addition, PaDOE recently updated the Guidance and Answers to FAQs on COVID-19 Compensatory Services.


The family also applied and received grant from Achieva for their child to attend a second week of Glad Run Adventures Camp.


2021 - 2022 School Choice

Many families are wondering what the 2021 - 2022 school year will look like. Will school district's give the same placement choices offered since March 2020? Many families are faced with children who have performed better working from home while others are faced with children that do not want to go back to school. What is in the best interest of the student? How can families and schools best support students who prefer to learn from home for a variety of legitimate reasons? Although we didn't come up with how best to handle the situation or make a choice, we did however remind ourselves of one very important thing; caregivers must take care of themselves in order to take care of others. Love yourself, give yourself a pat on the back, you have done an amazing job thus far and will continue to so. Give yourself a break even when you don't think you need it.

Next Meeting: June 30, 2021 9:30 a.m. Virtual Meeting using Zoom. Currently scheduled as Open Forum.

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SPECIAL NOTE

All meetings will be held virtually until further notice.

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