Superintendent Symmonds advised that LSS and the Mental Health Team are hosting information nights for parents on the topic of Self-Regulation in Childhood and Adolescence. He noted that the next session would be held on 28 May 2019 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Summerside Elementary School.
Superintendent Symmonds noted that Dr. Jonathan A. Weiss provided a presentation on Addressing Mental Health in Autism at the Autism Parent Information Night held on 23 April 2019. He noted that the event, hosted by the ASD team, was well attended and that the team provided workshops to parents on a variety of topics.
System Principal Kessler noted that the Storefront program is a transition program for those in the General Learning Program (GLP) and an important pathway to employment in the community and other learning opportunities. Storefront is available to twelve students. She noted that of the six students graduating at the end of 2019, four have been able to find various degrees of paid employment. The majority of the students are referred from Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School and Ottawa Technical Secondary School. The students had many successes during the 2018-2019 school year with a highlight being a positive collaboration with the Algonquin College Kitchen Steward program.
System Principal Kessler advised that the Storefront program will remain at its current location in a commercial building near the St. Laurent Shopping Centre and has an ongoing commitment with the landlord. Trustee Boothby expressed concern over the lack of a sustained commitment. System Principal Kessler noted that she will confirm location details and arrangement and will report back to SEAC. One important aspect of Storefront is a location outside the more traditional high school locations like OTSS, to promote more adult post-secondary environment, responsibilities and independence.”
Chair Kirwan expressed concern about the instability of the present location and suggested the Merivale Road corridor as an alternative that could be investigated. Superintendent Symmonds advised that other GLP initiatives are offered in the Woodroffe High School area and, at present, LSS is not contemplating expanding Storefront.
Superintendent Symmonds advised that the Ministry has recently announced its Priorities and Partnership Fund which may grant the District additional funding to explore successful practices in transitioning students with developmental disabilities to work, community or post-secondary education.
System Principal Hannah advised that Storefront is an extension of GLP and focuses on the exit outcomes of its students with an emphasis on independence. The GLP criteria, along with input from teachers and family members regarding readiness and independence, are factors in student placement. Storefront students must be able to travel independently to and from the program utilizing OC Transpo and have some necessary social skills.
There is currently only one site for the program. Staff noted that Storefront is one opportunity, and there are other options within Secondary General Learning Programs that students can explore. The transition funding would allow the District to explore other possibilities to fill gaps, but it is premature to speculate.
Six students will graduate from Storefront this year. The program is offered to students between the ages of 19 and 21. Students may attend Storefront for one or two years but must leave the program the year in which they turn 21.
Integration and Support for Special Education Students
Principal Symmonds requested the item be added to the 12 June 2019 SEAC agenda.
External Consultation Qualifications
Superintendent Symmonds advised that the Ministry has implemented new procurement rules and the District must now first investigate whether or not vendors of record can undertake the work. The vendors of record provided by the Ministry are often large scale organizations, and it is difficult to assess whether or not they have experience in the work of school boards. He noted that LSS has conducted a preliminary review of the recommended vendors and have identified six that may suit the project.
Chair Kirwan noted that Superintendent Symmonds has agreed to a meeting with a select number of members to discuss the qualifications of potential consultants. Mark Wylie, Cathy Miedema, Sonia Nadon-Campbell, and Jim Harris volunteered to meet with Superintendent Symmonds.