December 11, 2015

Department of Special Education

A team of PAUSD educators joined me to participate in a conference presentation at the National TASH Conference in Portland, Oregon, this week.  Barron Park Principal Anne Brown, Inclusion TOSA’s Amy Sheward, Liz Tucker, Mary Yung, and Rachel Moore, 4th grade teacher from Barron Park, discussed with a welcoming group of parents, administrators, and educators how we have worked in PAUSD to create inclusive school communities for all students:  Belonging to Learn: Building a Unified Inclusive Model, Every Student, Every Day.  We entertained questions and brainstormed ways that our learnings could support other districts as they begin or continue their path toward creating welcoming and inclusive learning environments for all.  We acknowledged the support of our Board, and wonderful Superintendent, who have given unwavering commitment and dedicated resources for this important work.

Magical Bridge

True story - when we arrived at the hotel, we ran into none other than PAUSD moms Olenka Villareal, Jill Asher, and CEO of Kids Included Together, Torrie Dunlap!  They had attended parts of the conference and visited Portland’s inclusive park.  Happy to report that the Magical Bridge, in our own community, is an innovative and wonderful model for the country and that Olenka and Jill are working on a new project that will most certainly benefit our neighborhoods, schools, and foster community in new and exciting ways.  More on this in the near future!

Kinder Information Night

Each year, our team at Greendell, including French Yarborough, Amy Krauss, and Shannon Coleman, meet with Preschool Family parents of students who will transition to Kindergarten next year.  This week, joined by principal, Dawn Yoshinaga, Chiara Perry, and Inclusion TOSAs (Amy, Liz, and Mary) - parents were able to ask questions and understand all the steps we will take to support each child’s successful and hopefully (seamless) steps to kindergarten in the Fall.  This positive and collaborative meeting allowed parents to meet the transition team and feel reassured about the teams that will be supporting them through this important time.

JLS Celebrated Inclusive Schools Week, Dec. 7 - 11:

The Special Education and Counseling Departments joined forces to celebrate with students this week.  The following activities took place:

1) Word of the Day JLS Announcements (presented by students)

Day 1 - Inclusion
Day 2 - Community
Day 3 - Harmony
Day 4 - Understanding
Day 5 - Empathy

At lunchtime when JLS Staff randomly asked students what the word of the day was and what it meant to them, students answering correctly were rewarded with a prize (aka, Jolly Ranchers)

2) Wednesday Lunch Activity “means to them..."

3) Optional Class Activities and Online Resources

(Inclusive Schools Network is a great online resource that has a wealth of resources not only for the week but to embed into classrooms and daily routines)  

The rest of our schools will be celebrating inclusive schools the week after the first of the year, and more information on activities will follow.

Holiday Parent Coffee hosted by CAC, PTAC, PTA Inclusion Representatives

Friday morning, parents attended an interactive discussion led by Shari Grande, a Clinical Social Worker, Certified Parent Coach, and Special Needs Mom, at Lucie Stern Community Center.  Shari’s talk focused on the extra stress that the holiday season can present for children with challenges and their families, and provided strategies to help us survive and thrive during the holiday season and beyond.  It was well attended and well received - the audience was reminded to lean on each other and to, above all, take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. 

Winter Holiday Dance

175 students attended the Post-Secondary Gathering at the Fairmont in San Jose, representing about 20 different programs from across Santa Clara County.  Thank you to our post-secondary team for organizing the event for so many students.  Hats off to Brian Cordero, Tosh Lang, and Brian Northen for such fun way to support the social emotional well-being of our young adult students.

Department of Central Attendance

A new online registration system is set to launch on January 7, 2016.  Appreciation to Derek Moore, Margie Mitchell, and Diane Lund for working to develop this new system for our families. This is in an effort to increase a seamless registration process for newly enrolling students.  This effort is a part of our broader goal to expand the services in the department and to create a Welcome Center for families as they enroll in our district.  Margie and her staff are training on the new system and it will be up and running for Priority 1 registration in January.  Appreciation also goes out to elementary school secretaries who helped us brainstorm ways to develop this process to best serve parents and our school sites. 

Department of Student Services - Brenda Carrillo

Foster Youth/McKinney Vento (Homeless) Services

The Student Services Office created over forty holiday support packages for students who are homeless or foster youth in PAUSD.  The packages include hygiene and basic needs items (toothbrushes, shampoo, etc.) as well as items specifically requested by students to promote engagement in school.  For example, some students requested polo shirts to participate in choir concerts, while others requested warm clothing and equipment to participate in sports activities.  Each student will also receive warm jackets.  These items were purchased via grant funds meant to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to engage in learning.  Funds were also used to support student attendance at a first generation conference for high school youth. 

Social Work Intern Program

The district is supervising six social work interns this year to support student connectedness initiatives districtwide.  Three interns are placed at three secondary sites (Paly, Gunn, and JLS) while the other three interns are placed at the district office and provide support to all sites in the areas of school engagement and attendance.  To date the interns have seen 68 students and families for assessment of needs and service provision.  The three main referral reasons have been 1) attendance concerns, 2) housing and other resources needed by family, and 3) mental health or behavioral concerns affecting school.  The social work interns have also supported various school projects and district campaigns, including Unity Day, the Student Services Fair, and focus groups. 

504 Supports

The Student Services team continues to offer robust support in the area of Federal 504 services.  This fall, two 504 trainings were offered on October 26, and December 3.  Over 83 staff and administrators attended the training, which is offered annually.  Additionally, the district is engaging in efforts to import all 504s into Infinite Campus as a means of improving tracking and monitoring of all 504 Plans.

Finally, the district is holding quarterly 504 Lead meetings, attended by each school’s 504 Lead, to provide ongoing site support in this area.

LGBTQQ Committee

The district LGBTQQ Committee continues to meet monthly to address matters related to inclusivity and access for LGBTQQ students.  To date, the committee has worked to draft a board policy and administrative regulation on access for transgender students as well as resources to support the policy’s implementation.  The policies were approved at the December 8, 2015 board meeting and will be shared with administrators, along with a guidance memorandum, in January.  Training to support the policy’s implementation will be offered in Spring 2016 and include site administrator training, site-based training and district-wide capacity building.