NCSECS' Monthly Newsletter: December 2017

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NCSECS Announces Additional New Hires, Hits the Road, and Shares Resources of Interest

December 4, 2017

NCSECS is Still Growing….

NCSECS is excited to welcome another talented new staff member to support our work on behalf of students with disabilities.

Debbie Osheyack has joined the team and will be keeping the trains running on time as our new Operations Coordinator. Debbie is a dedicated administrative professional who brings over a decade of support service experience to the NCSECS team. Debbie has a B.F.A. from Syracuse University, where she concentrated in the study of printmaking and photography. Prior to joining the NCSECS team, Debbie worked in administrative roles in the healthcare field. As a mother to ten of her own children, six of whom are adopted from Ethiopia, Debbie is passionate about the welfare of all children and is excited to join an organization committed to students with diverse learning needs in the charter sector. 

Please join us in welcoming Debbie to the NCSECS team!

NCSECS Hits the Road

Like fine wine, the NCSECS Equity Coalition continues to improve with age. Our fall convening in Washington, DC was standing room only. It was great to spend time with so many partner organizations committed to advocating for and educating students with disabilities. Highlights of the convening were a robust discussion regarding coordinating services for students with disabilities in decentralized systems and exploration of the critical principals of equitable public school choice. As always, we returned home simultaneously exhausted and recharged after spending time with our board and key partners.

The NCSECS research team of Lauren and Stephanie hit the road mid-month to visit Haven Academy in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. Created in partnership with the New York Foundling, Haven Academy focuses on providing an exceptional learning environment and rigorous college-preparatory academic program for neighborhood students as well as those living or at risk of living in foster care. Stay tuned for a rich case brief about the school.

NCSECS Senior Fellow and Co-Founder Paul O’Neill headed west to Kentucky to testify before the Kentucky Charter Schools Advisory Council regarding proposed regulations to the recently passed Kentucky Charter School Law. O’Neill’s testimony focused on the need for 1) greater clarity regarding the legal status of charter schools in Kentucky, 2) prohibiting disclosure of disability status on admission and application forms, 3) training authorizers regarding their roles and responsibilities of to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access and succeed, 4) examining track record of serving students with disabilities for potential conversion schools, and 5) increased specificity around special education in general in the regulations. Ideally, attention to these details will set new charter schools up to successfully enroll and educate students with disabilities.

The CMO Special Education Network convening is upon us and we are expecting an enthusiastic group of 45 representing more than 30 CMO’s from across the nation in New Orleans December 4-6th. The convening provides the team an opportunity to engage with CMO special education coordinators interested in sharing best practices and brainstorming about innovative approaches to developing a full continuum of quality special education supports and services. 

If interested in learning more about the NCSECS’ National CMO Special Education Network, contact Lindsay Coker at locker@ncsecs.org.

NCSECS is Co-Hosting, or is it Tri-Hosting, a Charter Support Organization Master Class on Special Education, December 7-8, Newark New jersey. We are partnering with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools to offer a one-and-a-half-day class for charter school organizations regarding educating students with disabilities. The class will be in Newark New Jersey and highlights will include a visit to KIPP Bold Academy, a Special Education 101 session, led by the surprisingly amusing Paul O’Neill, and interactive discussions with leaders from CSOs across the country. The agenda was developed to highlight the diverse array of supports CSO’s are providing to charter school applicants as well as operators in an effort to boost capacity to educate students with a wide range of disabilities.  

Hot Off the Presses or More Accurately, Hot onto the Web….

In case you missed the announcement, the Council on Parent Attorneys and Advocates, also an NCSECS Equity Coalition partner, won a contract from the National Council on Disabilities to develop a research synthesis regarding special education in schools of choice and will be hosting focus groups in St. Petersburg and Miami, Florida. If interested in learning more about the research, please visit the COPAA website. This new paper builds upon prior research the COPAA team has published regarding special education vouchers.

School discipline is drawing a significant amount of attention again. As the new administration considers scaling back OCR investigations and delaying implementation of regulations related to tracking reporting disproportionate disciplinary practices and policy makers contemplate introducing zero-discipline policies, we are following the discussion  and research closely. Of note, the Commission on Civil Rights plans to hold a public hearing on "The Intersection of Students of Color and Students with Disabilities, and School Discipline Policies." Commissioners will hear from "affected individuals, community and advocacy groups, and academics," according to a commission spokesman. The hearing starts at 9 a.m. ET on Dec. 8 in Washington, DC.

Definitely check out Lauren’s guest commentary in RealClear Education urging policy leaders to introduce a little more common sense and fewer false dichotomies into the discipline discussion.

Finally, while not a new resource, the Clarion-Ledger Report on Special Education is a treasure trove of state specific data regarding the graduation gap, disability & environment, discipline, staffing, and exit data by disability.

Thank you for reading, and please join us in ongoing virtual conversations by following @NCSCES on Twitter and Instagram