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Board of Education Receives Update on Special Education Review

July 13, 2016

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The Board received an update and held a discussion on the review of the district’s special education services. Also during the meeting, Eric Guerci was sworn in as the 39th Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB).  The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You also can watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Swearing in of the Student Member of the Board

Mr. Eric Guerci, a rising senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, was sworn in as the 39th Student Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education.  Mr. Guerci was sworn in by Clerk of Court Barbara Meiklejohn. 

Mr. Guerci was reelected by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) middle and high school students to serve another one-year term. He received 54 percent of the vote in the April 27 election in which 84.1 percent of eligible students cast ballots. Mr. Guerci has been active in student government for several years and previously served as the vice president for the Montgomery County Regional (MCR) Student Government Association (SGA). He also served as the MCR SGA Finance Committee Chair; senior policy advisor to the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Advisory Council; and is the cofounder and executive vice president of Montgomery County Student and Business Leaders for Education, which promotes public/private partnerships to improve education. 
 

The SMOB is a voting member of the Board of Education. As a result of legislation passed during the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the SMOB can now vote on matters related to collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets, and school closings, reopenings and boundaries. The SMOB cannot vote on negative personnel actions.  The SMOB is not paid, but receives a $5,000 college scholarship, student service learning hours, and one honors-level social studies credit.

Special Education Review

The Board of Education received an update from MCPS staff and held a discussion on MCPS special education services. During the 2014–2015 school year, the Board contracted with WestEd to examine the experiences of parents/guardians and students with reference to Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, IEP implementation, and IEP dispute resolution. In addition to surveys, WestEd conducted focus groups with parents/guardians of students with disabilities; facilitated interviews with staff members and the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) co-chairs; observed students in schools; and reviewed documents and budgets using multiple methods to expand on MCPS’s initial data-gathering efforts. The WestEd report highlights numerous areas of compliance with the federal requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as well as positive data on parent/guardian engagement in, and satisfaction with, special education processes. Additionally, the report suggested concrete recommendations that provided examples of how MCPS could improve.

A stakeholder group has worked to align the recommendations into three categories––parent/guardian training and communication; professional development for staff members; and accountability. The group examined the recommendations and organized the work into short- and long-term goals (short-term to be completed by June 30, 2017, and long-term to be completed by June 30, 2018). The Office of Special Education organized the teams to complete the work and is making significant progress toward the goals that are in alignment with the mission of their office: to effectively communicate, provide meaningful collaboration, and continue the focus on continuous improvement. Staff members and community stakeholders, including representatives from SEAC and the special education parent/guardian community, are working collaboratively with MCPS staff from multiple offices to implement actions that will build upon the district’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.

Read the memo to the Board

Appointment to Board Committee
The Board passed a resolution appointing Mr. Eric Guerci, the Student Member of the Board, as a member of the Board of Education’s Policy Management Committee. He will serve on the Committee until the expiration of his term of office on June 30, 2017.

Appointments

The Board approved the following administrative appointments:

Elaine L. Chang-Baxter, currently principal, Garrett Park Elementary School, as director of partnerships, Office of the Chief of Staff

Harold L. Langley, currently director of pupil transportation, Maryland State Department of Education, as assistant director, Department of Transportation.

Future Meetings

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Monday, July 25, 2016. Please check the Board of Education meeting calendar for further information

 

About the Board of Education
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Mr. Michael Durso, president; Dr. Judith Docca, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Mr. Philip Kauffman, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Ms. Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Eric Guerci, student member. Dr. Jack R. Smith, superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.

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