Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education
Minutes from October 17, 2007
Co-chairs: Rebecca Cort, Deputy Commissioner
Kim Fine, Deputy Director NYS Division of Budget
Attendees: William Combes, Christine Vogelsang, Mary Curtis,
Susan Constantino, Eddie Lee, Michael Dedee, Robert Frawley, Mary Garrett,
Michael Grossfeld, Bradley Hutton, Mark Jasinski, Eddie Lee, Sally McKay, Patsy
Observers: John Calderon (ACTS), Lisa Mill (Schenectady
County Public Health), Jane Ryan (JE Ryan Associates), Ellen Burns (Early Childhood
Direction Center), Nancy Hampton (Early Childhood Direction Center), Agnes
Leahy (Whitemore Osterman-Harna , LLP), Joe Conroy (DOB), Jyothsna Buddharaju
(DOB), Lisa Timoney (DOB), Melinda Person (NYSUT), Christine Decatur (NYSSBA),
Dan Kinley (NYSUT), Hal Mattot (NYSED- STAC and Medicaid), Marcia Atwood (Questar
III SETRC), Heather Evans (Carr Public Affairs), Pam Madeiros (NYS Alliance
for Children with Special Needs), Andrea Rieger (LI Coalition for Preschool
Children w/ Disabilities and Variety Child Learning Center), Jessica Janeski
(OMRDD), Judi Gerson (CP of NYS), Dan Tworek (CP of NYS), Donna Noyes (DOH),
Sandra Rybaltowski (VESID), Michael Plotzker (VESID).
Facilitator: Rebecca Kennard
Recorders: Sara Silver and Tina Goodwin-Segal
Meeting Start up
Becky Cort, Kim Fine, and Becky Kennard welcomed everyone to the meeting. Attention
was called to the fact that draft copies of the report needed to be returned
at the end of the meeting since it was not a final document yet. Members
were thanked for their efforts in advancing the recommendations to this point. The
minutes of the September 18th Task Force meeting were unanimously approved.
Development of the Draft Report (Tina Goodwin-Segal,
Over a series of editing sessions with the work group chairs and the facilitator,
MAGI took efforts to write to a broader audience, and at the same time to preserve
the language developed by the Task Force members. The report incorporated
an executive summary, a section on membership, an introduction, and a description
of the processes employed by the Task Force to arrive at the recommendations. The
recommendations were distinguished as primary and secondary, applying the original
criteria set by the members. A concluding chapter summarized the intent
and proposed impact of the proposals with a recognition of additional work
that remains to be done. The list of appendices described additional resources
used by the Task Force and these will appear in their entirety in the final
report. Members were encouraged to review the report for accuracy of
information and to alert the writers of necessary changes.
Review of the Draft Report
Becky Kennard established the ground rules for review of the report. Members
were asked to refrain from comments about grammar/syntax of the language and
instead to focus on the report’s substance and message. Three standards
- Is the report complete?
- Is the report accurate?
- Is the report a clear documentation of the work of the Task Force?
The following is a summary of the highlights of the feedback provided by members
on each section of the draft report.
Members expressed satisfaction with the quality of the draft, recognizing
that it was produced in a short amount of time.
Some of the language about NYS’ unique history of preschool special
education that appeared in Recommendation 3 should be added to the Introduction—in
particular, the original intent of the State to provide additional reimbursement
to the counties, and the fact that NY is one of few states with a county
Language should reflect that the work of the Task Force was to examine
ways to improve the delivery of high-quality services to children,
so that it does not give the impression that charge was solely driven by
fiscal considerations; the Executive Summary and Conclusions should also
capture this objective.
Some mention of home-based services to children should be added in this
This should not be a stand-alone chapter. The section on Task Force process
should be moved to the Appendix, and the section on outreach efforts should
be retained as part of the Introduction.
Mention should be made that over 100 issues were initially discussed in
the workgroups, which resulted in 30 recommendations that were finally pared
down to nine by the Task Force.
The ordering of the primary recommendations was based
on the four criteria set by the group, leading with those that reflected
system improvement and helping children. The rate-setting proposal
appeared to flow from the others.
Some language should be added to show that all recommendations
within each of the primary and secondary categories were weighted equally. Each
chapter—Primary and Secondary—should begin with that explanation
and it should be included in the Executive Summary as well. [Note: although
the group agreed to no longer refer to recommendations by number, for purposes
of these meeting notes, it is clearest to continue to identify numbers.]
Language on inappropriate or unnecessary services should be deleted as
stakeholder forums did not reflect this.
The timeframe for completing the Parent Handbook should
be articulated, perhaps as a footnote.
Acronyms, except the most common (NYSED, NYS, etc.) should be spelled out
each time they are used in the text, as readers outside the Task Force will
not be familiar with them.
There was a need to spell out the role of other early
childhood programs and current partnerships that exist with community –based
In a few parts of the State, preschool children with
special needs (those requiring RSO and SEIT) are already being integrated
into general education preschool settings as part of the district’s continuum of services.
There was concern that this recommendation will tie the funding only to “special
classes in an integrated setting” that use UPK funds to support the
general education portion of the population in these classes, so
that only three-year-olds with the most intensive needs will be served. There
might be potential for abusing the system, where children will be prescribed
more services than they need, so as to be served in these special classes. However,
the purpose of this recommendation was designed as a first step to address
the statewide insufficiency of “special classes in an integrated
setting”. Given that, language was needed to specify eligibility
and maximum enrollment criteria, to limit the number of transitions, and
a provision to allow districts to continue operating targeted UPK programs
to accept and fund three-year-olds in their classes.
Reference to NYSAC should either be complete or excluded. Ultimately
it was determined that it should be excluded.
The fiscal issues were warnings and realities that currently
exist, i.e., not newly created by the recommendation. It was only that with the
recommendation, the same burden would shift to another party. Language
should be added to specify that costs may be greater depending on future
More NYS-county history should be added.
Reference to accessing health insurance dollars to pay
for special education should be reconsidered. However, the purpose of including this was
to recognize the importance of maximizing other funding sources as County
contributions are capped – to not suggest tapping additional funding
sources would be fiscally irresponsible.
Parental informed consent was implied for accessing health insurance, consistent
The inability of dependent school districts to raise
tax levy funds should be noted as an implementation issue.
The role of parents vis-à-vis CPSE in the selection
of evaluators needed to be clarified.
Members did not support the inclusion of a dissenting
opinion, either as an attachment or on the website. They stated that it was important
to each of them to add strength to the proposals of the Task Force and not
to take away from it. The member with the dissenting opinion stated that
his viewpoint reflected an entire constituency, not just his voice. Members
responded that each of them also represented a constituency, and that opinions
other than those supported by the group have alternate avenues for expression. The
inclusion of some of the concerns of the dissenting opinion within the
implementation issues was discussed.
The section on pre and inservice training for teachers needed to be a more
actionable strategy, without a call to mandate the number of hours of training.
Some mention should be made of when the pre-K learning
standards will be completed as well as a plan to disseminate the standards
to all providers.
The rationale section, with reference to EI and preschool
RSO providers should be revised to reflect greater detail about continuity
of services. Also, “aligning” reimbursement rates was a more accurate representation
than “equalizing” rates.
Some clarification was needed on whether the implementation issue called
for reimbursing parents for transporting their children (e.g. criteria for
Transportation aid for preschoolers might be explored.
- As in other sections of the report, it was important to point out here
that the objectives of the Task Force were not driven only by cost, but also
by the need to improve delivery of services.
- Language about the improvement of high-quality services should be underscored.
- 611/619 funds should be deleted as no reference to this was made in the
List of Appendices
The results of the regional round table follow-up survey should be removed
from this section and referenced on the website.
The transportation cost analysis should also be removed and referenced
on the website.
Meeting Wrap-Up and Next Steps
Becky Kennard summed up the review by asking the members if the report fulfilled
their charge as a Task Force. Members felt that if the revisions suggested
were made, they would have accomplished their charge.
The co-chairs agreed to incorporate all changes and send the final draft by
email to the members for final comment. The November 6th meeting will
be needed to affirm the final document. However, members may elect to
video-conference or conference call into the meeting. Upon acceptance
of the final product, the chairs will send it with a cover letter to the Governor
and the various stakeholders (members of the Senate, Assembly, etc.). At
that point, it will be a public document. It will also be presented to the
Board of Regents.
In summary, the co-chairs felt that much had been accomplished
by the Task Force. It had met its charge and tried to balance what is
important for children with what is practical. The fiscal component must
be recognized even though it was not the primary objective. Members
were urged to think about how their recommendations could be supported in each
of their professional roles, so that they could collectively move this important