Board of Education Meeting Update – March 18, 2019 Work Session

Special Education Task Force Presents Recommendations 

The Denver Board of Education heard recommendations and proposed action steps from the Special Education Task Force at the March 18, 2019 work session. Robert Frantum-Allen, Director of Special Education, presented the five recommendations and led a panel discussion with several parents and educators.

The task force’s recommendations center around inclusion, which research shows is the best way to support students with disabilities. Inclusion emphasizes serving students as much as possible in the general education setting in order to promote positive academic and social-emotional growth. “Inclusion is not only the best thing for students, but is also a marker of our DPS value of equity,” said Robert Frantum-Allen, director of special education.

In addition to inclusion, the recommendations also focused on resources, literacy, staff excellence and evaluation/eligibility.

The board also engaged in a discussion with panelists from the task force:

  • Pam Bisceglia, executive director of AdvocacyDenver and parent
  • Tayo McGuirk, board member of Rocky Mountain Dyslexia Association and parent
  • Michelle Koyama, executive principal
  • Abbe Montoya, social worker
  • Tywanna Jones, parent and educator

Panelists spoke about their experiences with and passion for improving outcomes for students in special education, as well as the need to ensure equity for all students. Each panelist also expressed how the recommendations and proposed action steps will positively impact students, and how critical it is to ensure students receive the services they need.

“The program needs to fit the students; the students shouldn’t have to fit into the program,” said panelist Michelle Koyama.

The board requested an opportunity to dig deeper into the recommendations at an April Focus on Achievement session. “Thank you for being gracious with your time, your stories and your tears,” said board member Angela Cobián. “We are looking forward to digging into this work.”

The full presentation is available here.

Innovation Plan Proposal and Staff Recommendations Shared for Merrill Middle School

Leaders from Merrill Middle School presented their application for innovation status and responded to questions and feedback from board members.

Staff from the Portfolio Management Team presented its recommendation that the board approve Merrill’s innovation application for a three-year term.

Innovation status is one of the ways in which schools can engage with DPS’ flexibility strategy. Primary reasons schools pursue innovation status include making school-based decisions about the important inputs of people, time and money, and defining and codifying a unique school vision with associated systems and structures.

The board will vote on whether to approve Merrill’s application at its next meeting on Thursday, March 21.