ESE Advisory Council

The ESE Advisory Council explores ways to improve services for students with various disabilities as well as gifted learners.

This group includes district staff, representatives from various support agencies, and the families of children who participate in Exceptional Student Education programs. Meetings are open to the public, and all are welcome to attend. For more information or to get involved in the ESE Advisory Council, call (863) 535-6485 or contact

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ESE Advisory Council Minutes

Thusday, January 17, 2019

Welcome and Introductions

Parent and attendee introductions. Special recognition for district guests including:
John Hill – Deputy Superintendent; Dr. Michael Akes – Chief Academic Officer; Lisa Miller – School Board, District 7; Sarah Fortney – School Board, District 3

Follow-up from October meeting:

Behavior support guidelines for parents and teachers

  • Does advisory have input?
  • Is draft ready to publish on internet?

Jim Maxwell shared an overview of his new department for Behavioral and Mental Health Services. He described the organizational structure and different functions of each group to include SEDNET/Behavioral Support, MTSS and PBIS Sr. Coordinators, Mental Health Services, and Bullying Prevention. Mr. Maxwell provided a draft parent handout (tri-fold brochure) that outlined the various types of district resources/personnel available for support, the MTSS (Multi-tiered System of Supports) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) framework for academic and behavioral interventions, and highlighted information for parents on requesting supports at the school level and ideas for interventions. Mrs. Miller commented that the information was good and stated that a video type message presenting the information on the district website would be a good idea and would help her respond to many phone calls she receives as a board member. Jason Geary shared that he is continually working with the ESE department on updating information to the website and he would work with Mr. Maxwell to develop something for the website.

LEA Facilitators

  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Overview of trainings and PD throughout the year
  • Updated list by school

Dr. Steinke shared an overview of trainings and professional development sessions that are provided to LEA Facilitators throughout the year (see items after agenda). She also showed a list of all LEA Facilitator/Contacts by school that will be posted for parent access on the district website. Limited copies of a draft list of “LEA Facilitator/LEA Contact Roles and Responsibilities” was handed out for meeting participants to preview and give feedback. The parents responded that the draft looked good and met their request from the last ESE Advisory meeting. Dr. Steinke shared that as soon as it was sent to principals and school staff it would be posted on the district website. The draft documents were collected back from everyone.


Symposium on Special Education

  • Proposed date and location

The group agreed to target a date in the fall sometime near the end of October. The requested location will be Lake Region HS if available.

  • Planning Committee member selection

ESE Senior Manager – Polly Bruno and parent – Tosha Littles volunteered to serve as leaders for the planning of the fall symposium.
Mrs. Miller and Mollie Brown-Ferrier (representative from Agencies for Persons with Disabilities) brought up the topic of inter-agency meetings that previously occurred with the various agencies supporting Polk county students. Diane Taylor stated those meetings occurred years ago but that over the years many of the agency representatives began attending the ESE Advisory meetings resulting in the ending of the inter-agency meetings. The group further discussed using the Symposium agency resource list as a resource for inviting representatives to future ESE Advisory meetings.

  • Next steps

The group agreed to schedule a separate meeting for those interested in working on the Symposium planning committee. Information will be discussed at future meetings.

ESE Advisory meeting dates for remainder of year [Proposed]

Tuesday, March 5th  (lunch hour),
Tuesday, April 30th (evening),
Tuesday, June 11th  (lunch hour),
Tuesday, July 23rd (evening)

Dr. Steinke shared that the proposed dates were clear with the district calendar and requested feedback from the group on any other possible conflicts that may interfere. There were no objections. Dr. Steinke will work to get the remaining dates on the calendar and announced. Mrs. Miller raised the question about better marketing and advertisement for the ESE Advisory meetings so that more parents would hopefully attend. Dr. Steinke and Jason Geary shared that current meetings have been posted on the district website as a highlighted news story, and placed on the district’s social media sources (Facebook, Twitter) in the same manner as other district events. Discussion occurred regarding a way to collect and maintain a “subscription list” for parents to receive notifications and reminders, as well as options for the district’s school messenger system. Sarah Frederick also shares information on the ESE Advisory Facebook page and with her parent support group called SNAPS. There was discussion about the possibility of developing an ESE Advisory page on the district website.

New Items:

  •  SRO, Guardian, Sheriff and local law enforcement training on how to work with special needs children in case of mental health crisis or emergency. (Calling Crisis team first before SRO or Police.)

The group discussed the idea of school SROs receiving training on working with students with disabilities and being aware of some of the behaviors that SWD may demonstrate and that SROs need to be aware. There was also discussion about SROs being involved with discipline situations. Mrs. Miller mentioned previous trainings that have occurred and resources available to provide the SRO training (Donna Lorman from Autism Society of Greater Orlando, Candy (?) from Lake County). Dr. Steinke and Mr. Maxwell shared that recent legislation under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas act requires certain procedures. Dr. Steinke also shared that members of the ESE department have presented information to SROs in years past regarding SWDs. Tosha Littles shared that Florida’s Family Network on Disabilities organization which she also represents has a training they provide related to disability awareness.

  • Review current ESE and Access Point training for all teachers

Discussion centered around the need for general education teachers who have more and more students with disabilities on modified curriculum (access points) and their need for more training. Dr. Steinke shared that the ESE department is working on increasing this type of training and that it is currently provided on an as needed, case-by-case basis with those teachers. It is viewed as an increasing need. Dr. Akes confirmed that this was a topic of discussion for the Teaching and Learning division. Discussion also included a request to post a list of acronyms associated with ESE on the district website.

  • Discuss behavior issues in Self Contained settings

This discussion was simultaneous to the discussion about SROs and need for more training. A parent mentioned that the new school guardians are reluctant with some of the kids and don’t know how to handle situations in some of the classrooms.

  • Turning ESE Advisory into a committee with Board Member participation

Sarah Frederick inquired about the process for making the ESE Advisory a committee that would include a school board member. Mr. Hill and Dr. Akes shared that the current meetings are public meetings for all that attended and that school board members have a process based on Sunshine Laws they must follow for attending public meetings where a fellow board member may be in attendance. There was discussion on how to ensure that the school board/full board was aware of the needs of our SWD and concerns of the parents. Dr. Akes recommended that the advisory board do bi-annual updates to the school board. Mr. Hill confirmed that there would be no problems with getting this on the work session agenda. Ms. Frederick also raised the topic of ESE Advisory bylaws which have not been updated since 2013 but that include positions for elected ESE Advisory “board” members. The group agreed that the bylaws would be on the agenda for the next ESE Advisory meeting as a topic of discussion and that future plans would be made for elections of the positions.

Professional Development for LEA Contacts and Facilitators

  •  LEA Meetings to provide state, district and department updates (3-4 times per year)
  • IEP Compliance Mini-Trainings on Meeting Notices, Present Levels of Performance, and Annual Measurable Goals and Objectives (offered annually)
  • IEP Compliance Mini-Training on Transition IEPs (new in 2018-19)
  • Matrix training (offered annually)
  • ESE Topical Mini-Training on Accommodations and Assistive Technology (offered annually)
  • ESE Topical Mini-Training on Bookshare (Accessible Instructional Materials program) (new in 2018-19)
  • FOCUS Training for ESE Data Entry (new in 2018-19)
  • Numerous small group and individual trainings provided at schools by the assigned staffing specialist to address immediate needs of the school throughout the year including:
    • IEP development and compliance
    • Transfer IEPs
    • ESY determination of needs
    • Deferral of Diploma
    • Test Waivers
    • Documentation of ESE Services and Accommodations
    • Post-Secondary Goals and Services
    • Reevaluations
    • IEP Amendments
    • Enrich program
    • FOCUS program

Calendar Dates