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03/23/20

Relief Bill Needs to Include People with Disabilities

NEW Coronavirus Relief Bill: Tell Congress to Include People With Disabilities (Send an email!)

Congress has passed two bills to respond to the coronavirus pandemic – but more must still be done to support people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professional (DSP) workforce.

The entire country is facing the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, but people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. People with disabilities are more likely to have underlying health conditions and live in poverty – this means that they will be disproportionately impacted and need ongoing support.

The second Coronavirus Relief Bill was an important step in getting people the support they need. It included increased funding for state Medicaid programs, and it expanded sick leave for workers, including for some workers who support people with disabilities to live independently. But Congress did not address the needs of people with disabilities!

We must ask Members of Congress to pass a bill that addresses the ongoing needs of people with disabilities during this crisis, including:

  • Funding for a Medicaid grant program to support access to home and community-based services (to combat institutionalization) and to support the DSP workforce and a permanent reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program.
  • Raising Medicaid, SSI, and SNAP asset limits. People on these programs are subject to strict asset limits that need to be raised to ensure stimulus payments do not put benefits at risk.
  • Boosting Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for the crisis. People with disabilities and seniors are some of the hardest hit by this pandemic. Benefits should be boosted to help people with disabilities recover.
  • Paid leave for caregivers for people with disabilities. In the last bill, Congress covered sick days for many workers, but did not include caregivers who need to take time off support people with disabilities who have lost or will lose their usual sources of care.
  • AND no limitations on disability rights protections should be included in the legislation.

Use the form Here to send an email to urge your Members of Congress to include the rights and needs of people with disabilities in coronavirus relief legislation! You will be able to edit the sample email before you send it!

02/6/20

Volunteers for Autism Research Community Advisory Board

The Crehan Lab at Tufts University is seeking volunteers for our autism research Community Advisory Board.

In particular, we are looking to fill the following roles in this board:

  • Autistic adults (any age)
  • Autistic teenagers (with parental consent, optional parental participation)
  • Parents, siblings, or family members of children/adults with ASD
  • Occupational therapists
  • Adolescent health educators
  • Medical practitioners (pediatricians, psychiatrists, or general medicine)

If any of these experiences describe you, please read on!

The Crehan Lab primarily focuses on studying social cognition and autism, with studies focusing on sexuality and sexual education as well as theory of mind and perceptual processes. Members of the community advisory board serve as representatives of their communities to inform our research process and priorities.

In order to participate in the Community Advisory Board, you would need to review research summaries we will send prior to the meeting (about 30 minutes) and attend the meeting. If you are unable to physically attend the meeting, you can observe via video (although it will not be possible to participate in the discussion via video this year).

During the meeting, we would like to hear your input on current proposed studies and ideas for future studies. We believe it is important to have a diverse group of individuals with knowledge of or experience with autism spectrum disorders as well as health, development, and sexuality. We feel as though you/a representative of your organization would make a great addition to this team.

This meeting will occur at Tufts Medford Campus on Thursday, February 27th starting at 6:30pm and run until around 8:00 pm. No prior experience with research is required to participate in this event. The Crehan Lab will provide dinner, childcare, and cover your transportation costs.

If you are interested in participating, please email CrehanLab@tufts.edu with the following information:

Your name, phone number, email address

If you are bringing any children who will need childcare and, if so, their names and ages

Food allergies

If we can cover public transportation or parking costs for you so we can facilitate that ahead of time.

If you have any questions please reach out to: CrehanLab@tufts.edu or call Dr. Crehan at (617) 627-3393. Be sure to leave your name and contact information (either email or phone number).

Thanks,

Crehan Lab

01/10/20

Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

 

January 9, 2020

Open Letter to Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

I am writing to you as a parent and as the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HMS) School Site Council Chair. I am asking all parents, teachers, para professionals, staff, administration, alumni, and anyone connected to the HMS Community to immediately contact your elected officials, BPS School Committee, Boston Teachers Union representatives, business leaders, friends and family to tell them BPS, under the leadership of Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, does not have a plan for your child and your future at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. HMS requires a new, free standing building that accommodates the highly specialized needs of the students. We must mobilize and take control of the future of our Community. Superintendent Cassellius is unable to confidently communicate that a positive outcome is on the horizon for you and your child.

As a parent, I advocate for my daughter. As your HMS School Site Council Chair, I advocate for the school and Community at large. I do not want to see anyone leave HMS, be given less than deserved, or lost in the BPS system that is supposed to nurture us through education.

On January 8, 2020 a public meeting was held at HMS by Superintendent Cassellius. In attendance were HMS Community members, elected officials and community people representing Allston, and BPS leadership. Superintendent Cassellius announced the Allston building will be closed at the end of the 2020/2021 academic year and a new school will be built on the property. HMS is not in the new building plan. As Superintendent Cassellius continued, she clearly demonstrated BPS leadership is not aligned on the next steps for HMS. Most alarmingly, Superintendent Cassellius conveyed that BPS leadership does not have any internal experts in deaf and hard of hearing to begin a plan for HMS. This is very disappointing as the announcement for the HMS building closure was in April 2019. HMS Community formally offered to help BPS leadership with their knowledge deficits. We received no response.

I have met and spoken with Superintendent Cassellius four times since her first day on September 5, 2019. In each of the meetings, I reminded her the HMS building is being closed, HMS is a priority on the BuildBPS plan, and BPS leadership is ill-equipped to manage an HMS plan on their own. Each time Superintendent Cassellius asked me to be patient and will let us know her intentions. Last night Superintendent Cassellius asked for six more weeks as the BPS Strategic Plan will be released. At that moment, I believed Superintendent Cassellius is not making HMS an immediate priority as authorized previously. HMS is in an emergency situation and needs to be managed as such. A Strategic Plan is for slow moving, long term ideas. Asking for more time for her Strategic Plan that may include HMS is highly unusual. This is not acceptable for HMS children and the HMS Community.

In closing, I strongly believe that now is the right time for us to mobilize. We have respected Superintendent Cassellius’ request for time to settle into her new position. However, she has not returned our patience with an HMS plan. I am personally disappointed in Superintendent Cassellius as someone who is supposed to give me and my family comfort that everything will be okay at HMS.  Please help us take the next steps for HMS.

Respectfully submitted,

Charlie Kim

Parent and HMS Site Council Chair

Spanish

9 de enero de 2020

Carta abierta a la escuela Horace Mann para la comunidad sorda y con problemas de audición

Le escribo como padre y como el presidente del Concilio Escolar de la Escuela Horace Mann para personas sordas y con problemas de audición (HMS, por sus siglas en inglés). Les pido a todos los padres, maestros, ayudantes, personal, administración, ex-alumnos y cualquier persona relacionada con la Comunidad HMS que se comuniquen de inmediato con sus funcionarios electos, el Comité Escolar de las BPS, los representantes del Sindicato de Maestros de Boston, líderes empresariales, amigos y familiares para decirles que las BPS, bajo el liderazgo de la superintendente Brenda Cassellius, no tiene un plan para su hijo/a y su futuro en la escuela Horace Mann para sordos y personas con problemas de audición. HMS necesita un nuevo edificio independiente que se adapte a las necesidades altamente especializadas de los estudiantes. Debemos movilizar y tomar el control del futuro de nuestra comunidad. La superintendente Cassellius no puede comunicar con confianza que un resultado positivo está en el horizonte para usted y su hijo/a.

Como padre, abogo por mi hija. Como presidente del Concilio Escolar de HMS, yo abogo por la escuela y la comunidad en general. No quiero ver a nadie dejar el HMS, recibir menos de lo merecido o perderse en el sistema de las BPS que se supone que nos alimenta a través de la educación.

El 8 de enero de 2020, la Superintendente Cassellius celebró una reunión pública en HMS. Asistieron miembros de la comunidad de HMS, funcionarios electos y personas de la comunidad que representaban a Allston y líderes de las BPS. La superintendente Cassellius anunció que el edificio de Allston se cerrará al final del año académico 2020/2021 y se construirá una nueva escuela en la propiedad. HMS no está en el nuevo plan de construcción. A medida que la Superintendente Cassellius continuó, ella demostró claramente que el liderazgo de las BPS no está alineado en los próximos pasos para HMS. Lo más alarmante es que la superintendente Cassellius expresó que el liderazgo de las BPS no tiene expertos internos en personas sordas o con problemas de audición para comenzar un plan para HMS. Esto es muy decepcionante ya que el anuncio del cierre del edificio de HMS fue en abril de 2019. La comunidad HMS se ofreció formalmente a ayudar al liderazgo de las BPS con sus déficits de conocimiento. No recibimos respuesta.

Me he reunido y hablado con la Superintendente Cassellius cuatro veces desde su primer día el 5 de septiembre de 2019. En cada una de las reuniones, le recordé que el edificio de HMS será cerrado, HMS es una prioridad en el plan BuildBPS y el liderazgo de las BPS está deficientemente equipado para administrar un plan HMS por su cuenta. Cada vez la superintendente Cassellius me pidió que fuera paciente y que nos haría saber sus intenciones. Anoche, la Superintendente Cassellius solicitó seis semanas más para la publicación del Plan Estratégico de las BPS. En ese momento, me di cuenta que la Superintendente Cassellius no está haciendo de HMS una prioridad inmediata, como expresó anteriormente. HMS se encuentra en una situación de emergencia y debe gestionarse como tal. Un plan estratégico es para ideas de largo plazo y movimiento lento. Pedir más tiempo para su Plan Estratégico que puede incluir HMS es muy inusual. Esto no es aceptable para los niños HMS y la comunidad HMS.

Para terminar, creo firmemente que ahora es el momento adecuado para que nos movilicemos. Hemos respetado la solicitud de tiempo de la Superintendente Cassellius para establecerse en su nuevo puesto. Sin embargo, ella no ha devuelto nuestra paciencia con un plan HMS. Personalmente estoy decepcionado con la Superintendente Cassellius como alguien que se supone que debe darme a mí y a mi familia consuelo de que todo estará bien en HMS. Ayúdenos a dar los siguientes pasos para HMS.

Respetuosamente,

Charlie Kim

Presidente del Concilio de Padres y HMS

12/5/19

EPIC Service Warriors Boston

EPIC is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 Boston Service Warrior Team!

EPIC Service Warriors is a community service and education program for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-23. EPIC Service Warriors meet for one year to participate in community service projects in the Greater Boston Area. By creating the change they want to see in the world the Service Warriors learn more about local communities and develop practical skills that will help them develop as leaders and pursue future goals. We believe that every young person has a Warrior within. Are you ready to free your inner Service Warrior?

The Boston EPIC Service Warriors 2021 Program runs from April 2020 – April 2021. During the year Service Warriors will participate in an Opening Day/Orientation in April 2020, a minimum of 12 community service projects, 10 leadership development workshops, and a Graduation Celebration in May 2021.

Service Warriors Frequently Asked Questions

Apply Here

12/4/19

Moving Forward With Inclusion Done Right

Dear Educators and Parents,

Momentum is building! At our recent Inclusion Done Right meeting there were 70 of us sharing stories, looking at the data we collected so far about inclusion in the district, and beginning to  draw up recommendations.  Your passion and commitment to fighting for the services our students deserve and for more educators, not more licenses is crystal clear!

Inclusion Working Group Meeting – Monday, Dec. 16
On Monday, December 16th there will be a meeting of the Inclusion Working Group, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, at the Bolling Building. ( The Inclusion Working Group is  a joint body composed of BTU members and staff and BPS.)  At this time we will be sharing recommendations for how to better meet the needs of students in our inclusion classrooms.  Some educators will be sharing their personal experiences, along  data we have collected to support the recommendations being made. Our presence at this meeting is one way we can demonstrate how much we care about seeing Inclusion Done Right.
Please let us know if you are able to be present at the Inclusion Working Group meeting.  RSVP here.

Inclusion Tracker
To get the inclusion services our students deserve it will take all of us being vigilant and reporting what we see.  Help the BTU keep track of contract violations, legal violations, and other instances of student needs not being met by reporting what you see using this Inclusion Tracker. The information you share here will only be seen by BTU staff.  Parents, educators and students are encouraged to use this tracker.  For examples of violations, please go to btu.org/inclusion/ and scroll down to “Inclusion Tracker”.

Next Inclusion Done Right meeting
Our next Inclusion Done Right meeting is set for Tuesday, January 14th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Please help us spread the word!

Thank you,
Ilene Carver
BTU Organizer