Support MECP in person at the school board meeting April 13th

12:46 pm

As I stated in a previous blog post Multnomah Early Childhood Program has been notified by PPS that they will not be renewing the contract for early intervention evaluations and PPS plans to take this over. MECP has a streamlined, cohesive, family-friendly, child empowering, and working system in place. This change will affect a lot of families and the risk of children unprepared for Kindergarten is at risk of increasing not to mention the philosophical difference I noted in my blog post.

This will be a showing support for the citizen comment section at the April 13th meeting on MECP. PPS is supposed to give MECP the final word on renewal next week and it is important that we show our support for good programs that work and we show it in person and in quantity.

The school board meeting is at 7pm at 501 N. Dixon in Portland. You can email me at if you want more information or if you would like to testify and need some input.

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Stephanie Hunter is a behavior consultant and the parent of a student at Ockley Green. She is active in local and statewide advocacy for children and adults with disabilities, which she writes about on her blog Belonging Matters.

filed under: IEP, School Board

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10 Responses

  1. Comment from Stephanie:

    I just received a call today from someone at PPS about this issue from the early childhood transition team. This is good news and perhaps the forum that parents and community groups want to have on this issue will be able to happen. I still believe that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and that PPS needs to focus on K-8 and high schools right now and not moving around pots of money when MECP is already doing a great job. I am excited that a forum may happen but I still plan to bring in a crowd as big as I can on Monday.
    I am working on getting numbers about the dips in referalls during the last transition and how these unprepared Kindergarteners affected teachers and costs. Do any teachers here remember if there seemed to be an increase around 2003ish in K students that should have been evaluated?

  2. Comment from Stephanie:

    This is the ODE report card for Multnomah County services for early childhood programs.

    In particular to point out: The state target for children that are evaluated and determined eligible is that this happens 100% of the time within 60 school days. Currently this is happening at 99.5% of the 100% target.

    Here is how PPS taking over evaluations could decrease this very good number.
    Right now MECP does the evaluation and eligibility and families have one phone number to call for everything and once you are in the system you get moved on to the next step automatically and seamlessly.
    If PPS takes over evaluations then it will require a parent calling MECP who will then give them another number for PPS for the evaluation. PPS does the eval and then hands them back to MECP who does the service. When the child turns 3 then MECP sends them back to PPS to be evaluated by someone who does not know them or has seen the progress they have made. PPS does the eval and hands them back to MECP until PPS comes back into the picture for Kindergarten transition. What a MESS! It was very very hard for me to call just one phone number for an evaluation because I had to admit to myself that my daughter was not developing typically. I would have taken forever to follow up on a new number and then would have felt it very impersonal to have someone that did not actually work with my child do something as important as evaluate them for services. I am a parent that knows the system from my work. I really feel strongly that many kids will get missed if this contract is not renewed. This is not about PPS doing a bad job, this is about moving pots of money around making no sense at all when something in place works phenomenally well already. Please PPS, just worry about K-8 and high schools right now!

    Rumors heard so far:
    MESD the regional program that oversees MECP is going out of business….FALSE!!

    PPS says that they want to develop a relationship with families from the start of the process…..You develop a relationship with the teacher not the evaluator. This makes no sense. Don’t believe the hype this is about money at the expense of children and families.

  3. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    I realized I said some unclear things above…I meant to say that I would have found it impersonal for someone to “re-evaluate” my daughter at age 3 that did not know her. After I mentioned that I know the system I was unclear that many families do not and need special care taken of them at the first phone call and getting bounced around just will not work.

  4. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    Anybody feel like going to a schoolboard meeting tonight……I’ll be your best friend 🙂

  5. Comment from sheila warren:


  6. Comment from Nancy R.:

    Stephanie, just heard your testimony at the school board meeting. Excellent job.

  7. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Great work, Stephanie. Sorry we couldn’t be there!

  8. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    Here is my testimony tonight that I updated after hearing the high school design team speak. Big kudos to them and their hard work. I drank too much coffee and ate too little food and was a bit wobbly when I got up there. I was received well overall and Ruth Adkins in particular as well as Zeke Smith were really encouraging to bring parents stories. Here is the testimony.

    Superintendent Smith and Members of the Board:

    I want to preface my testimony with an acknowledgement that the assertiveness of the high school design team to engage diverse groups in the community is very promising and I will rally parents to attend these forums

    Since my testimony on March 30th regarding the contract Portland Public Schools has stated they will non-renew with Multnomah Early Childhood Program I made a valiant effort to fill this room tonight.
    When the new agenda for tonight came out showing citizen comment at 10:30pm the response from parents that really wanted to be here was, “How do they expect us to advocate for our kids at 10:30pm on a school night.” I am here carrying the torch but I want you to know I represent strong parent leadership that demands our voice be heard on matters that affect our children with disabilities. There are thousands of families in this district that have been supported and empowered by MECP and they need a forum.

    The latest response I have heard is that the PPS early childhood team wants to collaborate with MECP to develop a relationship with families earlier in the process. While that sounds well-intentioned the fact of the matter is that families do not develop relationships with evaluators. Families develop relationships with teachers and other parents they have met through the incredible support offered by MECP in partnership with community partners.

    This action feels like it is being DONE TO our families and not DONE WITH our families … are many actions that involve children with disabilities in the district. The parents of children with disabilities would be happy to sit down and review the plan that is in place to maintain the integrity and outstanding support offered by MECP with the early childhood team for PPS, the superintendent, and other district leadership.

    We would love to hear how you plan to alert every pediatrician in town to this change, how you plan to make sure that parents getting handed off from one agency to the next will not get lost, how you plan to ensure that there is not a dip in service but in fact a commitment to earlier identification of children and collaboration with childcare centers. Have you considered the costs of the kindergarteners that will show up day one without an educational eligibility and the costs and additional support this will require while you are cutting program staff in schools with low enrollment?

    I have provided a letter written in collaboration by parents who are currently in MECP or are alumni and this provides more detail about MPAC and why we care about this matter so much.

    Thank you for listening and we are looking forward to engagement on this matter and others that affect our children in Portland Public Schools.

  9. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    So MECP started laying off people today because PPS is taking back the early intervention evaluations. I am particularly steamed on several levels. I testified two weeks in a row at 11pm one night and 10:45 the next board meeting about this issue. I emailed the board and Ruth Adkins contacted me and said that I would be hearing from Joanne Mabbott for parent input on this matter. The core of my testimony was that PPS was not engaging parents on this matter and we wanted a forum to express our concerns. I received a call from Mindy Campbell on the early childhood special education team and she said I would be having a meeting on this matter to voice my concerns in addition to other parent leaders who had protested this. I was never contacted and found out today that MECP has lost the evaluations for good. I worked the process the way I was supposed to. I was not shown respect as a citizen who was concerned and was told I WOULD have a forum that never happened. PPS special education has just earned themselves a watchdog and one that does not do a whole lot of sleeping.

    PPS special education services have to be engineered by savvy parents to be worth a darn and even savvy parents endure a lot of heartache and disrespect during IEP’s if their child has a disability that requires unique supports. This is a great loss, MECP has done incredible work with families and the philosophies between PPS and MECP are night and day.

    This isn’t over….

  10. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    I get my meeting!
    Can I make them change their mind about the MECP contract? Probably not but I can listen to them and review the plan they have in place to make sure that families do not get lost. PPS must raise its standards on the treatment of children and families with disabilities. There is a lot of inconsistency in the requests from families and I am sure that is difficult. As I demand more inclusion and higher standards another parent argues for more special autism programs and more segregation. Changing hearts and minds is exhausting work but for the families that want inclusion it does not serve the district well to treat them shabbily and force the hand of due process.
    There is a lot of work to be done and I am still not convinced that PPS’s Special Education Advisory Committee is not just an excuse to say they are listening to parents. I have read the minutes of these meetings and read things in other places by parents in leadership positions on this board and it is questionable and certainly not empowered. I should attend a meeting before I firm up my opinion but how many families can go to an 11am meeting or wait to speak at 11pm at the school board? Not many and it is perhaps a coincidence that these meetings are at the worst times possible for families to actually contribute.
    Anyway, I have my meeting and I just want accountability and higher standards and I want to see how they plan to do a better job than the early childhood transitions my friends have endured. This is really heartwrenching stuff these parents have been through. Who wants to sit through a meeting and have all of your child’s worst qualities trotted out and used as a reason to segregate them? Who wants to be treated like a pain in the rear for wanting their child to be held to higher standards and to be exposed to kids without disabilities? It is just not OK to treat people with disabilities like second class citizens. I was called a liar on Urban Mamas when I shared these facts. Someone said I was “spreading falsehoods”. I wish I was. It is sad that someone would call me a liar like that and reminds me how much harder I need to work.