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Archive for October, 2013

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 25, 2013)

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Assistant Secretary Martinez Posts Blog on NDEAM 2013: Because We Are EQUAL to the Task

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy Kathy Martinez posted a blog on the significance of the 2013 NDEAM theme, “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” Noted Martinez, “[NDEAM is] a time to elevate our thinking about whom we include in a disability context, and how we think about disability issues. Because only then can we ensure that more qualified individuals have the chance to demonstrate that they are EQUAL to the task.”

Workforce Recruitment Program Makes Temporary Changes for 2013

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a resource to connect employers nationwide with college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace. WRP’s annual interview season was scheduled to begin on October 1st, the same day the federal government shutdown began. During the shutdown, federal employees could not conduct work of any kind. Post-shutdown, WRP recruiters — who volunteer to do this each year in addition to their normal work — now must focus on agency work. Given the circumstances, we have changed the process for evaluating all 4,000 candidates and entering their profiles into the WRP database in order to prevent a delay to the database launch scheduled for mid-December. To facilitate these tasks this year, recruiters will evaluate candidates based on their online profiles (resume, transcript and an Interview Questions form with answers provided in writing by students) and will not conduct interviews with students. We anticipate returning to the regular WRP interview process in 2014.

Healthy Transitions Policy Brief Highlights Health, Wellness and Employment for Youth

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) frames its youth-policy work around the Guideposts for Success (Guideposts), a series of principles articulating what all youth, including those with disabilities, need to transition successfully into adulthood. One key element of the Guideposts is Connecting Activities, which emphasize access to programs, services, and activities that help youth prepare to self-manage their health care needs, pursue meaningful careers, and make informed choices in their lives. To better understand the interdependence of health and wellness, and employment, ODEP commissioned a study on health care transition in 2012. A policy brief, “Healthy Transitions: A Pathway to Employment for Youth with Chronic Health Conditions and Other Disabilities” presents highlights from that research study.

Federal Partners in Transition Releases Report from the National Online Dialogue

The Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue was held from May 13 to May 27, 2013. Hosted by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration, the National Online Dialogue invited people to share their ideas and comments about federal legislative and regulatory barriers and other opportunities to improve transition outcomes for youth with disabilities. Based on this input, a report entitled Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue: Participation Metrics was developed to summarize the dialogue’s results. These responses will help to frame the efforts of the dialogue hosts to work together strategically to develop a plan to improve transition results for youth with disabilities by 2020.

Department of Labor Publishes Poster on Social Media Accessibility

To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) the Department of Labor produced a poster highlighting DOL’s commitment to accessibility in its use of social media. The poster, which appeared in elevators at DOL’s National Office in Washington, DC, provides tips on how to achieve social media accessibility.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Releases Youth Employment Rate Numbers for September 2013

Employment data for youth with and without disabilities is obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

Office of Disability Employment Policy Newsletter (October 18, 2013)

Friday, October 18th, 2013

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Celebration Continues

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and with two weeks left in the month there is still plenty of time to celebrate at work, at home and in your community. Visit the NDEAM pages on the website of the Office of Disability Employment Policy to view the 2013 Presidential Proclamation, get ideas from the “What you CAN do!” calendar, and utilize the Resource Toolbox. Remember to tell us about your NDEAM activities on the Campaign for Disability Employment website!

LEAD Center Issues Quarterly LEAD On! Newsletter

The LEAD On! newsletter highlights news and innovations in employment, policy and economic advancement for adults with disabilities. The LEAD Center is a collaborative of disability, workforce and economic empowerment organizations led by National Disability Institute with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. The LEAD Center is dedicated to advancing sustainable individual and systems-level change to improve competitive, integrated employment and economic self-sufficiency for adults across the spectrum of disabilities.

Job Accommodation Network Announces 2013/2014 Webinar Series

Registration for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) 2013/2014 Monthly Webcast Series is now open. The Series will focus on accommodation solutions and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With guest speakers peppered throughout the year, JAN experts and guests will present one hour trainings on accommodations for epilepsy, fragrance sensitivity, and those who use personal assistants as workplace accommodations; current events in accommodation; low cost solutions; self-employment strategies; and the employment provisions of the ADA. It’s free and will fill to capacity quickly so register now!

Employer Assistance and Resource Network Releases EARN|Exchange Blog: What Disability Inclusive Practices & Policies Do Employers Implement?

This EARN|Exchange blog addresses ways that employers can implement inclusive HR practices and policies as they look to increase their hiring and retention of employees with disabilities. The article highlights recent research by Cornell University in collaboration with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) that provides insights for employers about inclusive practices implemented by their peers and competitors.

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Discipline and Disparate Impact at Educational Institutions

Friday, October 18th, 2013

The following is the Letter of Transmittal and Executive Summary of a briefing on school discipline and disparate impact before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The full text of the briefing may be found at http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/School_Disciplineand_Disparate_Impact.pdf.

Although the briefing focuses on “schools and school districts,” it offers valuable insights for all educational institutions, including colleges and universities.

School Discipline and Disparate Impact Briefing Before The United States Commission on Civil Rights
Held in Washington, DC
Briefing Report

Letter of Transmittal
The President
The President of the Senate
The Speaker of the House

Sirs:

The United States Commission on Civil Rights (“Commission”) is pleased to transmit this report, School Discipline and Disparate Impact. The report is drawn from a briefing that the Commission held on February 11, 2011 that examined the effect that the U.S. Department of Education’s Fall 2010 Disparate Impact initiative has had on schools and school districts across the country. This federal initiative was implemented to look at differences in discipline outcomes between students of color and other similarly-situated students.

The initiative’s aim is to identify whether the application of exclusionary discipline policies has had a disparate impact on students of color. During the briefing the panelists, teachers and administrators from racially diverse public school districts described how their particular schools have responded to this initiative. The Commission inquired as to whether the schools have changed their policies and practices and what those changes have been. In addition, the Commission inquired into whether school districts maintain comprehensive data that allows them to track the effectiveness of their discipline policies; whether teachers are appropriately trained to implement these policies; and what other methods are being used by districts to evaluate the effectiveness of their policies. Finally, the U.S. Department of Education provided background information on its disparate impact initiative and how the disparate impact theory is being implemented in its enforcement work.

The briefing identified a common theme among most of the teachers. This is that disciplinary problems can be greatly reduced through individualized instruction based on the student’s capabilities, cultural sensitivity or competency, parental involvement and support, and effective school leadership. School administrators indicated that disciplinary problems could be reduced through consistent application of a transparent and uniform school-wide disciplinary policy. Many of the school administrators also indicated that they had successfully reduced discipline disparities and overall expulsions through the adoption of nationally-tested behavior management programs.

This report was unanimously approved on October 21, 2011 by Chairman Martin R. Castro, Vice Chair Abigail Thernstrom, and Commissioners Roberta Achtenberg, Todd Gaziano, Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow, David Kladney, and Michael Yaki.

For the Commission,
Martin R. Castro
Chairman

Executive Summary

The Commission held a briefing entitled, “School Discipline and Disparate Impact” on February 11, 2011 to examine the effect of the U.S. Department of Education’s disparate impact initiative announced in the fall of 2010 for schools and school districts across the country. The Commission asked teachers and administrators from racially diverse public school districts how they have responded to the new initiative; specifically, whether their teachers and administrators have changed their policies and practices as a result, and what those changes were. The Commission was interested also in whether the districts kept statistics to track the effectiveness of policies; how they train their teachers in implementing discipline policies; and what other means the districts used to evaluate whether their policies worked.

The Commission asked the U.S. Department of Education (ED or Department) to describe its disparate impact initiative and supply case documents indicating the manner in which the Department implemented disparate impact theory in its enforcement work. The Department’s civil rights enforcement unit, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), provided documents relating only to closed cases, which showed investigations that proceeded to resolution based initially on a disparate impact theory. The Department’s policy as stated during the briefing is that statistically disparate results create a presumption of discrimination that must be rebutted by the school or district with evidence that the school or district has a legitimate educational justification and that there are no equally effective alternative policies that would achieve the school’s educational goals. The Department indicated that it would continue to use disparate impact theory in its investigations, including those currently open, in addition to disparate treatment theory.

Teachers appearing before the Commission were Mr. Allen Zollman, Ms. Andrea Smith, Ms.Jamie Frank, Mrs. Louise Seng, and Mr. Patrick Welsh. Administrators appearing before the Commission were Ms. Suzanne Maxey, Principal at TC Williams High School in Alexandria City, Virginia; Dr. Osvaldo Piedra, Assistant Principal, East Lake High School, Pinellas County, Florida; Mr. Joseph Oliveri, Retired Director of Alternative Schools for the Austin Independent School District, Texas; Mr. Edward Gonzalez, Associate Superintendent, Department of Prevention and Intervention, Fresno Unified School District, Fresno County, California; Dr. Hardy Murphy, Superintendent, Evanston/Skokie District 65, Cook County, Illinois; Dr. Hertica Martin, Executive Director for Elementary and Secondary Education, Rochester Public Schools, Olmstead County, Minnesota; and Dr. Douglas Wright, Superintendent, San Juan School District, Blanding, Utah. Mr. Ricardo Soto, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, appeared for the Department.

Points of agreement among most of the teachers were that disciplinary problems were greatly reduced among all students by attention to appropriate levels of difficulty in instructional materials, sensitivity to individual students and their backgrounds, parental involvement and support, and effective leadership by a school principal. Most, but not all of the teachers reported no effort by school administrators to interfere with classroom discipline, but some reported onerous procedural and paperwork burdens before any disruptive student could be removed from class.

Points of agreement among the school administrators were the importance of the following: telling students what the rules are; why the school has those rules, what the consequences are for violating those rules, and being consistent in applying the rules. Also effective in their view was maintaining an approach that sought ways to change the school to better meet the needs of the students, rather than inflexibly following a pre-set view or imposing zero-tolerance rules that students knew produced unfair results; training teachers in understanding different cultures and personalities; devising special programs for behaviorally high-risk students; instituting parent engagement and education programs; and/or adopting one of several nationally-tested behavior management programs that had reduced disparities and overall expulsions in other districts.

Two of the speakers (Dr. Wright, San Juan, Utah and Dr. Martin, Rochester, Minnesota) were administrators from districts currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for possible violations under the new discipline initiative. Dr. Wright’s district uses nationally-tested behavioral support programs mentioned by other speakers, expanded the role for guidance counselors, and instituted a student support system; Dr. Martin’s district uses some of the same techniques and nationally-tested programs discussed in the briefing. Mr. Soto of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provided an overview the office’s work and mission, which is to ensure equal access to education through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. Mr. Soto stated that OCR’s disparate impact initiative stemmed from data showing a sharp increase in the numbers of students nationwide who were suspended or expelled, which OCR views as an indication of possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and addresses using both disparate treatment and disparate impact theories.

Honoring our Volunteers: An Evening in the Heart of Alexandria

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Once again it is time to recognize and honor our volunteers and Volunteer Alexandria would like you to be a part of it! Honoring Our Volunteers – An Evening in the Heart of Alexandria recognizes Allen Lomax, Seena Foster, Scott Kahler, and Emma West, who have served our community consistently over their lifetime or have helped an organization to further its mission.

Volunteer Alexandria has a 33 year legacy of caring for Alexandrians – its people and its nonprofits and we particularly care about the Heart of Alexandria volunteers who give from the heart. In this day and age, we like to think that Volunteer Alexandria is a matchmaker between the passion in people’s hearts and the reward of volunteer service. Please join us and Co-Chairs Cyndi Lake and Frank Fannon as we honor our wonderful volunteers on Friday, October 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the American Legion Post #24′s Ballroom at 400 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Tickets are $60 per person and $100 for two and can be purchased HERE.

Sponsored By:

BB&T | Simpson Properties, LTD | Agriculture Federal Credit Union | JBG Construction | Giant Food | SunTrust Mortgate | State Department Federal Credit Union | United States Senate Federal Credit Union | Lisa and Paul Kaplowitz | Cyndi Lake | “Porter for Commonwealth’s Attorney”

Award Recipients

Allen Lomax will receive the Marian Van Landingham Lifetime Achievement Service Award. Allen, who is also a Living Legend of Alexandria, has been an active volunteer and leader advocating for policies and community change to promote the well-being, growth, and development of youth in Alexandria for over 22 years. He believes strongly in community service, leading by example and encouraging others to join him in his efforts. Allen urrently serves on the boards and committees of the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria, United Way National Capital Area, Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria, Homeless Services Coordinating Committee, Economic Opportunities Commission, Alexandria Collaborators, Alexandria Democratic Committee, and Youth Master Plan Design Team. Allen has, more importantly, inspired many other community members and groups to advocate for youth and to join together to preserve and promote a healthy Alexandria community.

Scott Kahler will receive the Joan White Grass Roots Service Award. For the past seven years, Scott has served as a critical member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT), responding to emergencies such as residential and commercial fires. Scott proactively responds to events by monitoring scanner radios and is among the most reliable volunteers on the DAT. Scott shows his commitment by serving as a role model for other volunteers and is a leader for others in a variety of areas, including shelter management, client casework and driving the emergency response vehicle (ERV). Scott demonstrates true grass roots efforts by working together with his community partners on shared concerns to affect change.

Seena Foster will receive the Joan White Grass Roots Service Award. Seena has been an excellent volunteer and advocate for the homeless and low income individuals through her direct service work and fundraising for Carpenter’s Shelter. For the past five years, Seena has provided over 1,000 hours to the shelter, including working directly with shelter clients and supporting staff in operations. Seena also serves on the Economic Opportunities Commission for the City of Alexandria which develops and recommends programs which provide outreach and assistance to low income individuals. Seena is dedicated to committing her time and effort working to improve the lives of the homeless as well as advocating their needs and the mission of Carpenter’s Shelter in the community.

Emma West will receive the Youth Volunteer Service Award. Emma is a T.C. Williams High School student and a devoted volunteer for the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Center of Alexandria (SAPCA). She has supported the agency’s efforts by sharing with her peers the harms associated with smoking. Emma led the SAPCA club in creating a logic model and action plan that contains specific strategies and activities to decrease marijuana use among her peers. Emma helped plan and lead several activities during lunch times at the school. She co-wrote an op-ed piece highlighting Alcohol Awareness Month and SAPCA’s work. She is the founder of the T.C. Williams’ Breast Cancer Awareness Club, served as the president, and raised nearly $4,000 towards this effort. In addition, Emma is a member of Alexandria’s Children, Youth, and Families Collaborative Commission and participated in Alexandria’s Youth Master Plan. Emma is a wonderful role model to her peers who dedicates a lot of her time to create a better environment for youth in Alexandria.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Please join Capital One, BB&T, the Agriculture Federal Credit Union, JBG Construction, Giant Food, Suntrust Mortgage, the The United States Senate Federal Credit Union, Simpson Properties, Ltd., the State Department Federal Credit Union, Lisa and Paul Kaplowitz, Cyndi Lake, and “Porter for Commonwealth’s Attorney” in celebrating these great people by attending the event or becoming a Sponsor. The benefits and different levels are outlined HERE. We hope you will join us. Individual tickets are $60 and $100 for two persons, and can be purchased ONLINE.

Proceeds will benefit the community and Volunteer Alexandria’s year round programming to mobilize and deploy volunteers. Your sponsorship will assist seniors looking for volunteer work; youth who are in need of community service; unemployed who are looking for volunteer work to stay involved; and volunteers to assist all of the agencies in need to help deliver meals, sit with the elderly who are alone, repair homes for our veterans, read to children, foster animals, prepare lunches for the homeless, and much more.

Your support will help Volunteer Alexandria to HELP OTHERS!