Date: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015
Time: 4–5 p.m.
Location: 400 First Avenue, 5th floor
In attendance: Helen Kaufman, Assistant Superintendent; Cecilia Cortez, UFT HES Chapter Leader; Janet Katz, Staten Island HES related services teacher; Donna Kafko, Brooklyn West HES related services teacher.
Need for HES providers
Ms. Cortez asked why HES teachers are not serving preschool students.
Ms. Kaufman said she doesn't have enough providers to serve both K–12 and pre-K children. We serve school-age children only. There are no requirements to serve preschool students with hearing loss. She said HES has provider shortages in Brooklyn West, the Bronx and Queens, with too few HES teachers to serve the school-age students we have now. She can't commit at this time to serve students in pre-K.
Ms. Cortez asked: Why don't we contact local colleges to recruit HES teachers?
Ms. Kaufman said she has been informed that both Columbia and Hunter have truncated their programs. Even the New York City Department of Education loan forgiveness for new teachers has not attracted new teachers for the deaf, she said, and Hunter College stopped their scholarship program. She said there is a shortage of teachers of the deaf. There is no longer a NYC DOE scholarship program for any university with a major for teaching the hearing impaired. (Correction by UFT to this information: Hunter College has not diminished its program.)
Related Service Authorizations (RSAs)
Ms. Cortez asked about RSAs. She said there seems to be a problem with current HES teachers who are on the list. They are not getting assigned to provide these services to kids outside of the DOE. Many HES providers have stated that their services have not been requested for these children and that instead these hearing-impaired students are being served by other RSAs. We do not get those students back to being served by DOE HES providers.
(Background: The RSA is sent to parents and not supervisors. Parents do the outreach for a provider. Supervisors are involved in the RSA process when they are informed of students who are going without service. It is at that time that our DOE HES teachers are offered to serve the RSA process.)
Ms. Kaufman replied that the population of hearing-impaired students is going down. There are only eight to 15 high school students with hearing loss at J47 (347M). The only students who get contracted out (or have RSAs issued for them) are those in religious schools or those for whom there are no DOE providers.
Ms. Cortez asked which agency is getting these children.
(Note: There is only one agency that has a contract, and this agency does not serve many students. Most students who are not served receive an RSA.)
Ms. Kaufman said that if CFN is contracting them out we can't stop them. (That is, if they have a student without service.) The advent of cochlear implants has also reduced the number of hearing-impaired students.
The demographics of the boroughs have changed as well. She said there are more hearing-impaired students in the Bronx and in Queens but not in Manhattan.
Ms. Cortez asked about getting an audiologist for Washington Heights. She said teachers are complaining that this area is not being served. (Correction: there seem to be fewer students in that area who are identified as having a hearing loss.)
Ms. Kaufman said she will check with Ms. Lipkowitz, the audiologist supervisor (and the CSE audiologist). Ms. Kaufman said there are two audiologists serving Manhattan.
(Note: The issue is not a criticism of HES audiologists, but rather that CSE 10 is currently without an audiologist. However, this may not be the reason for the reduction in identification of students in upper Manhattan who need hearing education services.)
The concern was that CSC, which serves Washington Heights in Manhattan, doesn't have an audiologist. As a result, hearing-impaired students are not being identified and there are no HES referrals. The HES teachers in that area are concerned that soon they will have no students. (No HES teachers would lose their jobs, but some could be reassigned to other locations.)
Ms. Kaufman responded that there are other CSEs without an audiologist. She also said again that the hearing-impaired population is changing and shrinking. She said there may be a time when HES teachers may have to move to teach underserved populations in different parts of New York. Right now she said there are underserved populations of hearing-impaired students in three boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. HES teachers may have to go where the students are to serve them.
Ms. Cortez asked about computers for HES teachers.
Ms. Kaufman said that the reason occupational and physical therapists received computers is that the DOE is billing for Medicaid reimbursement and a special computer program was created to capture encounter attendance and session notes.
HES teachers are not candidates at this time to receive desktop computers or laptops. Ms. Kaufman said that as of now there are no computers coming for anyone this year. If vision teachers are issued iPads, it is because those devices are used to magnify print for their students. (iPad distribution is for students.)
The question of parking permits was raised again. The Department of Transportation, not the DOE, issues these permits. We have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining parking permits for everyone. The union is working to get more parking permits. Ms. Kaufman said that meter receipts are reimbursed. You just have to submit your receipts with your monthly service and scanned-in TRAC.
Ms. Cortez asked for clarification on the request to submit time in the schedules.
Ms. Kaufman has asked that all HES teachers put the time that they arrive and leave on their schedules and in the monthly service. (They can shrink their caseload forms.)
Each teacher’s schedule shows a start and end time for each day. It shows the time teachers move from school to school and the time they have lunch and prep. (This will provide assistance to your payroll secretary in responding to teacher requests when teachers arrive late, leave early or have something to do at midday.)
The same schedule can be copied onto the top of the monthly service. You can just copy and paste. You don't have to do extra work. It is the same schedule you already submitted at the beginning of the school year. It has all your scheduled time. The reason for this is that when teachers called to say they are leaving early the HES secretary doesn't know when the teacher started or ended the work day. We all start and end at different times.
The HES secretaries have to know when you start your day and when you end your day in order to accurately document the number of hours you work on a day when you choose to leave early. They need to know the time. Each teacher works 6 hours 50 minutes, including lunch and prep. The union fought for us to have a duty-free lunch, but lunch is part of your workday. Paraprofessionals are paid by the hour. Teachers are paid by the day. That's why we cannot leave the building if we have lunch at the end of the day. Lunch is considered part of our workday. But Ms. Kaufman doesn't want us to have lunch at the end of the day in any case.