Minutes — February 2017 Council Meeting

2017 Council and Committee Meetings


Council Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Hunter Adkins
  • Zack Ahonle, UT-CDS
  • Kimberly Blackmon
  • Juliet Charron, HHSC/Medicaid
  • Kristine Clark
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Mateo Delgado
  • Mary Faithfull, DRT
  • Sue Fielder, HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Stephen Gersuk
  • Ivy Goldstein, DSHS/Maternal-Child Health
  • Ruth Mason
  • Scott McAvoy
  • Michael Peace
  • Meagan Sumbera, A&M — CDD
  • Lora Taylor
  • David Taylor
  • John Thomas
  • Rick Tisch

Council Members Absent

  • Jennifer Kaut, TWC/Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Dana Perry
  • Brandon Pharris
  • Ron Roberts, TEA/IDEA

Guests Present

  • Lisa Akers-Owen, HHSC/Older Americans Act
  • Isabel Evans
  • Alexandra Noble
  • Rona Statman
  • Dana Williamson, HHSC

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Danny Fikac
  • Ashley Ford
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Joshua Ryf
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Friday, February 10, 2017, in the Hill Country B Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown, 6000 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 10:06 AM.

  1. Introductions
    Council members, staff and guests were introduced. It was noted that Lisa Akers-Owen is the new designated representative from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for the Older Americans Act program, however she has not been through orientation and is not eligible to vote. Alternate from that program Sue Fielder has been through orientation and is present as the voting member. Juliet Charron was also introduced as the new designated alternate from HHSC representing the Title XIX/Medicaid programs and she has attended orientation. Jami Snyder has been designated as the representative from that program but was not in attendance. Charron, Akers-Owen, and Fielder provided background information about their positions and programs.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered.

  3. Consent Items
    Chair Durheim reviewed consent items including the minutes from the November 4, 2016, Council meeting and November 3, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting and the excused absences of Jennifer Kaut, DARS; Dana Perry; Brandon Pharris; and Ron Roberts, TEA.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the November 3, 2016, Council meeting and November 2, 2016, Committee of the Whole meeting as well as the excused absences as noted.
    MADE BY: Kris Clark
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair and Executive Director’s Report
    Chair Durheim reviewed the policy for Council member absences and asked for members who have frequent absences to consider their position and if they are still able to meet their obligations. She reported that she and Executive Director Beth Stalvey met with Gaby Fuentes of the Governor’s Appointments Office in late December and were informed that there are not many applications for the Council and several do not meet the criteria to serve. They further discussed DD Act requirements for geographic representation as well as membership that reflects the diversity of the state with respect to race and ethnicity. Outreach will continue for applicants and appointments will be considered on an ongoing basis. Members were encouraged to refer anyone who may be interested and Stalvey added that applications must be submitted to the Governor’s office, however TCDD staff are happy to answer any questions from potential applicants and assist where appropriate.

    Durheim offered congratulations to Dalun Zhang, Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development, for his recent award of an AIDD Fellowship.

    Members discussed their visits with legislators and staff at the Texas Capitol. Lora Taylor and Ruth Mason expressed their gratitude to TCDD staff for facilitating visits and preparing material about TCDD priorities. It was noted that legislative staff were receptive to employment issues and any additional data on TCDD employment projects would be helpful at future visits. Stalvey again offered staff support for any further visits or advocacy efforts that members would like to make.

    Stalvey recognized Cynthia Ellison for ten years of service and Jessica Ramos for five years of service to TCDD. She provided additional staff updates to note that Sonya Hosey is on extended medical leave and has applied for disability retirement status. Applications have been received and interviews will be conducted for vacancies in the Grants Management division. She also noted that Megan Regis is no longer employed with TCDD as a Public Policy Specialist. Two interns have been selected to work part-time with TCDD on a contract basis in the public policy and communications areas. Jeremy Cana is a senior at the University of Texas studying Government and Chris Frasquieri is a senior at St. Edwards studying Environmental Science and Policy. Stalvey also reported that due to a change in the administrative needs of the agency, Fernando Rodriguez will now serve as an Operations Assistant and will provide more general support to all divisions in addition to grants management and planning.

    Stalvey reported that the Annual Program Performance Report was submitted on December 31, 2016. She provided highlights of the FY 2016 activities that were noted in the report including:

    • Seven new executive summaries; eight new projects
    • 25 organizations conducting 28 projects
    • 15 original articles on disability related topics
    • 477 families and 15 speakers supported through stipends
    • Staff outreach at nine events to 427 people with 120 community stakeholders
    • 52% increase in Facebook and social media outreach
    • 37 transportation advocates
    • 745 involved in health and fitness projects
    • Over 150 students enrolled and supported in higher education
    • Ten new products and over 1700 trained on Supported Decision Making

    The Partners in Policymaking project has progressed to marketing to the public. Social media sites are available and the website is now live. Applications for participants will be accepted through May 1, 2017. The Project Advisory Group will assist the project team and TCDD staff members in the selection of class participants.

    TCDD recently received an upgrade of leased computer equipment with updated software, coordinated through Texas Education Agency. Staff members are expanding their use the video-conference equipment including the GoToMeeting software. The Nominating Committee meeting was conducted with this technology and received positive feedback.

    Upcoming conferences including the Disability Policy Seminar in March in Washington, DC and the NACDD Conference in July in Salt Lake City, UT. Members who wish to attend should contact Stalvey or Durheim.

  5. Election of Council Vice-Chair
    Nominating Committee Chair Rick Tisch reported on Committee discussion and the recommendation of John Thomas as Council Vice-Chair. No other nominations were offered from the Council.
    MOTION: To elect John Thomas as Council Vice-Chair.
    MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Nominating Committee. (motions from Committee do not need a second)
    The motion passed unanimously.

  6. Election of Self-Advocate Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee
    Tisch reported on Committee discussion and the recommendation to continue Michael Peace as the Self-Advocate Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee. No other nominations were offered from the Council.
    MOTION: To elect Michael Peace as Self-Advocate Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee.
    MADE BY: Rick Tisch for the Nominating Committee.
    The motion passed unanimously.

  7. Future Project Funding Priorities
    Project Development Committee Chair Cortez reported that the Committee discussed the Future Project Funding Priorities document and with no new proposed projects for the quarter, there was no change in the priority to implement projects.

  8. Disproportionalities and Disparities Discussion
    Chair Durheim reminded members that ongoing efforts to address disproportionalities and disparities will include discussions at each meeting. The focus of this quarter’s discussion centered on disparities for English Language Learners (ELL) who need and/or receive special education services.

    Public Policy Committee Chair Lora Taylor reported on that Committee discussion and Ruth Mason discussed her previous efforts to gain information on ELL students receiving special education. Mason became aware of a cultural hesitation to challenge authority so she submitted an Open Records Request to one school district in the Houston area and learned that no students in ELL classes were receiving special education services. She plans to continue investigation and advocacy on this disparity. Meagan Sumbera of Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development discussed the potential impact for all school faculty by training school administrators in social justice with the expectation for them to set the tone on the campus. It was noted that a new training center for administrators is being established in Austin and could be a potential partner to provide this type of training.

    Project Development Committee Chair Cortez reported on that Committee discussion of Senate Bill 98 which would eliminate the requirement and funding for bilingual special education services and make it optional to provide services in the primary language for schools with 20 or more students speaking that language. The Committee discussed reports of school districts denying special education services to Vietnamese speaking students and the implication that these practices are in violation of federal law. The Committee directed staff to gather additional information for future discussion.

    Executive Director Stalvey reported that in conjunction with the DD Network Partners, TCDD has applied to NACDD to participate in an academy that focuses on disparities and the application was focused on this specific topic of disparities of ELL students receiving special education.

  9. Communications and Marketing Activities Report
    Communications Director Joshua Ryf provided updates on communications activities from the past quarter. He discussed highlights of social media posts and noted that posts about cuts to Medicaid therapy rates and special education performance measures reached over 4,000 people. Ryf reviewed the marketing of grantee activities, noting that the Partners in Policymaking is now available on social media with a website that is now live and accepting applications. He reminded members that March is DD Awareness month and discussed the #SideBySideTx social media campaign where people are encouraged to share photos of individuals with disabilities participating in inclusive activities and to use the hashtag to include those photos in the campaign.

    Ryf and Executive Assistant Koren Vogel discussed Vogel’s recent trip to El Paso where she attended the Volar Center for Independent Living Conference and conducted focus groups with transition age students in the Socorro Independent School District and with adults at the Volar Center. Issues addressed in these focus groups included independent living skills, job training, and the need for better transportation, attendant care and vocational rehabilitation services.

    Ryf reviewed various activities taking place from February to April and reminded members to share ideas, promote funding opportunities, recruit Council members, and encourage others to connect with TCDD via email and social media.

  10. Executive Committee Report
    Chair Durheim reported new grant funding that was awarded during the Executive Committee meeting to SAFE Alliance, Mounting Horizons and Educational Programs Inspiring Communities, Inc. (EPIC) for Youth Leadership Development projects. Seven event stipends and two speaker stipends were awarded this quarter.

    The Committee approved two new individuals to the pool of potential Independent Review Panel members.

    Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial reports and noted that administrative expenses for FY 2017 are on track for year-to-date expenditures with 22% of the budget spent. She reviewed the Summary of Funds report and noted that the negative balance for FY 2016 funds will not remain in the negative as staff have identified grant project that will not spend all allocated funds. The negative balance for FY 2017 will also not remain because funds are held for planned projects that have not been awarded. The Executive Committee members did not express any concerns with the agency financial reports.

    The Committee reviewed Conflict of Interest disclosures and no concerns were noted.

    Members were reminded that they will soon receive notification from the Texas Ethics Commission that Personal Financial Statements for 2016 will be due at the end of April. The form is currently available at the Texas Ethics Commission website. There is a $500 fine for not submitting this information.

  11. Project Development Committee Report
    Project Development Committee Chair Cortez reported on Committee discussion of project sustainability. Staff provided information to the Committee on discussions with past grantees regarding project success, barriers, ongoing activities and sustainability. Seven projects reported continued activities and it was noted that Project DOCC of Houston which ended in FY 2010 has not only expanded but has added additional partners.

  12. Public Policy Committee Report
    Public Policy Committee Chair Taylor reported on members’ discussion of their current activities. Kris Clark discussed efforts to establish a continuing education program for adults with disabilities in the San Antonio area that is modeled after a program in Plano and is scheduled to begin in July. Public Policy Committee members also discussed Public Policy staff activities and reviewed legislation pending in the 85th Texas Legislature.

  13. State Agency Representatives Quarterly Activities Report
    Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) representative Mary Faithfull reported that DRTx is focused on the legislative session. She also noted that a revised IDEA manual is now available on the DRTx website with the Spanish translation in progress.

    Texas Center for Disability Services (TCDS) representative Zack Ahonle reported that TCDS is writing the five-year strategic plan, has established a demonstration center for the Assistive Technology lab, and is developing a program on healthy weight and systemic change in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control.

    A&M CDD representative Sumbera reported on activities within the four core functions in that program. She discussed replications of higher education models that will be implemented at ten universities in the future as part of the TCDD Higher Education Collaborative project. She also discussed a program entitled “Aggie Ability Awareness” that teaches disability history and awareness and has had a high level of interest and could be expanded to the graduate level. Sumbera also reported on the development of Person Centered Planning and Purposeful Life trainings.

    HHSC/Medicaid alternate representative Juliet Charron reported that over 160,000 children have been enrolled in the STAR Kids program since its implementation in the fall of 2016. She also noted that revisions are being made to the Community First Choice assessment to maintain consistency across programs and that the Person Centered Planning website should be up in the next two weeks. Charron noted that an updated transition plan for Home and Community Based Services was submitted to the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) on November 18, 2016 that focuses on day-habilitation services and changes to this service will be dependent on final budget appropriations.

    HHSC/Older Americans Act representative Lisa Akers-Owen noted that she is excited to be able to leverage the available supports for their programs from HHSC following their transformation from the Department of Aging and Disability Services.

    Department of State Health Services (DSHS)/Title V/Maternal Child Health alternate representative Ivy Goldstein reported that the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CHSCN) Systems Development Group continues with contracts for ongoing needs assessments, case management, and family services.

  14. Announcements and Updates
    Council members discussed dates and locations of future meetings of May 3–5, 2017 (Sheraton Georgetown), August 2-4, 2017 (Hilton Austin Airport), November 1-3, 2017 and February 7-9, 2018.


Council Chair Durheim adjourned the meeting at 12:02 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council