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Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

Department of Rehabilitation Services
2nd Floor Conference Room
3535 NW 58th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112
February 18, 2010, 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Full Council Regular Quarterly Meeting

Members Present: Milissa Gofourth, Sterling Krysler, Marilyn Burr,  Glenda Farnum, Nancy Garner, Tammie Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, Jacki Millspaugh, Mike O’Brien, Tim Parrish, Jon Ringlero, Amy Salmon, Perry Sanders, Sabrina Ware, Sue Williams.

Members Absent: Cindy Gallup, Hailey Mathis, Doug MacMillan, Jr.

Others Present:Carl Cobb, Bonnie Allen, VR Counselor; Letha Bauter State Department of Education; Melinda Fruendt, DRS VR Projectors Coordinator; Goli Dunkle, Division Administrator of Management Services Division; Lori Estep, DVR Field Coordinator; David Couch, Acting DVR Administrator; Kim Osmani, Transition Coordinator

Council Support:
Theresa Hamrick, ORC Programs Manager
Kathleen Reed, DRS Commission Assistant/ORC Support

Interpreters: Darine Stallings & Hazel Puryear

Call to order and Roll Call: The meeting was called to order at 9:30 am, the roll was called and a quorum was established by Milissa Gofourth, Chairperson.

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING - Milissa Gofourth, Chair

Consumer Comments/Announcements:

Being none, Milissa Gofourth, Chairperson, moved to action items

Action Items:

A copy of the ORC November 19, 2009 Minutes is provided in the February ORC 2010 Meeting packet.

            Motion to approve the November 19, 2009 ORC Minutes to accept as submitted – Marilyn Burr

            Motion seconded by Sabrina Ware

Voting aye – Milissa Gofourth, Sterling Krysler, Letha Bauter, Marilyn Burr, Glenda Farnum, Nancy Garner, Kathleen Kennedy, Tim Parrish, Jon Ringlero, Amy Salmon, Perry Sanders, Sabrina Ware,

Voting nay: None. Motion passed.


Oklahoma Transition Institute Team - Bonnie Allen, DRS VR Specialist provided a report on her Frances Tuttle Career Tech Transition Teams’ activities.

In an effort to focus on the needs of Special Education High School seniors and their parents, and Career Tech Adult Students a Transition Fair, was held on Tuesday, February 9, 2010.  Information was provided from various community organizations and resources.

  • Project Search is a partnership event with DRS and Mercy Hospital which provides internship opportunities at the hospital.   

Committee Reports:

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Executive Committee Report – Milissa Gofourth,

Ms. Gofourth reviewed the written ORC Executive Committee Report which was provided in the meeting packet.

Transition & Employment (T&E) – With the resignation of Anita Eccard, Committee Chair, Ms. Gofourth will serve as Interim Chair for this Committee. Ms Gofourth reviewed the written report T&E Committee Report which was provided in the meeting packet.

Policy & Legislative Committee (P&L) – Glenda Farnum, Committee Chair

Ms. Farnum reviewed the written ORC Policy & Legislative Committee Report which was provided in the meeting packet.

Planning & Program Committee (P&P) – Marilyn Burr, Committee Chair

Ms. Burr reviewed the written ORC Planning & Program Committee Report which was provided in the meeting packet

  • Ms. Burr conducted a mandatory webinar for DRS.  Reviews were favorable with the exception that some did not care for webinar training format.  The Power Point is available and has been utilized by counselors that found it helpful.
Department of Rehabilitation Services Update

DRS Directors’ Report - Dr. Mike O’Brien, DRS Director 

Budget Reductions - Director O’Brien reported that 5% per month has been reduction in State appropriations since July, 2009 and 10% reduction since December, 2009.  By July 30, 2010, $3.8 million federal matching funds will have been lost and the future does not seem any better.  Budget reductions may increase to 17% or even as high as 20%, but not before May, 2010.  Legislators have promised, because DRS receives federal funding, State match cuts will not come until the last minute.  Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services (VR/VS) have a large carryover, therefore, they will not be affected by these reductions. Only in the last week are daily expenditures where they should be, this should be okay until July 2010.  At that time Priority Group 3 may have to be closed.  The large carryover from the past fiscal year has allowed VR/VS to operate without the $7.5 million of the Stimulus money which has not yet been spent.  The Oklahoma School for the Deaf and the Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSD/OSD) have faced the deepest cuts and have real challenges, but they should be okay until the fall of 2010. The Disability 

  • Determination Division has received an increase in federal funding to become a regional disability determination hub. 
  • RSA Issues - Director O’Brien has met with the new Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner, she indicated the proposal to move RSA under the Department Of Labor has been taken off the table. 
  • Several independent rehabilitation projects such as Native American Rehabilitation grants, Supported Employment, Migrant Seasonal Farm Workers, Project with Industry, etc. maybe rolled into the Title I funding.  This is the same Title that VR services are funded. 
  • There will be no Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for this year. 
  • Ms. Hope Crumley, VR Specialist, has been appointed to the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). Ms. Kim Osmani, DRS Transitions Coordinator has been appointment, as has Director O’Brien, to the Transition Committee for CSAVR and will be presenting the Oklahoma transition program to the national CSAVR.
  • Deaf Caucus Meetings - In the next four months deaf caucus meetings, in partnership with mental health services, will be held.  Mental Health and deaf or hard of hearing consumers will attend to share their concerns.  DRS is planning to take the information obtained at these meetings and create a future plan for DRS. 
  • DRS Claim Closures - The positive VR changes are an increase in VR applications and plans. Client case decision making authority has been given back to the VR counselors. Currently all priority groups remain open.  On the negative side, DRS has been unsuccessful at employment outcomes which are lower than last year.  On-the-Job Training are not being utilized at the hoped.  , DRS counselors are not connecting with the Native American Tribes for co-shared cases and are not accepting tribal decisions on eligibility or IPE.  Mr. David Couch will be working with the counselors to improve this relationship.  Committing to a partnership with the Native American Tribes is a good opportunity for DRS. Performance must be improved in order to change the culture. 
  • DRS Program Managers - The Servant Leadership Style has being rolled out to all DRS Administrators and DRS Middle Managers. However, there has been a problem with reaching the Program Managers. Plans are being proposed to reinstitute Servant Leadership Style to Program Managers and others. Training in budgeting and decision making will be included. 
  • Ms. Karen Dunn is in charge of a new Innovation Leadership training.  Additionally, the agency is looking at how to develop a mentoring program.
  • Retirement of DRS DVR Administrator and OSB Superintendent - the DRS VR Division Administrator and OSB Superintendent have both retired. Mr. Larry Hawkins, OSD Superintendent, is currently serving as Superintendent of both schools.  Mr. David Couch, DRS Chief of Staff, is the Acting VR Division Administrator. Both positions will not be filled until at least August 2010.  The vacant VR Field Coordinator position will not be filled until a new VR Administrator is hired.  Currently, Alissa Proctor is temporarily filling this position.

DRS VR/VS – David Couch, DRS Chief of Staff and Acting VR Division Administrator.

  • Decentralizing of Metro Offices - Statewide, DRS is struggling on closures. However, the rural offices are not struggling and are more consistent with closure numbers.  It seems that once the metro areas centralized offices, services declined.  Now there is a proposal to decentralize and put services back into the local communities and into the local schools for easier accessibility.  The timeframe for the decentralizing is as follows:
  • Midwest City is already in the process of decentralizing. 
  • For the OKC area, in Edmond there is a prospective building that can be shared with VR and Business Enterprise Program (BEP).  This looks promising for the North side office.
  • On the Westside of town, DRS is looking at the Warr Acres/Bethany area.
  • On the South side there is a property next to the DRS Career Evaluation Center. There is a proposal to add on to this existing structure. 
  • Some of these changes could be in place by May, 2010. The others could be in place by the end of this calendar year.  Some of the offices in Shepherd Mall will be closed.
  • DRS Moral and Production Problems - there are some serious morale and production problems in the field. When you have more than half of the Programs Managers working way below standards some things are definitely wrong.  There are some counselors that show zero applications and zero closures.  Standards and Indicators indicate closures are the real concern at this point. Carol Ann Washburn, a consultant that DRS has used for several years is coming to address some of these problems. She specializes in correcting production and personnel matters.  
  • Melinda Fruendt has been a key person in recognizing some of the problems identified for farmers and ranchers. Several people are involved in the future plans for farmers and ranchers with disabilities. 
  • Partnering - with Native American Tribal Programs last year DRS co-shared in less than half of the tribal closures.  The Stimulus money has allowed DRS to share in funding grants to Mental Health and some of the tribes.  Additionally, the Veterans Administration (VA) has been approached to share cases. 
  • The two forms from ORC have been approved by Director O’Brien to put into Application for Eligibility packet.

Legislative Report – David Couch, DRS Acting VR Division Administrator explained Jean Jones, Legislative Information Officer, has been recovering from surgery and working from home. She furnished an updated Legislative Report that Mr. Couch presented in her absence.

  • State Legislative Deadlines for 2010 was provided.
  • One measure is the vouchering of funds for people who are sending their children with disabilities to private schools.   
  • A measure to buyout early retirements. If a person takes an early buyout that persons position cannot be filled for at least six months.  This could affect client services. 

Combined VR/VS Field Coordinators’ Report – Lori Estep, VR Field Services Coordinator Ms. Estep reviewed the Combined VR/VS Field Coordinators’ Report (Handout #2) provided in the meeting packet.  She reminded everyone that the opening and closing of priority groups affects these statistics.  Sabrina Ware, ORC member requested the report show the status of code 18’s through code 26’s

Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) Report – Perry Sanders, SILC Representative.  Mr. Sanders commented that the Hadley partnership in Texas teaches JAWS usage. This has been a very successful “Train the Trainer” program.

  • January 22, 2010 SILC held its regular quarterly meeting.
  • SILC will have a display table at the People with Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol on April 7, 2010.
  • SILC will partner with ORC regarding the upcoming Advocacy Conference.
  • SILC signed a contract for office space at the DRS state office building, 4th floor.
  • There are three candidates for the SILC Executive Director positions. Interviews are being conducted today.
  • SILC is working with the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and the DRS in planning Public Hearings to be held in various areas of the state during the month of March, 2010. The Public Hearings are to obtain public input for the development of the SILC State Plan. 

Program Manager Report - Theresa Hamrick.  Ms. Hamrick reviewed the written Program Manager’s report provided in the meeting packet.  Members were reminded of the April 8th ORC Strategic Plan to be held at the Moore-Norman Career Technology Center, South Penn Campus.

Other Business:

Strategic Planning Date – April 8, 2010

Support Quality Customer Service

This has already been discussed in meetings with Director O’Brien, DRS Field Coordinators, and DRS Counselors.

Amy Salmon, ORC member asked if there is a mechanism to file complains, as well as a mechanism to file praises and good comments. Has the idea of putting up a Facebook page or Twitter page for people to share their stories been explored? Milissa Gofourth explained that  any consumer is welcome to come to an ORC meeting and share their story or to write their story and send it to ORC. Theresa Hamrick will check into the Facebook and Twitter suggestions and report back.

The Advocacy Training

The Advocacy Training will be held on September 10, 2010, all day, at the Reed Center on Sooner Road.  Invitations will go out including OSD, OSB, NOMI, NAPVI.  The facility is fully accessible. Hold the Date announcements will be available the ORC booth for Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol.  

Transportation will be planned, organized and available. Metro-lift will be contacted, John Ringlero shared that his tribe has a bus available. DRS Counselors can email, call, or mail invitations to their clients.

F3R form

The Secretary of State requires these forms to be signed annually and sent in. If any ORC member has not completed this form please contact Theresa.

New Business 

Being no new business, Ms. Gofourth entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting.     


Motion to adjourn the meeting – Perry Sanders

Seconded by Kathleen Kennedy

            Voting aye – Majority affirmative vote with a quorum present.

            Voting nay - None

Motion passed.

Meeting adjourned at 1:35 pm.  Next  meeting in scheduled for  May 20, 2010 at the Department of Rehabilitation Services, 2nd floor Conference Room, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112