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Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council

3535 NW 58th Street,  Oklahoma City, OK 73112,  2nd Floor
August 19, 2010, 2010,  9:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Full Council Regular Quarterly Meeting

Members Present: Milissa Gofourth, Marilyn Burr, Glenda Farnum, Cindy Gallup, Tammie Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, Connie Lake, Hailey Mathis, Doug MacMillan, Jr., Jacki Millspaugh,  Mike O’Brien, Tim Parrish, Amy Salmon, Sabrina Ware, Sue Williams.

Members Absent: Sterling Krysler, Letha Bauter, Nancy Garner, Jon Ringlero, Perry Sanders

Associate Members Present: Melinda Fruendt, DRS VR Project  Coordinator; Jean Jones, DRS Legislative Information Representative; Kim Osmani, DRS Transition Coordinator.

Others Present: Denise North, OTI Team from Metro Tech; Sidna Madden, SILC Executive Director; Alisa Estes, DRS Field Coordinator; Bob Utley, VS Projects Coordinator; Larry Hartzell, DRS Transitions Programs Field Director.

Council Support: Theresa Hamrick, ORC Programs Manager; Kathleen Reed, DRS Commission Assistant/ORC Support; Linda Jaco, Director of Sponsored Programs, OSU Seretean Wellness Center.

Interpreters: Tonya Puryear and Patricia Mills

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

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING - Milissa Gofourth, Chair

Consumer Comments/Announcements:

No announcement, therefore, Milissa Gofourth, Chairperson, moved to action items.

Action Items:

Review to approve the May 20, 2010 ORC Quarterly Meeting Minutes. Copies of the minutes were provided in the August, 2010 ORC meeting packet.

On page 3 of the minutes extended deadline for Stimulus Money is September 30, 2011.

Motion to approve the minutes as corrected – Sabrina Ware

Motion seconded – Kathleen Kennedy

Voting aye: Majority affirmative vote.  Voting nay: None

            Motion passed.

Nomination of ORC Officers for FY11

This is the last meeting of FY10; new officers are being elected.

Members of the Nominating Committee – Sabrina Ware and Sue Williams notified the Council that Kathleen Kennedy is the only ORC member ending her term of service.

Ms. Ware presented the nomination roster recommended by the Nominating Committee

Nomination for Chair – Ms. Glenda Farnum

Nomination for Vice-Chair – Ms. Marilyn Burr

Nomination for Transition & Employment Committee Chair – Ms. Nancy Garner

Nomination for Policy & Legislative Committee Chair – Mr. Tim Parrish

Nomination for Planning & Program Evaluation Committee Chair – Ms. Milissa Gofourth

The ORC chair called for further nominations from the floor. Being no further nominations, nominations were closed. 

Election of ORC FY11 Officers

The nomination recommendations from the ORC Nominating Committee were hereby accepted and nominees were elected by acclamation.       


Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI) Team – Denise North, Director of Disabilities Services at Metro Tech. Ms. North shared her credentials. She was involved in the conception of OTI.  As disabilities director for Metro Tech, she is the transition leader of their OTI team, which includes 23 members on the Council. Two goals were set last year, one is completed, and the second is almost complete. 

  • Pre and Post survey for OKC Special Education teachers.
    • The Pre-Surveys were reviewed and collated. 
    • Post survey based on 1st surveys to determine issues.
  • Working on a Transition Guide – to meet the needs of teachers, students, and parents.

Their next meeting is scheduled for November 16, 2010. The Transition Teams meets in September and October, then every other month through the school year, then again in May for evaluation and closure of the last year’s plan. Metro Tech is working toward having two Project Search sites. One of them is with Chesapeake Energy.

Questions from the Council

Q: How many campuses does Metro Tech have? How many students with disabilities are served?

A: There are five (5) Metro Tech Sites.

  1. Spring Lake Campus: offers Health Care, Information Technology, Child Care and Law Enforcement. 
  2. South Bryant Campus: offers Information Technology, Auto Body, Drafting, Three-D gaming, Cosmetology (for students), and Culinary Arts.
  3. Beauty Academy (for adults)
  4. Metro Career Academy (across from Spring Lake Campus)

This is a new campus opening in October, 2010 that will include the Drop Out Recovery Academy, the alternative school for Crooked Oak and the Overflow School for Oklahoma City.

  1. Downtown Campus: These are the short term, industry specific training.

Metro Tech serves approximately 120 Special Needs 11th and 12th grade students.

Committee Reports:

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Executive Committee Report – Milissa Gofourth, ORC Chair

Ms. Gofourth reviewed the written ORC Executive Committee Report, which is provided in the August 2010 ORC Meeting packet.

Ms. Gofourth is part of the Institute for Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) that is working on a final booklet publication of how SRCs are partnering effectively with the state agencies. The IRI is looking at the mandates of the law, especially Rehabilitation Law -105 – and the departmental mandates.

Transition & Employment (T&E) – Nancy Garner, Committee Chair

Due to the absence of Ms. Garner, Ms. Hamrick reviewed the written ORC T&E Committee Report, which is provided in the August, 2010 ORC Meeting Packet.

Suggestion from the Council

Doug MacMillan suggested sharing the T&E project with 211 and recruiting sponsors by offering to put their logo on the folders.  This will aid is curbing distribution expenses.

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

Ms. Farnum reviewed the written ORC Policy & Legislative Committee Report, which is provided in the August, 2010 ORC Meeting Packet.

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

Ms. Burr reviewed the written ORC Planning & Program Committee Report, which is provided in the August, 2010 ORC meeting packet.

Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) Update 

DRS Directors’ Report – Dr. Michael O’Brien, DRS Director

DRS EXPO:  DRS EXPO was successful.  The event was hosted by the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee. Over 500 people attended the event and more than 200 attended the classes. The purpose of the EXPO is to introduce the Tribes, the Partners, and the Vendors to the community that was received very well. The event will be held in October in 2011 due to DRS schedules.

WINGS TRAINING:  WINGS training will prepare in-house staff for future promotions. DRS is partnering with the University of Arkansas Training Program to provide the training. We are also partnering with the State of Texas who are providing eleven mentors that have graduated from this leadership program and went on to become managers. They are now working with candidates currently in the program as part of this development program.

DRS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Administrator:  Interviews for the VR Administrator are complete and will be announced at a later date. A national search went out for the position; but based on the salary no out-of-state candidates applied.   In other states, the Directors’ salaries are higher than the Directors’ salaries in Oklahoma, which are frozen by the legislature. DRS is one of the 10 largest rehabilitation agencies in America, but we are in the bottom 10 when it comes to Director’s salary. DRS staff has not received a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) in seven years. The DRS VR Division now has 1100 VR staff members.  We are the 9th largest program in Oklahoma government but the Director’s salary is below 30th and is $6,000 a year below median of state Director’s in this state. Salary has to be challenged through the legislature so DRS can compete nationwide.  Due to salary DRS has no applicants for several position that need to be filled. 

DINE’ Training:  State and Tribal Partnership and Collaboration Training (DINE’ Training) has been completed.  Statutes allow DRS and the Tribes to share VR cases, which allow joint credit for the closure.  Due to cultural issues, the sharing of cases decreased over the years.  With this training it is hoped there will be at least 1,000 more co-shared cases each year.

Servant Leadership Training:  After a year, the first phase of Servant Leadership Training has been completed by 700+ DRS staff members. However, it is not rolling out as expected in middle management areas.  So retraining is scheduled. It will be a 2-day training this fall, in a retreat environment for more intense training, for the DRS Programs Managers.

DRS Budget:  There were no reductions for DRS. Director O’Brien, Kevin Nelson, DRS Legislative Liaison; and Cheryl Gray, Chief Financial Officer; are preparing the FY12 budget.

Many states have had to give back Federal funds due to their State not being able to come up with full State match money.   DRS was not able to provide $600,000 in state dollars, which means $2.5 to $3.0 million federal dollars were returned to the federal government.

Number of Closures:  Numbers are up in terms of performance from last year. 

CRC Board:  The CRCC Board that certifies rehabilitation counselors, has added a new category that will allow master level professionals to become certified counselors.  This will be beneficial to DRS. It allows for select alternative Degrees to apply for certification if they complete a post graduate certificate in Rehabilitation.  This will allow 24 to 28 DRS staff to advance if they so choose.

Rehabilitation Act:  The Rehab Act will not be acted on this session.  It was mentioned for review in January or February of 2011.

National Rehabilitation Counselor Association (NRCA):  Will be holding their conference in Oklahoma City this October. Oklahoma has brought three national conferences to Oklahoma City in the last 12 months, which gives DRS Counselors the opportunity to attend these national conferences.  

            Vocational Rehabilitation Division Report – David Couch, Acting VR Administrator was not in attendance, therefore, Director O’Brien covered this division in his report.

Visual Service (VS) Division Report – Jane Nelson, VS Administrator, was absent, therefore, Bob Utley, VS Project Coordinator, reported in her absence.

  • Bright Futures in Transition (BFIT) Program took place this summer with 18 VR and VS students.
  • The Adult Blind Learning Experience (ABLE), is held at OSB annually. This has been and will continue to be one of the best VS programs. The rehab teachers involved in this program spend a great deal of one-on-one time with consumers. Only 12 participate in this program and they have traditionally been Older Blind consumers.  This summer, one week was set aside for younger participants which was well received.
  • VS is on track of meeting their closure goals for the year.
  • Formulation of Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (OLBPH) Advisory Group:  A regional representative from the National Library Services visited OLBPH. One of the recommendations was that OLBPH formulate a Library Advisory Group (a group made up of library patrons who would make recommendations for improvement of library services). The staff at OLBPH has been invited many times to national meetings.  Ms Nelson is always open to ideas on how VS can provide better services to people who are blind and visually impaired.

Combined VR/VS Field Coordinator Report– Alisa Estes, VR Field Coordinator

            The VR and VS Field Coordinator Report are both available as is a Combined VR/VS Field Coordinator Report in the August, 2010 ORC meeting Packet.

            Ms. Estes reviewed the Combined VR/VS Report. Highlights of this report:

  • Right now VR/VS are excited about being able to reach their annual goal. Currently VR has 154 closures and VS has 374 closures. We are at the 77% of the goal of 2250 closures.
  • Projections for the next 3 years are looking good. There have been 177 applications taken so far this year. Average case loads are currently at 140 cases per counselor. We are looking at an increase in this average.
  • Ms. Estes had a discussion with Director O’Brien regarding decentralizing the offices at Shepherd Mall, so a project began to put DRS offices back into the community. One year later :
    • East side office, which is actually an expansion of the Midwest City office, is open and running for the general staff and transition staff.
    • South side office will be located at 8001 S. I 35 Service Road and is scheduled to open in September 2010. This should be one of the higher producing offices because this population has not yet been tapped into. Seven of the Shepherd Mall staff members have been relocated to this office.
    • North side office hopefully will be located in the Edmond area and be open by Christmas. The challenge has been to finding a facility within the state rental allowance.
    • West side office is in the future. There was an office on the west side before and this was one of the highest producing offices.  We are looking for a facility to accommodate staff, but, there again; the biggest problems are money for location and transportation availability.  DRS may be using taxi services more in the west and north side areas.
    • The Metro office at Shepherd Mall in Central Oklahoma is not being closed. There will still be 13 staff members in that location, along with the Benefit Planner Services, Assistive Technology Lab, VS Units that will remain open.

Question from the Council

Q. What is the time frame for counselors regarding cases?

A. The Counselor has 60 days to determine eligibility, The time from eligibility to plan is 90 days.  Most counselors complete eligibility in 20 days.

Q. What about vacant caseloads?

A. In Ms. Estes’ area there 5 vacancies (4 in Oklahoma City area were the turnover significant). As Director O’Brien mentioned DRS is having a difficult time with recruitment. The potential candidates list is shallow. Candidates are not staying in Oklahoma because of salary offers. Good counselors are not being offered higher, competitive salaries. 

Q. How is turnover affecting caseloads? 

A. Turnover is a great factor – part from retirement, part from promotions within the agency. Makes it tough on the remaining counselors.

Q. How is Oklahoma going to keep up?

A. DRS is now being able to announce posted positions in the newspapers but, when it comes to Counselor pay and Administrative pay, Oklahoma is at the bottom of the barrel.  Oklahoma has a lot of hurdles when it comes to pay. ORC will need to help pressure the legislators regarding salaries as Director O’Brien reported.

Legislative Report – Jean Jones, DRS Legislative Information Officer

Ms Jones commented that the Legislature will have little to do with any salaries other than that of the agency Director.  The stage is that the Directors salary will need to be dealt with to really make a case.  The question is how does the Director’s salary compare with other agencies throughout the State and how does it compare with other Rehabilitation Directors nationally.   This information is important to have when you start talking facts and figures. The ORC should be provided with this information in order to pursue this issue. The other issue is that other agency salaries are dealt with through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), they are the entity to deal with when it comes to pay bands and salary amounts.  Of course, the legislators could put some pressure and submit some directives on this. The agency Human Resources Unit could do some footwork on this issue as well.

Legislative Issues: Highlights:

We are currently out of session. State Legislative Interim studies are now going on.  Some of these studies surfaced due to new legislation. There are a few studies that may result in new legislation.

  • One has to do the education for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Larry Hawkins, Superintendent for the Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSB) and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf (OSD) will be involved in these studies and be submitting data and input to these studies. There are always a lot of questions concerning both schools.
  • HB3035 to consolidation agencies was passed and should be effective this school year.  One of the pieces of the bill is the consolidation of DRS and the Client Assistant Program. Representative Chris Steele requested this study and he will probably be the next speaker of the House.  There are many issues surrounding this consolidation. The study will look at cost, advantages, and potential of each agency.
  • HB3393 passed. It is now law and should be implemented this year. It involves scholarships for students with disabilities to be paid for with public state and local dollars that currently go to public schools for the education of students with disabilities.  Legislators want more consideration of the implementation of this piece of legislation. What will this do to public funding regarding educating students with disabilities. Once the scholarship funds are skimmed off the public education budget the IEP is moot, that makes this bill controversial.

Statewide Independent Living Council   (SILC) Report – Sidna Madden, SILC Executive Director:  Ms. Madden became SILC Executive Director 6-22-10, her report:

  • Attended the NCIL Conference in Washington DC, Ms. Hamrick has really been helpful in providing information regarding the role of SILC Executive Director and, even shared her room at the NCIL Conference.
  • SILC is partnering  with ORC as a sponsor for the Candidate Forum
  • SILC is also co-sponsoring the ORC Advocacy Training
  • SILC’s new office is located at Landmark Towers, 3535 NW 58th Street, Suite 480, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  It is now furnished and open for business.

Program Manager Report - Theresa Hamrick.  Ms. Hamrick reviewed the written Program Manager’s report provided in the August 2010 ORC meeting packet.  

  • New poster for ORC more modern with great colors and updated information.

Other Business:  Council Members Appointments:  Each ORC member serves a two 3-year term, then sits out for a year before becoming eligible to reapply on the Council.  The only person rotating off is Kathleen Kennedy. Ms. Hamrick thanked Ms. Kennedy for serving on the ORC. She is a true advocate for ORC and people with disabilities.  Ms. Kennedy will continue to keep her foot in the door and will continue to speak for people with disabilities.

New Business:  None

Closing Announcements:

Ms. Hamrick thanked Ms. Gofourth for all her hard work as Chair of ORC and welcomed Ms. Farnum at the new ORC chair.  Ms. Gofourth complemented Ms. Hamrick for the work she does for ORC and for her participation in WINGS.

Hadley School is partnering with the Department of Rehabilitation in Florida and Texas to provide direct client Assistive Technology Training. They are also providing as many as 8 CRC credit hours to Certified Rehabilitation Counselors.

Remember to send out the Advocacy Conference announcement to individuals, vendors, and agencies who may be interested.

Adjournment: Meeting was adjourned at 1:25 pm. 

Next ORC Quarterly Meeting is scheduled for November 18, 2010, same location.

New chairpersons and new committees will be take effect at that time.