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RSA-227 for FY-2021: Submission #1170

Kansas
09/30/2021
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Center of Kansas
214 SW 6th Ave
Suite 100
Topeka
KS
66612
https://www.drckansas.org
785-273-9661
877-776-1541
877-335-3725
Operating Agency (if different from Designated Agency)
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Additional Information
Rocky Nichols
Rocky Nichols
785-273-9661
rocky@drckansas.org
Part I. Non-case Services
A. Information and Referral Services (I&R)
2
0
0
0
2
4
8
B. Training Activities
183
5028
DRC trained 5,028 individuals in FFY 2021 through the presentation or sharing of information at 183 events explaining DRC’s legally-based advocacy services and the Client Assistance Program, both of which assist individuals with disabilities who are facing employment barriers. The purpose of these trainings is to educate individuals with disabilities who receive or seek services under the Rehabilitation Act about the services that DRC provides and to ensure that individuals with disabilities throughout Kansas are aware of how to contact the DRC to request our P&A services. Those who attended these outreach events included persons with disabilities, family members, service providers, advocates and Kansas Rehabilitation Services (KRS) employees. Some of the presentation sites included Independent Living Centers, Consumer Run Organizations, Community Development Disability Organizations, Community Mental Health Centers, stakeholder groups, disability coalitions, self-advocacy groups and provider agencies serving individuals with a broad range of disabilities who are CAP eligible.
C. Agency Outreach
DRC engages in ongoing outreach efforts to increase awareness of our services to underserved Kansas populations. Throughout FFY 2021, DRC continued to increased its outreach activities with Native American groups, seniors, and Latino communities, and we are planning to continue to increase these efforts in FFY 2022.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
3
18
30
47
3
0
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E. Information Disseminated About Your Agency By External Media Coverage
DRC staff appeared on 3 TV or radio reports.

DRC was interviewed or quoted in the following newspapers, magazines, and journals throughout the year including the Topeka Capitol-Journal, Kansas City Star, Shawnee Mission Post, The Wichita Eagle, University Press of Kansas, Iowa Capital Dispatch, Kansas Reflector, Lawrence Journal-World, Fort Scott Biz, The News Tribune, Sabetha Herald, AARP Press Room, Member Station KCUR-NPR, Kansas Public Radio, and WIBW.

DRC has 30 video flyers about the rights of people with disabilities on our website, with a cumulative total of over 10,178 views.

DRC has 47 agency publications, brochures and fact sheets on several disability topics.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
5
14
19
1
5
B. Problem areas
1
6
5
2
0
6
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
10
0
0
0
5
0
15
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
6
5
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
{Empty}
E. Results achieved for individuals
2
2
0
0
4
4
0
3
0
0
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Part III. Program Data
A. Age
1
1
2
14
1
19
B. Gender
15
4
19
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
1
0
1
1
0
11
3
2
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
12
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
19
E. Types of Individuals Served
14
0
5
0
0
0
Part IV. Systemic Activities and Litigation
A. Non-Litigation Systemic Activities
1
This year, DRC Kansas’ systems change example builds upon the work we reported in the PPRs from the last few years. If you recall, DRC Kansas had previously worked to establish the Employment Systems Change (ESC) Coalition, which conducted a statewide survey of 1,700 Kansans with disabilities and their agency and natural supports. This survey identified numerous significant shortcomings regarding post-secondary transition services and supports in Kansas schools. DRC Kansas took the results of this survey and worked with educators, school administrators, parents and people with disabilities to identify problems and barriers that students with disabilities face in navigating the postsecondary transition process.

Disability and students' rights advocates had known for years that problems and barriers were preventing Kansas from having the most effective post-secondary transition program possible. Unfortunately, in spite of everyone's best efforts, the ESC Coalition survey data showed that serious improvements were needed in the area of post-secondary transition.

To identify these opportunities for improvement, a Transition Workgroup was established under the authority of the Chairman of the State Board of Education, Jim Porter. Chairman Porter recruited DRC's Executive Director, Rocky Nichols, to serve as the Co-Chair of the Transition Workgroup. Among other things, this Transition Workgroup identified the obstacles and barriers limiting Kansas students with disabilities before and after they go through post-secondary transition.
The Workgroup worked long and hard to recruit a wide variety of stakeholders to join as members. The 45 members of the Transition Workgroup includes state agencies, educators, administrators, self-advocates, parents, disability advocates, legislators, and Kansas experts in the field of post-secondary transition.

The Workgroup met and spent a considerable amount of time discussing the major challenges facing students with disabilities as they transition from school to adult life (including employment, community settings, independent living, etc.). After learning from the experts, including self-advocates and parents of young adults who have gone through transition, the group outlined six areas of need and split into six subcommittees to continue its work.

The six subcommittees of the Transition Workgroup are as follows:
1. Improving the transition process for all students with disabilities
2. Examining current transition outcomes and data and making improvements in future outcomes and data
3. Delivering on the promise of Employment First to ensure transition to real jobs, at real wages, in real places (focus on competitive and integrated employment)
4. Improving coordination, resources and communication in the system enabling transition (VR, Schools, State Agencies, Disability Service Providers, etc.)
5. Better supporting students toward obtaining post-secondary education and training
6. Documents subcommittee – to draft a condensed student/parent’s guide which will better explain transition services and supports in Kansas

DRC staff members participated in all six subcommittees, and also supported the workgroup by providing/arranging for meeting space, coordinating communications about the meetings, and sharing materials with workgroup members.

As merely one example of a problem with post-secondary transition, according to the ESC Coalition survey data, 40% of Kansas students with an IEP reported that their IEP stated that they needed to transition to a sheltered workshop, where they would make less than minimum wage. One of the subcommittee’s focused on Employment First (Subcommittee 2), and they identified the issue of sheltered workshops/subminimum wage being presented as a first option over competitive, integrated employment for students transitioning out of high school.

The recommendations by the Workgroup were presented by Jim Porter to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education accepted each of the recommendations and responded by creating policies and procedures to be enacted. They have been working with the Special Education Department of the Kansas Department of Education to incorporate these recommendations in order to make improvements in how transition services operate in the state of Kansas.

Part of the process in operationalizing these new policies and procedures was the development of a strategic planning and tracking document by the Kansas Department of Education and the Commissioner to address the problems and barriers identified by the Workgroup.

The 6th subcommittee of the Workgroup created a guide for every parent and student of transition age that explained their rights in regards to transition services and supports. The staff from the Kansas Department of Education accepted and modified this document. This resource document for parents and students has now been published and is being provided to students and parents statewide.

The creation of this document was important due to the fact that previously, the only similar resource in Kansas was a 100+ page document written at a college reading level. The new document’s core was simply 6 pages and written in plain language at a more understandable reading level, providing busy parents and students with disabilities an executive summary of what they need to know about transition services and supports. An unexpected but additional benefit of this document was that it inspired the State Department of Education to rewrite their 100+ page document in plain language. The reading level of the 100+ page document was also significantly reduced from a previous college level to an early high school level, making it far more readable.

Because the State Board of Education accepted the problems shared by the Workgroup, the changes that they make will help to break down barriers to employment for students with disabilities who are transitioning out of high school. Breaking down barriers to employment and ensuring the right to an effective transition from high school to adult life for youth with disabilities benefits this P&A program and all P&A programs. Additionally, thanks to these efforts Special Education in Kansas now focuses on competitive, integrated employment as the top outcome for students of transition age. This is consistent with the goal of this P&A program and all P&A programs. This will ensure that far more Kansans with disabilities are employed in competitive, integrated settings.

Following the State Board of Education’s acceptance of each of the recommendations by the Transition Workgroup, Jim Porter asked DRC to serve on a new task force put together to build on the adopted recommendations of the Transition Workgroup. The goal of this new taskforce was to identify problems and concerns regarding the overuse of restraint and seclusion in Kansas schools and the resulting negative impacts it has on students when transitioning. The taskforce was made up of a handful of members in addition to DRC, including parents, school administrators, special education professionals, disability professionals, and teachers. This Seclusion and Restraint taskforce built on the success of the Transition Workgroup.

The Seclusion and Restraint taskforce met and spent time identifying problems in the way Kansas schools use restraint and seclusion and how these tactics act as a clear and quantitative impediment to successful transition for students with an IEP. The taskforce examined the dangerous and potentially deadly nature of restraint and seclusion, noting that too often school staff are using these tactics as a first step in behavioral situations rather than as a last resort. Additionally, the group focused on the troubling impacts that students who are subjected to restraint and seclusion can experience, including but not limited to emotional trauma like PTSD, physical trauma, and other complications. While restraint and seclusion practices can, and do, affect all students, students with a disabilities are disproportionately subjected to the tactics and as a result are more likely to suffer the lasting negative consequences.

Pursuant to State Board of Education’s request, the Seclusion and Restraint taskforce made further recommendations to the Chair (Jim Porter). The recommendations included increased training, increased technical assistance, and other measures to stop schools from inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion. These measures will help remedy the problem of inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in Kansas schools and in turn will break down more barriers to successful transition, ultimately helping CAP-eligible Kansans obtain employment.

The Chair of the State Board of Education (Jim Porter) has taken the recommendations of the Seclusion and Restraint taskforce to staff at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The staff at KSDE have worked up an action plan on how to address the concerns raised by the Seclusion and Restraint taskforce. The Executive Director of the P&A worked directly with the KSDE staff to identify ways to improve their action plan. KSDE staff were responsive to the ideas from the Kansas P&A, and are working to incorporate these ideas in the action plan. The P&A anticipates that the KSDE staff will finalize their action plan and begin to make progress on addressing the concerns of the Seclusion and Restraint taskforce during FFY 2022.
B. Litigation
1
1
0
DRC staff has no on-going systemic non-class action lawsuits.
Part V. Agency Information
A. Designated Agency
External-Protection and Advocacy agency
Disability Rights Center of Kansas
No
N/A
B. Staff Employed
Type of position FTE % yr filled Person-years
Executive Director 1 100% 1
Deputy Director - Administrative Division 1 100% 1
Deputy Director - Legal Division 1 100% 1
Director of Policy & Outreach 1 100% 1
Case Attorneys 4 100% 4
Case Advocates 4.5 100% 4.5
Office Assistant 1 100% 1
Communications & Outreach Director 1 100% 1

Explanation of Duties for all Positions:

Executive Director - Overall leader and director of the agency. Administrative head of the agency. Employs staff (hires/fires). Ensures accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of agency’s programs and services.

Deputy Director - Administrative Division - Responsible for accounting, bookkeeping, accounts receivable & payable, building and lease issues, human resources, etc. Supervises the Office Assistant and Communications & Outreach Director.

Deputy Director - Legal Division - Responsible for legal work product of the agency. Supervises the staff attorneys and advocates. Carries an active caseload. Prosecutes cases.

Director of Policy & Outreach - Responsible for performance of work directly relating to the management policies or general business operations of DRC or its customers.

Case Attorneys - Provide legal representation.

Case Advocates - Provide advocacy representation and case advocacy.

Office Assistant - Answers phones, does office and administrative tasks, etc.

Communications & Outreach Director - Manages the tasks associated with outreach, communications/public relations, marketing/publications, and certain administrative office functions of the agency.
Part VI. Case Examples
Case Examples
KA is a 37 year old who has lower extremity paraplegia and uses a power wheelchair. She contacted DRC because the vocational rehabilitation agency was not working to approve her vehicle modifications in a timely manner. All requests such as this had to go through a cumbersome bureaucratic process, involving more than one state agency which created needless delays in approving modifications that are part of a consumer’s Individual Plan for Employment (IPE). The needless delay was a significant barrier to KA being able to work because she had no transportation without the modifications. A DRC attorney and advocate convinced the state to overhaul the process for vehicle modification approvals so requests were administratively approved much more quickly. KA’s vehicle modifications were completed in a timely manner following intervention from DRC staff, and she was able to maintain her employment. Perhaps more importantly, thanks to the P&As advocacy, the State of Kansas agreed to completely overhaul and streamline its process for vehicle modification approvals, which will greatly help thousands of Kansans with disabilities from this point forward.

JS is 38 years old and has diagnoses of ADD and Anxiety Disorder. She contacted DRC after her VR counselor retired and her new VR case manager was not responding to her request to finish drafting her IPE and implement its approved services. A DRC advocate informed JS about her legal rights and worked with JS on self-advocacy strategies for her to use when she met with VR. Using these strategies, JS convinced VR to include the services in her IPE that she would need to obtain employment, including tuition, tutoring, supplies, therapy services, medication reimbursement, etc.
Certification
Approved
Rocky Nichols
Executive Director
2021-12-27
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