RSA-227 for FY-2020: Submission #1125

Kansas
09/30/2020
General Information
Designated Agency Identification
Disability Rights Center of Kansas
214 SW 6th Ave
Suite 100
Topeka
Kansas
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)
0
0
0
0
1
1
2
B. Training Activities
144
3720
DRC trained 3,720 individuals in FFY 2020 through the presentation or sharing of information at 144 events explaining DRC’s legal advocacy services and the Client Assistance Program, both of which assist individuals with disabilities who are facing employment barriers. These trainings allowed us to educate individuals with disabilities who receive or seek services under the Rehabilitation Act on the services that DRC provides and to ensure that individuals with disabilities throughout Kansas are aware of how to contact the DRC with concerns.
C. Agency Outreach
DRC engages in ongoing outreach efforts to increase awareness of our services to underserved Kansas populations. Throughout FFY 2020, DRC increased its outreach activities with Native American groups, seniors, and Latino communities, and we are planning to continue to increase these efforts in FFY 2021.
D. Information Disseminated To The Public By Your Agency
3
17
5
10
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 Kansas Reflector, Lawrence Journal-World, University of Kansas News, Topeka Capitol-Journal, The Washington Times, U.S. News, Missouri Lawyers Weekly, The Kansan, The Ottawa Herald, The Garden City Telegram, Flatland Kansas City, Kansas Public Radio, The Center for Public Integrity, The Gardner News, WIBW, and Leavenworth Times.

DRC has 5 video flyers about the rights of people with disabilities on our website, which has 46,937 hits.

DRC has 10 agency publications and brochures on several disability topics, as well as fact sheets that focus on specific disability issues.
Part II. Individual Case Services
A. Individuals served
12
21
33
1
5
B. Problem areas
2
9
13
3
0
5
0
0
C. Intervention Strategies for closed cases
26
0
0
1
2
0
29
D. Reasons for closing individuals' case files
15
8
1
0
0
3
2
0
0
0
0
0
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E. Results achieved for individuals
9
3
1
0
3
9
2
2
2
0
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Part III. Program Data
A. Age
1
1
13
18
0
33
B. Gender
19
14
33
C. Race/ethnicity of Individuals Served
3
2
1
7
0
14
1
5
D. Primary disabling condition of individuals served
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
2
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
3
12
0
0
3
1
5
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
1
33
E. Types of Individuals Served
23
0
9
1
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 two 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 post-secondary 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 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 is responding by creating a strategic plan tracking document as well as policies and procedures to ensure implementation of the recommendations. The Special Education Department of the Kansas Department of Education is working hard to incorporate and operationalize 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 parent/student guide to transition is currently being finalized and will be given to every transition age youth in special education.

The creation of this easy-to-read, summary document was important due to the fact that previously the only similar resource was a 100+ page document written at a college reading level. The new document’s core was simply 6 pages and written in plainer language at a more understandable level, providing busy parents and students with disabilities an executive summary of what they need to know about transition services and supports and special education.

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. Its reading level was significantly reduced from a previous college level to an early high school level.

The endorsement of the Transition Workgroup’s reports by the State Board of Education and the beginning of the state’s implementation of its new policies and procedures have been great successes and will contribute significantly to the improvement of transition services for Kansas students with disabilities.
B. Litigation
0
0
0
N/A
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 95% 3.79
Case Advocates 4.5 96% 4.33
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
NB is a 32-year-old with a spinal cord injury. He called DRC after Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) approved his request for vehicle modifications. Although the modifications were approved by VR, little progress was being made to get the final authorization. A DRC advocate worked with the Regional Administrator of VR to help streamline the process. NB’s modifications were completed, and he was able to continue working.

KA is 43 years old, and is paraplegic due to a spinal cord injury. She has full-time employment, but requires a specially outfitted van in order to transport herself and her chair from her home to her place of employment. When her previous vehicle became inoperable she applied for a new one through Vocational Rehab. KA was informed that her application had been approved early in March of 2020, and that it would be placed on the Department of Administration’s website to solicit bids to provide the new vehicle. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the ensuing temporary shutdown of the state government, KA did not receive an update on the status of the bid for some time. Eventually new bids began going up on the DoA website again. However, the bid to obtain her vehicle was excluded. The representative from VR who had been in charge of her application provided various excuses for the delay. After some time KA reached out to the DRC, requesting assistance in finding out what happened to the bid for her new vehicle, and to file a complaint or appeal if necessary. DRC reached out to the representative from VR, and received no response. Following that, DRC contacted multiple senior officials within the Departments of Administration and Children and Families. It was determined that the problem KA was experiencing was a direct result of a lack of communication within VR. DRC asked for a more detailed explanation of the delay in the posting of KA’s bid from VR, and threatened to file for state fair hearing, arguing that their inaction constituted a constructive denial of the original application. Due to those inquiries and the threat of formal action, the various departments altered their procedures for providing new vehicles as assistive technology, bypassing the bid process and instead contracting with one company for all such work in the future. As a result, KA was informed that this company would immediately be taking on providing her a new accessible vehicle. Additionally, because of DRC’s advocacy, future applicants for vehicles will have a more streamlined process in working with one vendor to ensure such procurements are done far more quickly and efficiently.
Certification
Approved
Rocky Nichols
Executive Director
2020-12-03
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