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FLORIDA REHABILITATION COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND (FRCB)
QUARTERLY MEETING MINUTES

Doubletree Hotel Tallassee
101 s. adams street
tallahassee, FL  32311

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meeting called to order at 8:15 AM with the pledge of allegiance following roll call.

Council Members Present:  (14)

Bruce Miles, Michael Wiseman, Robert Kelly, Donté Mickens, Sandra Martin, Lenora Marten, Ben Grzesik, Gloria Mills, Sheryl Brown, Dan O’Connor, Vicky Magliocchino, Leanne Grillot, Charles Brooks and Robert Doyle, Director. 

Council Members Present via Teleconference: (4)

Jesus Garcia, Patricia Lipovsky, Joe Minichiello, Sylvia Perez

Council Members Absent: (1)

Dwight Sayer

Council Staff: (1)

Alise Fields

DBS Staff: (23)

Tom Austin, Bureau Chief of Client Services, Wayne Jennings, Michelle Levy, Rashad Morgan, Sandra Brown, April Ogden, Tracey Bradley, Denise Valluerca, Bobbie Howard-Davis, Juan Carlos Diaz, Kristin Panella, Nancy Brown, Mireya Hernandez, Lynn Ritter, Tony Pileggi, Bruce Emmerton, Madeline Davidson, Leigh Ann Bellamy, Tiffany Baylor, Marcia Haye, Bryan Chambless, Brian Michaels, Donna Rhodes, 

Attendees: (5)

Minna Jia, Becki Forsell, Barbara Ross, Paul Edwards, Susan Hoffman, Ronee Silverman

Chairman Miles recognized the following reappointments to the FRCB:

  • Robert Doyle
  • Sandra Martin
  • Gloria Mills

Chairman Miles recognized the following appointments to the FRCB:

  • Charles Brooks (BVA)
  • Michael Wiseman (FCB)

A motion to amend the agenda to add Madeline Davidson to act upon Ana Saint-Fort’s behalf was made and seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Elections of Officers: 
Nomination to Chair: A motion was made and seconded to elect Robert Kelly as Chair. The motion was approved by acclimation. Nomination to First Vice Chair: A motion was made and seconded to elect Dwight Sayer as First Vice Chair. The motion was approved by acclimation.
Nomination to Second Vice Chair: A motion was made and seconded to elect Donte Mickens as Second Vice Chair. The motion was approved by acclimation.

Director’s Report

Robert Doyle presented the following:            

  • DBS General Update
  • Director recognized DBS staff present, newly appointed members and officers
  • WIOA
    • Series of internal department workgroup meetings have occurred to discuss impacts and connections. Three (3) meetings have occurred and are expected to reconvene the week of February 16, 2015 between the following divisions within DOE but not limited to:
      • K-20
      • VR
      • DBS
    • Career Source has been invited to join the next meeting to discuss impacts
    • Discussions include mapping as it relates to the State Plan
    • Regulations
      • Notice of proposed rules was expected in January 2015, but the proposed rules will be delayed until spring of this year.
      • DOE is expecting a lengthy notice of proposed rules that will require the workgroups to spend an unspecified amount of time to review.
      • RSA has been open to comments from the state agencies and from directors across the nation relating to the regulations.
      • Consistent questions from the agencies and directors, relating to the pre-employment transition services have been compiled and sent to RSA.
      • Fifteen percent all Federal VR funds are designated for newly created categories of within pre-employment transition services.
      • The Operations and Compliance team led by Marcia Haye are gathering ideas on appropriate ways to code current expenses  to ensure that funds are being spent as required under WIOA for pre-employment transition services. Following this will be authorizations and other services to ensure that the fifteen percent is being met.
  • Supported Employment
  • Expectation that there is engagement with students and youth at an earlier age around supported employment.
  • Act requires fifty percent of supported employment dollars be allocated to student populations.
  • There are some provisions to sheltered workshops and VR’s responsibility in regards to prevent youth from going into sheltered workshops.
  • It is imperative that DBS continue to work with FAASB and other organizations to get the optimal utilization of the system currently.
  • There have been discussions about early implementation.
  • Directors across the Nation have asked RSA regulations to provide the maximum flexibility allowable under the law.
  • DBS has brought in the assistance of a specialist from the Virginia Division of Blind Services to collaborate with FDBS Client Services to help increase revenue in terms of bringing in more funds from Social Security Reimbursement.
      • Working to meet the Substantial Gaining Activityfor Employment to increase the Social Security Reimbursements.
        • This has included cross-training to line up processes.
        • $600,000.00 est. was submitted in claims to the Social Security Administration.  
  • Federal legislation has recently passed the Able Act which allows for the creation of accounts that will be treated the same as a 529 plan for saving for the expenses of a person with a disability.
  • Legislative Updates
  • House and Senate have created a joint work plan that includes the following five points:
    • Tax Relief
    • Economic Independence for people with disabilities
      • This will assist with DBS’s goal for employment opportunities for clients.  
        • Water and Natural Resources
        • Adoption
        • Education
    • Senate Bill 802 is a Bill of Repeal of the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation that was introduced to the Senate on 2/10/15.
      • Filed by Senator Gates
      • Proposed that a reenactment by the Legislature after a legislative review of the progress of achievement of performed goals by June 30, 2016 can reinstate VR should it be repealed
    • House Bill 71 expanding rights and adding responsibilities as it pertains to the act for service animals and public accommodations
  • Governor’s Recommended Budget
  • Budget retains all DBS .
  • Budget has increased in some categories to include:
    • Administrative trust fund
  • General revenue and grants and donations categories have decreased slightly
  • Several realignments which includes the shift of $15,000.00 to cover lease expenses. $115,000.00 being transferred in the education technology and information category. An additional increase of $12,000.00 in education technology that was requested by DBS has been transferred. An increase of $180,000.00 to meet statutory obligations to use the Northwest Data Center 
  • Independent Living Programs Impacts
  • Early phases of the transition have begun
  • Notice has been received that there will be a freeze of funds on 2/24/15 to transfer funds to the new agency.
  • Reporting impacts are still unknown
  • Employees have been moved from Department of Education to the Department of Human Services.
  • Older Blind program remains with RSA
  • Independent Living will be moving to the federal level, but no action is known yet for the state level.
  • Travel Enhancements/Streamlining Process
  • Lodging and Rental Cars will be paid through a Direct Bill Method through the Department of Education where it is feasible.
  • Pre-Employment and Transition Services
  • DBS has created a Transition Coordinator position to help with statewide transition services.
    • Recommendation packet for Brian Michaels has been completed to serve in this position.
  • DBS Commendable Staff Changes
  • Rehabilitation Center Administrator recommendation packet has been submitted to recommend Jacksonville District Administrator Tracey Bradley for the position.
  • Bruce Emmerton has accepted the new District Administrator position in Fort Myers
  • Leigh Ann Bellamy has been promoted to Supervisor in her district  
  • Donna Rhodes has been promoted to Supervisor in her district   
  • Nancy Brown has been promoted to Supervisor in her district
  • Juan Carlos has been recommended for District Administrator in Miami

Comments:

  • Sheryl Brown comments that Career Source has a work experience program for teenagers and employer contacts that have been beneficial. However, new legislation states that instead of twenty-five percent dropout rates, it is now seventy-five percent and the quota has been exceeded and school aged children will not be accepted.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there will be many changes as a result of WIOA and it will be necessary of looking at other ways of utilizing the system to improve outcomes.
  • Sheryl Brown asks if DBS has positioned itself to be ahead with starting transition much earlier than VR.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that DBS is ahead and that because DBS provides services as early as it does, this helps to work with and prepare individuals.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that the law does allow states to determine an earlier age for pre-employment and transition services. If the state determines pre-employment at an earlier age, it could enable the use of funds for the younger populations.
  • Sheryl Brown commented that there are challenges with the processes and if there is some assistance through DBS.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there may be some assistance that DBS can provide and Client Services will follow up further.
  • Dan O’Connor asks if DBS resources would be compared to the top ten to include budgets
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there has not been mention of DBS resources being compared.
  • Bruce Miles comments that the Senate Bill 802 is a precursor to discussions about making a single agency.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that Senate Bill 802 seems to be specific to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
  • Donte Mickens asks with House Bill 71 how would the laws be governed or enforced.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that the bill provides penalties for violations.
  • Patricia Lipovsky comments that the law is not very clear and needs to be revised. 
  • Jesus Garcia comments that he is in agreement with Patricia and that there may be severe consequences with the enactment of House Bill 71. There needs to be adequate regulations that the service animals are in fact service animals.   
  • Sandra Martin comments that there are different methods being taught in guide dog schools that may be conflicting with the law. Sandra suggests that there be more education given to the community.
  • Patricia Lipovsky believes that there should be penalties put in place for persons that do not have legitimate use for a service dog.
  • Joe Minichiello comments that there should be legitimate paperwork to show that service animals have been trained properly.
  • Mikey Wiseman comments that there is an undercurrent of trainers that train dogs to be service animals and this can pose a problem.   
  • Becki Forsell asked if DBS has received any feedback on the Voting Resolution that was submitted to the Legislature.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that he has not received any feedback.
    • Paul Edwards comments that the Florida Council for the Blind has met with the Secretary of State’s Office.  It was found that there are two voting machines that are up for certification. The difficulty is that the way that law is written, if the machine is certified it will only be certified for use as an ADA compliant machine but not certifiable by use of everyone. It is with hopes that groups put more pressure on their legislatures to bring more recognition to the issues with voting machines.  
    • Patricia Lipovsky asks if there is an update for the amount of closures in the Homemaker Status category versus competitive employment.
      • Mr. Doyle responds that there are not any Homemaker Closures at this point. The team has been asked to evaluate individuals currently in the category to be sure that they are being categorized correctly.  
    • Patricia asks if there are any updates to the recruitment of a Bureau Chief for the Talking Books Library.     
      • Mr. Doyle responds that there have been a second round of interviews that have taken place and there are two candidates up for the position. DBS is currently performing reference checks.   
    • Bruce Miles asks if there is an update on the approximate amount that is in the fund for the grants and donations program.
Lauren Williams comments that there is about 4.9 million dollars in the fund.

District Administrator’s Report

Ana Saint-Fort, DA provided the Council with the following report prior to the meeting and Madeline Davidson presented the report during the meeting in Ana Saint-Fort’s stead:

  • Office Location and Counties served:
  • District 2 is comprised of a main office in Tallahassee. The District serves 11 counties which covers the following: Franklin, Liberty, Wakulla, Gadsden, Leon Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Lafayette, Suwannee and Hamilton.
    • It is important to highlight some keys statistics of our counties. We serve very rural counties which requires extensive travel to meet with client, geographical locations have limited employment and transportation opportunities.
  • Staff Members:
  • The district staffs a total of 11 full time employees and 2 OPS reader/drivers. We currently have 5 vacancies. Positions are as follows:
    • 1 DA
    • 1 Supervisor
    • 1 VR Counselor
    • 2 Rehab Technicians
    • 2 vacant VR Counselor
    • 1 vacant Employment Placement Specialist
    • 1 IL/CP Counselor
    • 1 Word Processor
    • 1 Staff Assistant
  • The district employs 2 visually impaired and or blind staff members. We have 2 vacant OPS reader/driver, which are assigned to the VR Program.
    • Note: It is important to note that the district began the year without 2 VR counselor, 1 EPS and 2 OPS positions.
  • Outstanding Staff:
  • District 2 staff is knowledgeable in their field and relies on their many years of experience in Vocational Rehabilitation and Case Management. We have 3 members of the team that have 20 years working with the agency.

The district values and respects all members on its team. However, it is fitting to recognize several outstanding staff members that contributed to our day-to-day success.

The belated Johnnie Slaton who managed a caseload of approximately 70 visually impaired and blind clients in rural counties requiring extensive travel to meet their needs. Her accomplishment in this past fiscal year was the placement of 32 visually impaired and blind clients’ successfully rehabilitated into employment. Her passing was very sad for all who valued her work ethics and strive for success.

Wanda Stokley, Rehabilitation Technician has been with the agency since 1986. Wanda assist the Rehab Counselors And any other staff that requires assistant. She ensures that authorizations are completed timely and accurately. She provides support whenever needed. She is highly dedicated to the mission of the division and to her position.

  • Outstanding Employer Recognition:

In addition to Interim Health Care, which will receive an award this morning, this district will also like to recognize several employers that have contributed to our successful placement outcome this past year. They are, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Lighthouse of the Big Bend, New Mexico Commission for the Blind, Bealls Outlet Store, Florida State Legislature House of Representatives, and Zaxby Restaurants.

Lastly, Georgia Industries for the Blind is a long time employment partner of the district, employing over 5 visually impaired clients from Leon County throughout the past year. Georgia Industries for the Blind has been previously nominated and continues to be a great community resources.

Comments:

  • Bruce Miles asks what type of services does Georgia Industries for the Blind offer.
    • Rashad Morgan comments that they provide manufacturing services in which they are able to employ individuals in various types of positions which offer competitive wages and some offer health benefits.
  • Donte Mickens asks if the District Staff can comment on para transit and public transportation in the area.
    • Rashad Morgan responds that there have been some challenges with transportation and that there have been some efforts to work with consumer group to provide transportation.
  • Tom Austin comments that through the staff changes and challenges at the DBS district office in Tallahassee, the culture throughout the office and the continued support from the Lighthouse of the Big Bend, the office is doing a tremendous job.
    • Bruce Miles asks how long have there been vacancies at this office.
      • Tom Austin comments that the length of time of the vacancies varies.
      • Tom Austin comments that the challenges with filling the vacant positions are with finding qualified applicants. 
    • Bruce Miles asks if after 120 days are positions being cut at DBS as they are at VR.
      • Mr. Doyle comments that this is not necessarily the case, after a certain period of time the Department or the Legislature will ask the status of the positions and the Division will provide a report.

Employer Recognition

Madeline Davidson recognized Interim Health Care as the recipient of the Employer’s Award. Interim Health Care has provided successful job placements for DBS clients.

A group photo was taken of Robert Doyle, DBS Director, Robert Kelly, FRCB Chair, Cindy Lavoie, Vice President of Interim Health Care and Duranda Johnson.

Morning Break

Lighthouse of the Big Bend Report

Barbara Ross, Executive Director of Lighthouse of the Big Bend provided the Council with a copy of her report.

The Lighthouse of the Big Bend (LBB) was founded in 1983 and is the sole non-profit in 11 counties of the Big Bend specifically serving people with vision loss (Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla). The agency’s mission is to assist people with vision loss in their pursuit of independence.

LBB serves children age 0-5, teenagers age 14 – 19 and all adults and seniors. Last year LBB served over 350 clients, the majority of whom were DBS clients. Most clients served lost their vision as an adult (working age or retired), and therefore need to re-learn how to function independently.
The Lighthouse has twenty staff positions, six of which are part time. Four individuals employed by the Lighthouse are blind or visually impaired. Longevity of staff is high, with seven full time staff members who have worked for the agency for 10 - 27 years. Staff members teach clients skills in the home, at work, on campus, in the community, and we have several classes at the Lighthouse. Supervisors are ACVREP Certified and LBB has been continuously accredited through the National Accreditation Council (NAC) which ensures quality services for clients, our top priority.

LBB has five contracts with DOE / DBS to provide services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and their families, in four program areas:
(a) Early Intervention/Blind Babies Program for infants and toddlers from age 0 - 5 to teach developmental milestones and increase their opportunities for success in school, at home, and later in life;
(b) Transition Program for teens and young adults ages 14 until graduation from high school to teach vocational and independent living goals empowering them to become self-sufficient members of society;
(c) Vocational Rehabilitation Program for adults seeking to obtain, retain or regain competitive employment; and

(d) Independent Living Program for adults and seniors to remain independent in their homes, travel safely and independently in the community and improve their quality of life.

Contract Age
Served
Deliverable # served
in 2013-14
DBS rate per client Annual Contract
EI/BB 0 - 5 34 38 $2,691 $91,494
TS 14 - 19 24 23 $9,600 $230,400
VR 18 - 55+ 109 110 $3,442 $375,168
ILAP 18 - 54 16 22 $2,100 $33,600 
ILOB 55 - 105+ 98 123 $2,100 $205,800

The Lighthouse of the Big Bend’s main program services within the five contracts include:

Employment Skills: For those interested in gaining employment, Lighthouse of the Big Bend can assist with resume writing, job searching, developing resources for job leads, completing job applications, interviewing techniques, professional work skills, self-advocacy with employers, transportation issues related to jobs, and other training to help you find employment or start a career.

Orientation & Mobility: Lighthouse of the Big Bend’s Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist can help individuals learn how to move safely and confidently at home or travel in the community. Learn to navigate stairs, find your way around open spaces, walk on campus or in the workplace, cross streets, use community transportation, instruct and follow a sighted guide, locate dropped objects, use a cane, learn about guide dogs, and other aspects of personal safety.

Computer and Assistive Technology Skills: Whether individuals need screen enlargement or speech software to access a computer, Lighthouse of the Big Bend teaches everything there is to know about adaptive computer software. Clients learn keyboard skills, Internet access, email, word processing and spreadsheet skills. Individual instruction or small classes are offered on a variety of computer programs and technology including smart phones. The Lighthouse of the Big Bend facility also has an employment computer lab.

Daily Living Techniques: A whole new set of skills are taught to help with daily life. Methods for personal and home management techniques include cleaning, cooking, hygiene, clothing identification, telling time, eating, food identification, using tools, lawn maintenance and others can all be learned.

Communication: Specialists can help with reading, writing checks, signing one’s name, typing, dialing a phone, finding phone numbers, and all other aspects of communication. Lighthouse of the Big Bend also offers beginning and Grade 2 Braille classes if desired.

Blind Babies Program Services: Lighthouse of the Big Bend offers an Early Intervention program for babies and young children (age 0-5) who are blind or visually impaired and their families, to teach developmental milestones and increase their opportunities for success in school, at home, and later in life.

Transition Program: Services for teenagers ages 14 until graduation from high school are provided to teach vocational and independent living goals, to empower teens in transitioning to live on their own and go to work or college.

Self-Advocacy, Adjustment to Blindness Counseling, and Support Groups: Talking about how to deal with vision loss, how to advocate for ones needs, and discussing a visual impairment with others are important in being able to cope with vision loss. Several discussion forums are available through Lighthouse of the Big Bend. Individuals can attend a group in person or call in to a phone group from your home or office. All community groups are encouraged to utilize the facility for any groups or meetings related to blindness. Currently the Tallahassee Chapter of the NFB and a Family Support group meet at the Lighthouse monthly. 

LBB gains additional revenue to support programming and services for individuals who are blind through grants and donations, such as:

  • Dining in the Dark fundraising and public awareness event each fall for 350 guests
  • Community Human Services Partnership grant from United Way, City of Tallahassee, and Leon County
  • Florida State Employee Charitable Campaign and Combined Federal Campaign
  • Capital Medical Society funding for client supplies
  • Able Trust grant funding which varies, for example have funded AT computer lab; macular degeneration trust funds have been used for AMD client supply kits
  • Online donations from individuals, businesses, and service clubs are made regularly through Guide Star/Network for Good
  • Community Foundation of North Florida endowment plus donations through Find*Learn*Give donor database

For more information, please visit our website at www.lighthousebigbend.org.

Comments:

  • Bruce Miles asks if the LBB was the first Lighthouse in Florida to create the Dining in the Dark fundraiser event.
    • Barbara Ross comments that the LBB was the first lighthouse to create the Dining in the Dark fundraiser event. The LBB has a guidebook for other lighthouses to use for their events.
    • Sylvia Perez, Sandra Martin, Patricia Lipovsky and Ronee Silverman commented that each of their lighthouses and organizations have used the guidebook and have had successful fundraising events.

Special Diplomas

Leanne Grillot presented the following:

  • Criteria/Allowances to obtain a special diploma
  • Visually impaired individuals may obtain a special diploma if they have another qualified disability.
  • Changes to FL statute 1003.438 special repeal as of July 1, 2015.
    • Things to consider when assisting students with graduation:
      • Students who began ninth grade at thirteen or fourteen years old or any time before, whose IEP’s  documented the special diploma they may keep the special diploma unless there are requests from the students for a change.
      • Students who began ninth grade at fourteen or fifteen years old may not work towards a special diploma. The other options are a standard diploma, certificate of completion, dropout, death or GED.
  • Changes to FL statute 1003.4282 high school graduation requirements.  
    • Majority of students with disabilities will continue to obtain a standard diploma and meet the same graduation requirements of all students.
    • Thirteen/Fourteen year old category represents 59.5% of students who obtain a standard diploma.
      • BEEES is working to increase this number.
  • Rules were created to provide guidance to schools under these regulations.
    • Rules were adopted and became effective on December 23, 2014.
    • Rules describe two high school graduation options for students with disabilities.
      • Students with significant cognitive disabilities based on the IEP team with parent permission and consent may be enrolled in access courses.
        • Courses that are based on standards determined by the IEP team and parents.
      • Students must meet the same 24 course requirements as all students but must use the access courses.
      • Students may substitute CTE courses with content related for access.
        • The district determines the content at this level.
      • Standard diplomas by access courses are available. Students must take Florida Alternate Assessment which is the assessment that measures the standards that students are taking.
        • Students must score 4 or above or have their results waived.
      • Standard diploma by an academic and employment based courses, a student must meet the same 24 course requirements and must earn at least one half credit in an employment based course. A student may substitute a CTE course.
      • There are deferment options with the special diploma.

Judy White with the Department of Education is a great contact for more information regarding the special diploma.

Comments:

  • Gloria Mills asks what CTE employment based courses are.
    • Leanne Grillot comments that CTE employment based courses that have a heavy component in the employment industry and are very career based. This is available to all students.
  • Sheryl Brown asks when this rule will be in effect.
    • Leanne Grillot responds that the rule will be in effect in July 2015 however it will not apply to current ninth graders.
  • Dan O’Connor asks if Florida is one of the few states that is recognizing the special diploma.
    • Leanne Grillot comments that there was recently a study of the states that do and Florida was one of very few states that had a separate diploma option.
  • Donte Mickens asks if there are any general requirement math courses or waivers for courses with intensive instruction relating to college students with sight impairments.
    • Leanne Grillot comments that she does not have detailed information at this time but will be happy to assist.
    • Paul Edwards comments that colleges and universities have provisions that are written in core substitutions and each college and university can write its own specific rules with regards to how the core substitutes are granted. More information can be provided through the disability services department with the colleges.
    • Tom Austin comments that from his professional experience, students can take the courses a minimum of three times with accommodations unsuccessfully and then a waiver could be granted, depending on the degree.
    • Becki Forsell if the general diploma will open many doors for students who want to obtain a vocational experience.
    • Michael Wiseman asks if there is a bridge between work point and course credits.
      • Leanne responds that certifications from work point is different from a counting as a course of high school, so there will have to be a connection between the courses that a student is taking for high school credit.

Sunshine Laws Overview

Brent McNeal presented the following information:

  • Florida Law pertaining to establish FRCB as an advisory council is found in chapter 413.011 (8)
    • Several provisions from the Sunshine Law are also included in chapter 413.011 which is intended by the legislature to have work of the advisory councils conducted through the “Sunshine”.
  • Provisions:
    • Councils meetings must be publically announced and open and accessible to the public.
    • Council must make a report of the meeting and keep records, which must be made available to the public.
  • Sunshine Law:
    • Section 286.011 FL Statute enacted in 1967.
    • Primarily focus is on the openness of meetings.
    • Public records law found in chapter 119 FL Statutes enacted in 1909.
    • Article 1 Section 24 of FL constitution includes a right of access to the government.
    • Provides a right of access to governmental proceedings of public boards or commissions at the state and local levels. It applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board, to discuss any matter that will foreseeably come before that board for action.
      • No decision, rule or action can be considered binding except as it’s made at the properly open and noticed meetings.
      • Florida courts have the jurisdiction to issue injunctions to enforce the Sunshine Law upon application of a citizen.
      • A member who knowingly violates the law by attending a meeting not in accordance with the law, can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor punishable up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.  
    • Members-elect are also subject to the law.   
  • Notice and Procedural Requirements
    • Reasonable notice must be given for all meetings.
      • Notice must contain the time, location and agenda if available or subject matter.
      • Notice should be prominently displayed on the website.
      • At least seven days of notice should be giving prior to the meeting.
      • Notice of special or emergency meetings are recommended by the Attorney General to advertise at least seventy-two hours prior to the meeting.
      • It is recommended to use press releases, social media and other media sources throughout the state to publish notice of meetings.
      • Myfloridaleagal.com is a great resource that provides statutory laws, rules, exceptions, exemptions, etc. as it relates to the Sunshine Law.
      • The Brechner Report is also a great resource that covers issues in open government in respects to the Sunshine Law, etc.
      • Adjournment
        • The second meeting must be noticed.
  • Locations of Meetings
    • Must be held at facilities that do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age or anything of the like.
    • Luncheon meetings may not provide a proper accommodations to the public, so they are not advised.
  • Public’s rights to attend board meetings
    • Meetings must be open to the public.
    • Discussions must be made audible to the attendees.
    • Recording devices are allowed as long as they are not disruptive.
      • The board can set reasonable withstanding policies as they pertain to recording devices.
    • Public participation does involve the right for the public to speak at board meetings.   
  • Public Records Law
    • Statute chapter 119 and write in article 1 of the Florida Constitution includes, written correspondence, film, tapes, photographs, recordings, and computer files.
    • The court recognizes public record as something that was made as official business and used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge.
    • Request for records are typically handled through the administration.
    • The requestor does not have to have to explain the purpose of the request.
    • The custodian of the record must promptly respond to the request and respond in good faith.
    • There is the ability to charge a service charge in addition to cost of duplication and if it requires extensive use of staff and/or technology.
    • Public entities are not required to answer questions about the records.
    • There is not a specific time frame but the response must be reasonable, prompt and in good faith.
    • Exemptions must be specifically noted with the response.      

Comments:

  • Bruce Miles asks if meetings can be continued without advertisement if it has not been adjourned.
    • Brent McNeal responds that this is possible if a reasonable amount of time given, however if there is a significant amount of time expected in between meetings, that an adjournment is most appropriate.
  • Becki Forsell asks if members can go through the administration to discuss an issue without the entire council and be in compliance with the Sunshine Law.
    • Brent McNeal responds that this is not advised and to wait to appropriately discuss it under the Sunshine Law.
    • Brent further responds that information can be shared through administration but the discussion should take place under the guidelines of the Sunshine Law.
  • Patricia Lipovsky asks if a topic of discussion should be avoided with persons who may be potential members of the board.
    • Brent responds that yes, topics of discussion such as policy should be avoided with persons who may be potential members of the board.
  • Dan O’Connor asks how should time be advertised for public forums and if there is not any public participation, the board should remain for the entire time that has been advertised.
    • Brent McNeal comments that this falls into the reasonableness of time and openness of the meeting.
  • Donte Mickens asks if the current wording that we are using for advertising the public forum is satisfactory.
    • Brent McNeal responds that the current language is satisfactory.
  • Donte Mickens asks for more clarification on the hearings reference in the statute regarding the board.
    • Brent McNeal responds that he is not currently aware that this is an intended purpose for the FRCB. Brent responds that he will look into this further and report back to the FRCB.
  • Bruce Miles asks if there will be any violation of the sunshine law or a conflict if two or more board members of the same board are also a part of the same committees.
    • Brent McNeal responds that this can pose for a concern although if they are operating under another board that is applicable to the sunshine laws, than it may be more appropriate.
    • Bruce Miles followed up his question to ask that if the law applies if there is a voting member and a non-voting member.
      • Brent McNeal responds that this may be the best course of action to ensure compliance.
  • Dan O’Connor asks if there is a difference in how the rules apply to voting depending on the method of attendance at the meeting i.e., teleconference.    
    • Brent McNeal responds that the method of attendance will not affect a vote, however he is happy to discuss further after the meeting and report back to the FRCB.  
  • Becki Forsell asks if board members can share transportation together to and from meetings.
    • Brent McNeal responds that members can share transportation to and from meetings unless there is a local ordinance in place that he is not aware of.   

Lunch Break

Meeting resumed at 1:05 PM

VR Goals Update

Wayne Jennings provided the Council with his report and data prior to the meeting.

Wayne discussed the following information for the second quarter:

  • Category-Number of Unsuccessful Closures after Receiving Services is a new line item on the report.
    • The difference is that the client had an IPE.  
  • Rehab Rate Calculations
    • Aligned with the federal calculations.
    • Calculations include all clients receiving services under an IPE.
  • Secondary Disability at Closure
    • Numbers are represented from the SFY.

Comments:

  • Bruce Miles asks what the total number is of the three quarters for successful closures.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that the third quarter has not ended yet so the numbers are not true reflections of successful closures.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that the numbers served represents clients that have been in service during that quarter.
  • Charles Brooks asks how many veterans in the program have open cases.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that he will provide this information to the council in a separate report.
  • Gloria Mills asks how secondary disabilities are calculated.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that it depends on the impediment to employment.
  • Bruce Miles asks if the total number of closed cases are truly lower this year compared to last year.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that DBS is working to increase the successful closures by tasking staff to work diligently to work cases that have been inactive.
  • Michael Wiseman asks what the man hours that are being devoted to the cases that have been inactive are and what is the average that case have been inactive.
    • Lynn Ritter responds that for non-college students the average are 5-7 years.
    • Wayne Jennings responds that man hours are difficult to determine as each district is different.
  • Bruce asks was there a loss in District 3 that contributes to the low calculations.
    • Tracey Bradley responds that a major issue is turnover. District 3 is dedicated to training staff and taking a firm approach with partnering up with local organizations to help with increasing the rehabilitation rate.
    • Director Doyle responds that there are strategies in place that will help with increasing the rehabilitation rate. 
  • Becki Forsell asks what the expectations of the RSA are.
    • Director Doyle responds that 70% is the goal of successful closures.
  • Dan O’Connor comments that district 3 is aware of the issues and is being proactive to increase the rehabilitation rate.

Needs Assessment

Deputy Director Antionette Williams provided the following update:

  • Focus of Research
    • Investigate VR services being provided to individuals who are blind and/or visually impaired.
    • Guided by six questions developed in collaboration with the DBS and the FRCB.
  • Five deliverables associated with the research. DBS has received three deliverables to date.
    • Develop and finalize three survey instruments.
        • Consumer Survey
        • Employer Survey
        • Key Informant Survey

Comments:

  • Sandra Martin asks if DBS can provide the FRCB with the deliverables and the questions of the survey for reference.
    • Deputy Director Williams responds that DBS will provide the FRCB with this information.
  • Sandra Martin asks if there is a count of how many people are visually impaired conducting the surveys.
    • Director Doyle responds that DBS will provide the FRCB with the number.
  • Michael Wiseman asks is there a template of how the results are delivered back to DBS.
    • Deputy Director Williams responds that there is a template and a breakdown in how the results will be delivered. Mississippi State will present the information to the FRCB at the conclusion of the survey.  

FRC November Meeting Report

Bruce Miles discussed the following information:

  • Updates
    • Ann Robinson is the new Council Chairperson
      • Agenda for the new chair was to streamline meetings, however the FRC voted against this proposal.
    • A/V equipment is state of the art and convenient however, comes at a costs.
    • There are six committees that meet during the regular council meeting for forty minutes each.
    • State Plan preparation will include new WIOA rules
    • Next meeting is in May 2015
  • Suggestions for FRCB
    • Evaluation Committee should meet more frequently
  • Staff Vacancies
    • Shifting positions have taken place
  • Satisfaction Survey
    • New firm hired base out of Maine
    • First report was not what the FRC expected
    • Survey is presented in a read-out format for each member
  • Legislative Initiatives
    • FRC have met with legislators to share the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Comments:

  • Gloria Mills asks if Council Members are allowed to speak with the legislators.
    • Mr. Doyle responds that there is a prohibition on lobbying however Council have been able to provide education,
    • Becki Forsell comments that the FRC provides legislative training to the members to only educate and provide information to legislators.
  • Dan O’Connor suggests that increasing our visibility is important and that there should be attempts made to do so.

New Committee Appointments

Robert Kelly confirmed and discussed the following:

Planning Committee

Bruce Miles, Chair
Sheryl Brown
Ben Grzesik
Joe Minichiello
Vicky Magliocchino
Lenora Marten
Jesus Garcia

Evaluation Committee

Donte Mickens, Chair
Dan O’Connor
Sylvia Stinson-Perez
Leanne Grillot
Gloria Mills
Dwight Sayer
Sandy Martin
Patricia Lipovsky
Charles Brooks
Michael Wiseman

Executive Committee

Robert Kelly, Council Chair
Dwight Sayer, First Vice Chair
Joe Minichiello, Second Vice Chair
Bruce Miles, Chair, Planning Committee
Donte Mickens, Chair, Evaluation Committee

It is suggested that the committees meet semi-annually and/or as needed.

Replacement of FRC cross representative

Terms are annual and are a quarterly commitment.

  • Bruce Miles will serve as the primary representative.
  • Michael Wiseman will serve as the alternate representative.

Children’s Camp Ad Hoc Committee

Lenora Marten provided the following updates:

Sub Committee developed to explore options in developing a Children’s Summer Camp. Committee is composed of the following individuals:

    • Lenora Marten, Bruce Miles, Sandy Martin, Sylvia Perez, Donte Mickens, Leanne, Grillot, Dwight Sayer and Paul Edwards.
  • A teleconference was held, recessed twice and concluded in person in Daytona, Beach on October 21, 2014.
  • Committee reported to the FRCB with recommendations to move forward with the idea of developing a camp for children between the ages of 6-13.
    • Single camp the first year.
    • Invite approximately 30 children to attend.
    • Children must have a visual acuity of no better than 20/200.
    • Children should have the ability to perform self-care tasks without assistance.
    • Camp should operate for 3 days with attendees arriving by noon on day 1 and departing by noon on the final day.
    • Training should be provided for parents of the children and run concurrently with the camp schedule at a separate location.
  • Funding Resources
    • DBS Foundation
    • Gifts and Donations
    • Available Grants
    • Lion Foundation
    • DBS Funds
  • Curriculum
    • Connectivity Activities
    • Independence Activities
    • Recreational Activities
  • Parent Training Activities
    • Empowerment Activities
  • Proposed Dates and Actions
    • Summer 2016
    • Develop a Steering Committee to consist of:
      • One representative of the FRCB
      • One representative of the BSF
      • One representative from the DBS office
      • One DBS children’s VR Counselor
      • One FSU Vision Program representative
      • One vision impairment teacher
      • One parent of a blind child
      • One representative from the rehabilitation program
    • Sub-Committee must meet once more to appoint members of the Steering Committee.

FILC Update

Patricia Lipovsky provided the following update:

  • FILC held a meeting in January in Orlando, FL.
    • Meeting consisted of:
      • Three presenters of the meeting consisted of the following advocacy groups:
        • ADAPT
          • National advocacy group advocating for individuals with disabilities.
        • FAAST
          • Introduced new program called New Horizon Program (newhorizonprogram.org).
            • Designed with a low interest rate for individuals who qualify.
            • Funds are used to purchase adaptive technology
            • Funds can also be used for vehicles
            • No pre-payment penalties
        • ADA Legacy Bus
          • Shared national tour information
    • Meetings have been extended to five days
    • Fundraising
      • Poker-Run scheduled for August 2015
      • Pause for the cause-Date to be determined

Client Satisfaction Survey Review

Dr. Minna Jia and Senior Analyst with The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) provided the council with a full report prior to the meeting and discussed the following:

The report summarizes the data collected for the first three quarters of the 2014-15 fiscal year. The Florida State University Survey Research Laboratory (SRL), College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, conducted a telephone survey of former Division of Blind Services (DBS) clients on a monthly basis.  This report includes cases closed between April 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 and comprises the population surveyed for this 3 Quarters report. DBS provided the names, addresses, phone numbers and demographic information for 970 former clients.  Case closures are classified into two major groupings, those with successful and unsuccessful closures. 

Successful Closure: 529 Clients

Unsuccessful Closure: 441 Clients

Copies of the report can be obtained from Alise Fields

Comments:

  • Bruce Miles comments that the numbers in the report are much different from the numbers in the VR report. Can this be explained?
    • Mr. Doyle comments that the cycle of the report is currently built to cover dates between April 1st -March 31st.  Other reports provided by DBS are on the SFY or FFY. DBS would like to align the dates of the report with the state fiscal year to avoid confusion.
  • Bruce Miles asks why the transportation percentages are down as compared to what the last reports numbers were.
    • Dr. Jia responded that the percentage change may be from an internal program change and/or the structure of the open-ended question.
    • Donte Mickens commented that clients with the Lighthouse of West Palm Beach, are encouraged to use para-transit whenever possible and there may be less of a need from DBS to provide the services if they are able to use other independent options.
  • Bruce Miles asks why the Case Closure Status percentage is identical to the numbers from last year.
    • Dr. Jia responds that this is coincidental and that the numbers are accurate.
  • Bruce Miles comments that the school contact numbers have increased and that illustrates that the relationship is strengthening.
  • Bruce Miles comments that the Contacts with Staff percentage is identical to the numbers from last year.
    • Dr. Jia responds that her team performed an audit to ensure that the numbers were all accurate and that the identical numbers are coincidental.
  • Bruce Miles comments that the percentage for the Braille Training Program category are up and that is good.
    • Dr. Jia responds that people surveyed had good responses about the Braille Training Program.
  • Bruce Miles comments that there has been a decline in the Clients Currently Employed category. It appears that they have received jobs but were unable to keep them.
  • Dr. Jia comments that coding errors may contribute to a decrease in numbers.
  • Bruce Miles comments that medical services percentages have increased considerably.

Afternoon Break

Council Business

Robert Kelly reminded the FRCB of the Vision Summit reception to be held at Andrew’s at 5:30 PM.

Robert Kelly reminder the FRCB that the Vision Summit welcome breakfast will be held on 2/12 on the 22nd floor of the Capitol from 8-9AM.

Robert Kelly reminded the FRCB Vision Summit will begin at 9AM-12PM. 

Robert Kelly thanked Bruce Miles for serving the FRCB as Chair and his distinguished tradition of service.

Approval of October Minutes -

  • A motion to approve the October minutes and Public Forum notes received a second and passed.

Location and dates of April 2015 meeting – agreement with the chosen contract was deemed null in void and there are some scheduling conflicts.

Robert Kelly proposed to move the date to May 2015.

  • A motion to have the May 2015 meeting in Miami, FL on May 6-8, 2015 was made and seconded. The motion passed.

The proposed date for the Public Forum is May 7th, with the Council Meeting taking place from May 7-8. May 6th would be the travel day.
Location and dates of February 2016 meeting -

  • A motion to have the February 2016 meeting in Tallahassee February 9-11, 2016 was made and seconded. The motion passed.
    • Proposed date for Council Meeting on 2/10, Vision Summit on 2/11

Agenda Items for May 2015 meeting

  • State Plan Updates
  • Director’s Report-Legislative Update
  • Public Forum in Miami
  • Special Transportation Service (STS) presentation-Paratransit and fixed routes.
    • Jesus Garcia and Paul Edwards can provide contact information.
  • Tour of Lighthouse and presentation
  • VR Goals Update
  • District Administrator Report
  • Needs Assessment
  • Employer Recognition

Previous/New Business/Open Discussion

  • Donte Mickens suggested utilizing the DBS Facebook page to advertise Council Meetings.
  • Sheryl Brown announced that May 1st is the 75th anniversary for the Tampa Lighthouse. There will be a celebration on May 1st from 1-6PM. 
  • Michael Wiseman announced that on May 16th the Florida Council for the Blind will hold its Annual State Convention in Miami.
  • Gloria Mills announced that on July 5-12th in Orlando, FL is the 75th National Convention of the National Federation for the Blind.    

Meeting adjourned at 4:30 PM.