Friday, April 11, 2008

OASIS info and Article 7 Public Hearings

The OASIS forums have ended and we hope many of you were able to attend them. The April 3rd forum in Indianapolis was videotaped and is available through The Arc of Indiana's website at video of OASIS forum. Andrew Ranck has posted his powerpoint slides here: Oasis State Tour 2008 Presentation and will post a Frequently Asked Question document on the OASIS website. If you have additional questions, you can email him at or call (317) 234-5222 or 1-888-527-0008 .

The next event families should attend are the Article 7 public hearings:
  • April 15, 2008 - Evansville
  • April 16, 2008 – New Albany
  • April 22, 2008 – Merrillville
  • April 23, 2008 – South Bend
  • April 24, 2008 – Fort Wayne
  • May 7, 2008 – Indianapolis -starts at 9AM. It is very probable that the State Board will be in attendance at this hearing. Therefore, a large turnout would send a message that this issue is important to families. If it is possible to adjust your schedule to attend this hearing, please consider doing so.
  • times and locations

Family Voices has a list of talking points on our blog at Family Voices recommends that no matter how you choose to comment on Article 7 that you include a message to the State Board of Education reminding them that meeting the unique needs of Indiana's children with disabilities should be their first priority, above the needs of any other special interest group. This consistent message has the potential to impact their decision making as they promulgate the rules.

What to Expect
(courtesy of IN*SOURCE)

The Public Hearings are formal and they provide an opportunity for members of the public to speak their mind. And, it allows everyone in the audience to hear what others who choose to speak have to say as they offer their perspectives and their interests. The number of people who attend the different Public Hearings is often significant. The number of participants may give the State Board an indication of how more or less important the public finds the proposed changes. In other words, if few people choose to attend, that might suggest that there is little public interest in the process and/or proposed changes. On the other hand, if there are many people in attendance, well, that might send a different message.

If you attend the meeting, you are not required to speak. It is perfectly okay to sit and listen.

There will probably not be a transcript or recording made of the Public Hearing. So, to be certain that your comments are considered by the State Board, you should submit them in writing. You can submit your comments at the Public Hearing. Just hand them in.

When you arrive at the Public Hearing, you will be asked to sign-in, and when you sign-in, you will be asked if you wish to speak/offer testimony.

You will be speaking to Dr. Robert Marra, Assistant Superintendent, Indiana Department of Education, and possibly a member or members of the State Board of Education.

If you do want to speak, when it is your turn (you will be called in the order of sign-in), you will be asked to probably stand and speak into a microphone.

  • depending on the number of people wanting to speak, you may be asked to limit your comments to some number of minutes (perhaps 3 or 4 minutes as an example).
  • especially after a number of folks have spoken and if similar comments have been repeated, you may be asked to focus your comments on any issue(s) that have not been repeatedly presented. In other words, they might not want to hear the same comment 50 times from 50 different people. In that case, if you believe that what you wanted to say has been said, and said in a way that you can support, you could decide not to speak,...or you could say something like, "I too am concerned about (whatever issue) and I support (whatever position) that has already been presented."
  • The group will probably be asked to confine any comments to the proposed rule revision. You will not be permitted to comment on someone else's comments.
  • The group may be asked to avoid lengthy personal stories.

When you have finished your comments, you will leave the microphone and the next person in line will speak. There will probably be no dialogue, no questions and answers. When everyone who has asked to speak has, the meeting will end. If the meeting is running long, it may be ended before everyone who wanted to speak has had the opportunity. If that were to happen, those not speaking would be asked to submit their comments in writing.

If you plan to offer testimony, take time to organize your thoughts and write down what you want to say. Try to be brief and to the point, because your time may be limited. It is always best to be as brief as you can be, but say what you need to say.

The changing of our state rule is a very important activity. Those changes will often be directly expressed in the school buildings and classrooms our students attend. Please consider taking advantage of the opportunities to provide your comments orally or in writing, expressing your support or opposition.

In reviewing the comments, if the State Board learns that there is a great deal of concern about or opposition to a proposed change, they may be persuaded to reconsider their position. If there appears to be a great deal of support for or little concern is expressed about a proposed change, they will likely move forward. So your comments are important.

You can mail your comments to the following address:

Indiana Department of Education
Center for Exceptional Learners (CEL)
151 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

You may fax your comments to: (317) 232-0589

You may submit your comments electronically at the following website:

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