MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

March 7, 2013

Commissioner Cassellius to Hold Special Education Roundtable in Duluth

As part of a series of school visits across Minnesota, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will host a roundtable on special education March 7 in Duluth. The Commissioner will join Duluth Superintendent Bill Gronseth and nearly two dozen teachers and administrators to talk about the current state of special education Duluth. Read March 6 release.

Commissioner Cassellius Statement on Legislative Auditor’s Special Education Report

On March 6, the Office of the Legislative Auditor released an evaluation report, Special Education, which examines special education funding and policy within the state of Minnesota. Read the March 6 release. View the report on the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor website.

Spring Principal and Teacher Evaluation Regional Meetings

See the memorandum from Assistant Commissioner Rose Hermodson; Greg Keith, Educator Evaluation Coordinator; and Tyler Livingston, Educator Evaluation Specialist; regarding spring principal and teacher evaluation regional meetings. Ensuring Effective Implementation and Continuous Improvement is the third in a three-part series on principal and teacher evaluation information sessions conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education scheduled within educational service regions. District teams are invited to attend the regional meetings scheduled for March and April. The focus of this session is to help district teams recognize and prepare for the stages of implementation, define critical practices of their evaluation models, learn from a piloting experience, and engage in a continuous plan-do-study-act cycle.

For assistance with questions regarding the content of these regional meetings, please contact Greg Keith ( by e-mail or by phone at 651-582-8316.


Minnesota Student Survey 2013 Update

The 2013 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) is in full swing. Schools choosing the new web-based survey option are finding out just how easy it is to administer using iPads or computers. Mary Beech, MSS/District Assessment Coordinator at Murray County Central High School told us, “Doing the survey online worked WONDERFULLY! So much easier than the paper/pencil version.” If your district hasn’t yet registered or administered the survey, we encourage you to do so soon. Both web-based and paper surveys are available. If you need the MSS registration information to be re-sent to you, please contact

Amendment to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The U.S. Congress recently passed the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The law, which went into effect on January 14, 2013, makes two important changes to FERPA:

· It creates an additional exception to the FERPA requirements that generally prohibit release of student education records, permitting schools to disclose a student’s education records without the prior written consent of the parent to a caseworker, state or local child welfare representative, or tribal organization that has the right to access the student’s case plan, when the agency or organization is legally responsible for the child’s care and protection. The agency or organization receiving education records from a school under this exception must protect them as private data on individual students, and may not disclose information from the records.
· It allows education agencies to release a student's education records under court order without notifying the parent if the order is issued related to court proceedings involving child abuse and neglect or child dependency matters and the parent is a party to those proceedings.

For more information, visit the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) website (


Opportunity to Participate in Standard Setting or Alignment Study

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) needs English Language Arts, Reading and Special Educators to serve on committees in summer 2013. Please share this information with teachers in your district. MDE will set standards on the new Reading MCA-III, MCA-Modified and MTAS and will conduct alignment studies of these assessments to the 2010 Minnesota Academic Standards. Participants will be compensated. See more information and the online application.

For assistance with questions, contact Cheryl Alcaya, supervisor of research and assessment.

Now Available: 2013 Public School Free/Reduced-Price Eligibility List

Annually, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) collects public school data, including enrollment and the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) division uses this information to determine eligibility for Child Nutrition Programs based on the percent of eligible children enrolled in schools. The attendance boundaries of public elementary, middle, junior high and senior high schools determine the eligibility areas for Child Nutrition Programs. Area-eligible schools have at least 50 percent of their enrollment eligible for free or reduced-price meals and may participate as either an “Open” or “Enrolled” site under the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Program. This information is also used to determine eligibility for the Child Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Meals and Family Day Care Homes-Tier 1.

Other types of schools (area learning centers, charter schools and non-public) may be “site-eligible” if the building location has at least 50 percent of their enrollment eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Sites may also be eligible based on the 2010 Census data or other data.

For the Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Program, any site may feed children without qualification as an "Open Site" if it is located within the attendance boundaries of the eligible schools listed with at least 50 percent or more eligible students. View the Public School List with Percentage of Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Students Used for Eligibility Determinations -- 2013. Note that the spreadsheet has multiple tabs at the bottom. The initial worksheet provides a list of all public schools with enrollment, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals and the percent of eligible students. The other worksheets list the eligible schools sorted as indicated on the tabs at the bottom of the worksheet.

Schools are encouraged to share this information with local municipal, county and state agencies, child care programs and nonprofit or faith-based organizations that may become a Summer Food Service Program sponsor or site or refer families to area summer meal programs.

If you have any questions about this information, contact the Minnesota Department of Education Food and Nutrition Service, 651-582-8526, or 1-800-366-8922 (MN Toll-free).

Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium – June 10-13, 2013

The symposium is organized through collaboration between the Hormel Foundation, the Minnesota Department of Education and the Austin School District. The fifth annual General Symposium is June 10-13, 2013, in Austin, Minnesota. There will be a pre-conference June 9 and an Administrator Day on June 10. The symposium provides an opportunity for educators, administrators, psychologists, counselors, school board members, and parents to gain a greater understanding of the unique needs of gifted, talented and high-potential learners. Visit the Symposium website for complete registration information (

Grants for registration and lodging are available for school board members and certain non-teaching district staff, including administrators, counselors and coordinators, who are first-time attendees to the symposium. Please contact Wendy Behrens for more information (

Minnesota Board of Teaching Licensure Action

The Minnesota Board of Teaching has taken the following licensure action:

· El, Danielle (FF 449929) On February 27, 2013, the Board of Teaching permanently revoked the teaching license of Ms. Danielle El pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 122A.20, subdivision 1(b).

ED Review – A U.S. Department of Education Newsletter

ED Review provides a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education initiatives and activities. See the latest ED Review posting.

Minnesota Computers for Schools – Monthly Promotion

Minnesota Computers for Schools refurbishes donated computers and provides them to schools at a minimal charge. Learn about the Monthly Special on the Minnesota Computers for Schools website.