Sunday, October 26, 2008

Susan Simon- Los Angeles Unified School District

(Notes from NSSLHA meeting, 10/20/08)

Benefits of working in LAUSD
• 700 square miles, 670,000 students aged 3-22 with a wide variety of disabilities, 300 SLP’s
• Urban or suburban settings
• Second largest district in USA, after NYC, which means that they can be cutting-edge in some ways with research in conjunction with local universities.
• Caseload variety; normally SELPA pools resources (e.g., DHH students in one district), but LAUSD is its own SELPA, so assignments may be arranged in many different ways depending on your area of interest
• Innovative programs, e.g. 3:1 model therapy:non-therapy, RTI intervention without IEP’s
• New therapist support—this is one of their strengths and one of the most important things for a new clinician. This is more than just CFY supervision, which may be very minimal. LAUSD provides good-quality master clinicians, professional development events, and 3 SLP’s who have part of their job away from the caseload, working with new therapists beginning with intensive training for a few weeks, and continuing supervision all year long. Additionally, you have CFY supervision as well as an administrator who does ongoing evaluation and support.
• Opportunities for advancement
• Good pay, starting at $61, 433 (180 workdays)/$70,756 (210 workdays) with master’s degree and CA license (special services pay scale). With credential (teacher’s pay scale), starting at $45,637-$72,592.
• District sponsored continuing education, where professionals are brought in to the district.
• Prevention and intervention services, following IDEA—to combat the “wait to fail” model, the focus is now on RTI (Response to Intervention) model.
• Web-based IEP’s and daily documentation
• LAUSD-provided laptop
• District-paid medical, dental, vision and mental health for you, spouse and children, as well as lifetime health benefits, life insurance, and STRS (state teacher’s retirement system) membership, which is a powerful pension fund.
• Paid holidays and illness leave—10 days of sick leave each year that rolls over if not used. Districts often don’t tell you that you can take sick leave with you when you leave a school district; it transfers with you to the new district.
• Loan forgiveness programs—up to $17,000 of Perkins Loan forgiven.
• Set of new materials and tests.

Employment requirements: online application, master’s degree, CBEST, letters of recommendation, health/TB clearance, fingerprint clearance, 2 sets of transcripts, etc.

For more information, contact:
Susan Simon, 213-241-3325,
Wililam Hatrick, 213-21-5200, ext. 29176,,

Q and A at the meeting:

You can’t request a particular region to work in LAUSD. Assignments are partially based on seniority. If you’re brand-new, you need to stay in one school for at least 2 years. After that, LAUSD tries to give you one school that is based on preference (e.g., region, assignment) and the other is need-based. You will not be asked to drive more than 20-25 miles or sit in a car for too long. They try to keep therapists within the local district within LAUSD or the next one over.

LAUSD no longer hires clinicians on waivers, unless you are currently within a master’s program and that you can demonstrate clinical experience with diagnostics and therapy.

Caseload size- you are part of the union (UTLA) as an SLP, which is pretty powerful. Caseload is protected by union contract under class size. It’s capped at 55 with teacher’s salary, and 68 with SLP’s salary. If you want to take more, LAUSD will pay for it with teacher’s salary table. This is in your employment contract. To handle workload, LAUSD is moving to 3:1 model to help provide some down time.

SLPA’s- there are only 700 SLPA’s in California, but LAUSD is now in the process of hiring them. Because there are so many uncovered schools, children accrue compensatory time that SLPA’s will cover.

Dr. Susan Downey, plastic surgeon: cleft palate surgery in third world countries

Notes from NSSLHA meeting, 10/6/08

Reconstructive surgery means to restore to the normal form or function (vs. cosmetic surgery). If the lip and/or palate doesn’t fuse, then form and function need to be restored.

Dr. Downey has been on 13 missions to different countries, but most recently she’s been focusing on Ecuador. Organizations she’s been with include Healing the Children, Interplast, and Operation Smile. The ultimate goal is to train people in other nations, and to go as teachers and educators. The type of palate repair surgery developed at CHLA is innovative and is not taught in other parts of the world. The advantage to this is that the muscles are repositioned and the palate is lengthened, which might result in little to no need for speech therapy following surgery.

Cleft lip/plate are among the most common birth defects worldwide, and are increased in areas with poor nutrition- especially folic acid. They affect an estimated 1 in 600 newborns. In some cases, there may be genetic components from smaller mating pools.

The goal is to operate on children or adults at any age. As long as children can eat appropriately, the need is not as urgent as with other surgeries. Palate repair in the US is ideally done at 1 year of age.

The team: nurses, anesthesia, plastic surgeons, medical records/coordinator, dentists, speech therapists, youth from a high school volunteer program, and med students.

Once in-country, Operation Smile does a screening of children. People find out about it through radios, churches, and non-profit organizations in the area. Because there is no back-up if things go wrong, they have to be careful not to operate on people with complicating medical conditions. Then they organize the charts to think about how they’re going to do the schedule of surgery. Because adults wake up slower from anesthesia, they have surgeries first in the day.

The airway is suddenly changed after surgery, so a “tongue stitch” can help bring the tongue forward and children are also placed on their side to help them breathe after surgery.

Operation on a cleft lip may take 45 minutes, whereas palate repair will take about 2 hours.

Some people walk for days and take the bus for hours afterward, in order to come for surgery. Often the father, then, is the one to accompany the child.

In surgery, they work closely with local doctors and anesthesiologists so that they can take over after the team leaves. Unfortunately, they don’t often get long-term follow-up, which is a problem for SLP’s—whose role is most effective when they do education with local professionals.

Operation Smile has training programs in the US also, to bring professionals for training. Occasionally children are also brought to the US for surgery. They often partner a lot with local organizations (e.g., Rotary Clubs, Mormon missionaries) overseas, and people in the community help with translation.

To find out about volunteer opportunities on these trips, consult the Operation Smile website or ask to accompany a speech therapist who has contacts in the community. The best way to get in is to be totally flexible in terms of time and say “call me if you have an opening”. If you speak another language, this increases the likelihood that they will need you. Some countries have stipulations on whether (or how) students can have a role on a team. Most trips last 1-2 weeks, with the first week for screening and the second week for operations.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

FREE Offers from ASHA!

1. Free 1 Month Trial of NSSLHA/ASHA Website

NSSLHA and ASHA are pleased to announce the launch of a NSSLHA national membership recruitment project on approximately 20 campuses early next month. Both associations, in partnership, will offer CSD students who are not currently national NSSLHA members on YOUR campus, a free, one-month trial subscription to ASHA's web site, .

Please note that national membership is different from a local chapter membership. Please note that access to the site will be available from October 1 – 31, 2008, regardless of the date students register for it, so the sooner they sign up (beginning on October 1), the longer their access will be.

2. Free Mentor Service from ASHA's STEP mentor Program

The Student to Empowered Professional (S.T.E.P.)
program offers one-to-one mentoring for students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral communication sciences and disorders programs. All students are eligible to apply, however, preference for program placement and matching with mentors will be given to those students from racial/ethnic backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in the communication sciences and disorders professions. Students are strongly encouraged to
be national NSSLHA members in order to reap the full benefits of the S.T.E.P. mentoring program.