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Department of Rehabilitation Services

3535 NW 58th Street  ●  2nd Floor Conference Room

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112

February 19, 2009  ●  10:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Full Council Regular Meeting

Council Members Present:

Milissa Gofourth, Marilyn Burr, Anita Eccard, Nancy Garner, Tammie Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, Doug MacMillan, Jr., Hailey Mathis, Tim Parrish, Katrina Shaklee, Sabrina Ware, Sue Williams, and Mike O’Brien.

Council Members Not Present:

Cathy Bates, Glenda Farnum, Cindy Gallup, Sterling Krysler, Jon Ringlero, and Amy Salmon.

Others Attending:

Kathy Reed-Recording Secretary; Alan King-DRS Programs Manager; LaGena Elmore – DRS Practicum Student; Darine Stallings-TSHA Interpreter; Patricia Mills-TSHA Interpreter; Susan Hawkins-DRS VS Field Coordinator; Mark Kinnison-DRS VS Field Coordinator; Jane Nelson-DRS VS Administrator; Jean Jones-DRS Legislative Liaison; Melinda Fruendt-DRS VR Projects Coordinator; Bob Utley-DRS VS Projects Coordinator; Syedah Islam-DRS VR Administrator; Lori Estep-DRS Field Coordinator;

Council Support:

Theresa Hamrick, Program Manager

Linda Jaco, Director of Sponsored Programs, OSU Seretean Wellness Center


Call to Order/Roll Call

A Quorum was establish – 11 voting members were present.

Milissa Gofourth, Chair

Introduction of members and guests attending today’s meeting.

Consumer Comments/Announcements:

Being none meeting moved into next item on the agenda. 

DRS Director’s Report – Mike O’Brien

  • Dr. Mike O’Brien is the new DRS Director as of January 1, 2009

      Dr. O’Brien has been having meetings with DRS staff across the state.  His goal is to meet with all 928 Active FTE by the beginning of March, 2009. 

So far Dr. O’Brien has met with 750 DRS employees including those at the Oklahoma School for the Blind.  He has yet to meet with Oklahoma School for the Deaf staff and two units in the State Office. Dr. O’Brien has meetings scheduled with vendors, councils, and other affiliates with a goal of improving relationships between DRS and its affiliates.  

  • The purpose of these DRS staff meetings is to see where changes need to be implemented.  One of the changes includes pushing more authority into the field. Another change will be to put budgets back in the hands of Division Administrators, Programs Managers, and Field Coordinators. Additional staff training will be given to ready the staff for this change.
  • Dr. O’Brien has reviewed the Governor’s Executive Budget. Under the Governor’s proposal, loss to DRS would be $9 million.  He has met with Office of State Finance staff with the hope that budget cuts will not happen, and to maintain current budget funding.  The DRS reorganization will have Division Administrators and School Superintendents involved with all budget decisions.  The DRS training budget for will be increased no matter what budget cuts occur. 
  • All divisions are going to be reorganized. Structured changes will be announced on March 1, 2009. Focus will be  “Cool Jobs with Benefits and to Position People to Live Independently”. Dr. O’Brien’s plan is for DRS to be the leader of disability issues in the state.  Vocational Rehabilitation and Visual Services Divisions will be rolling out on March 1, 2009; then the schools; then other divisions.
  • All DRS Division Administrators and School Superintendents attended a retreat to focus on the DRS reorganization.  The model is the Servant Leadership Role-leadership has to be accountable and transparent, and is to provide the tools needed for their staff. 
  • Budget is driving what is happening right now.  A lot of time is being spent at the Capitol educating the legislators regarding the DRS budget.  The Federal Stimulus Package has been passed.  $400 - $500 million will be coming into the state.  $7.6 million provided the Maintenance of Effort is in place.  $7.6 million for VR/VS – will allow all Priority Groups to open.
  • There will also be $240,000 new dollars for SILC, $400,000 for Older Blind, These monies will need to be spent before September 2009.
  • Dr. O’Brien has been in negotiations with the legislators.  He has spent time educating the legislators regarding the $4 to $1 Federal/State match.  DRS does not want to forfeit the Federal money because of missing state match. DRS has been asked to submit a Budget Request reflecting a 5% budget cut. This budget will be available by the end of this legislative session, however, Dr. O’Brien is confident the Governor’s proposed budget cuts will not happen. 
  • DRS Policy and Procedure changes:ORC has been active in the last 4-5 years with the proposed policy group. ORC has been happy to be involved with the DRS changes. Dr. O’Brien wants the agency to work toward a 50% reduction of the current of the DRS manual.  Any thing that takes authority away from counselors needs to be revised.  DRS will no longer hire Specialist I’s except for promotions or Carl Albert candidates.  Focus will be for Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. 
  • ORC Strategic planning is scheduled for Friday, April 3, 2009.  ORC values the input from DRS in order to effectively plan for the future. 
  • ORC is also on board to support the Reauthorization of the Rehab Act.

Transition Presentation – Alan King, DRS Program Manager

  • The DRS Transition Committee has wanted to share with ORC for some time.  Three years ago DRS partnered with a number of stakeholders to create the Transition Council and local transition teams.
  • Alan reported on the activities of the transition team in his area.  One of the ways the local team keeps teachers involved is utilizing outside speakers and offering continuing education credits. 
  • The new DRS Transition Coordinator is Kim Osmani. She is currently visiting Transition Teams. 

1.  Reports:

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council Report - Milissa Gofourth, Chair 

  • Milissa reviewed the written Executive Committee Report as provided to the membership during the meeting.  Additional comments included:
  • At the new member orientation it was brought to the attention of the new ORC members that the Rehabilitation Act Section 1 is very clear about the functioning purpose of the ORC.   DRS has a contract with OSU Seretean Wellness Center.  OSU has hired Theresa Hamrick as ORC Program Manager; she works for OSU and is supervised by Linda Jaco.  To enhance collaboration she is housed at DRS.
  • Committee Chair persons will be meeting and working on sections of the Strategic Plans.  Theresa will begin to use Website link to inform ORC members of potential dates and times for meetings.
  • Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol will be held on April 9, 2009.

Committee Reports

Transition & Employment – Anita Eccard

  • Anita reviewed the written report of the meeting held on February 5, 2009, as provided to the membership during the meeting. 

Policy & Legislative – Glenda Farnum

  • Glenda was absent therefore Theresa reviewed the written report of the meeting held on December 12, 2008, as provided to the membership during the meeting.  Additionally the ORC comments that were made at the Public Hearings on proposed policy changes were provided.

Planning & Program Evaluation – Marilyn Burr

  • Marilyn reviewed the written report of the meeting held on December 18, 2008, as provided to the membership during the meeting.  Additional comments included:
  • The State Plan is still a work in progress. Melinda Fruendt, Jane Nelson, Mike Hamrick, Susan Hawkins and Mark Kinnison have also met regarding the State Plan.  The preliminary information is compiled just waiting for the input.  ORC will have access to viewing the State Plan as the information is submitted.  On March 2, 2009 we will know more about the State Plan will be available.

Department of Rehab Services Update                       

Syedah Islam, DVR Administrator

  • Recommendations from ORC and other public input regarding the proposed policy changes will be presented to the DRS Commission for approval on March 9, 2009.  The proposed policy of changing how individuals that have had multiple unsuccessful closures will not take effect.  Additional training to counselors will be provided on how to handle such cases.
  • The reorganization team is looking at the DRS Policy and Procedures Manual and recommending changes. 

Jane Nelson, DVS Administrator

  • At the three day retreat, the DRS Administrators and Superintendents were introduced to the Servant Leadership model.  This model is based on a book entitled, The Secret by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.  Its philosophy is that leaders should be public servants first and foremost.
  • Ms. Nelson reported on a new program at University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma with Danny Robison for transition students to participate on campus in a Freshman Orientation program.
  • The current Tulsa facilities are unsafe; therefore, the agency is exploring the possibilities of new office space. 
  • Daniel Erwin has been hired as the new Business Enterprise Program Coordinator.  He will focus on enhancing the Veterans Administration partnership. 
  • VS Focus groups have been completed with the help of Jean Jones and Theresa Hamrick.  The goal for VS is to be a better partner with other entities. 
  • Working from home is becoming more of a reality; technologies are improving so clients can work from home.  Paul Adams at OLBPH has been working with Jay Doudna on a technological stream to help persons with disabilities related to hearing and vision to make working from home become a reality.
  • The agency has just received the results of the VR VS Consumer Satisfaction Survey for FY2008. 


 DRS Field Coordinator Reports

Lori Estep, DRS VR Field Coordinator, thanked ORC for the report template and reported as follows

Active VR Cases in DRS system: 11,387

Priority Group 2 -   after the last releases  4,855

Priority Group 3 -955

Total cases served Year to Date 2009 – 12,966

Total cases closed this Fiscal Year to Date – 1,559

Closed Rehabilitated 336

Competitively Employed 346

Closed Other 1,223     

Break down   From Application 217

                                                From Delayed                            96

                                                From Eligibility                         357

                                                From Service                            542

                                                From Employment                     11

            The VR division is at 43% for Indicator 1.2, needs to be at 55.8%

Currently there are 370 in Job Ready Status and 346 in Employed Status.  These numbers added to the 336 already Rehabilitated put DRS at approximately where we need to be for Mid-year on Indicator 1.1 if all of these cases proceed to a successful closure.

Susan Hawkins, DRS VS Field Coordinator

Active VS Cases in DRS system: 2,651

    Priority Group 2 -   26

    Priority Group 3 -     5

    Total cases served Year to Date 2009 – 339

    Total cases closed this Fiscal Year to Date – 452

                        Closed Rehabilitated            106 + 26 OB

                        Competitively Employed        87

                        Closed Other                         233

                                    Break down               From Application           11

                                                                        From Delayed                   9

                                                                        From Eligibility             130

                                                                        From Service                 73

                                                                        From Employment          10

                                                                        Total  Closed Other         233

            VS Standards and Indicators are also low.

Legislative Update – Jean Jones

  • Jean Jones provided an overview of the state’s budgetary process.  ORC can help by contacting the legislators on the various committees and speaking to the key legislators about rehabilitation and related services.
  • Jean explained the legislative process and shared information on several key disability related bills.  Jean provides legislative updates throughout the session that can be viewed at the ORC website.

Council Member Reports

Program Manager – Theresa Hamrick

  • Theresa reviewed the written report of the program manager activities as as provided to the membership during the meeting. 
  • ORC Annual Report has been distributed.       

2.   Other Business:

  • Secretary of State F-2 reports have been distributed and signed.  Theresa will mail.

3.   Action Items:     

  • Minutes from the ORC November 20, 2008 Meeting were submitted for approval.  Motion to approve the minutes as submitted was made by Tim Parrish and seconded by Kathleen Kennedy.  Motion passed.

4.  New Business

  • There was a request for the ORC meeting time be adjusted from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to begin at 9:30 and eat through lunch. Next ORC quarterly meeting will have the time change.


Motion to adjourn was made by Doug MacMillan and seconded by Tim Parrish.  Motion passed.