Friday, October 21, 2005
CPAC offers school families support
The Carlisle Parents' Action Committee (CPAC) held an open house/meeting on Wednesday, October 12. In her invitation to this first meeting of the new school year, chair Kris Tocci said the goal of the meeting was to "introduce the new board and to talk about what our purpose is. We would like information from the parents about what is important to them. It will be a good time to ask questions and make suggestions."
What is CPAC?
CPAC is a state-mandated organization which serves as an informational and support resource for families of children with disabilities, as well as families who suspect their children may have a disability. Each Massachusetts school district is required to have a CPAC organization.
The meeting began with coffee, treats, and greetings. Tocci introduced Dr. Linda Stapp, Carlisle School Director of Student Support Services, and said Carlisle Superintendent Marie Doyle will also attend some meetings. Sitting in a circle, parents were introduced to the 05-06 CPAC board: Tocci as chair, with Joan Hoffman, Cathy Marks, Anne Wilkes, and Susan Bonderant as board members.
Tocci's agenda listed three purposes for the Carlisle PAC organization, including to "serve as advocates of equal educational opportunities for special needs children; provide parental input into educational programs and policies; meet periodically to discuss current issues involving our children's special needs education with at least one administrator present."
Growth of Carlisle PAC
In a later phone interview Tocci said she wants to explore how to meet the support needs of families dealing with a broad range of disabilities. The spectrum is varied but she notes all families have a common need for communication, education, and support. CPAC is available as a source to help deal with concerns, issues, and needs for students and families, she added. "What I would like families to know is that we would like to discuss what is important to parents, and how CPAC can support them." She added that parents can call her directly if they are concerned about confidentiality. Most meetngs wiII be held away from the school campus. "Parents may ask themselves, 'Why go to a CPAC meeting?'" she said. "Because your voice will be heard," she answered.
No families are alone
The Concord-Carlisle district also has a CPAC, with an active membership of over 150. The Concord organization acts as advisor to the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee to "identify areas of needs" in the six schools in Concord. An important message on the Concord's PAC website is "You don't have to do this alone," and the Carlisle PAC's goal is the same. The Carlisle PAC meetings are designed to cover issues but also to offer a forum to discuss individual students' needs and parents' ideas and suggestions.
Wednesday night's meeting was informal as conversations about parents' concerns were mingled with business discussions about the CPAC budget and website information resources. One parent noted it was important to her that within the group discussions there be an agreement of privacy, since she felt what she might say could be sensitive information. Other parents agreed, hoping to encourage more Carlisle parents to come and share their concerns and experiences. The next meeting will be held in November, and plans are to invite Marie Doyle to a future meeting.
Tocci noted two web sites of interest: the Concord CPAC web site, www.concordspedpac.org and www. groups.yahoo.com/group/Cent - NM - Regionalpacs. The Central MA Regional PACs website is a collaborative of PACs and lists area speakers and events.
To get on the CPAC e-mail distribution list or for more information contact Kris Tocci at 1-978-371-6498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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