The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 20, 2009

SEPAC guides Carlisle School parents and educators

The Carlisle School will be celebrating National Inclusive Schools Week starting on December 7 and activities will be offered which will promote disability awareness to parents, students, and the community. The Carlisle Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), a parent-run organization which acts as a resource for the Carlisle School and for parents of children with special needs, is helping the school organize activities for the week.

Each Massachusetts public school district is required by law to form a special education parent advisory council. Carlisle’s SEPAC offers membership to all parents of eligible students (grades PreK – 8) as well as interested community members. The council meets at the school every other month with Director of Student Services Karen Slack and other administrators to help in the planning, development and evaluation of the school’s special education programs. The council also runs a support group for parents.

Carlisle’s SEPAC has four board members: Co-chairs are Lori Tucker and Elaine Bojanic, secretary is Lorin Brown, and publicity chair is Carol Yelle. In a recent interview Bojanic noted that one outcome of SEPAC’s involvement with the Carlisle School is the new Bridge to Pathways program, a transition experience for middle school students with severe needs. The goal of the program is to help students prepare for the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Pathways program. Significant modifications to the middle school curriculum (math, English, social studies and science) have been made to accommodate the needs of these students. The Bridge to Pathways teachers work closely with teachers at CCHS, sharing information about students who are transitioning to the high school.

SEPAC’s goals this year

One of SEPAC’s goals has been to maintain interest and membership in SEPAC and the membership has remained steady, said Tucker, with attendance strong at all meetings. “Our meetings are pretty professional,” she added, with planned topics for each meeting such as MCAS testing and the development of Individual Education Plans.

In keeping with their goal of disability awareness and in honor of National Inclusive Schools Week, SEPAC board members will make a presentation to the Carlisle School Committee on Wednesday, December 2.

SEPAC board members will relay personal stories of inclusion in the preschool, the elementary and middle school. Tucker explained they would like to increase students’ understanding of disabilities. The SEPAC board has worked with both the Carlisle School library and the Gleason Public Library to feature fiction and non-fiction books that relate to disabilities in some way during the week of December 7. Carlisle School Principals Patrice Hurley and Joyce Mehaffey will have an article about inclusion in the school newsletter, The Buzz, and Superintendent Marie Doyle will attend SEPAC’s December 11 meeting to talk about inclusion.

Support group offers a safe place to talk

SEPAC members are invited to join the Parent Support Group, which offers a casual setting for private discussions. It began four years ago as a place to confidentially discuss issues relating to students’ special needs. Unlike the official SEPAC meetings, the support group meets in private homes and school administrators do not attend. With no set agenda the participants can bring topics of interest to the meeting. For more information on both the SEPAC and Parent Support Group meetings, including meeting schedules, see ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito