Sunday, March 13, 2011

Meeting Minutes, Role of An Advocate, 3/8/11

Georgetown SEPAC - Special Education Parent Advisory Council

Georgetown SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council) Meeting
Welcome to the Georgetown PAC: Please join us on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - The Role of an Advocate – Presented by Sue Terzakis, an FCSN trained Special Education Advocate with the Andover Educational Advocacy Group. Sue’s areas of concentration include Dyslexia/language based LD's, Autism, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders and Early Intervention/turning age 3.
Learn the answers to the following questions:
· When should a parent seek the help of an advocate?
· What sort of services does an advocate perform?
· What sort of issues might a child have that would warrant the support of an advocate?
Bring your own questions to this interactive discussion-based Georgetown SEPAC meeting. Topics covered will include parents’ rights, special education processes, testing and the evaluation process, IEP development, and building positive, constructive relationships between parents and schools.
Do you have specific questions about your child’s IEP? Bring your IEP documents to inquire about statements regarding vision, measurable annual goals, current performance levels, benchmarks/objectives, service delivery, etc.
Sue Terzakis can be reached at 978-975-2537 or at

Meeting Minutes, March 8, 2011 -
In attendance: Parents + School Personnel: Carol Jacobs, Superintendent

Agenda Discussion Topics:
Advocacy Consultation:
- Includes IEP & 504 Review/Consultation, Team Meeting Representation, Parent Coaching, Evaluation Review, Case Development, DOE Mediation.
- IEP Check Ups – Making sure your child’s IEP is effective & appropriate.
- Team Meeting Help – Attending team meetings or preparing parents with an agenda/plan.
- Resources & Articles

Key points discussed:
• It’s important to understand how critical the quality of your child’s IEP is to the services they will receive. The vision statement and parent concerns are vital drivers of the IEP. Appropriate measurable annual goals, current performance levels, and benchmarks/objectives are the keys to ensuring academic progress; they will determine the nature of the services required by the IEP.
• An advocate can help identify what a particular child needs to make academic progress.
• An advocate can help identify the most appropriate tests for your child and what the results signify, which services have proven helpful for students with the issues indicated by test scores.
• An advocate can recommend particular testers and providers of evaluation services.
• An advocate should know the different special education services/programs, understand the differences between literacy/reading/writing programs, and how well qualified special education personnel need to be to deliver them.
• An advocate can reduce the emotional intensity of the IEP meeting, when parents know that an expert, working the child’s behalf, is directing the plan for services.
• Just like you wouldn’t expect yourself to know all about the medical choices your child’s nurse practitioner would make, it’s extremely difficult and time consuming to educate yourself to understand exactly how to create or build the best educational service plan for your child.
• We always try to cooperate with the school, because the school is an integral partner to the plan to help your child succeed academically.
• If you want your child tested to qualify for special education services, begin with the school, because the school cannot put your child on an IEP without doing their own testing. If you disagree with the school’s test results, then you might want to consider testing privately.
• After you present the school with private testing results, the school has 10 days to meet with the IEP or special education team. The school only needs to consider the report. Then together with the team, you figure out and come to a consensus on the best option for effective intervention.
• The methodology/delivery of instruction piece is critical to your child’s success. The service delivery grid defines the way in which curriculum is delivered or taught, which often should be, at the very least, multisensory.
• There are many ways to monitor academic progress, determining which are appropriate and necessary for your child is not always simple. In addition to the standard 3 year evaluation cycle that schools are required to follow for IEP students, there is teacher feedback, regular informal testing, regular formal testing, testing related to the 5 areas of reading (fluency, phonics, phoneme awareness, reading comprehension, and vocabulary), and so forth.
• How do you know whether your child needs an IEP or a 504 plan? A 504 plan is for children with disabilities that do not impact their ability to access the general curriculum; it is a legal document that outlines a plan of instructional services, or accommodations for students in the general education setting. Accommodations do not alter or lower the academic standards; they change the method of delivery of the general education curriculum to your child. Students with ADHD often have a 504 plan. Not all children with disabilities are entitled to services under IDEA, Only children who are "eligible" under the specified disability categories, whose disabilities adversely impact their ability to access the general education curriculum, will qualify for an IEP Plan. An IEP Plan will allow for necessary modifications, in addition to accommodations. Modifications are changes in course content, teaching strategies, standards, test presentation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student responses, environmental structuring, and/or other attributes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test, which DO fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test
• The proposed Special Education website was discussed. SEPAC members agreed that they would like to see a listing of assistive technologies the school has access to, such as Kidspiration software. So that will be added to the site, which is scheduled to be online within the month.

The Federation for Children with Special Needs, Boston, MA
A parent’s guide to special education
Listings of workshops & resources in greater Massachusetts
Landmark School - Outreach program for language based learning disabilities
A website where parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.
Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)
Voice for children who face significant barriers to equal educational and life opportunities.

A text-to-speech plug-in device for the computer. Will speak the text of the document so the writer can hear back what he has written.
A visual thinking tool that helps capture ideas and organize information.
Helps with poor organizational and sequencing skills in the writing process.

Wrights Law - Special education law articles and blog
Autism Treatment Center - Articles on Autism
CASE LAW - U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school districts can be held responsible for reimbursing parents for unilateral placement in a private school even though the school did not first provide special services for the student.
CASE LAW - Forest Grove case

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