Malden SEPAC

Special Education Parent Advisory Council

We are an established SEPAC, whose focus is that of enhancing the parental voice in Special Education in the City of Malden. Our mission is to promote a family-school relationship of mutual involvement and respect. Our primary consideration is the well-being of the student, regardless of disability, culture or background.

PURPOSE
Advance the public school education of children with Special Needs
Promote meaningful parent-participation
Advise and support at the school, district, and state levels

WE ARE
Governed by elected board members that volunteer.
Assisted by school district, teachers, students and parent volunteers.

ABOUT US
Collectively we represent hundreds of Malden parents with Special Needs children.
We ensure that parents have a strong voice in their child’s education.
We ensure that the Malden Public Education system remains focused on the needs of its students.
We support parents in navigating the Special Education system as they exercise their rights and the rights of their children.
We hold regular meetings to discuss Special Education issues.

Malden SEPAC By-Laws:

Article I: Name of Organization
The name of this self-governed organization shall be the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council, also known as the Malden SEPAC

Article II: Purpose of the Malden SEPAC

Malden SEPAC is a council whose primary commitment is that of enhancing the parental/guardian voice in public education in the city of Malden.   Our purposes are to:

  • Advance the public-school education and well-being of children with Special Needs
  • Promote and enhance meaningful parent-participation
  • Advise and support at the family, school, district, state, and federal levels

Our Mission is to create a supportive environment and serve as a resource to parents/guardians of children with special needs with a clear intent to help them become more informed and effective advocate for your children.

WE ARE:

  • Governed by elected board members that volunteer.
  • Assisted by school district, teachers, students and parent and guardian volunteers.

ABOUT US:

  • Collectively we represent hundreds of Malden parents/guardians with Special Needs children.
  • We ensure that families have a strong voice in their child’s education.
  • We ensure that the Malden Public Education system remains focused on the needs of its students by assisting the Special Education administration in identifying areas of need and acting in an advisory capacity.
  • We support parents/guardians in navigating the Special Education system as they exercise their rights and the rights of their children.
  • We hold regular meetings to discuss Special Education issues as well as provide informational guest speakers.
  • We support students at all stages of the Special Education process including those in the entering the process of determining special education eligibility as well as those in the process of receiving assessments and services.

Article III: Terms of Membership
General Membership shall be open to any resident of Malden or person affiliated with the Malden Public Schools and students who are placed in out-of-district placements through the Malden Public Schools Special Education department. Voting membership is required to vote in officer elections and other business that comes before any Malden meeting.

Voting membership shall be any general member, who is a parent or guardian of a child with special need residing in Malden, with or without an Individual Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan or is a parent or guardian of a child with special needs who attends Malden Public Schools and out-of-district placements.

Meetings are defined as any Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council meeting, activities, or committees at which attendance is taken and minutes of the meeting are recorded by the Secretary.   All meetings will be posted on the Malden SEPAC website as well as notification to families through the Malden Public Schools and Malden SEPAC database.

Article IV: Officers of the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council
Officers of the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council are elected by the voting membership and hold office for two years. If any office becomes vacant, an election for that office shall be held immediately, with term to be reviewed at the May meeting.

Office and officer responsibilities of the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council are:

President:

  • Set the agenda for each general meeting.
  • Preside at all meetings of Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
  • Recommend the organization and monitor the function of sub-committees (when needed).
  • Maintain ongoing communication with Malden Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, the School Committee Liaison, the Superintendent and the Mayor’s office.

 Vice-Presidents:

  • Two members in good standing shall hold the offices of Vice President and are responsible for the following responsibilities.
  • Preside at meetings in the absence of the President, or at the request of the President.
  • Co-ordinate public communications (if needed), not including those communications that are the Secretary’s.
  • Assist the President as appropriate and perform those responsibilities of the President at his/her request.
  • Maintain communication to the Malden community to the Malden school community, the Malden SEPAC website, Facebook and any other Malden SEPAC approved social media, local media.

Secretary:

  • Co-ordinate all communication between the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council and its membership.
  • Co-ordinate the recording and filing of minutes of the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council and its sub-committees.
  • Collect and review all correspondence of the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
  • Prepare periodic reports for the Special Education Administration regarding PAC activities and needs.

Treasurer:

  • Co-ordinate efforts to apply for grants, donations, reimbursements or any other funds for which Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council may be eligible.
  • Manage and account for funds collected, donated, and spent for the Malden Special Educations Advisory Council.
  • Co-ordinate fund raising activities.

Advisory Board: The President may create an Advisory Committee from among voting member who volunteer. The role of the Advisory Board is to assist the officers in carrying out their duties and the work of the SEPAC. The Advisory Board will be appointed by the President. Duties of the Advisory Board may include:

  • The Advisory Board shall be responsible for offering aid and assistance to the President.
  • The Advisory Board shall meet with the President to discuss, plan and help carry out the SEPAC activities, workshops and events.
  • The Advisory Board shall help the President in community outreach and growth of the SEPAC.
  • The Advisory Board shall help the President in meeting, discussing and addressing parent and guardian concerns regarding special education in the district.

SEPAC Advisor:

  • Provide context and historical information to assist in organization-wide decision making.
  • Provide continuity and support to the PAC officers and Advisory Board.

Article V: Elections
Elections shall be the first order of business during the May meeting.
Elections shall be decided by a simple majority vote of the voting membership. New officers shall take office immediately following their elections.

The Department of Education will be informed of the annual elections with the names and phone numbers of the new board by June 1st.

Nominations will be made verbally at the Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council meeting held in April.

Prior to the nomination meeting, an Election Coordinator will be determined. The Election Coordinator will coordinate activities necessary to complete the election. At the nominating meeting, the Election Coordinator will tally the nominations. Within two days, the Election Coordinator shall announce/notify members of individuals nominated.

 Article VI: Meetings

All meetings are open to the public. All meetings will be posted on the Malden SEPAC website as well as notification to families through the Malden Public Schools and Malden SEPAC database.
General Meetings shall be held at least monthly from September through June. Notice of all general meeting dates and elections shall be published in the local press in advance the Malden SEPAC website, to the families through the Malden Public Schools and the Malden SEPAC database. All families are welcome to submit their name and e-mail addresses to be added to the database.

During the June meeting, the President shall take recommendations for the calendar of meetings for the following school year. The calendar shall include dates and times of the meetings and projected activities for the year.

Matters which require a vote to be taken of the voting membership include, but are not limited to, the following items:

  • A change in the By-laws can only be voted on at a general meeting.
    • A commitment of financial resources requires a simple majority of voting member present.
    • Elections require a vote as described in Article V, Elections.
    • Minutes of all Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council meetings shall be recorded and retained for public record.

Article VII: Subcommittees
Subcommittees shall be created as needed.

Article VIII: Amendments
These by-laws may be amended by a simple majority of the voting members at a general meeting, but by-laws changes may not be voted upon in the same meeting as they are proposed.

Article IX: Roberts Rules
Roberts Rules of Order are the default procedures for this organization.

Revised and changes voted at 11/20/2018 Malden SEPAC meeting

Contact Us

Malden SEPAC Officers 2020-2022

Patrick Fitzgerald, President

Jackie Ecker and Bruce Friedman, Vice Presidents

Jessica Hall, Secretary

Vacant, Treasurer

Visit us on FACEBOOK

Email: pac@maldensepac.org

Malden SEPAC Advisory Board

Salima Slimane, Past President of Malden SEPAC and Parent Advisor

Imene Bouziane Saidi, Past Vice President of Malden SEPAC and Education Consultant

Marilyn Andrews, Past President of Malden SEPAC

Greetings Malden SEPAC Community!

Next Thursday, May 27, 2021 the Malden SEPAC will be hold its final monthly meeting of the 2020-2021 school year, which will include the Federation for Children with Special Needs “Basic Rights: Understanding the IEP” training from 6:00 – 8:00 pm via Zoom. Attached is the agenda for the meeting and a flyer for the training. We are fortunate the Malden Public Schools is providing Rosetta Languages interpretation service in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

Please note the recurring Malden SEPAC Zoom link will NOT access this meeting. Rather, the meeting and training will be accessed and hosted through the Federation’s Zoom meet. Registration through the link below is required to obtain the Zoom link for the meeting and training. Please know that your name, email address, and affiliated organization (ex. Malden SEPAC) is required information to complete the registration and obtain the link. The Federation needs registration for their grant reporting but does NOT disclose or otherwise disseminate any of the detailed registration information.

https://fcsn-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIudOCrrT0rHt3vDEb8kRFi8XcD1b8SluSJ

Also attached are the minutes for our April 29, 2021 meeting for our voting members’ consideration. We will vote whether to approve these minutes on May 27th.

All are invited and encouraged to forward this communication and invitation to any relevant and interested stakeholders, particularly through more accessible means with language translation. This communication will be posted and can be translated on the SEPAC’s page at www.maldenps.org/malden-sepac/

We look forward to this important and valuable training from the Federation and hope to see you on May 27th!

Malden SEPAC
www.maldensepac.org
www.maldenps.org/malden-sepac/

Thursday, May 27, 2021, 6:00 – 8:00 pm EST, Zoom **

Agenda

  1. Call to Order & Advisory
  2. Approval of Minutes for April 29, 2021 Meeting
  • Federation for Children with Special Needs Training – “Basic Rights: Understanding the IEP”

Jessica Sales Cohen, Federation for Children with Special Needs

https://fcsn-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIudOCrrT0rHt3vDEb8kRFi8XcD1b8SluSJ

  1. Adjournment
  2. Next Meeting – To Be Determined in August 2021

**  This Zoom meeting with be hosted by the Federation and NOT the Malden SEPAC.  The Zoom meeting link and information will be sent upon completing the registration in the link below.  Please be aware only your name, email address, whether you are a parent or professional, and your affiliated organization is required to complete registration and obtain the link.  The Federation does NOT disseminate the information provided during registration. 

https://fcsn-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIudOCrrT0rHt3vDEb8kRFi8XcD1b8SluSJ

***********************************

April 29, 2021 Meeting Minutes

Meeting called to order at 6:05pm.

  1. Roll Call of Committee Members:   Jackie Ecker, Patrick Fitzgerald, Bruce Friedman, (Jessica Hall    absent) (Revised guidance prohibits in-person meetings-meeting conducted via Zoom.  Verbal explanation was provided)
  2. Approval of Minutes for March 25, 2021 Meeting

Motion to Approve by Amy Friedman.  Amy’s motion was seconded by Jackie Ecker.  The meeting minutes were unanimously approved as submitted.

  1. Mass Advocates for Children (MAC) – Compensatory Services and COVD-19 – Johanne Pino

Johanne is a Project Coordinator for MAC.  MAC is a non-profit organization that has a helpline for parents and also provides advocates for special needs families.  They can provide some legal services for low impact families, and referrals to other advocates and attorneys for those who are not deemed low impact.  MAC also has an Autism Legal Support Center and works with legislators to advocate for legislative changes.  MAC also has a Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, particularly related to domestic violence situations.

Johanne provided an overview of the training to include what are COVID compensatory services (CCS), and who qualifies and who determines the need.  Services will come in different forms, such as General Education Recovery, CCS, and additional IEP services.

CCS are those IN ADDITION to those already included in the IEP.  CCS can be determined by the full IEP team, the IEP team without certain members, or through some other informal process.

Parent input is important to provide important data, such as children’s access, attention and engagement, behavior, progress and skis, and other overall impact of COVID.  Families are still entitled to interpreter services for this process. Johanne emphasized families can call MAC’s helpline for families who may not know if they are eligible.  617-357-8431 x 3224

CCS are to be prioritized for “complex and significant needs.”  These include students who are turning 22 years old and making sure they are connected with adult service agencies for when they are no longer eligible for public school special education services.  Updated priorities include students who have been chronically absent for the 2020-2021 school year and those who wee remote for more than 3 months during this year.

Complex needs include those deemed as high needs in their PL-3, augmented alternative communication, homeless and foster/congregate care, and English language learners.

The IEP team process for CCS includes

Step 1 – determine services not offered or accessed

Step 2 – determine lost skills or knowledge, or have not made effective progress

Step 3 – determine if require special ed services, and if so, frequency and location of services Communications to be provided in the home language.

Step 4 – Amend IEP to include new services, any new disabilities, evaluations

General Education Recovery Support is intended to address gaps, loss in skills, social and emotional needs.  IEP team may determine General Education Recovery Support may be sufficient to address the child’s needs

Other issues to consider: delayed evaluations and IEP development, moving to a new district, and out of district placements.

What can families do now?  Contact their IEP Teach Chair if not already to discuss CSS determination.

If families are having issues getting CSS addressed, they can all MAC Hotline (number above) or DESE’s Problem Resolution System (PRS) Complaint Hotline 781-338-3700; compliance@doe.mass.edu

Assistant Superintendent Pam MacDonald was present for the meet and contributed to the conversation and answered questions.  Pam indicated her office was actively working on finalizing summer programming as CCS and hope to be able to let us know soon.  Questions were asked about whether families could defer CSS until the fall if they wanted a break for the summer.  Pam confirmed her commitment to accommodating such requests and encouraged families to inform their Team Chairperson so they can determine the demand and prepare accordingly.

  1. Public Comment

Patrick opened the floor for public comment and the discussion involved the transportation contract with North Reading Transportation (NRT).  People shared their negative experiences with the company.   Ward 3 School Committee Representative/SEPAC Liaison was present and recommended we reach out the Assistant Superintendent MacDonald regarding the status of the contract.  Discussion was had about the fact the existing contract is due to expire on June 20, 2021 and what the plans were for either requests for proposals or extending the existing contract for either one or two years as disclosed at a recent school committee meeting.   Patrick agreed to send a communication to the district asking for information and

  1. Next Meeting is May 27, 2021 at 6pm for the Federation for Children with Special Needs training “Know Your Rights:Understanding the IEP”
  1. Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 7:45 pm

 Respectfully Submitted,

Patrick Fitzgerald, Clerk on April 29, 2021

Malden SEPAC Statement on Malden School Committee’s Decision to Apply for Return to In Person Learning Waiver

The Malden Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) would like to offer a statement on the March 15, 2021 vote by the Malden School Committee to apply for a waiver from the state to delay full, in person learning.

The Malden SEPAC vehemently disagrees with the School Committee’s decision to apply for a waiver to delay full in person learning and strongly feels a further delay of in person education will be disastrous especially for the district’s special education student population.

This decision was against legal advice and without a good faith basis in support of a waiver.  Such a decision irresponsibly forces our district leadership to take much needed time and resources away from preparing to finalize a safe plan to comply with the mandate like many of our neighboring districts, and like Malden’s own Malden Catholic High School and the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School have already done.

The Malden SEPAC also strongly disavows any use of disparaging language and reactions to such language by our elected leaders under any circumstances.  Despite strong and emotional positions and viewpoints on all sides, courtesy and respect must always be modeled by our elected leaders.

Our member families tell us daily that they are suffering; that their children are suffering, both academically and emotionally. IEPs and 504 plans in many cases simply cannot be adequately serviced in thrown together remote and hybrid learning models. Nationwide testing results have shown that the special education population has fallen greatly behind in learning, with some demographics now largely one to two full school years behind. This shows that Malden Public Schools is failing its special education population.  A waiver to delay in person learning will only exacerbate this issue and make it worse.  Our children deserve better.

At the beginning of the school year, Malden School Committee members stated that a lack of guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) required the District to initiate a remote learning plan while it worked to determine next steps for in person learning. Now, DESE has provided this guidance and the School Committee sees it as an overreach of its power and as such, will request a waiver to remain in remote learning simply so the School Committee can retain local control.  However, this is completely counter to what our School Committee was elected to do, and Malden SEPAC hopes the School Committee reviews its stated purpose and prioritizes the needs of our children over those of special interest groups.

It is the position of the Malden SEPAC that the district has had ample time to prepare for a return to full, five days a week, in person learning for those who choose and there is no reason the state’s plan for reentry should be delayed. Our dedicated building administration and staff have worked tirelessly and selflessly to prepare an environment proven successful and safe for our highest needs and youngest learners and we are confident in their ability to continue to do so for all who choose.  Enough is enough.  It is time to bring Malden Public Schools children who choose back to the classroom where they belong.

Malden SEPAC

pac@maldensepac.org

www.maldenps.org/malden-sepac/

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