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.
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!
Thursday, May 27, 2021, 6:00 – 8:00 pm EST, Zoom **
- Call to Order & Advisory
- 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
- 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.
April 29, 2021 Meeting Minutes
Meeting called to order at 6:05pm.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- 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
- Next Meeting is May 27, 2021 at 6pm for the Federation for Children with Special Needs training “Know Your Rights:Understanding the IEP”
- Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 7:45 pm
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.
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