minutes 2008 Apr 4

ACTON-BOXBOROUGH SPECIAL EDUCATION PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Meeting Minutes

I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Nancy Sherburne

The meeting attendees were: Nancy Sherburne, Steve Lowe, Mike Coppolino, Matthew

Kidder, Mike Coppolino, Xuan Kong, Francesca Ricciardi, Lisa Holt and Srabani Banerjee.

II. Approval of Minutes. The minutes from the Feb. 6, 2008 Executive Board Meeting were

presented and unanimously approved.

III. Organization/Business Issues

A. Federation Presentation. Nancy mentioned that the PAC was sponsoring a

behavioral presentation from FCSN on April 17th titled, “Why Yelling Doesn’t

Work,” which would be held in the Junior High Library.

B. Transition Task Force Recommendations: There was some confusion and

frustration voiced that Pupil Services’ comments to the Transition Task Force’s

recommendations had come back in an unexpected narrative form (a proposed

handbook). The recommendations were a presentation of the Task Force’s year-long

efforts and the PAC was looking for feedback from Pupil Services on the individual

recommendations made and the feasibility of implementing those recommendations.

Instead Pupil Services had reformatted and rewritten the document and converted it

into a handbook without the participation/approval of the task force members.

Nancy expressed that while it might be appropriate to create a handout of some kind

in the future or incorporate the transition supports into the special education

handbook that was in development, that was not the feedback the PAC was seeking

at this time. We appreciated the clarification of current supports and other

information provided, but were concerned that a number of recommendations had

not been addressed yet by Pupil Services. For example, there was a specific

recommendation to provide parents with information about their child’s disability.

In addition, there was a recommendation to provide parents with an organization

chart that included contact information for special education staff working with their

child. Pupil Services’ responded that they would send a letter to families with the

SPED liaison’s name and phone number; however families already have this

information in their child’s IEP so no new information is being provided.

Francesca said that she had been invited to a meeting with Liza to discuss the Task

Force’s recommendations. Nancy said that neither she nor any other member of the

task force had been invited to this meeting. Francesca and the Pupil Services

Leadership Team met to discuss the Task Force’s recommendations. During the

meeting they discussed the recommendations for the transition from EI to Preschool,

Preschool to Kindergarten, and Elementary to Junior High School. However there

wasn’t time to discuss the Junior High to High School transition recommendations.

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It was Francesca’s understanding from that meeting that all the Task Force

recommendations would be addressed by the district or had already been addressed.

She did not expect that the document would be returned as a handbook. However,

Francesca hadn’t had a chance to go through Liza’s rewrite yet to see which

recommendations had been picked up and which hadn’t.

Action Item: Nancy and Francesca to meet and go through district rewrite one

recommendation at a time, then send joint letter to Liza with request for

specific feedback on recommendations not addressed in district draft.

Xuan asked whether or not the members of the task force were all SPED PAC

members or if the group included members of the administration. Nancy said that

Julie Towell had been appointed by Liza to represent Pupil Services on the Task

Force. She also indicated that the PAC had waited 2-3 months for Liza to appoint a

staff member to the Task Force prior to kicking off the effort. Matt said that Julie

had not felt included in the process in a meaningful way. Nancy was surprised to

hear this as Julie had been invited to every meeting and included in every email

exchange and document review – all of the drafts had been shared electronically

with all team members. Nancy expressed concern that the PAC had not received any

feedback to date on the handbook from either Julie or other Pupil Services’ staff.

Action Item: Nancy to meet with Liza and ask for Pupil Services’ feedback on

Parent Handbook to date.

Lisa Holt said that the handbook from Liza did not address the Task Force’s

recommendations and that some of these recommendations did not belong in a

handbook. She also said that some of the recommendations were very simple and

would not cost much to implement. A response was needed from the school on what

could be done and which areas needed further discussion.

Mike said that based on the discussions it seemed that the response did not fit the

intent of the request. It would be appropriate if Liza could respond with a “Y/N” on

specific recommendations and feedback on who would handle each

recommendation.

Action Item: Matt was asked to talk to Liza about creating a direct response to

the individual recommendations and providing that feedback within 2 weeks.

C. Preparation for Annual Meeting. Nancy discussed last year’s format for the

meeting. The PAC gave a presentation on initiatives and status. There was an

election of officers, a discussion of business issues and request for parent

feedback/suggestions for PAC goals. In addition, Liza and Sandy had presented

district/town updates and shared Pupil Services’ goals for the coming year.

Steve asked how we could get more people to come to the meeting and how we

could give them something useful. He suggested asking Liza to share a presentation

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on bullying and the status of her school safety initiative since this was such a hot

topic right now. There was a discussion about looking at the best practices from the

different schools in our district and possibly implementing the same program across

all elementary schools since they feed into the same Junior and Senior High School.

Some elementary schools have a good program, some don’t. It was suggested that

teachers and monitors need to be trained and that parents need to be included in the

discussion of what is and is not appropriate behavior regarding bullying.

Lisa suggested that there was a need for bringing in experts to adequately train

paraprofessionals who were working with the children and to change the

qualification requirements for paraprofessionals. She felt that 2 years of college

education was not necessarily sufficient for working with children with special

needs.

D. Difference Resolution Process: Mike had a discussion with Bill Ryan about the

process for resolving differences between the SpEd PAC and Pupil Services. Bill

suggested that in the event the PAC and administration could not reach resolution,

that the PAC should talk directly with him and/or the chair of the appropriate school

committee.

E. Paraprofessional Training: Lisa Holt mentioned that some school districts have

relationships with local college programs, so that special education teachers (in

training) are brought in as assistants, which provides practical training for them

through internships and provides the district with a source of talent. For example

Concord does this and then offers these individuals priority when staff openings

become available in the district. Developing relationships with local teaching

colleges is something that AB could look into.

F. Agenda for Next Meeting

• Discussion of proposed policy/procedure

• PAC will meet with SC twice/year

• Decide what would like to present at fall SC meeting

D. Adjournment: Francesca motioned to adjourn the meeting. The motion was

seconded and unanimously approved.

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