Acton-Boxborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council
Executive Board Meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008
I. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Nancy Sherburne. The meeting attendees
were: Terry Lindgren, Nancy Sherburne, Bill Guthlein, Steve Lowe, Laurel Collins, Mike
Coppolino, Julie Towell, Matthew Kidder, and Xuan Kong.
II. Approval of Minutes. The minutes from the June 4, 2008 AB SpEd PAC Executive Board
Meeting were presented and reviewed. A motion was made to approve the minutes as
written. The motion was seconded and unanimously approved.
III. Approval of Bylaws. Proposed changes to the By-Laws were discussed. A proposal was made
to have PAC Board meetings only include PAC Officers and not representatives from the
Administration and School Committee. This proposal was discussed and a historical
perspective shared about why our PAC Board is configured as it currently is. School
Committee representatives and Administration/Pupil Services representatives are included
on our Board as non-voting members to facilitate communication across all organizations
on topics related to the education of students with special needs. Laurel made a motion to
modify the By-Laws to remove Administration and School Committee representatives from
the AB SpEd PAC Board. The motion was seconded. It did not pass. A motion was
subsequently made to accept the original changes proposed to the By-Laws, which, among
other things, allow the PAC to hold a separate election during the year if an officer position
becomes vacant mid-year. In addition, these changes document PAC responsibilities laid
out in the new School Committee PAC Policy and Procedure approved last May. A motion
was made to approve the originally proposed By-Law changes as written. The motion was
seconded and unanimously approved.
IV. Organization/Business Issues
A. Finalize Meeting Schedule for the Year. We discussed and agreed that the Board would
meet every other month and the General PAC would meet on alternating months.
PAC Board meetings would be held in the High School Library and General PAC
meetings would be held in the Junior High Library unless otherwise noted.
B. Find a New PAC Secretary for the Year. Nancy shared that Valerie Ryan had volunteered
to run for the office of PAC Secretary. The Board was pleased someone had stepped
forward to fill this position.
C. Status of PAC Survey. Nancy shared that there had been some technical difficulties
getting the survey distributed electronically, but that those challenges had been
resolved. To date we’ve received about 35 responses. We’ll need to do a lot of
survey reminders to increase the return rate since it’s a lengthy survey. We’ll plan to
keep the survey open for some time to allow people a greater opportunity to respond.
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D. PAC Goals for 2008-2009 School Year
1) Special Education Family Picnic – Last year Nancy and Liza discussed co-hosting a
back-to-school picnic for special education families sometime in September.
Liza had proposed Danny’s place and the playground in front of the
Administration Building, which sounded like a great location. Nancy asked Julie
if she could talk with Liza and find a date for this event as soon as possible.
Action Item: Julie to research possible picnic dates and contact Nancy with
2) PAC Library Donation – Nancy plans to send out one last call for book or monetary
donations in Lynne Deutsch’s memory then schedule a date to formally make
the donation to the Acton Memorial Library. The Board thought this would be a
good opportunity to draw some attention to the PAC’s community services by
inviting the Beacon to cover the event. Nancy thought it would be nice to have
Liza present for this event since Pupil Services had donated a large number of
books from its Lending Library.
Action Item: Julie to ask Liza if she’d like to participate and if so, provide a few
possible dates she’s available prior to Nov. 14th.
3) Special Education Parent Handbook – Nancy shared that a draft of the Special
Education Parent Handbook is partially complete and the goal is to finish the
document this school year. It is important that we complete this task this year.
4) Bullying – PAC officers discussed that this was an issue of priority in the district.
Terry shared that CAFY might also be interested in supporting projects around
this topic. In addition, Liza has put quite a bit of time into raising awareness
around this topic with the various school principals. She shared with Nancy that
there is now consensus among the principals that this in a topic of interest
district wide. Nancy also shared that, at the PAC’s behest, Liza had arranged to
bring Nancy Mullin to the district to speak on this topic in the spring. Ms.
Mullin is an internationally acclaimed speaker on bullying and a trainer of the
Olweus Bullying Program. Julie shared that this presentation is currently
scheduled for March 4th. This is a significant financial investment on the
district’s part and we appreciate this gift to the community. The Board
recommended that this presentation be open to the entire AB community, as it is
an issue that touches all families, not just those with special needs.
Action Item: Terry to speak with CAFY about their interest in working with us on
5) What Successful Mainstreaming Looks Like – Terry and Nancy felt this was a very
important issue to the school district – one that encompasses a number of issues,
such as special education training of regular and special education staff, how
regular and special education staff work together, bringing accountability and
responsibility for special education students and decision making down to the
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school principal level, etc. Nancy felt we had more knowledge about this topic
as a Board when Kelly Clough was an officer and wondered what specific
actions the PAC could accomplish this year related to this topic. The consensus
was that this is a very important topic and that more discussion is needed to
clarify our thoughts and direction on this issue.
E. Presentation to School Committee Nov. 20th. There was preliminary discussion about what
should be included in our Nov. 20th presentation to the School Committee. We
discussed wanting to mention the family picnic and library donation, completing the
Special Education Parent Handbook, focusing on the issue of bullying and possibly
what successful mainstreaming looks like, if we can figure out what we want to
accomplish in that arena this year.
F. Speakers/Presentations for the year. Laurel recommended a presentation from Mass.
Advocates for Children titled “Autism Spectrum and the Law.”
Action Item: Laurel to contact Mass. Advocates to schedule this presentation.
G. Topics for Next Meeting
• Presentation to Board from parents with children in the Integrated Preschool
• Nov 20th School Committee presentation
V. Open Issues. 1) Completion of IEE forms – now that procedure has been established for
topic resolution when PAC and Pupil Services reach an impasse, we can move this
discussion forward. 2) Lack of full-time ABA Director – Parents from Integrated Preschool
ABA Program will share presentation re: concerns at Nov. meeting. 3) PAC Officers
continue to hear from parents that reports and recommendations from outside specialists are
not being given equal weight to school evaluations, nor are key recommendations from
these specialists being incorporated into children’s IEPs as appropriate.
VI. Adjournment. A motion was made to adjourn the meeting. That motion was seconded and