minutes 2008 Sept 16

Acton-Boxborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council

Executive Board Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008

Meeting Minutes

I. Call to OrderThe 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 MinutesThe 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 BylawsProposed 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 YearWe 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 YearNancy 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

this topic.

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. 20thThere 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

ABA Program

• 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. AdjournmentA motion was made to adjourn the meeting. That motion was seconded and

unanimously approved.

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