minutes 2009 Mar 11

Nancy Sherburne called the meeting to order.
Attendees: Nancy Sherburne, Bill Guthlein, Steve Lowe, Laurel Collins,
Valerie Ryan, Xuan Kong, Julie Towell, Matthew Kidder
Approval of the minutes from the January 14, 2009 meeting was postponed
until the next Board Meeting due to computer complications.
A. Nancy Mullin Bullying Prevention Presentation on April 15
Nancy Mullin’s role as a highly regarded expert and sought after speaker
was discussed. Nancy Mullin is currently the Executive Director of
Bullying Prevention, Inc., a non-profit organization. She previously served
as the Director of both the Project on Teasing and Bullying and the
Preschool Empathy Project at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She has
been actively involved in projects concerned with curriculum
development, teacher training, consultation and research and has published
works that focus on bringing research and best practices about bullying
prevention into schools. Julie mentioned that the event would be well
publicized in the Action Unlimited and flyers in Acton and surrounding
towns. Turn out for the event is expected to be good. The event will be
held in the Junior High Auditorium from 7:00-9:00 pm on April 15
B. New Search Committee to Fill Elementary Special Education Coordinator
Nancy shared that Lynn Mulrooney had announced her retirement. Nancy
stated that Pupil Services was putting together a search committee to find
her replacement and that the PAC had asked Steve Lowe and Francesca
Riccardi to represent the organization on this committee. Laurel asked
how the decision of who the parent representatives would be was made.
Nancy explained that Liza Huber had asked her and Terry to make
recommendations for parent representatives to the committee in a
relatively short time frame. They recommended Steve and Francesca
because of their experience as past PAC Chairs and their service on
previous interview committees. In addition, they both have children who
have gone through the elementary schools, so know the needs of this age
child as well as the special education community. Finally, they both have
good working relationships with Pupil Services. Laurel noted that the Page 2 of 5
manner in which the decision was made was of concern to her. She
mentioned that the question of who should be recommended could have
been brought to the Board for discussion prior to a recommendation being
made. Nancy acknowledged her concern and stated that she and Terry had
simply been trying to resolve the issue expeditiously and in the PAC’s best
interests. All agreed that Steve and Francesca were highly qualified
representatives. However, Nancy said that she would take Laurel’s
suggestion under advisement..
Action Item:
• Steve to coordinate with Francesca and Pupil Services
regarding participation on the search committee.
C. Next General PAC Meeting and Quarterly Meetings with Pupil Services:
i. Nancy suggested we cancel the next general PAC meeting
scheduled for April 8
due to the close timing with Nancy Mullin’s
presentation on April 15
. Steve suggested organizing a mixer to
be held just prior to the presentation. It was agreed that this was a
good idea.
Action items:
• Julie to reserve Junior High Lobby
• Steve to contact Roche Brothers regarding food
• Nancy to e-mail the Special Education community
about the mixer
• Nancy to notify Town Hall about the meeting change
ii. Nancy asked if members of the Board had suggestions for topics
of discussion at the next Quarterly meeting with Pupil Services.
Nancy also asked Julie if Liza had mentioned any suggestions for
topics. Julie said that they had not discussed it. Nancy suggested
that Board members e-mail her if they had topics they wished to
discuss at the Quarterly meeting. Laurel mentioned the idea of
discussing some of our open agenda items.
D. Additional Questions re: Pupil Services’ Budget:
Nancy shared that Bill hadn’t had a chance to get through the budget
notebook yet, as Terry was currently studying it. As soon as it was
available Terry would pass it along to Bill so we can get together and
finalize our additional questions.
E. PAC Survey closing March 20
Nancy shared that an announcement had been sent out to PAC members
stating that the deadline for completing the survey would be March 20
After the announcement a number of additional responses were received.
Once the survey closes the data will be processed.
Action Item:
• Bill to compile the survey data. Page 3 of 5
F. Kick off of Pupil Services’ Task Force re: Technology Use in IEP
Development Meetings:
Matt mentioned that he had offered to co-chair the task force together with
Lynn Mulrooney. Matt talked about the need to identify members,
including parents. Some background in technology was mentioned as a
plus. The goal will be to see how technology can be used and
implemented to facilitate the IEP development process. Meetings will
take place in March and April. Nancy shared that Liza had suggested
parent trials with a smart board as part of that process. Julie mentioned
that other districts are using this technology already. Steve suggested
defining how refined the capacity of the technology is. For example, will
it accommodate detailed service provider data or is it for more broad uses?
Steve suggested there be strikeout or underscoring method used on the old
IEP so parents can see what was changed. Steve and Nancy mentioned
their interest in being on the task force. Nancy also mentioned that Terry
had expressed an interest as well and that he has a background in
G. Clarification of Parent vs. Team meeting vision statement in IEP:
Nancy mentioned that there had been multiple calls to the PAC about the
use of a Team Vision instead of, or together with, the Parent Vision on
IEPs. Nancy and Terry will talk with Liza again about the use of a Team
Vision to clarify. They had understood that this was not the practice and
that this area on the IEP was meant for a Parent Vision statement. Nancy
shared that Lynn M. had told her that this was a new practice – Parent
Vision will be included but Team vision will be added if it differs. It was
stated that it should not be titled a Team Vision unless parents had a part
in it as full Team members. It was mentioned that families need to be
educated on this topic once it is clarified. Steve suggested putting the
practice in the Parent Handbook. Xuan asked about the status of the
Parent Handbook. Nancy mentioned that it would be finished by the end
of the summer with a goal of distributing it in the fall. Xuan emphasized
the importance of completing the Handbook.
A. Concerns about the Process for Combining Outside Specialists’
Recommendations with District Recommendations:
Nancy stated that this is an ongoing topic of conversation with the district
and that progress is being made in this area. Nancy stated her hope that
the next discussion with Liza would be more definitive. Steve asked for
clarification on the difference of opinion. Nancy stated that the DOE and
Federation Parent Handbook state that the intent of the law is that equal
consideration be given to private and district evaluations. The district’s
perspective is that it’s own evaluations carry more weight and that they are
not obligated to give private evaluations equal consideration. There was a Page 4 of 5
brief discussion of how the question of equal weight could be resolved. It
was pointed out that parents/Teams need to be educated on how to assess
the value of the private evaluations. The ideas of looking at hearing
decisions and use of the N1 form for point-by-point explanations were
both brought-up.
B. Mandatory special education training/professional development for regular
and special education staff:
Concerns about educator training on special education topics – particularly
for regular education staff – were noted in Liza’s 2007 survey. This issue
is complicated by the voluntary nature of professional development for
regular education staff. Nancy shared that she and Terry are talking with
Liza about the possibility of making some of this training mandatory.
C. Enhanced Summer School and After School/Extracurricular
Discussions with pre-school ABA parents revealed that there are questions
about what criteria are used in determining which students qualify for
summer services as well as which services will be provided during the
summer months. It was mentioned that the district has stated that its
principal criteria in this determination is the child’s risk of regression.
Steve mentioned that there are actually a number of other criteria that
should be considered when making this decision. All agreed on the
importance of educating parents about the criteria that should be part of
this Team decision and the need to document these criteria. Laurel
mentioned that one concern for parents of spectrum children is the need
for typically developing children in the summer program as peer models.
She stated it is a win-win situation for children and the district as typical
kids could be tuitioned in to the program. She mentioned that other
districts are currently doing this. Steve mentioned use of the IEP service
delivery grid to increase transparency about what is going to happen in the
Action item:
• Laurel will get three program descriptions from other
school districts who tuition typical peers into their
summer program.
A. Inclusion of Specific Recommendations in APS Speciaists’ Evaluation
Some parents have reported that recommendations were not included in
the district’s evaluation reports for their child. When it doesn’t occur
parents are left unprepared for the Team meeting and unable to participate
fully in the development of their child’s educational program. This is a
compliance issue for the district. Page 5 of 5
B. Communication with Parents:
Bill suggested that as a PAC it would be appropriate to offer an opinion on
communication with parents. He emphasized that culturally our policy is
open communication. Communication issues such as access to teachers,
records, and therapists notes were mentioned. The group discussed ways
to facilitate direct communication between parents and providers.
Availability of forms to request records and a flow chart on our web site
were two ideas. Julie stated that requests for special education records
should come to her. She mentioned that it would be helpful for her to
know about specific issues with regard to getting records so there can be
some internal education if necessary. Nancy stated that she feels that we
are seeing a shift toward a more open communication style from and
relationship with the district. Examples given included: On Team,
Quarterly Meetings, Meetings with Liza and PAC Chairs, and the multiple
meetings with the Pre-school parents earlier this year.
Action Item:
• Julie to add this to list of discussion topics with Liza.
A motion was made to adjourn the meeting. That motion was seconded and
unanimously approved.
PAC General Meeting April 8
at 7:00 PM canceled due to April 15
presentation by Nancy Mullin. May 13
is our next Board meeting.
Minutes respectfully submitted by, Valerie Ryan, Secretary

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