SEPAC Meeting – June 8, 2021

Call to Order

Introductions: Alison Elmer, Anjani Datla, Cathy B, Cheryl Miller, Chris Carlson, Eileen Coleman, Elisa M, Joyce Schlenger, Katell Guellec, Katherine Reisz-Hanson, Katrina Bernstein-Lewicke, Kristin Burke, Len Kardon, Liz Exton, Melanie Cipar, Mira Whiting, Noel Dyer, Rebekah, Sophie Prevost, Stephanie Greiner, Stephanie Trinkle, Tracy Perneta, Janna Moreau, Dror, Clair Johnson, Rachel Ostrow, Sarah Forster, Inae Hwang, Sarah Barton, and Jessica Dombrosky attended

Approve Minutes:

– Meeting Minutes from May were approved

Officers/Committee Reports:

– We have been talking about possible workshops for next year. The first event we have is a Meet and Greet in September. We are thinking of doing our Basic Rights Workshop from FCSN in October.

– In November we are looking into how to read your IEP report, and after that have a workshop on Beyond Basic Rights from the law firm Sarah met at the FCSN conference on Dispute Resolution

Planning Workshops for the Coming Year:

APS Staff Reports:

– Alison shared the results of the Tiered Focus monitoring. They were on-site in January, and the final report was issued on May 20th 2021. The Office of Public School Monitoring were monitoring the District’s compliance with special education and civil rights. Monitoring happens every 3 years. Parents and school staff were interviewed, along with the SEPAC chairs.

– They are looking at licensure, professional development, facilities and classroom observations, oversight, time and learning, and equal access. Targeted standards must be met in Special Education. We were identified as Tier 2 (out of 4 possible Tiers, where a higher number requires more oversight by the DESE). Tiers 1 and 2 develop Continuous Improvement and Monitoring Plan (CIMP). All of our criteria were implemented in Special Education. With civil rights, 15 of 17 criteria were implemented, with two partially implemented. One civil rights item was related to student handbooks, while the other was related to restraint procedures documentation)

Introducing Dr. Homan, our new Superintendent

– Starts on July 1st. She is originally from the Midwest. Formerly an English teacher, and taught 9th and 10th grade ELA. She took a job with Boston Public Schools and Boston became home. She is a big believer in public schools and that every child is talented and capable of achieving their best, and what they need is different for each child. She has been sitting in on town meetings, finance committee meetings, and school committee meetings since February, and has been meeting with Dr. Bodie and visiting each school in the district.

– Alison mentioned that Dr. Homan has done work in Waltham on multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), and asked her to speak about it. It is a system that is meant to be flexible. If a district wants to have an effective MTSS, they need to define what Tier 1 has access to (reading, math, social-emotional support and criteria). A strong MTSS has Tier 2 supports for students who need it (usually accelerators, so students who are behind can catch back up. Small Group Support). Tier 3 is more intensive, usually one on one or small group support with a counselor. Special Education isn’t necessary to get tiered support.

-Sophie asked Dr. Homan to speak about her work regarding Equity. She mentioned that in Waltham, educators were trained to examine and reflect on whether their interactions with students were in any way denying equal access to Tiered instructions among students of color.

-Inae asked about universal design of instruction and assessment. Dr. Homan believes it’s important for teachers to model and facilitate different modes of instruction, and that students should have multiple ways to demonstrate their comprehension of the material.

– Katrina asked about reading instruction, particularly among dyslexic learners. Dr. Homan says that Waltham used Fundations, and that students benefit from things like repetition and hand motions in order to learn phonemic awareness. Alison mentioned that they are adding Fundations instruction to the third grade curriculum, and more phonemic awareness curriculum to Kindergarten.

-Katell asked about how Dr. Homan leads with empathy. Dr. Homan said there is a distinct difference between being a mom and being an educator, and that there’s a different kind of listening you need to do. When a school needs to accomplish something, having a committee with teachers and parents can help each other understand the other’s story and perspective. The better you can understand what is going on at school or at home, the better you can bridge the divide and flexibly support the learner.

-Sarah asked how General Educators and Special Educators can have the time to work together and collaborate so that each feels responsible for supporting and implementing a student’s IEP. Dr. Homan says having common planning time is important. Also, targeted co-teaching can be very successful if implemented properly. Having a special educator at the table helps all understand the needs of the student.

SEPAC Board Elections:

– Inae and Sarah were reelected as Co-Chairs, and Jess was reelected as Secretary

Public Participation/New Business/Open Discussion: