Call to Order
Introductions – Alison Elmer, Inae Hwang, Sarah Barton, Jessica Dombrosky, Deborah Savage, Emily and Ben Butler, Stacy Hutton, Liz Exton, Rena Mello, Chris Carlson, Jacob Woolf, Tracy Perneta, Michelle Moruzzi, Brenda Mahoney, and Margaret Credle Thomas attended.
Approve Minutes – Meeting Minutes from September 2021 were approved. Meeting minutes for October 2021 were tabled until next month for further review. Jess will send out the October minutes to those who were in attendance for further review.
Officer/Committee Reports –
– We recently learned that Massachusetts put out new guidance with regard to SEPACs, specifically that they may no longer be subject to open meeting laws. This would mean that we could continue to elect to hold meetings online after the pandemic, making these meetings a bit more accessible for those who could not travel to make meetings at the Jefferson Cutter House.
– We have contacted several people
– Two weeks ago we held our Basic Rights workshop on Transition Planning
– Last week the High School Special Education Team and MRC hosted a presentation on what services and vendors are available to students prior to graduating.
Update on Website, Listserv, Communications –
– The SEPAC Website on WordPress has been updated, and the SEPAC Website link on the APS Homepage now redirects to the updated SEPAC site.
Workshop Planning –
– Next month we will be hosting Sara Burd, the Director of Social and Emotional Learning at APS. If you have any specific questions or topics for her for next month, please send them to arlingtonSEPAC@gmail.com
– The Understanding Your Neuropsych Evaluation Report workshop has been postponed until the spring.
APS Staff Reports –
– We are getting into budget season, and each school will be presenting their school improvement plans to the School Committee
Presentation/Discussion with Margaret Credle Thomas, Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at APS:
– Worked in the district for nine years, previously as the METCO director. She started her new role as director of DEI in August.
– She did her first DEI segment at ACMI/MCI (https://www.youtube.com/c/AcmiTv) , and will be holding more in the future.
– She just started doing listening sessions with families and staff, and has another one coming up tomorrow. The listening session in January will discuss the panorama studies, and the DEI audit she would like to conduct.
– Her big mission for right now is assessment and listening to figure out the common themes happening in the district. Using the garden analogy, she’s been assessing what is working/growing well and what might need to be uprooted/changed.
– She wears many hats, and one of them is a Special Education parent of a 20 year old son who is currently taking Transitional classes.
– A couple of years ago, they held anti-racism courses during the November professional development day. One of the courses was on changing curriculum/instruction to reflect anti-racist teaching.
– Inae asked about reports that other districts reported that they were having a problem with students using language in middle grades, such as the “r-word.” She asked what strategies and teachings were being considered in APS, and pushing in support and using curriculum such as “the power of our words” or topic specific library books were mentioned.
– Sarah asked about diversification among staff, and Margaret mentioned that their biggest hurdle was retention when it came to staff.
– Margaret mentioned that she is working with Alison on developing Tier I and II push-in supports. Alison mentioned that the district had previously identified that a disproportionate number of African American students were in substantially separate settings, so they are applying grant money to tackle the structural institutions that are creating these outcomes, and add supports to the Tier I and Tier II so that students are supported before being referred to special education.
Public Participation / New Business / Open Discussion –
– On Saturday, November 13th, Bill Hayner and Jeff Thielman will be hosting a School Committee chat for Special Education parents. The link for the zoom chat is on the APS website calendar
– Sarah was contacted by a parent of an older child who was interested in holding an after school class for 4th and 5th grade students who were interested in non-competitive LEGO building and social skills club. This would be an after school offering through Arlington Community Education.
– Sara Burd, the Director of Social-Emotional Learning, will be at our December 14th morning SEPAC Meeting.
– On December 14th we will have a morning SEPAC meeting and then we will be holding an evening social discussion.
– Stacy asked if Alison could speak in the future about outcomes for students on IEPs (measures like MCAS, common assessments, college graduation rates)
– Michelle asked about compensatory services and whether anyone else had the experience where services were offered at the end of the year, and if other parents had late services offered. She mentioned that delaying services for dyslexia would lead to a wider gap between a dyslexic student and their peers, the older they got. Alison said that the staffing shortages and the SLP at Brackett leaving three weeks into the school year led to a gap in services. Compensatory services were discussed to make students whole, both after the pandemic gap in services, and when staff leaving leads to service gaps.
– Deb Savage spoke about how parents wish they could be notified when staff leave, and there are service gaps. Alison encouraged parents to follow up with building principals and their SpEd Coordinator if they were concerned about compensatory services for their children.