Arlington Special Education Parent Advisory Council
(as amended June 5, 2012)
Article I. Arlington Special Education Parent Advisory Council
The name of this self-governed organization shall be the Arlington Special Education Parent Advisory Council, also known as the Arlington SEPAC.
Article II. Authority
The Arlington SEPAC is formed pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of Chapter 71B of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Article III. Purpose of the Arlington SEPAC
The mission of the Arlington Public School (APS) Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) is to work towards the understanding of, respect for, support, and appropriate education for all children with special needs in the APS community. To that end, the Arlington SEPAC will:
1. Advise the school committee and Director of Student Services on matters that pertain to the education, health, and safety of students with special needs by providing direct parent input, review, and feedback [CMR 306:28.07(b)].
2. Meet regularly with school officials (Administrator of Special Education, School Committee, etc.) to advise and participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the district’s special education programs [CMR 306:28.07(b)]. This includes providing input to the development of policy and procedures, and parent and teacher training; advising and participating may include development and review of the Three-Year Program Plan and six-year Corrective Action Plan (as appropriate), prior to submission to the DESE. This will include the ability to provide input, review, revise and comment on any/all regular reports and plans pertaining to Special Education sent to the Department of Education, prior to their being finalized and submitted.
3. Promote a network of parents, guardians, educational surrogates, including but not limited to parents of children with special needs (developed through active outreach and the maintenance of a membership email list), and provide a forum to share information and discuss matters of concern and interest regarding children with special needs. This will include providing a network of support for parents including access to relevant information, training, and resources, and sharing timely information with the membership and the community in Arlington, as well as APS administration and School Committee.
4. Promote communication and programs within the community to encourage understanding, acceptance and inclusion of children with special needs, thereby encouraging an atmosphere of open communication, understanding and mutual respect among all students, parents, teachers, and the Arlington community at large.
5. Provide informational forums to parents, educators, students and other professionals. This will include collaboration with parent/teacher groups, school councils, administrators, and other school and community organizations to promote the achievement of district goals and the SEPAC mission, and provide opportunities for parents and school personnel to participate in joint training to foster mutual understanding.
6. Promote communication between Arlington SEPAC members, local, state and national organizations, councils and groups. This will include staying current on public policy issues, state advisories and regulation which impact all education in Massachusetts, and crafting responses, as necessary.
Article IV. Terms of Membership
Any such qualified person may become a member by communicating orally or in writing to any Officer of the Arlington SEPAC such person’s desire to become a member.
a. General membership shall be open to:
– any resident of the Arlington Public School Districts, or
– any person affiliated with the Arlington Public Schools, or
– any person affiliated with a child whose education is the partial or entire responsibility of Arlington Public Schools (CMR 603:28.10), or
– any parent, guardian, or educational surrogate of a child attending an Arlington Public School program,
and who has attended at least one previous Meeting of the Arlington SEPAC during the past 12 months.
b. Voting membership is required to vote in annual officer elections and any other business that comes before any Arlington SEPAC meeting. Voting membership is open to any general member who:
– is a parent, guardian or educational surrogate of a child with special needs residing in the Arlington School District; or
– is a parent, guardian or educational surrogate of a child whose education is the partial or entire responsibility of Arlington Public Schools (CMR 603:28.10), whether being schooled in APS, in an out-of-district placement, or in a home or hospital setting; or
– is a parent, guardian or educational surrogate of a child with special needs who attends Arlington Public Schools,
and who has attended at least one previous meeting of the Arlington SEPAC during the past 12 months or has requested voting status in writing to the Secretary at least one month prior to the vote.
a. All members shall endeavor to cause the Arlington SEPAC to further its purposes as stated in Article III of these Bylaws.
b. All members shall endeavor to attend all regular meetings of the Arlington SEPAC
c. All members who wish to receive notices or other communications from the Arlington SEPAC shall deliver to the Secretary all of the necessary information required to receive such notices and other information in the form in which such notices or information are delivered.
Article V. Officers
Officers of the Arlington SEPAC shall be voting members who are elected by the voting membership and whose term of office will run from the date of their election to the date of the next election of officers, approximately one year. If any office becomes vacant, an election for that office shall be held immediately. Office and officer responsibilities of the Arlington SEPAC are:
1. The Chairperson shall:
a. Set the agenda for each General Meeting
b. Preside at all meetings of the Arlington SEPAC
c. Recommend the organization and monitor the function of subcommittees
d. Coordinate all communication between the Arlington SEPAC and its members
e. Act as liaison with the Director of Student Services
f. Prepare periodic reports for the Special Education Administration regarding Arlington SEPAC activities and needs
2. The Co-Chairperson shall:
a. Preside at meetings in the absence of, or at the request of, the Chairperson
b. Coordinate other public communications, not including those that are the responsibility of the Secretary
c. Assist the Chairperson as appropriate and perform responsibilities of the Chairperson at his/her request
3. The Secretary/Outreach officer(s) shall:
a. Record and file Minutes of the meetings of the Arlington SEPAC and its subcommittees in accordance with the Massachusetts Public Records Law.
b. Provide copies of official Minutes, including attendance, to the APS Office of Special Education annually (in June)
c. Collect and review all correspondence of the Arlington SEPAC
d. Disseminate notices and other information to membership and other interested parties on a regular basis
e. Advertise meetings and events
f. Maintain SEPAC presence on Facebook and other social media
4. The Membership officer(s) shall:
a. Manage, regularly check and update SEPAC membership list (ArlingtonSEPAC@yahoo.com)
b. Respond to inquiries regarding SEPAC
5. The Webmaster and Media officer(s) shall:
a. Through remote access, maintain “hard”(non-changing) areas of the site, design and upload
b. Through remote access, post meeting and workshop information to the site
Article VI. Elections
Elections shall be the first order of business during the Spring meeting. Elections shall be decided by a simple majority vote of the voting membership, subject to the presence of at least 6 members. New officers shall take office immediately following their election.
Nominations may be made by ballot or voice vote at the Spring meeting. Nomination ballots will be made available to voting members at an Arlington Special Education Parent Advisory Council meeting at least two weeks prior to elections, if persons have submitted their name for nomination in any position prior to the Spring general meeting. The Co-Chair is automatically nominated for the office of Chair at the Spring election. All voting members are eligible to make nominations.
Article VII: Meetings
1. In accordance with the Open Meeting Law, notice of all General Meeting dates and elections shall be filed with the Municipal Clerk in sufficient time to allow for posting at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting at Town Hall and on the Town of Arlington website. In addition and as possible, notice shall be published in the Arlington Advocate (the newspaper of public record for the Town of Arlington) and shall be disseminated by other means including other local press, social media, and electronic notification of subscribers to pertinent email lists. Whenever possible, notice shall be sent to each voting member via the Arlington SEPAC annual calendar or by special mailings.
2. General Meetings shall be held at least 4 times per year, from September through June. The spring General Meeting shall be the Election Meeting. With the exception of the Election Meeting, meetings postponed due to weather may or may not be rescheduled, at the discretion of the Chairperson in consideration of logistics and availability of speakers and locations.
3. During the last meeting of the academic year, the Chairperson shall take recommendations for the calendar of meetings for the following year. The calendar shall include dates and times of the meetings and projected activities for the year. The calendar shall be made available to all Arlington SEPAC members, to public officials and school administrators at the beginning of each academic year.
4. Matters that require a vote to be taken of the voting membership include, but are not limited to, the following items: a change in the Bylaws can only be voted on at a general meeting; elections require a vote as described in Article VI, Elections.
5. Minutes of all Regular Meetings shall be recorded and retained for public record as described in Article V.3.a.
6. The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the meetings of the Arlington SEPAC in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws and any special rules of order the Arlington SEPAC may adopt.
Article VIII: Subcommittees
Subcommittees shall be created as needed at the discretion of the Officers and shall report on activities to the Chairperson(s) and members at Regular Meetings.
Article IX: Amendments
These by-laws may be amended by a simple majority of the voting members at a general meeting, but by-laws changes may not be voted upon in the same meeting as they are proposed, unless a majority (as described in article VI) votes unanimously to approve the change.