NORTH READING SPECIAL EDUCATION
PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this organization shall be the North Reading School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council, hereinafter referred to as the SEPAC.
ARTICLE II: MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the North Reading School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council is to provide education and information to parents/guardians and the broader community on special education issues and services, to establish better understanding of, respect for, and support of special education, and to work with the North Reading Public Schools and North Reading School District to insure that students’ needs under Massachusetts Special Education Regulations 603 CMR 28.07(4)* and other applicable laws are being met.
* “(4) Parent advisory participation. Each school district shall create a districtwide parent advisory council offering membership to all parents of eligible students and other interested parties. The parent advisory council duties shall include but not be limited to: advising the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs. The parent advisory council shall establish bylaws regarding officers and operational procedures, and in the course of its duties, the parent advisory council shall receive assistance from the district without charge, upon reasonable notice, and subject to the availability of staff and resources.”
ARTICLE III: PURPOSE AND FUNCTION
Section 1: The purpose of the SEPAC shall be:
- To fulfill all the responsibilities as defined within 603 CMR 28.00 and any other pertinent state mandates;
- To promote better understanding and communication between parents/guardians with children in special education programs and the school system;
- To promote a network of parents/guardians of children with disabilities and provide the forum to share information;
- To provide support for special education services and its mission of meeting the individualized needs of all students who are enrolled in special education programs through communication with and feedback to the special education director and school principals;
- To promote communication, understanding, acceptance, and inclusion within the community;
- To encourage a community commitment to quality education for all children and to support diversity within the educational setting.
Section 2: The function of the SEPAC shall be:
- To participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of all special needs programs;
- To provide an effective link between parents/guardians and school administration regarding issues around special education;
- To provide information concerning special education issues to all parents/guardians of children enrolled in the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) North Reading Public Schools and North Reading School District;
- To provide a forum for parents/guardians and other interested citizens to maintain a dialogue with the LEAs on concerns and issues relating to the education, health, and safety of all students enrolled in special education programs;
- To provide and promote information and educational opportunities for the community on topics related to special education services;
- To participate in the review of the LEAs State Performance Plan prior to its submission to the Massachusetts Department of Education;
- To meet with the Director of Special Education on a regular basis.
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
Section One: General membership: General membership shall be open to any interested parent or guardian of a child receiving Special Education services or resident of North Reading.
- Parents/guardians of children receiving Special Education services from the LEAs shall be considered General Members of the SEPAC and included in SEPAC mailings.
- For the purpose of confidentiality, the school district does not share the email addresses of families receiving special education services with the SEPAC. Therefore, all SEPAC mailings will be distributed by the Special Education Director on the SEPAC’s behalf.
- General members who do not have children receiving Special Education services and who would like to be included in the SEPAC mailings should contact the SEPAC at North Readingsepac@gmail.com with their request. They will be added to the SEPAC’s direct mailing list and will receive mailings directly from SEPAC
- Parents/guardians of children receiving Special Education services may opt in to the SEPAC’s direct mailing list by contacting the SEPAC at North Readingsepac.org.
- All information will be kept private and used only for SEPAC purposes.
Section Two: Voting membership: Voting membership shall be limited to the SEPAC Board Members.
ARTICLE V: MEETINGS
- The SEPAC shall plan to hold at least five regular meetings each year. The schedule of meeting dates shall be determined at the last meeting of the previous school year.
- Additional meetings may be held on an as-needed basis as determined by the Board.
- All meetings shall be announced to all SEPAC members and notice given to the entire community. Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 39, Section 23B (the “open meeting law”). However, a maximum of two meetings per year, if determined by the Board, may be held only for those parents of children with special needs to prepare for an evaluation of the special services provided by the School System.
- Minutes of all meetings shall be kept by the Secretary.
- The Annual Meeting of the SEPAC shall be held in June of each year.
ARTICLE VI: QUORUM AND VOTING PROCEDURES
- A minimum of 3 Board Members is required at a meeting to constitute a quorum for the purposes of voting.
- When a quorum is present at any meeting; a majority of the votes cast by Board Members present shall decide any question.
ARTCLE VII: BOARD MEMBERS, ELECTIONS AND DUTIES
Section I: Board Members
- The Board of the SEPAC shall be the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Membership Chair, Events Chair, Publicity/ Communications Chair, Technology Chair.
- Nominations of candidates for officers for the ensuing year shall be requested in April or May of each year. Nominations may also occur at the Annual Meeting.
- In order to avoid conflict of interest, no officer should be in a position to be hired professionally by the school system.
- Officers shall be elected at the Annual Meeting by a majority of votes cast by a quorum.
- Each elected officer shall hold office for a term of at least one year (July 1 through June 30).
- A Board Member may resign by giving notice in writing to the President or Vice-President of the SEPAC. In the event of a resignation, the Board shall hold an election for a successor to fill an unexpired term.
- A Board Member is limited to three (3) consecutive one year terms, after which one year must elapse before becoming eligible for re-election to a position previously held. If a Board Member has been elected to fill an unexpired term, he/she will then be eligible for two additional one year terms.
- Newly elected Board Members are required to be sworn in at the Town Clerk’s office within 2 weeks of election.
*Offices may be shared by more than one person. One person may hold more than one office.
- Preside at all meetings of North Reading SEPAC
- Draft the agenda for each general meeting
- Recommend the creation of and monitor the function of sub-committees
- Monitor and facilitate the activities of other Officers
- Monitor compliance with the Bylaws and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Regulations
- Act as liaison with district and school officials and representatives, including the Special Education Administrator, the School Committee, the Superintendent, the Principals, and the Educators
- Lead efforts to advise the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities
- Coordinate regular meetings with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs.
- Report to the Special Education Administrator regarding North Reading SEPAC activities and needs
- Identify and pursue ways to collaborate on common goals
- Funnel parent/guardian feedback to the North Reading SEPAC Board and the Special Education Administrator
- Act as liaison between parents/guardians of students with disabilities or suspected disabilities and the Administrator of Special Education.
- Transition knowledge and expertise to the next Chair upon end of term
- Draft general meeting minutes and post on the North Reading SEPAC website as well as to the Town Clerk, according to the regulations of Massachusetts Open Meeting Law
- Count and record all vote results
- Responsible for public comment forms at meetings
- Maintain the membership list and the email distribution list
- Maintain an accurate attendance log of meeting attendees
- Lead efforts to encourage parents to get more involved in the North Reading SEPAC
- Coordinate efforts to recruit parents from each school, program, and out-of-district placements to become members
- Write monthly newsletter and submit to Presidents for distribution
- Create biennial survey to be distributed to all parents/guardians of children receiving special education services in the district
- Coordinate communication to non-English speaking parents/guardians of children on IEP’s or 504’s
- Lead event planning
- Recruit assistance from membership and community (event planning sub-committee)
- Coordinate event logistics (book location, speakers, date and time, refreshments, etc.)
- Coordinate with Friends of North Reading SEPAC for allocation of funds
- Publicize events and meetings to the general public
- Post events to the North Reading SEPAC Calendar and Facebook page
- Oversee, maintain, and/or improve online tools implemented by North Reading SEPAC
ARTICLE VIII: BYLAW AMENDMENTS
- These bylaws may be adopted, altered, repealed or amended at any SEPAC meeting provided that the proposed change is submitted in writing to all SEPAC Board members at least 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting in which the vote is to be taken.
- Proposed Bylaws changes may be adopted by a quorum of the Board membership at a meeting.