Got questions? Get answers!
SPED PTO meeting
Monday, November 13
BOE building, 525 Academy, Maplewood
Topic: Overview of SOMSD Special Education Administration
Dr. Lauren Reisenauer, Executive Director of Special Services and Youth Development,
Elizabeth Baker, President of the Board of Education, and
Maureen Jones, BOE trustee and liaison to the Special Education community
Plus SEPAC briefing and time to seek support, share resources and connect with other members of the special education community. All welcome. Please join us.
Have a question, comment or concern and cannot attend Monday night, please submit your questions HERE
In recent weeks on SOMA Special Education community, we have read troubling posts, heard superb suggestions, witnessed genuine heartfelt support and seen, time and time again, the willingness to share personal, often painful, experiences for the benefit of all. We know the connections this group makes are very valuable.
So we urge you all to help our organizations, SPED PTO and SEPAC, in a direct way. Please bring the passion expressed in your postings and use it for a purpose, the betterment of special education in SOMSD, by attending Monday night’s SPED PTO meeting. (11/13 at 7:30 in BOE building). It will be Q+A with the administration and BOE and our opportunity to voice our concerns and seek solutions.
There is strength in numbers, 200 voices are stronger than 20, so please find a way to be in the room. Also, as we know, not everyone is aware of SPED PTO or SEPAC so please encourage all you know to attend. We recognize some people may be reluctant to ask questions directly so we will have a stack of index cards at the entrance and will incorporate these as we moderate the panel of Dr. Lauren Reisenauer, Elizabeth Baker and Maureen Jones.
Your support means a lot and makes a difference. See you on Monday!
Ann Leeb (on behalf of the SPED PTO Executive Board)
Erin Siders, SEPAC President
South Orange Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) is pleased to announce the following slate of Executive Board candidates.
- Erin Siders – President
- Reesa Salomon – Vice President
- Nedra Cabbagestalk – Secretary
- Bernie Hackler – Communications & Outreach
- Michael D. Thompson – Policy Officer
- Jenny Lindstrom – ExOfficio
Voting will take place during the first SEPAC meeting, Tuesday September 26th.
Revisions to the By-Laws require a vote from the SEPAC membership. The next vote on revisions will take place Tuesday September 26th.
The SEPAC executive board sent a letter to the current board of education members regarding the district 504 policy. The letter is posted here for your review along with a link to an overview document and a link to the 504 policy page on the district website. Please contact any member of the SEPAC executive board with questions. Thank you!!
Special Education Parents Advisory Committee (SEPAC) Summary of SOMSD Section 504 Policy & Regulations
This summary was prepared by SEPAC and is intended as an overview only. Parents and guardians should refer to the full Policy 5750.1 for complete details.
- The Superintendent or designee shall be responsible for the District’s efforts to comply with the requirements of the policy, and shall take all actions necessary to ensure the Building 504 Coordinators inform all appropriate staff of student rights under 504 plans(4)
- The Superintendent shall ensure that all staff receive appropriate and ongoing professional development regarding 504 requirements(4)
- The district must make all reasonable efforts to identify unserved students with disabilities who are eligible for services under IDEA , ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1)
- The District must provide FAPE (Free & Appropriate Public Education) to each qualified student with a disability (1)
- Students with Disabilities shall be provided with an individualized and systemic plan of accommodations and services (1)
- Such accommodations and services must be designed to allow students to access curricular and extra-curricular activities in a manner substantially consistent with their non-disabled peers (1)
- To the maximum extent possible, students with disabilities must be educated with students who are not disabled (1)
- Any District facility operated for students with disabilities must be comparable to those operated for students who are not disabled (1)
- At the end of each school year, each building Principal shall present a report to the Superintendent which includes (5):
- Number of Section 504 referrals
- Outcome of evaluation processes
- Concerns and issues identified by the school’s 504 Teams
- Effectiveness of services provided in achieving outcomes identified in 504 plans
- Annually, the Superintendent must present a report to the Board which includes (5)
- Summary of the District’s identification and evaluation of students
- Section 504 accommodations required
- The number and nature complaints/grievances filed regarding 504 plan compliance, allegations of discrimination or retaliation
- Procedures for ensuring compliance with Section 504 requirements
- – Roles & Responsibilities (2)
- District 504 Coordinator: Responsible for ensuring District compliance and has authority to investigate grievances and make recommendations to the superintendent regarding resolutions
- Building 504 Coordinator: Principal or a designee. Manages the 504 Committee in the building end ensures compliance with 504 plans in the building. Responsible for ensuring that staff are informed about students’ accommodations and that 504 plans are implemented
- Section 504 Team: the team that works on an individual 504 case. Includes the Building 504 Coordinator, and MAY include teachers, Principal, parents/guardians, the student and others with relevant case knowledge. Staffing may differ for each student.
- Section 504 Committee: Serves all District students and schools as an initial means of redress for parents/guardians who cannot resolve issues through the 504 Team. The 504 Committee will consist of persons who will, when necessary, become knowledgeable about a student’s case.
- – Evaluation Process(3)
- Students with disabilities must be identified, referred to and evaluated by a Section 504 Team, such evaluation to occur in a timely manner.
- Students may be referred by parents/guardians or school staff.
- An initial evaluation requires parent/guardian consent.
- A Section 504 Team shall draw upon a variety of sources in making decisions about accommodations, services and placements: test results, teacher recommendations, physical condition, adaptive behaviors, recommendations from medical providers, as applicable
- The Section 504 Coordinator is responsible for procedures to ensure that information obtained from all sources is documented and considered
- Parent/guardian who disagrees with the 504 Team decisions or recommendations may utilize the services of the 504 Committee.
- – Regulations (4)
- Regulations must be developed for:
- District efforts to identify unserved students
- Eligibility determinations
- 504 plan development and implementation
- Notices to parents/guardians regarding referrals and procedural rights
- Appealing determinations and expeditiously resolving complaints
- Procedures to ensure implementation and compliance with 504 plans
- Specific procedures for 504 compliance at student transition points (kindergarten, 6th grade, 9th grade)
- Grievance procedures to expeditiously process complaints of discrimination or retaliation for asserting rights under Section 504 or the Policy.
- Regulations must be developed for:
- (1) Policy 5750.1; Section I, Introduction
- (2) Policy5750.1;SectionII,Definitions
- (3) Policy 5750.1; Section III, Evaluation
- (4) Policy 5750.1; Section IV, Implementation
- (5) Policy5750.1;SectionV,Reports
I am Erin Siders from Maplewood, President of the Special Education Parents Advisory Committee (SEPAC).
SEPAC would like to address the status of the regulations for implementing the Section 504 Policy. The Board adopted the policy on September 19, 2016. As you know, the Policy states that “within sixty days of the adoption of this Policy, the Superintendent shall issue regulations and procedures for complying with Section 504 and this Policy…”. To date, however, no regulations have been issued.
Since the Policy was adopted, SEPAC has contacted the District many times regarding these regulations. We have repeatedly been told that the regulations were being “finalized” and would be provided to us shortly. Although the deadline for issuing the regulations expired more than seven months ago, we have yet to see any draft or proposal.
We are now bringing our concerns back to the Board. We appreciate that the Policy was initiated by Board members, that the community, including SEPAC, was invited to participate in a lengthy drafting process, and that the majority of Board members have publicly proclaimed their support for the Policy. But that is not enough. As far as we can tell, our students with 504 plans are in no better position than they were before the policy was adopted. As far as we can tell, not much has been done to rectify the numerous problems that have been brought to the Administration and Board’s attention over the last several years.
In addition to requiring that the District issue regulations by November 2016, the Policy requires that, at the end of each school year, each building Principal deliver a report on the effectiveness of the services identified in Section 504 plans. And that, on the basis of the Principal’s reports, the Superintendent shall annually report to the Board a summary of activities related to Section 504.
The end of the school year has now come and gone. We are not aware that the required reports have been delivered by the principals, or that the Superintendent has made the required report to the Board. We are not even aware that any steps were ever taken to gather the data necessary to prepare such reports.
The efforts made by the Board to adopt the policy in 2016 are laudable. But we need the Board to take action to compel the District to actually comply with the requirements of the Policy.
A new District and Special education management team is in place. We urge you to take this opportunity to direct the Interim Superintendent to make this a top priority for the new Special Services Executive Director. And that you inquire about progress at each public Board meeting until the regulations are written, reviewed with the Community, and fully implemented.
SEPAC will be staying very close to this issue until it is resolved. As always we stand ready to provide whatever support we can to move this forward quickly.
The SEPAC Executive Board has decided to cancel our next meeting scheduled for Wednesday March 8th. Please feel free to contact any member of the board with questions or concerns. Thank you.
-SEPAC Executive Board
Please join us for the next SEPAC meeting Wednesday February 1st, 7:30pm in the Black Box Theatre (basement level) @ CHS. Our discussion will focus on Behavioral Supports with guest speaker Penny Petchers, SOMSD Behavior Management Consultant.
Additionally, we will introduce David Lieberman, Interim Director of Special Services. Please see attached agenda for meeting details.
START Inclusion Webinar
Join SPAN for a lunchtime Inclusion Webinar for parents, caregivers and professionals that will focus on using New Jersey’s Tiered System of Support (NJTSS) to guide meaningful and successful Inclusion. NJTSS is an evidence-based framework for implementing academic and behavioral supports and interventions to improve achievement for ALL students.