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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.
Upcoming SPED PTO dates
(Please note we have switched our featured topics for January and February.)
Tuesday, January 24-PreK/Elementary grades
Tuesday, February 21-Secondary grades
Tuesday, March 28-Veterans’ Day-seasoned parents share their wisdom
Tuesday, April 25-Out of District
Tuesday, May 23-Taking care of yourself as a parent/General
All are welcome. Meetings start at 7:30 pm at 525 Academy, second floor conference room. The first 45-60 minutes are devoted to the featured topic, followed by 30-45 minutes of sharing individual questions or concerns and community resources and making connections with others in special education community.
Please see attached letter regarding NJDOE accounting rules for Private Schools.
A Note from Reesa Solomon, SEPAC VP:
Hello fellow SOMSD families. Next month, I will be taking on the role of SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Committee) Vice President. In the last 2 weeks, I have heard many parents discussing issues regarding IEPs and 504s, communication with case managers, student schedules, etc. SEPAC is looking to see what types of trends exist with regard to issues with our students’ needs being met at the beginning of the school year. We ask you to please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (or complete the form below) to share your experience. If we see commonalities in individuals’ issues, we will then be able to bring these issues to the board as part of our role within the district. Please email your concerns to us, as well as utilizing the district “Let’s Talk” option on their website. You can find the Special Education section here: Let’s Talk!!