A SEPAC is primarily an advisory group. The members represent a broader group of people (all parents of children receiving special education services in the district). The SEPAC can also participate as a planning and/or evaluation group with respect to the school district’s special education programs.
Under the law, the duties of the SEPAC are defined –
“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.” 603 CMR 28:07(4)
Special education parent advisory councils have an important voice to add to the school district’s dialogue and decision-making in regards to special education. Parents have first-hand experience and a unique perspective. Working collaboratively, SEPACs can have a positive impact on matters that pertain to special education within their school district. Together with the school district, SEPACs can create a more responsive school environment and positive outcomes for families. Good communication with several partners is key to developing a meaningful dialogue. SEPACs should work with:
- The Administrator of Special Education
- The Superintendent
- The School Committee
- Other School Officials
- School Councils, PTAs/PTOs, other Parent Groups and
- The Community at large.
SEPACs are an integral part of the broader school community. Informing members of the school community about the purpose, value, and function of SEPACs is critical to gaining support for SEPAC activities and for initiating and sustaining collaborative efforts. (From DESE Guidance) A SEPAC will become better known and respected if it is “plugged into” the infrastructure of the school district. If the SEPAC wants to play a role in the district, the SEPAC officers and members should take the initiative to increase chances for SEPAC representation on school-wide matters. The SEPAC can help educate the community about what special education is (and is not); in addition to helping educate people about disabilities.