Women in an audience raising their hands

A SEPAC needs a few interested parents to take the lead in getting a group organized. Consider stepping up to the plate and running for a SEPAC position or ask a friend to share a role. Once a SEPAC is established, officers are elected according to the process defined in the local SEPAC’s by-laws. MassPAC is here to help.

MassPAC SEPAC Officer Orientation 
MassPAC provides in-person and virtual leadership training for MassPAC member officers and leaders. These workshops offer guidance on effective practices and allow a questions and answer period.

SEPAC Summer School: A 10-week summer training held in the evening on zoom.  These sessions are geared for current and new officers, as well as parents interested in learning more about SEPACs and leadership.  Basic structures of a SEPAC will be discussed: mission statement, by-laws, open meeting law, fund raising guidelines and family engagement.  The hour long sessions begin with a 30 minute presentation and are followed by Q&A or breakout room discussions.

MassPAC leadership recordings can be found on the Federation’s YouTube channel

Role of SEPAC Leaders
SEPAC leaders play an important role in governing the SEPAC:

  1. They must maintain focus and keep meetings from going off on tangents or getting stuck on one issue. The chair helps the SEPAC stick to the agenda!
  2. A leader allows discussion to get more information on a problem before offering a solution, allowing people to express and discuss ideas, while keeping order.
  3. A leader plans for controversy and conflict – keeping criticism aimed at ideas, not people.
  4. A leader helps members reach consensus, asking questions that will encourage understanding of differing positions.
  5. A leader involves more people in decision-making – make involvement real.
  6. A leader makes meetings productive and fun – good meeting produce results and momentum.

What makes a Good Leader?
Effective SEPAC officers exhibit many of the following key skills:

  • effective listening
  • good communication skills (written and oral)
  • negotiating skills
  • diplomacy and tact
  • effective time management
  • organizational skills, and
  • comfort in delegating responsibilities.

Remember, leaders are made, not born and all of these skills can be learned or shared between different officers. If your actions inspire others to learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader!

Parent Consultant Training Institute (PCTI)
SEPAC leaders wanting to gain more insight into the special education process can take a more intensive training session provided by the Parent Training and Information Institute at the Federation. This is an eight session, fee-based workshop offered through the PTI Center at the Federation.

A.P.P.L.E. Institute- Advancing Parent/Professional Leadership in Education
Free 2-day Leadership Training for SEPACs and Administrators of Special Education

Advocacy in Action – National SEPAC Guide

STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS A Framework for Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement in Massachusetts

Guidance For Special Education Parent Advisory Councils