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Woburn SEPAC

SEPAC Open Meeting

Date: Tuesday, March 9
Time: 6:30pm
Zoom Info: Forthcoming

We’re working on a series of community-building events for 2021. We started in January with Julie Gage, Executive Director of the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn. In February, we welcomed Rory Lindstrom of the Woburn Recreation Department, as well as Adam Lapon, Amy Holland, and Jessica Stone from Woburn High School’s Best Buddies program.
In March, we pivot toward higher education. We’ll have a preview of our annual College Fair, which will take place virtually this year on Wednesday, March 31. Susanne Carter from the Lesley University Threshold Program will be our special guest, along with WMHS Curriculum Coordinator for Guidance, Rosemary Donovan.

We’re also still looking for a Secretary. Reach out to us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com if you’d like to learn more about the position or the nomination process.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for SEPAC news and updates.

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SEPAC Letter to Mayor Galvin regarding Woburn Public Library

Dear Mayor Galvin,

The SEPAC Board membership was present for last night’s virtual City Council meeting, in which you urged Council members to support new legislation to end lifetime appointments for Woburn Public Library Trustees. We’d like to extend our thanks to you for pushing for Library accountability, transparency, and better communication. The City Council meeting itself was a breath of fresh air as well: a respectful exchange of ideas in full sight of the Woburn community. This was a far cry from the Trustees meetings of late–where serious concerns have been talked over or laughed at–and also from Library leadership’s dismissive, condescending approach to community questions and concerns.

We take our mission seriously at the SEPAC: to advocate for children with disabilities and their families. We follow Open Meeting Law, post our minutes publicly, and do all we can for Woburn’s residents. In addition, we’ve recently been in conversation with Woburn organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and Recreation Department about how to improve experiences for Woburn residents with disabilities. Our attempts to engage with Library Director Bonnie Roalsen and Assistant Director Rebecca Meehan at WPL have been, for the most part, rebuffed: they claim they’re doing very well addressing needs, despite multiple residents reporting the contrary.

As we shared with you in August, the SEPAC board reached out individually to Library leadership last year, asking for accommodations for children and young adults with special needs and requesting information about programming and how adaptations could be built into the scant virtual offerings available. These inquiries were met with requests for private medical information, and no actual accommodations were offered. We were not able to speak with the instructors of various programs for clarification because the Assistant Director insisted on mediating all communications. Library Administration seems to believe that saying all participants are welcome is the same as making it possible for all participants to access programming. A hub of community and information-sharing–what a public library is meant to be–should be far more adept in conversations about disability and inclusion in 2021. Library leadership should be reminded of their role, and held accountable.

Last night’s meeting felt like a step in the right direction towards promoting accountability and better communication between the library and Woburn’s residents. We are hopeful that efforts to push forward with term limits will send a strong message to the Library Trustees and Administration that the community will remain active participants in engaging with them for better transparency, more programming, and more accessibility for everyone in Woburn.

Thank you,

The Woburn SEPAC Board

Elissa Milto, Julie Cotton, and Adam Chapman

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RECAP: SEPAC January Meeting

Date: Tuesday, January 12

We’re working on a series of community-building events for 2021, and that all started with our Open Meeting on Tuesday, January 12. We were happy to welcome Julie Gage, Executive Director of the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn.

Julie talked at length about the Club’s offerings pre-COVID and what they’ve been doing to serve the community during the pandemic. The Club’s focus for the kids is always on good character and citizenship, academic success and lifelong learning, and health and wellness.

Currently, the Club has partnered with WPS and the YMCA to create remote learning centers, with staff members overseeing both pods and cohorts. Focus is also put on in-person programming for students who are not thriving with virtual learning and need additional support.

To learn more about how the club has pivoted during the Coronavirus crisis to continue to serve the community as well as what their typical offerings are, click here.

We’re also still looking for a Secretary. Reach out to us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com if you’d like to learn more about the position or the nomination process.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for SEPAC news and updates.

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RECAP: Basic Rights Workshop on Evaluation and Eligibility

Presented on Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Each fall, the Woburn SEPAC–in conjunction with the Federation for Children with Special Needs–presents a Basic Rights Workshop. Since so many parents have reached out in recent months with questions about evaluations, we chose the Evaluation and Eligibility Workshop this year. Here are two takeaways you might not have known about:

– When scheduling a Team Meeting to discuss an evaluation, the evaluator must be present unless excused by the family. If the evaluator–or any other team member–isn’t included on the meeting invitation, the family can request that they be included. If the evaluator or team member is not available, the family can request the meeting be rescheduled for a date during the appropriate time frame that they are available.

– When measuring IEP benchmarks, effective progress is defined as “the documented growth in the acquisition of knowledge and skills, including social/emotional development, within the general education program with or without accommodations according to chronological age and developmental expectations and the individual education potential of the child.”

Effective progress is NOT determined solely by passing grades or being promoted from grade to grade.

And that’s just a bit of the helpful information that was shared. Thanks to Kristin LaRose from FCSN and advocate Tracey Morgan for organizing and presenting the workshop. If you missed it, download the handout below. If you’d like to attend a future presentation, e-mail us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com and we’ll put you in touch with Kristin at FCSN.

BR Evaluation and Eligibility PDF Handout

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Woburn Public Schools Letter on Non-Discrimination and Retaliation

Last month, Woburn Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Crowley sent a letter to Woburn families reaffirming Woburn Public Schools’ commitment to Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 deals with discrimination on the basis of disability and retaliation on the basis of complaint.

Read Dr. Crowley’s letter here. For more Civil Rights information as it pertains to Woburn Public Schools, click here. And, as always, feel free to contact us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

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WOBURN PUBLIC LIBRARY UPDATE

Library adds Reasonable Accommodation Form

As the Woburn Public Library moves to reopen, a reminder that they provide accommodations by request for patrons with disabilities, including ADA accommodations for access to library buildings and services and accommodations for library programs and events. Click here to access and fill out the form.

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Special Education Services and COVID-19 Information

With Woburn Public Schools closed through, at the very least, May 4th, parents have been reaching out to us with questions about students with special needs. Districts are still required to provide a free, appropriate pubic education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. Click here for the most recent guidelines set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Click here for a statement from Woburn Director of Special Education Maureen Ryan. We’ve also posted recent WPS documents and an informative webinar below, produced by the Federation for Children with Special Needs.

Supporting Children with ASD During COVID Closures

WPS SPED COVID-19 Letter 051820

WPS SPED COVID-19 Letter 041920

WPS SPED COVID-19 Letter 040920

WPS SPED COVID-19 FAQs 040920

If you’d like general information regarding Special Education programming in Woburn, click here. General information about family resources and extending learning resources can be found via this link.

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Specialized Programs

GAIN Program Guide

PEAK Program Guide

As Woburn Public Schools continues to develop specialized programming for students with special needs, we’ll continue to share the updates here. For more information on specific program descriptions, please contact Dr. Baldassarre.

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Basic Rights Workshop: Understanding the IEP

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the workshop. If you missed it, you can download the Basic Rights – Understanding the IEP PDF Handout.

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VOLUNTEER WITH US!

Heading into the new school year, the SEPAC is looking for help in the following areas:

- Outreach Representatives
- Fundraisers
- Grant Writers

Specifically, we need reps for the High School, Goodyear, White, Joyce, Linscott, and Hurld-Wyman. If you have connections at any of those schools and would be willing to liaise with the principal and PTO and to distribute SEPAC materials, we can use your help!

We’ve started the process of brainstorming speakers and workshops for the 2019-2020 school year, and we’ll need additional funds. Are you a gifted grant writer, or someone with connections to the financial industry? We can use your help!

Reach out to us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com

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Confused? Frustrated?

You’ve come to the right place!

We’re here for you! Sign up for our mailing list below to receive updates on policy changes and decisions that affect Woburn’s students with disabilities.

Our mailing list is confidential and for SEPAC use only. Your information will not be sold or shared. If you cannot attend our next meeting but have a concern or opinion you would like to share, please email us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com.

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We want to hear from you!

We work with parents and the school administration to address issues facing Special Education students in Woburn.

Please call us at 781-291-9811. We’d love to hear both your successes and your concerns. Better yet, stop by our next meeting. We’d love to meet you!

And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook. f_logo

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The Woburn Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) is a state-mandated advisory group that provides education and support for parents, guardians and educators of children ages 3 to 22 years old with special education needs. We are a city-wide organization of parents working together with teachers, administrators, the school committee and the community to provide an educational environment that is innovative, challenging, safe and nurturing for all children.