WPS Updates

Here you’ll find updates from and correspondence with Woburn Public Schools. The Woburn SEPAC strives for clear and open communication with the district. Please reach out to us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com with any questions or requests for specific information.

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Woburn SEPAC Statement on School Committee Member Comments

During Asst. Superintendent Courtney Young’s Mid Year Data Update at the Wednesday, April 27, 2022 School Committee meeting, comments were made by a School Committee member that the Woburn SEPAC Board would like to address.

While commenting on below-grade-level statistics for sixth graders, School Committee member Patricia Chisholm said the following:

“Those are the kids that I’m worried about, the kids that are going mainstream, just kind of going through the middle and they’re toddling, and they’re not getting the extra from where they need to do. [Because] our bright students are going to excel because they’re going to be pushed because they’re driven to do that. And the lower ones are going to get the attention because they’re going to make sure they’re on IEPs and they have all the extra help. It’s those middle kids that I’m worried about.”

While we understand and share Ms. Chisholm’s concerns for students in the middle, we’re disappointed at her seeming lack of understanding of what services are afforded to Woburn students on IEPs. And her referring to students with disabilities and learning differences as “lower ones” is, frankly, offensive. And it hurts our hearts to hear.

Given the number of years Ms. Chisholm has served Woburn as a member of the School Committee, we expect more. More understanding of the difficulties students on IEPs and 504s have faced in recent years with regards to obtaining the services these plans promise. And more empathy. To so naturally and conversationally refer to students with disabilities in Woburn as “lower ones” speaks to a lack of compassion for our kids who need more.

Ms. Chisholm, as an experienced member of the School Committee, is in a position to push for expanded services and resources for the students in Woburn who need the most. We’re hoping she’ll do that moving forward, and we invite her to reach out to the SEPAC board for suggestions on how to be a better ally.

We see many School Committee members at our monthly meetings and we’re so grateful for their continued support as we work together to advocate for families of students in Woburn with disabilities. We hope Ms. Chisholm will join us in that advocacy as well.

Sincerely,

The Woburn SEPAC Board
Elissa Milto, President
Julie Cotton, Vice President
Adam Chapman, Treasurer
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SEPAC Bylaws and OML Update

At our first meeting of 2022, we ratified our updated Bylaws, which you can peruse at the bottom of this page. Our updates were guided by last year’s OML decision, which FCSN explains below.

“For many years, MassPAC has been advocating that, since SEPACs have an open and undetermined membership (open to all interested parties) and are not decision-making bodies (not empowered to act collectively), SEPACs should not be subject to the Open Meeting Law.

In light of recent complaints filed with respect to several SEPACs, this week, the Division of Open Government issued a determination letter dated October 28, 2021/OML 2021-150 decision. The conclusion was that the SEPACs were not public bodies subject to the Open Meeting Law and that unless SEPAC by-laws gave authority to the officers to act collectively, the Executive Board was also not subject to the Open Meeting Law.

You can find a quick summary of the decision on the AG’s website.”

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ESSER III Grant Feedback

At our November 17, 2021, Open Meeting, Director of Special Education Maureen Ryan updated us on the ESSER III Grant drafted up by Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Mike Baldassarre. The grant was written with the goals of safe reopening of WPS and equitable access for all students, as well as a focus on academic instruction and social/emotional learning.

You can access the implementation plan here and via the link below. Ms. Ryan invites you to e-mail her or Dr. Baldassarre with any questions or feedback.

Woburn Public Schools ESSER III – Implementation Plan

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WPS Training on Trauma-informed IEP Goals

On November 2, 2021, special education advocate and consultant Jennie H. DunKley presented A Guide to Trauma-informed IEP Goals to WPS Staff. It’s important for families to know what is taking place in professional trainings, and this training in particular has some useful information for parents as well as team members.

If you’d like to take a look at the slides, reach out to us at wps.SEPAC@gmail.com and we can provide you with a copy.

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SEPAC Transportation Update, September 2021

On September 10, 2021, SEPAC attended the School Committee’s Student Services and Achievement (SSA) subcommittee meeting. A representative from SEPAC attends SSA every month.At this meeting, there was a discussion about the current state of school bus transportation in Woburn, especially as it pertains to special education students who are utilizing North Reading Transportation (NRT). SEPAC was able to share a number of parent stories and concerns related to both recent and past school transportation issues, and we thank you for sharing that information with us.

While SEPAC is aware that school bus transportation is an issue statewide, we’re reminding WPS Administration that special education families have been experiencing NRT-related transportation problems in Woburn for years. As always, we are pushing for accountability. Please continue to share your stories and concerns with us so we can continue to advocate for you.

Click here for the rest of the SSA details, including meeting minutes, posted on our Facebook page. Below, you’ll find WPS’ letter on Special Education Transportation via NRT from Wednesday, September 8.

Dear parents/guardians,We are excited to welcome our students back tomorrow.  For those that receive special education transportation on NRT, please be patient as we anticipate some challenges. If your child is not picked up at the start of the day within 20 minutes of the expected pick-up time or does not arrive home when expected, please call the Special Education Office at 781-937-8233  xx11253.  If you do not speak with a person, please email bhegarty@woburnps.com.The building staff will assist students that arrive late on the vehicles to ensure they arrive safely and get to their classrooms.  We appreciate your patience. We look forward to a great start to the school year.

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SEPAC Letter to WPS, August 2021

In August of 2021, the SEPAC Board drafted up a letter to Woburn Public Schools Administrators to address problems parents have raised with the ACE Program specifically, as well as accountability and better communication from the district in general.

Click the link below to read our letter and suggested timeline.

SEPAC ACE Letter to WPS

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RECAP: SEPAC Coffee Chat

On May 26, 2021, WPS Director of Special Education Maureen Ryan joined us for an informal “Coffee Chat” Q&A session. You can access a recap of the session below, along with DESE’s latest COVID-19 guidelines, which will go into effect in the fall.

SEPAC Coffee Chat 052621

Updates to DESE COVID-19 Guidance 052721

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Woburn Public Schools Letter on Non-Discrimination and Retaliation

In October of 2020, 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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Special Education Services and COVID-19 Information: Spring 2020

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 below.

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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SEPAC Budget Response

Below is the letter that was read on behalf of the SEPAC at the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. We are still waiting to hear if Mayor Galvin will fund the additional school budget or if cuts will need to be made.

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Town Hall with Dr. Baldassarre

Thanks to all who came out for a Q&A session with Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Dr. Michael Baldassarre on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. We covered a great deal of ground, with updates from the district and addressing parental concerns.

We’ve posted some documents from the Town Hall below for your perusal.

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