About usWe periodically post information regarding regional special education, as well as interesting news related to special education.  We encourage both anonymous and signed comments to our posts, but please allow us a day or two for publication.  The SEPAC Executive Board will not post offensive or dishonest remarks or comments deemed overtly personal, or direct attacks on individuals outside of the positions they hold.  We thank you for your support!

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 3.01.33 PMAdministrative/Executive Board Meeting
When: 1/7/2014 (No meeting on 12/3/13)
Where: Amherst Regional Middle School,
Professional Development Room
Time: 6:45pm-7:45pm Administrative Meeting with Dr. Faye Brady
7:45pm-8:45pm Executive Meeting
Administrative Meetings are intended for SEPAC Board members to discuss current issues with school administration. If you are interested in hearing the discussion, we encourage you to come to a meeting!
Executive Board Meetings are for SEPAC Board members to discuss and plan current projects. If you are interested in lending a hand to make our schools better while making new connections along the way, or would like to hear what we are working on we encourage you to come to this meeting!

Sorry for the late notice but The Basic Rights Workshop has been changed to 10/29/13 at Amherst Regional Middle school in the Professional Development Room. It will be from 6:45pm to 9:00pm. more information will be posted on the website:

calendarSome of our meetings are already scheduled. Watch for us to post agendas and locations, but in the meantime, mark your calenders for SEPAC meetings on these dates:

Administration/Executive Board Meetings

  • October 8th, 6:30 –8:30—Location TBD
  • November 5th, 6:30 –8:30 -Location TBD
  • December 3rd, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • January 7th, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • February 4th, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • March 4th, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • April 1st, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • May 6th, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD
  • June 3rd, 6:30 –8:30-Location TBD

Administrative Meeting

October 8th, 2013


Amherst Regional High School 21 Mattoon Street, Amherst MA 01002.Strengthening Partnerships


  • Welcome
  • Overview of the purpose of the meeting and expectations as outlined by Melissa Paciulli for SEPAC and Faye Brady for Amherst District (10 minutes)
  • Introductions- (10 minutes)
  • Current Parental Concerns/Questions received via email or discussion to the Board – (15 minutes)
  • Updates on Goal areas from SEPAC – (10 Minutes)
  • Updates for the District – Faye ( 10 minutes)
  • Other Items – (10 Minutes)

Administrative meetings are intended for SEPAC Board members to discuss current issues with school administration. If you are interested in hearing the discussion, we encourage you to come to this meeting! As always, all of our meetings are open to the public. Give us a call or email us the day before if you would like us to arrange for childcare, or if you have other needs.email the co-presidents at mpaciulli@comcast.net, or quabbinmediationlani@gmail.com

See you Tuesday!

October 8th, 7:30-8:30

Amherst Regional Middle School

170 Chestnut Street, Amherst, MA.


  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Overview of meeting expectations and description of meeting – Melissa Paciulli (5 minutes)
  • Upcoming Workshop Logistics – (30 minutes)
  • UMass/SEPAC Connection (15 minutes)

Executive Board meetings are intended for SEPAC Board members to discuss and plan current projects. If you are interested in lending a hand to make our schools better while making new connections along the way, we encourage you to come to this meeting!  As always, all of our meetings are open to the public. Give us a call or email us the day before if you would like us to arrange for childcare, or if you have other needs.email the co-presidents at mpaciulli@comcast.net, or quabbinmediationlani@gmail.com

See you Tuesday!

For languages other than English, we recommend that users translate this site at http://babelfish.yahoo.com/.
Para las idiomas con excepción del inglés, recomendamos que los usuarios traducen este sitio a http://babelfish.yahoo.com/.
영어 이외에 언어를 위해, 우리는 사용자가 http://babelfish.yahoo.com/에 이 위치를 번역한ㄴ다는 것을 추천한다.)


anne scannell Discussion Topic: –BSEA PROCESS

Anne Scannell, BSEA (Bureau of Special Education Appeals) Hearing Officer will be speaking to us about the Hearing Process:

  • How do you prepare your files for Hearing?
  • What do Hearing Officers expect?
  • and MORE

Thursday, October 10, 2013
10-12 noon

The NETWORK Meeting
11 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, MA


Moms at playgroundHave you ever brought your kids to the playground, and struck up an interesting conversation with another parent there? For parents of nuero-typical and physical-typical children, this is commonplace. Conversations revolve around teachers, homework, birthday parties, mutual friends, and the like. Tips are shared, news about upcoming events are discussed, parents share problems, and more importantly, parents share solutions.

For parents whose children are in the special education program, however, this is not commonplace. First of all, there are fewer of us on the playground, and our needs and experiences are unique; other parents cannot relate to our stories. Second, there is a cloud of privacy, and unfortunately sometimes embarrassment when we talk about our children. Parents of children with special needs often feel isolated, with no safe place to talk about issues we are having with the school, or issues we are having with our children. We cannot benefit from the support of a parent community because we have trouble finding each other.

The Special Education Parent Advisory Council is here to help! On September 26th, at 6:30 PM we will hold a General Meeting at the Bangs Center in downtown Amherst. The purpose of this meeting is to reach out to our community, learn from each other and gain strength from our mutual support. Please come for an evening, to hear others experiences and share your own story.

Our agenda for the General Meeting

  • Welcome
  • Special Ed. PAC Goals 2013-2014
  • Parent group meet & greets “By the Swings”
  • Large group discussion
  • How to be involved
  • Close

Strengthening PartnershipsThese meetings are scheduled between administrative leaders of the ARPS district and the Special Education Parent Advisory Council. We strive to maintain a respectful, non-adversarial relationship between our two groups, while continually pressing that the district improve. Our mutually beneficial relationship allows the administration to consult with SEPAC regarding general opinions and guidance about various policies, while SEPAC continues to illuminate areas of need, and press for change. For example, the administration reached out to SEPAC when they were considering a change in their report card policy. SEPAC also held a seat on the selection committee when the district was hiring a new Director of Student Services.

These meetings afford us the opportunity to bring your issues to the district. At every meeting this year, we will be addressing details regarding the need for transparency, the problem of discipline disparity, problems with special education service delivery, and the high dropout rate of students within the special education program. Like all of our meetings, these are open to the public. Even with our tight agenda, SEPAC always reserves time in our Administrative Meetings for public input.

Please contact us if you have an area of concern. It may be that your voice is not alone. Together we can fill in the blanks. Together we are strong.

happy bus Most parents with children in special education are aware that they can request paraprofessionals be placed in their child’s general education classrooms. This accommodation is intended to increase the amount of academic and/or behavioral assistance provided to children. And while many paraprofessionals and general education teachers are excellent at what they do, most do not have the specialized training of a psychologist or a special education teacher. To no fault of their own, even the best teachers might not have ABA training, assistive technology training, or best practices training regarding high-functioning autism, for example. In addition, typically there is not enough time allotted in a teacher’s busy schedule to consult with professionals about the needs of their specific students.

One option to alleviate this dilemma is to request “indirect consultation” for your child and teacher. This would mean that time would be set aside for your child’s teacher to consult with experts about the best way to provide services to your child while in their classroom. For example, if a teacher is unsure how to manage your physically active child in class, an “indirect consultation accommodation” allows the teacher to spend time with an expert on that subject, and together they can arrive at a data-driven solution, rather than the teacher spending time researching, or testing various interventions through trial and error.

Interestingly, studies have found that teachers who received consultation in the form of direct training (i.e., rehearsal or direct feedback) provided the most successful student interventions (Rahn, 2010, Munton, 2004; Sterling-Turner et al, 2002). That is, the most successful teachers received hands-on training from professionals that went above and beyond verbal advice. And who benefits from all of this? Obviously students with special needs, but also their general education peers, their teachers, their paraprofessionals, and finally us, when our children get off the bus smiling, because of a happy and healthy day at school.

The Short Version:

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 12.17.39 AMThe list of rights (the PNPS) that is given to parents regarding special education was updated August, 2013. For students in special education that are also receiving MassHealth or Medicaid, the school is allowed to use public health insurance to pay for some costs of tests/services provided. To do so, they must follow a specific procedure, one that is meant to protect the rights of parents and their children. These procedures have been added to the new PNPS. Unfortunately, the updated PNPS has not been translated. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has advised districts that they must take additional steps to ensure that parents have the information that school districts are required by law to provide to them. This means that they may need to obtain interpreters or prepare additional translated materials describing the procedural rights of parents and students.

The Longer Version:

Thirty-eight years ago congress passed the public law 94-142, The Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act. This law was designed to insure all children were afforded an equitable education. This law included a list of procedural safeguards designed to protect the rights of parents who have children with disabilities. Through the years the law has evolved (IDEA), and so have the procedural safeguards. In summary, these safeguards include a parent’s right to participate in all meetings, to examine all educational records, and to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of the child. Parents also have the right to written notice when the school proposes to change or refuses to change the identification, evaluation or placement of a child. The law also includes several ways to resolve a dispute, timelines, and requirements about parent notice and reimbursement for private placements.
These are the Parents’ Notice of Procedural Safeguards (PNPS) that are given to parents whose children are in the special education system, or whose children are being evaluated for the special education system.

From the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

Under IDEA 2004 school districts must give this PNPS once per year to all parents of eligible students with disabilities. The Department recommends that school districts identify a specific date each school year when the parents of every eligible student enrolled in the district, including those in out-of-district placements, will be sent a copy of the PNPS. Districts may distribute the PNPS by mail or, if the district makes information available electronically, the parent may choose that option. In addition to the annual distribution of the PNPS, school districts must give the PNPS to parents when an initial evaluation of a student is requested by the parent or another person; upon the parent’s request for a copy; and when a student with a disability is removed from his or her placement to an interim alternative education setting as a result of discipline.

In August, 2013, The PNPS was updated to include information regarding the rights of parents whose children receive MassHealth or Medicaid benifits. Here is the change, taken directly from the latest version (Mass DESE, 8/2013) of the PNPS:

To access public health insurance (MassHealth or Medicaid) benefits for the first time

 The school district is allowed to use public health insurance (MassHealth or Medicaid) to pay for some special education services included in a student’s IEP for students covered by public health insurance. Before the school district accesses MassHealth for the first time, the school district must give you written notice that it is going to seek this reimbursement, and get your voluntary consent in writing for it.  The notice will tell you that special education services are always provided at no cost to you or your family; will make clear that your consent will not lead to any changes in your child’s MassHealth benefits or eligibility; will describe what information about your student will be shared in order to access MassHealth; remind you that your consent can be withdrawn at any time; and make clear that there will be no changes to your student’s special education services or program if you withdraw or do not provide consent. If you move or your student becomes enrolled in another district, then the new school district will ask you to provide consent again (p. 4).

 It is available at http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/prb/, with a cover memorandum posted at http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=4038. To date, however, the translations of this updated document have not been completed and so each of the translated versions on the Department’s web site do not have the new language. DESE will be preparing new translations during the school year and posting them at the above link. they have advised districts that they must take additional steps to ensure that parents have the information that school districts are required by law to provide to them, so they may need to obtain interpreters or prepare additional translated materials describing the procedural rights of parents and students.

meeting1August 27, 2013
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
ROOM 101
BANGS CENTER, 70 Boltwood, Amherst


1. Welcome and Introductions (10 minutes)
2.  Review and approval of July Executive Board Minutes (10 minutes)
3. Finalization of Goal Areas for SEPAC 13/14 (20 Minutes)
4. Discussion of bylaw changes (30 minutes)
5. Executive Board Meeting times/dates for 13/14 (15 minutes)
6. Open Items (20 minutes)

SEPAC in Collaboration with AdministrationWHAT:  Administration Meeting (SEPAC Executive Board Members meet with Administrative members of ARPS)

WHEN:  July 30th 6:30 pm

WHERE: Lower Meeting Room, Bangs Community Center, Amherst

1. Proposed Survey Questions for Faye (Director of Student Services) – 15 minutes
2. SEPAC Goals moving forward for Academic Yr 2013-14 – 15 Minutes
3. Workshop and Meeting Dates – Calendar setting – 20 Minutes
4. Other items – 5 minutes

All Special Education Parent Advisory Council meetings are open to the public.

meeting1SEPAC – July Executive Board Meeting

Tuesday, July 2nd, 6:30-9pm.

Bangs Community Center Lower Meeting Room


Executive Board Meeting –

1. Welcome and Introductions – 10min
2. Approval of outstanding Minutes – Birdie/Laura/Kelli – 10min
3. Overview of SEPAC – Melissa -15 min
4. Present roles and functions of Executive Members – Melissa – 10 min
5. By Laws revisited – Proposed changes etc. – Lani – 15 min
6. SEPAC Priority GOAL Setting – Discussion led by Melissa and Lani – 30 min
7. Future Dates  – Calendar for 2013-2014 meetings/workshops – 15 min
Executive Meeting
8. Open Discussion from group on current issues and concerns-  30 min

For more information, contact us.

image002July 10, 2013 from 3-5 pm at Community Yoga Studio, 16 Federal St. Greenfield, MA
Old Deerfield Productions with the Emily List Fund is proud to offer…

A special needs parent/child workshop for children aged 7-10

by world renowned dancer and movement therapist, Maria Mitchell

What an amazing opportunity for you and your special needs child to experience a new way of moving and connecting. For one day only, on July 10, 2013 from 3-5pm. This is a parent and child workshop, siblings are more than welcome to join us. Children must be accompanied by a parent or caretaker; this is not a drop off workshop. Please wear loose clothing and removable shoes.image003
A new way of communication and connection.
As an arts educator Ms. Mitchell offers a unique approach that uses dance as an alternative educational tool. This child centered approach offers alternative entry points into the curriculum without compromising the integrity of the art form. She has worked with the Graham Windham Social Work Agency, NYC Department of Education, Henry Street Settlement, Department of Education New Rochelle City Schools, State University of New York Cobleskill, Morning Star School in Ghana, West Africa, Erich Fried School Wuppertal Germany and Mark DeGarmo & Dancers. Mitchell also applies this unique approach to learning in school communities of children with special needs internationally.
Our Price: $15.00 with scholarships available.

To register or inquire contact Linda McInerney at: lmciner@gmail.com  

Joyful, creative, healing, and fun!
Here’s a description of a previous workshop at Parents As Arts Partners: “Everyone was guided through a series of moves and explored dance as a form of communication, as in the Welcome Dance from Liberia.  It was wonderful to see all the smiling faces and to witness the power of the arts to bring everyone together!  As confidence grew, there were even those who got into the circle for some freestyle dancing! We then circle danced with the drums. A great time was had by all!!!”

Emily List Fund is our partner
The Emily List Fund for Performing Arts Therapy has been established by Emily’s family to honor her memory as an actor, a dancer, a reviewer and a lover of the performing arts. The Fund will be used to support theater, dance and music projects aimed at helping the sick and disadvantaged in the interest of making their lives better and brighter through the performing arts.

In affiliation with our production of MY BRONX on July 12, 13, 14, 2013 at 7:30 at ARTSBLOCK on Main Street in Downtown Greenfield. Don’t miss this show featuring Maria Mitchell’s amazing dancing.

Tickets are $15 and are available at:

Please share this info with anyone in your community who might benefit from this special event. Thanks so much!

Old Deerfield Productions
Pre-registration for this event is required. Contact Linda at lmciner@gmail.com.