Author Archives: dariensepac

Assistive Technology Tips for E-Learning

Reading, Writing & Remote Classrooms

On May 28th, Lori Ritvo, DPS Assistive Technology Coordinator, presented “Assistive Technology Tips for E-Learning.”

The presentation, to support parents and students at home through e-learning, includes reading and writing tools, tips for navigating Google classroom and an overview of e-learning resources.

The resource links can be found in the presentation.

Click here for the presentation slides.

Video links from 2019/20 Darien SEPAC presentations:

ADHD, Anxiety and Mood Disorders: Best Practices for Evaluation and Medical Management
Dr. Peter McAllister

January 23 at 7:15 PM at Darien Library Community Room

TV 79 Darien Video – ADHD, Anxiety & Mood Disorders

Social Anxiety & Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Anxiety interferes with performance and relationships
Child Mind Institute expert, Dr. Jerry Bubrick

January 8 at 12 PM, Darien Library Community Room

Bubrick_When to Worry_Darien SEPAC_01.2020 – Read-Only
Darien Library Video – Social Anxiety & Generalized Anxiety Disorder

ADHD & Executive Functioning: Strategies to Identify and Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills 

Mary Murphy, Ph.D.
October 10 at 1:30 PM, Darien Library Community Room

Darien Library Video – ADHD & Executive Functioning

DPS Special Education Budget & Strategic Planning Discussion
Superintendent, Dr. Alan Addley and BOF Chairman, Jon Zagrodzky

November 18 at 7:15, Darien Library Community Room

TV 79 Darien Video – SEPAC Strategic Planning Discussion

The Myth of Normalcy:  Empowering Students with Learning Differences
Jonathan Mooney

September 10 at 7:15, Darien Library Community Room

TV 79 Video – The Myth of Normalcy

Reading, Writing & Remote Classrooms

Assistive Technology Tips for E-learning
Presented by DPS Special Education Department & co-sponsored by Darien SEPAC
May 28, 2:30 PM

Zoom Link:

The DPS Special Education Department presents “Assistive Technology Tips for e-Learning” with DPS Assistive Technology Coordinator, Lori Ritvo.

Please join Lori for an informative presentation to support our parents and students at home through e-learning. Topics will include reading and writing tools, navigating the online classroom and an overview of e-learning resources.

The presentation will include an opportunity for parents to submit questions and comments through the Zoom chat feature. Questions unable to be answered during the Q&A time frame will be captured in an FAQ.


State & Federal Special Education Guidance During COVID-19 School Closures


It’s now more important than ever to communicate with your school teams.

If you’re struggling with the delivery of your student’s IEP mandated special education services, please document when services are missed, incomplete or don’t meet your child’s IEP goals and objectives. Both the state and federal government encourage parents to have a voice in this process (full guidance attached below).


Contact Darien SEPAC

The most recent working document from the State of Connecticut Department of Education explains that districts need to include parents and students in this process:

“Allowing parents to provide feedback provides patents and ultimately, students a voice in the process, rather than simply notifying them the result. This communication should be ongoing throughout the implementation of the plan so that educators delivering and/or overseeing the services can make adjustments when appropriate.”

The federal government also highlights the importance of family involvement:

Work Together, Get Creative.  

“The Department encourages parents, educators, and administrators to collaborate creatively to continue to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Consider practices such as distance instruction, teletherapy and tele-intervention, meetings held on digital platforms, online options for data tracking, and documentation.” 

Compensatory services may be needed. 

“Where, due to the global pandemic and resulting closures of schools, there has been an inevitable delay in providing services – or even making decisions about how to provide services – IEP teams (as noted in the March 12, 2020 guidance) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when schools resume normal operations.” 

Remote PPTs. 

“IEPs also must be reviewed annually. 34 C.F.R. §300.324(b)(1). However, parents and an IEP Team may agree to conduct IEP meetings through alternate means, including videoconferencing or conference telephone calls. 34 C.F.R. §300.328. Again, we encourage school teams and parents to work collaboratively and creatively to meet IEP timeline requirements. Most importantly, in making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree to not convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. 34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(4)(i).”

United States Department of Education Supplemental Fact Sheet

State of Connecticut Bureau of Special Education Working Document

Connecticut Resource: Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of CT
SEEK This Week
: Thursdays at 7 PM
Special Education Town Hall Discussion

Resources During COVID-19 Crisis

Dear families and community members,

These are uncertain and challenging times. While information changes day-to-day, we would like to share a variety of resources that may be helpful to you.

To start, Child Mind Institute’s web site has many resources to help parents and their children cope with the COVID-19 crisis, plus a helpful daily tip. For more information and to sign up for the daily email, go to Child Mind Institute.


At the most recent Darien Public Schools Board of Education meeting there was an update on the delivery of Special Education and Related Services during the current school closure. Below you will find the questions Darien SEPAC sent to BOE members prior to the meeting, and a video link to the meeting:

  • How will virtual special education support services be individualized and delivered?
  • What is the expectation for communication and service delivery from case managers, psychologists and school-based therapists?
  • How will students receive services from IEP mandated private contractors? Will the district assume financial responsibility to facilitate video/virtual access to these providers?
  • At what point will PPTs resume? Will video/remote conferencing be the standard practice until district schools reopen?
  • Will IEP mandated assistive technology, visual aids and other learning materials be accessible to students?
  • How will DPS track special education service delivery and data on IEP goals? Will this affect the record keeping for Excess Cost Reimbursement?

BOE Meeting – March 16, 2020

Below are some helpful links and updates from Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and Special Education Equity For Kids of Connecticut (SEEK) on school closures and children’s right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

COPAA Statement on Student Rights Under IDEA During the COVID-19 Outbreak

US Department of Education Supplemental Fact Sheet

SEEK Letter to Commissioner of Education

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Closed My Child’s School: Is the School Required to Make Up Missed Services?

Connecticut Parent Advisory Center (CPAC)

Think Colleges. Changing Expectations. Increasing Opportunities.

New Reading Buddy Session to Begin March 6 at Darien Library

Darien’s Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) has just set the dates for a new session of the Reading Buddy Program. The program, now in its fourth year, is seeking both older buddies (ages 13 and up)  and younger buddies (elementary aged students, first grade and up).

The group will meet once a week on Friday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00 pm at the Darien Library. Dates: March 6, March 13, March 20, March 27  and April 3.  Buddies must commit to all dates.

What is a Reading Buddy Program? It’s older kids (“Big Reading Buddies”) paired with younger kids (“Little Reading Buddies”) for one-to-one reading time. Research has shown that academic performance, motivation to read, reading skills, and self-confidence are all gained through participation in these programs. Either buddy can require support; in fact this program is perfect for a teen who is struggling with reading

This is a wonderful community activity that promises to benefit the older buddies just as much as the younger. For program information or to sign up, contact Lynne Andren, by March 1st.