Category Archives: General

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.

Special Education Rights for Students with Emotional & Behavioral Challenges: What to Expect in the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) & Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Monday, March 16
7 PM, Darien Library Community Room
Hosted by Darien SEPAC and Darien Library
Please RSVP to

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides specific requirements for an IEP when a child’s behavior effects their access to learning or the learning of others. Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq., a special education lawyer and advocate, and Solandy Forte, PhD, LCSW, BCBA-D, a behavioral analyst, will discuss best practices in school based behavioral interventions from the prospective of the advocate, attorney and clinician.

Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq. is the founding member of Forte Law Group LLC and is one of only very few attorneys in Connecticut that has obtained a Certificate in Special Education Advocacy from the Institute of Special Education Advocacy (ISEA) at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. Jeff’s legal educational background including his legal internships while in law school contributed significantly to him honing the multifaceted nature of special education law, juvenile justice and child advocacy. Jeff graduated from American University, Washington College of Law where he placed first in his class for trial advocacy and first in his class for best appellate argument at the law school’s mock trial and moot court competitions. While in law school, Jeff also served as Dean’s Fellow for the both Civil & Criminal Mock Trial Programs and was selected to be one of eight student attorneys to serve within the law school’s Third Year Criminal Justice Clinic where he served as a criminal defense attorney for children involved within the juvenile justice system.

Solandy Forte, PhD, LCSW, BCBA-D is a Licensed Behavior Analyst in CT and MA the Director of Consultation Services and Community Outreach at Milestones Behavioral Services in Milford, CT. Dr. Solandy Forte is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst licensed in Connecticut and Massachusetts and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Dr. Forte provides consultation services to the Milestones’ School Programs, Advanced Intervention and Daycare. She is also leading the Community Outreach initiative. Solandy has worked with children and young adults with a wide range of developmental disabilities, mental health disorders, autism and related disorders in their homes, schools, and community settings. She has coordinated with multi-disciplinary teams to promote capacity for educating children within the least restrictive educational setting. Currently, Dr. Forte serves on the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC) and has been a member of the Executive Council for the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysts (CTABA). She has presented at regional and national conferences on topics related to staff training, behavioral assessment, navigating through cultural barriers, behavioral consultation, supervision, and ethics. Dr. Forte is also an adjunct professor for the Institute of Autism and Behavioral Studies at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut and the Institute of Behavioral Studies at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Dr. Forte and Attorney Forte both serve on the executive committee for SEEK of CT.

Preparing Incoming 6th Grade Students with Special Education Services & 504 Plan Accommodations for Middlesex Middle School

Friday, February 28, 2020, 9:30AM – 11:00AM 
Middlesex Middle School Library/Media Center

Please join us for an informative panel discussion and explanation of the Middle School transition process for elementary students with IEPs and 504 accommodations.

Topics will include:
1. Brief overview of Middlesex Middle School.
2. Understanding the Transition-to-Middle School Process for students who have IEPs or 504 Plans (Articulation PPT and 504 Meetings).
3. Middlesex Continuum of Services & Supports (Description of Co-Taught classes, Resource Room, Direct Reading, Special Programs).
4. Q & A

Panel to include:
Scott McCarthy – 6-12 Program Director Special Education and Student Services
Theresa Fox – 6-8 Special Education Department Chair
Shelley Somers – MMS Principal
Mary Scalise – MMS Assistant Principal
Dana Giannattasio – MMS Assistant Principal
Lynn Sellon – School Psychologist
Shannon Boldrighini – Special Education Teacher
Rachael Sandler – School Counselor

Social Anxiety & Generalized Anxiety Disorder

When anxiety interferes with performance and relationships

By Child Mind Institute expert, Dr. Jerry Bubrick

Wednesday, January 8th, Noon- 1:30PM
Darien Library Community Room
Please RSVP:

Youth today worry…Academics…Sports…College. When is it too much?

Please join us for an important presentation on Social Anxiety & Generalized Anxiety Disorder by national expert Jerry Bubrick, PhD. on Wednesday, January 8, Noon-1:30 pm, in the Darien Library Community Room.  Dr. Bubrick, a senior clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, has been featured in mainstream media and the highly-acclaimed films Like and Angst.

Dr. Bubrick will explain the signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety – from worrying about everyday stressors to being intensely self-conscious and terrified by others’ perceptions. He will describe the importance of understanding and addressing anxiety when it interferes with performance and relationships. Dr. Bubrick will also explain anxiety as a primary disability or comorbidity to another disability. In addition, Dr. Bubrick will share proven strategies for managing anxiety and how to get the help your child needs.

Jerry Bubrick, PhD, is a senior clinical psychologist in the Anxiety Disorders Center and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service at the Child Mind Institute in New York City.  Widely recognized for developing one of the world’s most intensive pediatric programs for OCD, he is a pioneer in using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat children and teens with OCD and related anxiety disorders.

Featured in media such as Newsweek, The Washington Post and ABC Primetime, Dr. Bubrick is a sought-after expert and speaker. A dedicated advocate for children and their families, Dr. Bubrick is a significant public voice educating parents and teachers about the fear at the roots of anxiety — and how it’s effectively treated.

This event is co-sponsored by Darien SEPAC and Darien Library.