Tag Archives: special education

New State Information: Dyslexia, UDL & Common Core

— Dyslexia

— Universal Design for Learning (UDL) & Common Core

— Legislative Update 2015: Paraprofessionals Attending PPT Meetings, Restraint and Seclusion, Transition Planning, Programs and Services, Electronic IEP, Transportation of Special Education Students, RESCs, Dyslexia

  • New Dyslexia Legislation  

On August 4, 2015, Governor Daniel P. Malloy signed Public Act 15-97, An Act Concerning Students with Dyslexia. This is the second piece of Dyslexia legislation in the past two years. (2014 P.A. 14-39).



  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) & Common Core

The State has created a website which includes: parent education information, professional development opportunities and online resources. It includes an interview with David H. Rose, who is considered to be   “the principal architect of Universal Design for Learning, a curriculum-development framework based on flexible instructional approaches that can be customized and adjusted to address the learning needs of individual students. (edweek.org)



  • Legislative Update 2015

The CT State Department of Education (CSDE) has released a legislative update for 2015 (scroll down in doc for each topic).

Paraprofessionals Attending PPT Meetings

Restraint and Seclusion

Transition Planning, Programs and Services

Electronic IEP

Transportation of Special Education Students

RESCs (Regional Educational Service Centers)





CANCELED: Monday, January 26, 7-8:30, Darien Library



Darien SEPAC and Darien Library are pleased to present Alan Wachtel, MD on ADHD & Mood Disorders: New Strategies and Treatments.

Dr. Wachtel will discuss medication options, treatments and strategies to help children who struggle with mood and attention. He will cover school-based accommodations and strategies. Research has shown that parents and teachers need to foster a child’s focus to maximize their ability to learn. In addition, Dr. Wachtel will address the benefits and risks of available treatments and when to commence or postpone treatment at various stages of a child’s life.

A board certified psychiatrist, Dr. Wachtel is the author of The Attention Deficit Answer Book. He is founder and director of Familyhealth Associates, which specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of attention, behavior, mood and learning disorders. He is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

RSVP at https://dlchildrenslibrary.wufoo.com/forms/adhd-and-mood-disorders-new-strategies-treatmen/


Below are the answers from the administration to questions asked by SEPAC:

Darien Public Schools

Office of the Special Education Ombudsman


 Responses to Questions Raised by SEPAC 

Area of Focus 1: Case Reviews 

Questions: We understand that identifying children with illegal language or other practices is difficult in IEP Direct.  Is someone going through IEP’s manually?  If so, will you please clarify who that is?  What is the current timeline for when this will be done?

Responses: The ombudsman is working with central office staff and the IEPDirect representatives to identify automated approaches to the review and analysis of IEPs.  The Ombudsman is collaborating with the Superintendent to identify temporary external resources to review IEPs manually.  We expect that the automated and manual processes will be complete by the end of April.

Area of Focus 4: Parent and Community Engagement

Questions: In the last subcommittee meeting, there was discussion of administrative checks within the schools.  When will the types of checks parents will have be discussed?  Under this category?*

Responses: I believe this question concerns the mechanisms that parents could use to insure that their child’s IEP is appropriate and that it is being implemented with fidelity on an on-going basis.  This issue should be discussed in the development of approaches to parent engagement, and also in the development of Guidelines for Practice.  Currently, the Principal is responsible for the supervision of staff ion the IEP development and implementation of IEPs, with assistance from the Assistant Principal and the Case Managers in the school. We have proposed the establishment of a new position – SESS Facilitator – who would be the point person in the school’s work with parents of children with disabilities and the primary support to PPTs and school administrators in planning and implementation. * <<SEPAC IS FOLLOWING UP ON THIS RESPONSE FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION.>>

Gamm Report Recommendations

Questions:  In her report, Sue Gamm gave a list of immediate action items.  Is someone on the subcommittee assigned to reviewing those action items and verifying their timely completion?  How many are complete?  What is the timeline for the rest?  How does this list relate to John Verre’s action plan?

Responses:  Implementing the Required Corrective Actions of the CSDE Letters of Findings, and reviewing the recommendations of the Gamm Report is the responsibility of the Special Education Ombudsman in collaboration with the Superintendent, both of whom have the requisite technical and operational knowledge and experience in special education and student services.  Our work has focused first on the requirements and recommendations with the earliest critical timelines, including case reviews and problem solving, ESY Guidelines, ELP-Kindergarten transition, data management, professional development, and guidelines for practice.  We are in the process of reviewing the other recommendations to determine appropriateness and level of priority, and will incorporate this work in the medium and long-term Action Plans.  Ultimately the implementation of adopted approaches will become the responsibility of the new Superintendent and the new Director of Special Education and Student Services.

Extended School Year Services

Questions:  Can you outline the notification and training schedule for parents and staff of the new ESY regulations?  Are you still indicating that PPTs to address ESY occur before the end of March?

Responses:  The ESY Work Group developed new guidelines for ESY services based on the CSDE Topic Brief, the input of the participants, and the advice of our consulting expert. Professional development for staff and administrators was provided during the weeks of 3/3/14 and 3/10/14. We will provide informational sessions for parents as soon as possible before the end of March. The guidelines describe the expectation that, to the greatest extent possible, many PPTs considering ESY services should be held by the end of March, and others should be held as soon as possible in April, may, and June.  SEPAC NOTE: PLEASE READ THE NEXT POST BELOW REGARDING A PARENT MEETING APRIL 9 ABOUT THE NEW ESY GUIDELINES

Rising Kindergarteners with Disabilities

Questions:  John Verre and Lynne Pierson have stated that an individualized approach will be taken for each of the families in need of a kindergarten alternative next fall. Who exactly will be determining the IEPs and schooling structure for these families?  What is the deadline for these plans to be created?  Is May 1st possible?

Responses:  The services and settings for all individual ELP students will be determined by appropriately constituted PPTs. For those students whose parents and staff believe there may be issues concerning the appropriateness of a regular kindergarten placement for individual students, Laura Straiton and John Verre will participate in the PPT process to support individualized planning. To address the urgency of planning for September placements and services, these “articulation PPTs” will be initiated during April and completed as soon as possible.

Invitation to Participate in Superintendent Focus Group

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January 22, 2014

Dear Darien School Parents:

The search for a new superintendent of schools is well underway.  A very important part of the process is to solicit community input about the attributes, experiences and desired goals for a new superintendent.  The focus groups also provide an opportunity for participants to identify immediate tasks on which the new superintendent should concentrate.

Dr. Joseph Wood, a search consultant with the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), will meet with staff, parents and community members in separate focus groups.  Participation in a focus group will require about 1-1 ½ hours of your time.  Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in these meetings.  No previous sign-up is required.  Each person’s contribution to the group is very important to the process.

Two alternative Parent Focus Groups will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 11:00a.m. andWednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:00p.m.  In addition, we will hold a separate Focus Group for Parents with special needs students on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:00a.m.  All Focus Groups will be held in the Board of Education Meeting Room at 35 Leroy Avenue.

If you are unable to attend one of these three sessions or prefer to provide written input, please direct your comments to:

Dr. Joseph Wood, NESDEC
Darien Superintendent Search
28 Lord Rd.
Marlborough, MA 01752
or email:  search@nesdec.org

 In addition, a brief survey will be accessible on the Darien Public School website, from Monday, February 3, 2014 through Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

The Darien Board of Education wants and values your opinions.  We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to participate.


Heather L. Shea

Chair – Superintendent Search Committee

STAR, Inc Special Education Advocacy Workshop

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Making it Happen in Connecticut – Special Education Advocacy Workshop

When: Saturday, February 8, 2014. 9:00am – 5:00 pm. 8:15am to 9am: registration and breakfast

Where: STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way… 182 Wolfpit Ave., Norwalk, CT 06851

Connecticut attorneys, Nora Belanger, Esq., and Anne Treimanis, Esq., will share the inside scoop on how to obtain FAPE. By attending this all day Saturday training, you will walk away with the knowledge and concrete strategies to improve your child’s IEP on Monday. $125 includes breakfast, lunch, and all materials. Sponsored by STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way…

Nora Belanger, Esq., is a special education and disability rights attorney. She has successfully represented hundreds of children with disabilities. She is a former special education teacher. Attorney Belanger is a national and international presenter at the subject of special education law and parent’s rights. Anne Treimanis, Esq., is an attorney, author, university professor, international presenter, and single mother to 5 children – two of whom have disabilities. She has been a lawyer for over 25 years; her practice limited to Special Education and Disability Discrimination.

Participation is strictly limited to 30 parents, educators, advocates, and providers so YOU MUST PREREGISTER. Please call 203-846-9581 ext. 303 or email: Linda Snell at lsnell@starinconline.com or Carmela Giuliani at cgiuliani@starinconline.com. Tuition is $125, STAR members $100. Online payments at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/STARCT or make checks out to STAR, Inc.

For over 60 years, STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way… has been assisting thousands of infants, teens and adults with developmental disabilities. To learn more about STAR, check out http://www.starct.org.

Abilis Presentations for January.

  Teaching Your Child Self-Advocacy – January 16, 2014
Abilis LogoCome hear a panel of attorneys, parents and educators discuss best practice in teaching self- advocacy to your child from the early years through transition to adulthood. Sponsored by SCOPES and Abilis. Event take place at Rippowam Middle School, 381 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT. 7:00-9:00pm. All parents and interested professionals are welcome. Spanish translation possible. Please RSVP to Monica at smyth@abilis.us or 203-324-1880 ext 336.Panelists: Susan Chandler: Special Education teacher, Stamford Public Schools; Dr. Angie Chai: Director of Youth Behavioral Services at Abilis; Gerri Fleming: Special Education Advocate; Ida Lupinacci: Early Intervention Associate at Abilis; Jeanne Buckley Peloso: Parent Advocate; Dorothy Taffet: Teacher, Winston Prep in Norwalk; Attorney Treimanis, attorney.

                Mock IEP – January 30, 2014
Abilis Logo Come witness a Nightmare and then a Dream PPT. Facilitated by Attorney Anne Treimanis, and starring Stamford Public School’s staff Dr. Winnie Hamilton, Dr. Tamu Lucero, Michael Fernandes, Susan Austin, Wayne Holland, Mike Meyer, Beryl Williams, school board representative John Leydon, with Rabbi Josh Hammerman, Karen Feder Abilis Director of Youth Services, and the Stamford JCC Inclusion Specialist, Dinushka DeSilva. Drama unfolds through this interactive event, as the panel re-enacts two versions of the same IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting for a student with a disability. Tips for a successful PPT meeting will be discussed. The presentation is entertaining, dramatic, and educational. Even those parents whose children have a 504 plan will benefit. Spanish translation will be available. Event takes place in the auditorium at Rippowam Middle School, 381 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT. 7:00-9:00pm. Please RSVP to Monica at smyth@abilis.us or 203-324-1880 ext 336. Co-sponsored by SCOPES of Stamford and Abilis, Inc.  


Darien SEPAC December Update

SEPAClogoThank you to those parents who came out on a busy December evening to meet and engage with our Ombudsman, John Verre. Our meeting was taped by Darien’s Channel 79. We will update you with the air dates and times once they are available.

We covered several important topics, including a new communication initiative, made available to parents by the parents of SEPAC. The “Problem Solving Request Form” is available for parents in hard copy at our General Meetings and for submission online HERE

These forms are collected by the Co-Chairs of SEPAC and forwarded confidentially and directly to John Verre. It is important to note that this form serves as just one avenue for parents who have a question or concern to reach out to John and begin the process of “solving the problem.” This form and its implementation is a SEPAC initiative.

SEPAC has posted the State of Connecticut’s Dept. of Education Topic Brief on Extended School Year on our Resources page. HERE. This document lists the criteria for eligibility for ESY that John presented at our meeting.

SEPAC is committed to providing timely updates and information to parents of children with disabilities. Please bookmark our website to check back for important announcements and resources. You may also now follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

-Darien SEPAC