What's New

Director’s Corner

June 28th, 2017

On Wednesday, June 14th, I was really pleased to have the chance to attend the recognition ceremony for the parents who participated in our New Haven training program. What a great group of parents. For the past year, we have worked with the New Haven Board of Education to provide a year long series of parent trainings in English and Spanish throughout schools in the city. Over forty parents participated, with many attending every session. CPAC provided sessions on topics such as understanding the IEP, how to deal with challenging behaviors in children, and building self-advocacy skills.

The parents were justifiably proud of their learning and all of us at CPAC are happy to have had the chance to help them learn about the process. We are also very happy that New Haven Public School District was so willing to play an important role in this. The NHPS provided rooms for us to meet, food to eat, transportation and reached out to families to inform them about the program. While we still have a way to go, this is a very positive step and we are very proud to have been a partner.

I am also very proud of the parent consultants who worked so hard to provide the trainings. In particular, Kiomary Sotillo, who did much of the training including all of the sessions in Spanish. It was very clear that all the parents were tremendously grateful for her work.

CPAC provides a lot to training. Well over one thousand people attended our sessions last year. We offer programs both to parents and to education professionals. Many of our training sessions are for ten or twelve parents at a program offer by their local SEPTO, but we also present to statewide conferences with hundreds of attendees, to 80 plus paraprofessional, and even to the State’s training program for IEP Chairs. We have programs on a wide range of topics. But we are always willing to design new programs to meet the needs of groups looking for our help.

The jewel of our work is a program we call Next Steps. This is an eight-week intensive program aimed at training parents who are interested in being leaders and helping others in the special education process. We offer Next Steps three time a year at locations around the state. We are planning our fall session now and announcements will be coming soon.

I want to invite all our parents and professionals to take advantage of these programs. If you would like us to come to your area, please call us at 860-739-3089 or drop us an email at cpac@cpacinc.org. We will be happy to work with you. Our sessions are open to all and always free for parents. Again, congratulations to the whole group of New Haven trainees.

John

2016-2017 Special Education Parent Survey Update

May 30th, 2017

The Connecticut 2016-2017 Special Education Parent Survey will be going out to families on or after May 31st! If your child attends any of these school districts be on the lookout for the survey and be sure to fill it out and submit! It will be mailed and emailed if the district has your email address. The district’s marked with * will be sampled so not every parent will receive one. Please feel free to call CPAC if you have questions. 860-739-3089 (for help in Spanish 203-776-3211).

School Districts:

Ashford Branford Bridgeport* Bristol* Brookfield Brooklyn Canaan Canton Chaplin Colchester Cornwall Coventry CTHSS* Derby DMHAS East Hartford* Easton Ellington Farmington Griswold Hamden* Hampton Hartland Kent Killingly Ledyard Manchester* Mansfield Monroe New Britain* New London* North Canaan North Haven North Stonington Oxford Plainville Redding Region 01 Region 06 Region 09 Region 11 Region 19 Salem Salisbury Scotland Sharon Shelton* South Windsor Sprague Stratford* Suffield Thompson Trumbull* Vernon Waterford Watertown Westbrook Weston Westport Willington Wilton Winchester Windsor Locks

* Parents Sampled

2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools

May 15th, 2017

In a May 10, 2017, memorandum to Connecticut Special Education Directors, it was announced that the 2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools is now available. Please review this memorandum which contains the Web link leading to this guidance document.

Memorandum 2017 Guidelines for Occupational Therapy in Connecticut Schools

U.S. Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility

May 2nd, 2017

The U.S. Access Board has released guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) to address questions that have arisen on the use of alternative symbols. Some cities and states have adopted a different symbol that was created to be more dynamic and suggestive of movement. The Board’s guidance explains how use of a symbol other than the ISA impacts compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Standards issued under the ADA require that the ISA label certain accessible elements, spaces, and vehicles, including parking spaces, entrances, restrooms, and rail cars. Similar requirements are contained in standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for federally funded facilities. The ISA, which is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has served as a world-wide accessibility icon for almost 50 years.

“Consistency in the use of universal symbols is important, especially for persons with limited vision or cognitive disabilities,” states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services. “In addition to the ADA and ABA Standards, many codes and regulations in the U.S. and abroad also require display of the ISA.”

While the ADA Standards do not recognize specific substitutes for the ISA, they do generally allow alternatives to prescribed requirements that provide substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability under a provision known as “equivalent facilitation.” However, in the event of a legal challenge, the entity pursuing an alternative has the burden of proof in demonstrating equivalent facilitation. Under the ABA Standards, use of a symbol other than the ISA requires issuance of a modification or waiver by the appropriate standard-setting agency.

“The Board understands the interest out there to revisit the ISA but strongly recommends that such efforts be directed to the ISO to ensure consensus in adoption and uniformity in implementation,” says Mazz.

The ISA bulletin is posted on the Board’s website along with other issued guidance on the ADA Standards and the ABA Standards. For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis, yanchulis@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).

Testing for Students Enrolled in Out-of-State Facilities or State Non-Approved Schools

May 2nd, 2017

Connecticut public school districts are now responsible to test students in the Public School Information System (PSIS) who are enrolled in out-of-state facilities or are enrolled in state non-approved schools. Please see the following important previously published documents for information.

Students in PSIS who attend Out-of-State Facilities or In-State Non-Approved Facilities
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/student_assessment/smarter_balanced/Out_of_State_and_Non_Approveds_2_14_17.pdf

Connecticut Alternative Assessment System Participation Guidance for Planning and Placement Teams
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/student_assessment/special_education/Alternate_Assessment_Participation_Decisions_Flowchart.pdf

Parent Input Needed for IEE Task Force

March 29th, 2017

In February a number of parents and organizations, including CPAC, filed a petition with the State Board of Education to amend the State’s regulations on Independent Educational Evaluations, (IEE) and on parents’ rights to observe their children in school. The Board responded by establishing a task force to study the issue and to report back in July with recommendations on how things can be improved. This means you have the chance to have your voice heard.

Two changes to the regulations are being considered, but first a little background. Whenever a parent disagrees with an evaluation done on their child, or when they request and evaluation and the school has denied to conduct an evaluation the parents are entitled to request an IEE. An IEE is an evaluation performed by a professional who does not work for the school, either to see if there are errors in the one performed by the schools, or the get the information the school does not believe it needs to obtain. When a parent makes a request for an IEE the school has two options: They can take the parents to a due process hearing to prove the information they have collected is correct, or they can provide the parents with the qualifications required for the person to perform the IEE.

The petition was made because sometimes the list of necessary qualifications tends to vary depending on what town is being asked. More importantly, in many towns the list limits the parents’ ability to find a professional to do the evaluation.

The other issue is parent observation. Some schools put unnecessarily strict limits on the amount of time that parents, or professionals hired by parents can observe their child during the school day. Some totally refuse to allow parents to observe at all. This can mean that the parents are unable to get a full picture of their children’s programs, or how those programs are working.

We know many families face one or both of these problems because many of you call us for help. If you have experienced one or both of these problems there is an opportunity for your voice to be heard, an for you to make a deference for all our kids.

The Task Force has set aside two hours of it meetings on April 7 and April 17 to hear from parents and school personnel on this. The meetings begin at 10:00 at the Connecticut State Department of Education’s offices at 450 Columbus Avenue in Hartford. If you have run into problems on either of these issues we urge you to make the time to testify so parents’ voices are heard. For more information please call us at 860-739-3089 or email at iee@cpacinc.org. If you are unable to make it and would like to tell your story in writing or in a video or voice recording please call and we will tell you how to do that as well.

The Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center Announces the Election of Two New Members of Our Board of Directors

March 6th, 2017

Margarita Vargas-Torres, 37, has worked at the Fair Haven Community Health Center as the Cancer Screening Coordinator and Referrals Manager for the past 17 years. She is a patient advocate for improving access to timely cancer testing and treatment among under served women and men in the Fair Haven community. She has a B.S. in Public Health from Southern Connecticut State University. She resides in East Haven with her husband Will and two sons, Gian, 8 and Alex, 13, who at a young age was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. “I welcome the opportunity to be on the board of CPAC because of my personal experience, but also because it’s my way of paying it forward.”

David Goldblum is the principal of Pathways Academy of Technology and Design, a magnet high school in East Hartford that is part of the Hartford Public Schools. He lives in Branford and, with his wife Joanne, is the parent of three grown children. As a professional and as a parent he has been involved with special education issues for the past twenty years and is looking forward to supporting children and families through his work on the CPAC board.

New Special Education Professional Learning Modules

January 30th, 2017

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) in partnership with the State Education Resource Center (SERC), has developed a series of Special Education Professional Learning Modules with three central themes running throughout the series including Independent Education Program (IEP) development, culturally-responsive family-school partnerships and state and federal special education programs.

Several of these professional learning opportunities will be offered prior to the close of this school year, but all will be offered during the 2017-2018 school year, with some modules offered as overviews and others as in-depth learning opportunities.

Intentionally designed with a target audience that includes general educators/school leaders as critical partners, participants will return to their districts with tools and strategies ready for implementation to build staff capacity and to better support students with disabilities and their families.

Individual module details and registration information can be found here.

U.S. Department of Education Announces Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Final Regulations on Accountability

November 30th, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued final regulations to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding school accountability, data reporting, and state plans. The regulations incorporate the valuable feedback that the Department received through the public comment process, while maintaining the focus on providing states with new flexibility to ensure that every child gets a high-quality and well-rounded education, and enhancing equity and preserving critical civil rights protections for all students.

For more information, visit the following resources:
View the final regulations.
Read the fact sheet.
Review the timeline for identification of schools for support and improvement.

iPad Grant Applications Now Open

November 13th, 2016

Autism Speaks has announced that this year, 685 iPad Airs will be awarded to financially disadvantaged people with autism. The application is now open!

Eligible applicants are individuals who:

Have been diagnosed with autism by a licensed professional
Reside in the United States
Have limited income and cannot afford to purchase an iPad
The timeline is below:

November 7: Online application opens at 6:00 a.m. EST
November 11: Application closes at 11:59 p.m. EST
November 15 – December 9: Review committee selects recipients
December 15: Recipients announced and iPads sent out!

Applications must be submitted by the person with autism, an immediate family member of the person with autism, or a licensed social worker or therapist. The Technology Grant Review Committee will review applications and select the iPad award recipients. All applicants selected to receive an iPad Air will be contacted by December 15. If selected, the iPad will be shipped via UPS directly to the address provided with the application. Others will receive an email informing them of their status.

Click here to apply!