What's New

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!

30th Anniversary of IDEA Part B, Section 619 and Part C

October 4th, 2016

This October marks the 30th Anniversary of the passage of Public Law 99-457, which established Part C and mandated Part B, Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These programs have played a critical role in improving results and upholding the rights of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

Throughout the week of October 3–7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will run a campaign showcasing many perspectives from the field, including researchers, families, practitioners, and even individuals who participated in early childhood services through Part C early intervention, and Part B, Section 619 preschool. The week will culminate in a Google Hangout to discuss how the law has impacted the early childhood field, on Friday, October 7th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Supreme Court to Weigh FAPE Mandate

October 4th, 2016

For the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court says it will consider how much educational benefit schools must provide students receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The nation’s high court said Thursday that it will hear arguments in a matter known as Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. At issue is the IDEA’s mandate that public schools provide children with disabilities a free appropriate public education, or FAPE.

The case was brought by parents known in court papers as Joseph F. and Jennifer F. who pulled their son with autism out of his Colorado school district and sent him to a private school. They then sought reimbursement from the Douglas County School District arguing that the boy, Drew, was not provided FAPE.

Both a hearing officer and the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found in favor of the school district, saying that FAPE was provided because the boy received “some” educational benefit.

Read the full article from Disability Scoop.

Preventing Suspension of Young Children from School: An Issue Brief from the Office of the Child Advocate and the Center for Children’s Advocacy

September 12th, 2016

Over the last several years an alarming number of school suspensions are for very young children. For the 2014-15 school year, according to data published by the State Department of Education, there were approximately 2,600 incidents of suspension (both ISS and OSS) for children under the age of 7. This includes Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade, and some Second Graders. Black and Hispanic students were significantly more likely to be the subject of exclusionary discipline than white students.

In response to the escalating number of suspensions of young children, in 2015 the Connecticut legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of out-of-school suspension for children in grades preschool to two except in those rare cases that a child exhibits violent or sexual conduct that endangers others.

In March, 2016, after receiving multiple complaints regarding incidents of very young children, typically children with special needs, being suspended from school, the Office of the Child Advocate requested data regarding school suspension from four urban school districts. The data revealed that despite some reduction in the use of out-of-school suspension for young children, the number of suspension incidents overall remained high during the 2015-16 school year, totaling 1,400 incidents of suspension in the four districts alone.

View the brief.

Next Steps Parent Leadership Training Series Fall 2016

September 7th, 2016

Beginning on Monday, October 17, the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center will be hosting an eight series intensive series is designed to help parents and professionals gain the skills and knowledge necessary for them to be effective members at the Planning and Placement Team meeting (PPT) as well as prepare them for a variety roles at the school, district, regional or state level. The upcoming series will be held in New Haven, Connecticut. The training will be held on Monday evenings beginning at 6:00 p.m. in October, November and December 2016 and will be divided into four topical areas.

Laying the Foundation: Educational Laws and their Impact on Students with Disabilities
Developing an Appropriate IEP
The Parent’s Role at the Table: Planning and Progress Monitoring
Reaching Agreement by Working Together

Participants will learn about the law related to education as well as state and federal level initiatives that impact students with disabilities and their education. It is a chance to learn how and where to give a voice to the needs of families of students with disabilities. Ultimately our goal is for participants to become active, collaborative team members in an effort to support student success.

October 17th, 24th
November 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th
December 5th, 12th

Participation at all eight sessions is encouraged. Click here for the application. Deadline to apply: October 7, 2016. For more information or questions about the application process, please call the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center at 1-800-445-2722 or email Jane at: jhampton@cpacinc.org
Participation at all eight sessions is encouraged. Click here for the application. Deadline to apply: October 7, 2016. For more information or questions about the application process, please call the Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center at 1-800-445-2722 or email Jane at jhampton@cpacinc.org.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance to Schools on Ensuring Equity and and Providing Behavioral Supports to Students with Disabilities

September 5th, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education has just issued new guidance on how schools should be providing positive behavioral supports for students with disabilities rather than disciplinary actions like suspension and expulsion. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.

Read the full article.

New! Transition Bill of Rights for Parents of Students Receiving Special Education Services

May 20th, 2016

Through legislation that went into effect on July 1, 2015, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CT SDE) was required to create a bill of rights for parents of children receiving special education services which informs them of their rights regarding transition planning and includes resources available through the CT SDE. As a result, the Transition Bill of Rights for Parents of Students Receiving Special Education Services was developed. The bill of rights will be provided by school districts to parents, guardians, and surrogate parents of children receiving special education services in grades 6-12, or to a student who is 18 or older.

To read the full Transition Bill of Rights click here.

To view memos from the Commissioner of Education click here.

To view memos from the Chief of the Bureau of Special Education, click here.