On Tuesday, August, 24th, the Somerset School Committee re-visited the possibility of creating a sub-committee consisting of two school committee members, Mr. Richard Medeiros, Superintendent, Ms. Susan Doe, Special Education Director and the Somerset PACE Executive Board. Mr. Victor Machado, School Committee Vice Chair, said that he had done some research and found that there are existing sub-committees in other cities such as Quincy and Taunton that exist to address issues of special education policy. He proposed that this group could meet three or four times per year to discuss matters concerning special education policy in Somerset.
Mr. Medieros said that because the Parents Advisory Council would be meeting with faculty and staff as well as administration in an upcoming focus group on October 12, he felt that it would be redundant to have a sub committee to address concerns of policy. Ms. Anne Correira, School Committee Chair, agreed with Mr. Medeiros that the sub committee was unnecessary.
Ms. Melissa Terra and Ms. Krysten Callina, co-chairs of Somerset PACE clarified with the School Committee that the focus groups that will take place will be used as research tools to encourage collaboration and a coming-together of faculty and parents to address the “nuts and bolts” of how to bridge the gap and improve communication and relationships between parties. The focus groups will be informal and any member will be allowed to present research on best practices for discussion, but the groups will have no decision making power beyond making recommendations to the administration on procedure, and to the School Committee on policy. A reinstatement of regular PACE business meetings with open meeting format will also begin in October, 2010.
Mr. Don Rebello, School Committee member spoke in favor of the sub-committee saying that it would serve a different function than the focus group, and formalize the role of liaison to the PAC that he had taken on. He said that he would be willing to participate in the sub-committee. Mr. Jamison Sousa and Ms. Liz White also spoke in favor of the sub-committee to avoid future parent concerns reaching the level it had in June of 2010 when PACE presented a 12 page report of parent concerns. Mr. Machado indicated that he would also be willing to serve on the sub committee.
The members of the Somerset School Committee reached a consensus and agreed that the Sub-Committee on special education should begin this school year.
Thanks to all the parents who have come to support this and other efforts made by PACE! Don’t forget to join us on Thursday, September 9th to hear a decision on changes to the Special Education policy on Parent Observations, and to hear an updated report to the School Committee by the PACE Officers.