CONCORD SPECIAL EDUCATION PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL BYLAWS
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this organization shall be the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council, hereinafter referred to as the SEPAC.
ARTICLE II: MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council is to provide education and information to parents/guardians and the broader community on special education issues and services, to establish better understanding of, respect for, and support of special education, and to work with the Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District (Districts) to ensure that students’ needs under applicable laws are being met.
ARTICLE III: PURPOSE AND FUNCTION
Section A: The purpose of the SEPAC shall be:
- To fulfill all the responsibilities as defined within 603 CMR 28.00 and any other pertinent state mandates;
- To promote better understanding and communication between parents/guardians with children in special education programs and the school system;
- To promote a network of parents/guardians of children with disabilities and provide the forum to share information;
- To provide support for special education services and its mission of meeting the individualized needs of all students who are enrolled in special education programs through communication with and feedback to the special education director and school principals;
- To promote communication, understanding, acceptance, and inclusion within the community;
- To encourage a community commitment to quality education for all children and to support diversity within the educational setting.
Section B: The function of the SEPAC shall be:
- To participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of all special needs programs;
- To provide an effective link between parents/guardians and school administration regarding issues around special education;
- To provide information concerning special education issues to all parents/guardians of children enrolled in the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) Concord Public Schools and Concord-Carlisle Regional School District;
- To provide a forum for parents/guardians and other interested citizens to maintain a dialogue with the LEAs on concerns and issues relating to the education, health, and safety of all students enrolled in special education programs;
- To provide and promote information and educational opportunities for the community on topics related to special education services;
- To participate in the review of the LEAs State Performance Plan prior to its submission to the Massachusetts Department of Education;
- To meet with the Director of Special Education on a regular basis.
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
The SEPAC strives to cultivate a membership that reflects the linguistic, religious, racial, cultural and socio-economic diversity of the Districts and intends to include members from the preschool, each elementary school, the middle school, high school (inclusive of alternative and transition programs) and out-of-district placements (inclusive of CASE).
Section A: General Membership
General membership shall be open to all interested parties.
Section B: Voting Memberships
- Annual Elections
Voting membership for Annual Elections shall be open to any parent of a child with a disability from age 3 to 22 years, with or without an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan or an out-of-district placement, who is a resident of Concord, Carlisle or Boston and whose child is eligible to attend school in the Districts.
- Business Matters
Voting membership for business matters shall be limited to the current Board in order to perform its administrative functions on behalf of the SEPAC.
Section C: Membership Communications
- The SEPAC may communicate directly with its members via its website, Facebook page, Twitter handle or other types of media.
- For the purpose of confidentiality, the Districts do not identify or share contact information of families with children receiving special education services. Therefore, SEPAC communications will be distributed by the Director of Student Services on the SEPAC’s behalf.
- General members who do not have children receiving special education services may opt in to receive direct communications from the SEPAC (via email email@example.com or other methods offered by SEPAC).
- Voting members may opt in to receive direct communications from the SEPAC (via email firstname.lastname@example.org or other methods offered by SEPAC).
- All contact information provided to the SEPAC will be treated as confidential and used only for SEPAC purposes.
ARTICLE V: MEETINGS
- The SEPAC shall plan to hold at least five regular meetings each year. The schedule of meeting dates shall be determined at the last meeting of the previous school year or as determined and published by the Board.
- Additional meetings may be held on an as-needed basis as determined by the Board, which may be regular meetings, special meetings, Annual Meeting, elections, parent only meetings (e.g., coffees), informational meetings (e.g., presentations by outside speakers) or other types of meetings.
- Minutes of all regular meetings shall be kept by the Secretary.
- Meetings may be held in person or virtually, using online tools like Zoom, which enable participants to attend the meeting remotely using their phone or computer. If a virtual meeting is scheduled, attendance by phone or computer will be counted for purposes of Article IV, Quorum and Voting Procedures.
- The SEPAC shall plan to hold an Annual Meeting in June of each year.
ARTICLE VI: QUORUM AND VOTING PROCEDURES
- A minimum of 3 Board Members is required at a meeting to constitute a quorum for the purposes of voting on SEPAC business decisions.
- When a quorum is present at any meeting; a majority of the votes cast by Board Members present shall decide any question.
- SEPAC business matter voting will be limited to members of the SEPAC Board.
- Election of Board Member voting is open to all voting SEPAC members.
ARTICLE VII: BOARD MEMBERS, ELECTIONS, AND DUTIES
Section I: Board Members
- The Board of the SEPAC shall be the President, Vice-President (or Co-Presidents), Secretary, Membership Chair, Events Chair, Publicity Chair, Communications Chair, Technology Chair. *
- Nominations of candidates for officers for the ensuing year shall be requested in April or May of each year. Nominations may also occur at the Annual Meeting.
- In order to avoid conflict of interest, no officer should be in a position to be hired professionally by the school system.
- Officers shall be elected at the Annual Meeting by a majority of votes cast by all general membership present at time of vote
- Each elected officer shall hold office for a term of at least one year (July 1 through June 30).
- A Board Member may resign by giving notice in writing to the President or Vice-President of the SEPAC. In the event of a resignation, the Board shall hold an election for a successor to fill an unexpired term.
- A Board Member is limited to three (3) consecutive one-year terms in the same position, after which one year must elapse before becoming eligible for re-election to the position previously held. If a Board Member has been elected to fill an unexpired term, he/she will then be eligible for two additional one-year terms.
- Newly elected Board Members are required to be sworn in at the Town Clerk’s office within 2 weeks of the election.
*Offices may be shared by more than one person. A person may hold more than one office.
- Preside at all meetings of the SEPAC and attend PTG Presidents Meeting
- Draft the agenda for each regular meeting
- Recommend the creation of and monitor the function of sub-committees
- Monitor and facilitate the activities of other Officers
- Monitor compliance with the Bylaws and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Regulations
- Act as liaison with district and school officials and representatives, including the Special Education Administrator, the School Committee, the Superintendent, the Principals, and the Educators
- Lead efforts to advise the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities
- Coordinate regular meetings with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs.
- Report to the Special Education Administrator regarding SEPAC activities and needs
- Identify and pursue ways to collaborate on common goals
- Funnel parent/guardian feedback to the Concord SEPAC Board and the Special Education Administrator
- Act as liaison between parents/guardians of students with disabilities or suspected disabilities and the Administrator of Special Education.
- Transition knowledge and expertise to the next Chair upon end of term
- Take meeting minutes at all regular meetings
- Draft and distribute approved regular meeting minutes to Publicity and Technology for public posting
- Maintain an accurate attendance log of meeting attendees
- Count and record all vote results
- Responsible for public comment forms at meetings
- Book meeting locations in handicap accessible facility and/or using a remote technology
- Serve as coordinators to school liaisons
- Lead efforts to encourage parents to get more involved in the Concord SEPAC
- Coordinate efforts to recruit parents from each school, program, and out-of-district placements to become members
- Coordinate communication to non-English speaking parents/guardians of children on IEP’s or 504’s
- Lead event planning
- Maintain an accurate attendance log of all events
- Recruit assistance from publicity and communications, and community
- Coordinate event planning sub-committee
- Coordinate event logistics (book location, speakers, date and time, refreshments, etc.)
- Publicize events and meetings to the schools and general public
- Post approved agenda prior to each regular meeting
- Post approved meeting minutes to the on the SEPAC website
- Post events to the SEPAC Calendar and Facebook page
- Write and distribute bi-monthly newsletter
- Create biennial survey to be distributed to all parents/guardians of children receiving special education services in the district
- Coordinate SEPAC Appreciation Awards
- Oversee, maintain, and/or improve online tools implemented by the SEPAC to include but not be limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Website, blog posts, creation of flyers, visual presentations (ex: slides)
- Post newsletters, meeting agendas, and minutes on the website
Board Members At Large
- Support the purpose and function of the SEPAC, as described in Article II
- The number of At Large Board Members shall not exceed three (3)
ARTICLE VIII: BYLAW AMENDMENTS
These bylaws may be adopted, altered, repealed or amended at any SEPAC meeting provided that the proposed change is submitted in writing to all SEPAC Board members at least 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled meeting in which the vote is to be taken.
Proposed Bylaws changes may be adopted by a quorum of the Board members at a meeting.
ARTICLE IX: GENERAL
The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern all meetings in all cases in which they are applicable, and in which they are not in conflict with these Bylaws.
The statutory authority for the SEPAC and these Bylaws is set forth in the regulations promulgated by The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (603 CMR 28.07(4)):
“(4) Parent advisory participation. Each school district shall create a districtwide parent advisory council offering membership to all parents of eligible students and other interested parties. The parent advisory council duties shall include but not be limited to: advising the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs. The parent advisory council shall establish bylaws regarding officers and operational procedures, and in the course of its duties, the parent advisory council shall receive assistance from the district without charge, upon reasonable notice, and subject to the availability of staff and resources.”
Based on a determination issued by the Office of the Attorney General of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (OML 2021 – 150), the SEPAC is not a “public body” within the meaning of the Open Meeting Law (M.G.L. c. 30A, § §§ 18 through 25).
Approved: February 10, 2022