Special Education Parents Advisory Group (SEPAG) Bloomingdale Public Schools
Bloomingdale Public Schools SEPAG Leadership
Cheryl Bernstein | Brianne Dobkowski | Elizabeth Reilly
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What is a Special Education Parent Advisory Group (SEPAG)?
A Special Education Parent Advisory Group, or SEPAG (sea-pag) is a state-mandated, district-level, parent-driven group charged with providing input to the local school district on system-level challenges in special education and related services.
Each district board of education shall ensure that a special education parent advisory group is in place in the district to provide input to the district on issues concerning students with disabilities (N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1.2(h))
What is the purpose and function of a SEPAG?
A SEPAG gives parents the opportunity to provide direct input to their school district about policies, programs, practices, and services that have an impact on students with disabilities and their families. An effective SEPAG can increase the proactive involvement of families by inviting input that can be used to shape local special education policy.
An effective SEPAG that uses parental input can: help improve educational outcomes and well-being for all students, including those with disabilities; help identify unmet needs; help shape the development of programs, services, and policies; and, improve district culture and climate.
Who can be a member of a SEPAG?
Parents are the core members of a SEPAG. This includes parents of children with disabilities who may have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) who are educated in schools within or outside of the student’s home district, . Parents do not need special training or background knowledge to be a member of a SEPAG.
Other members may include:
- school leaders, including the District Supervisor of Special Services and/or members of the Board of Education
- teachers, Child Study Team members, and other school professionals
- students and former students
- other parents committed to improving education in their district
- community leaders and other citizens
What are the benefits of an effective SEPAG?
Outreach – Outreach can engage families of students with disabilities so that they are involved in helping to shape local special education programs and policies.
Positive relationships – Effective SEPAGs engage parents and school leaders to establish shared goals and priorities that benefit students with disabilities. They connect with teachers, Child Study Teams, and community resources as sources of support for helping improve programs and services for students and their families.
Collaborative problem solving – SEPAGs thrive on team spirit and team action. While members bring varied perspectives, everyone shares a common mission: to improve outcomes for all students receiving special education services and support.
System change based on input – A SEPAG can communicate the needs of parents whose children receive special education and related services, and can advise school leaders on unmet needs identified through parental input.
A trusted source of information – SEPAGs can strengthen the bridge between the school district and families. SEPAG members who educate themselves about school policies and channels of communication can be a source for parents who may need information, support, and resources from their school, and can steer them in the appropriate direction. Information
Sharing – SEPAGs can provide an opportunity for districts to share information with all parents about instructional programs, professional development opportunities, and other matters related to special education.
Improved services and programs – Changes that come about as a result of input from SEPAGs are responsive to the identified needs of the school community.
Effective Resource Allocation - Parents can provide valuable input regarding allocating resources and establishing priorities.