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PAC bridges the special needs gaps

Offers parents a resource, support

September 16, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Dealing with Special Education students can be challenging, but now parents will have an additional resource for help.

The Southbridge Public Schools District and Community Connections have developed a Southbridge Special Education Parent Advisory Council to support parents with their children who need Special Education services — and the pupils themselves. Specifically, its aim is to educate parents and students on their rights under the state and federal Special Education laws and of the available assistance resources. The Council was formally established about a year ago after the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cited the district, in an audit, for not having one as required by federal law, according to Special Education Director Michael Meyer.

"Our overall goal is to have parents more involved," Meyer told the School Committee during its Tuesday, Sept. 14 meeting. "It is the right thing to do."

The group replaces a previous "non-functioning" version dating back to the 1970s when schools focused far less time and effort on helping special education students, Meyer said.

After four or five meetings during its development phase, the group is scheduled to hold a formal open house sometime in October, but they are still searching for permanent members and will eventually elect officers, Meyer said.

"It is a work in progress," he said. "It has been difficult attracting members."

So far, the idea has received mixed support from officials.

For more on this story, please see Friday's Southbridge Evening News.

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