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Santa Monica Malibu PTA Council Special Education Committee. Organizational meeting Community workshop June 16, 2008 Rebecca Kennerly PTA Council President [email protected] 310.453.6305. Committee History. PTA Council voted to form committee on May 20, 2008

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Santa Monica Malibu PTA Council Special Education Committee

Organizational meeting

Community workshop

June 16, 2008

Rebecca Kennerly

PTA Council President

[email protected]


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Committee History

  • PTA Council voted to form committee on May 20, 2008

  • Since then, meetings with Special Education District Advisory Committee, SMMUSD Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer, Special Education leadership, Classroom Teachers Association to receive input

  • Tonight’s community input gathering session and organizational meeting

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A little help from our friends

  • Nancy Vandell and Todd Gary from San Ramon Valley Unified School District presented to a special joint meeting of PTA Council, the Special Education District Advisory Committee and the Board of Education

  • San Ramon Valley’s PTA Council received National PTA’s 2007 Advocacy Award, in part for their leadership in a collaborative approach in Special Education

  • Ms. Vandell & Mr. Gary have agreed to a help mentor us on our journey!

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Achieving Success in Special Education-- A Collaborative Approach --

Todd B. Gary

Special Needs Liaison

San Ramon Valley Unified School District

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Success Through Collaboration

  • Collaboration and Negotiation

  • Dynamics of Negotiation

  • Succeeding Through Collaboration

    • Empowering partners

    • Finding real solutions


Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach


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Success Through Collaboration

  • Requires partnership

  • Demands mutuality

  • Applies to Families and Staff

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Success: How Do We Get There?

Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach


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Collaboration vs. Negotiation

Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach

  • Collaboration

  • Negotiation

  • Compatibility

    • Collaboration is “Win-Win” negotiation


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Win-Win Negotiation

Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach

Collaborative toward a common goal

Most important needs or desires met

Respectful and supportive

Relationships preserved

Creative and productive


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Dynamics of Negotiation




Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach


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Dynamics of Negotiation

  • Partnerships

    • Positive

    • Creative

    • Productive

    • Negotiated


Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach


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Succeeding Through CollaborationFinding Real Solutions

  • A Very Important Side-Note to Collaboration

    • Staff retention

    • Special Ed v. General Ed.

    • Competitive markets and staff shortages

    • Without staff there are no programs

    • When appropriate, help make it personally rewarding: this is truly a “Win-Win!”

Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach



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Success Through Collaboration

  • Philosophy of Collaboration

    • Collaboration is people working together in a cooperative manner toward a common goal or vision. It requires the interaction of viewpoints, resources, and services from different individuals, each representing a distinct area of experience or expertise. Collaboration requires use of effective communication skills, creative problem solving, and mutuality of respect. When people share together, learn together, appreciate different perspectives, and are committed to working together for solutions that best meet the needs of all involved partners, we can truly succeed.

Achieving Success in Special Education - A Collaborative Approach



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San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs

Serving Every Child: Organizing aPTA Special Needs Committee

California State PTA Convention Workshop

May 5, 2007

Rachel Hurd

Rob Kessler

Nancy Vandell

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Workshop Objectives

  • Communicate benefits of a Special Needs Committee

  • Provide tools and methodologies to develop successful Special Needs Committees in other PTAdistricts, councils and units

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  • Special Needs Committee formed by one of the PTA units in our Council in 2000

    • Provided support to parents of special needs children

    • Held programs and support group meetings

    • Learned lessons

      • Chairman selection critical

      • Partnership with school staff (including principal) imperative

      • Committee beneficial to community

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  • Much interest from parents in other schools

    • Thirst for knowledge to help their children

    • Feelings of isolation and stigmatism

    • Anger at school district by some vocal parents

      • Pending litigation

      • Compliance issues

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  • Council Committee formed in Fall of 2002

    • Used lessons learned from unit committee

    • Established goals and organization early

    • Emphasized collaboration with district

      • Met with Superintendent to establish district-level support

      • Included school board member and assistant special education director on the committee

      • Spent significant effort to address school district concerns with committee intentions

    • Fully supported by Council Board

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  • Held a series of 4 Evening Programs in Spring, 2003

    • Help - My Child is Struggling Series

  • Held first Special Needs Conference December, 2003

    • Full-day

    • Keynote, three break-out timeslots, breakfast & lunch

  • Encouraged PTA units to appoint Special Needs chairman

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  • Within first year,

    • Programs drew large audiences (75 - 250 people)

    • Appreciation from parents and district staff

    • Voluntary attendance by teachers/staff

    • School District became supportive and appreciative

      • Trust built through collaborative partnership

      • Staff strongly encouraged to attend

      • Provided facilities and support

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  • Over past five years, our committee has

    • Continued to offer evening and day-long programs

    • Expanded unit involvement and representation on Council committee

    • Represented PTA and parents on school district special education steering committee and other District committees responsible for issues resolution

    • Provided support for parents with questions

    • Partnered with school district to restart Resource-parent program with SELPA-trained resource parents

    • Received recognition from parents and staff

    • Worked on legislative issues affecting Special Education

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  • In addition to the general purposes of the PTA, the mission of the Special Needs Committee is:

    • To provide information and support to parents of children with special needs, so that they can help their children maximize their potential.

    • To work as a team with the school district to assist staff in most effectively helping children with special needs.

    • To provide information to all parents and community members about children with special needs, so that they can understand and support all children.

    • To help all children understand and appreciate challenges faced by children with special needs.

    • To work legislatively to secure and retain adequate laws (and funding for them) for children with special needs.

  • Tagline: “Fostering collaboration between parents, teachers, the schools, and the community to support children with special needs”

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Definition of Special Needs

  • Children with

    • Learning or processing disabilities

    • Physical challenges

    • Speech & language difficulties

    • Social/emotional issues

    • Mental retardation

    • Autism

    • Gifted learners

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Committee Structure

  • Special Needs Committee within Council PTA

    • Leads Council-wide activities

    • Coordinates with other Council committees

      • Legislative Advocacy

      • Parent and Community Education

      • Membership

      • Communications

      • Health & Safety

    • Provides support to Special Needs Committees/Support Groups within Units

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Council-level Committee members

  • Parents

  • School Board Trustees

  • School District Staff

    • Special Programs directors

    • School psychologist

  • Unit Committee Chairmen

  • SELPA CAC Chairman (new this year)

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San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs

Roles of the Special Needs Committee







  • Handbook for parents & teachers (planned)

  • Website

  • Library materials

  • Other

  • PTA Lyris Email lists

  • PTA Newsletter articles

  • PTA & District Websites

  • PTA Unit committee chairs

  • Other

  • PTA Parent/Teacher Programs

  • PTA Special Needs Conference

  • PTA Parenting 200X Conference

  • Other

  • State

  • Federal

  • Work through SRV Council Legislation Committee

  • Other





Unit Committees

  • SRVUSD Special Education Steering Committee (and other committees)

  • District Gifted & Talented Education (GATE) staff

  • Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA)

  • East Bay Learning Disabilities Assn.

  • International Dyslexia Association

  • Other

  • Gifted & Talented (GATE)

  • Severely Impaired

  • Autism/Aspergers

  • Other

  • 20 of 29 PTA units

  • Liaison to Council Special Needs Committee

  • Report at PTA meetings

  • Support-group meetings

  • Other

  • Most of funding from council membership dues

  • Minimal charge for conference

  • Grants

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Unit Special Needs Committee Chairman Job Description

  • Communicate information from the Council Committee to school community via PTA meetings, newsletters, email, on bulletin boards, etc.

  • Organize support group meetings or “coffees” for interested parents at your school site:

    • Involve parents, special education or GATE staff, general education teachers, and administrators

    • Select a topic (or topics) to be discussed. A good one to start with is a “get to know you” coffee including a briefing by the staff/administration on the special education program at your school. Make sure the discussion is facilitated – ground rules set up front, discussion is kept constructive, and all participants have opportunity to speak.

    • Make notes of any suggestions or issues. Communicate these to PTA president, principal, and council special needs chairman

  • Attend Council Special Needs Committee meetings if possible. If not able to attend, maintain contact with council chairman.

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How to Establish a Unit Special Needs Committee

  • Discuss idea with PTA Executive Board and principal

    Council committee member available to speak at board meetings

  • Find a committee chairman, someone who:

    • is knowledgeable about and sensitive to special needs children

    • works in a constructive way with teachers, principal, other parents

    • Can keep personal issues separate from committee

    • Is a PTA member

  • Executive Board establishes the committee

  • President appoints committee chair; Board ratifies

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Committee Impacts

  • Support provided to parents and teachers

    • More knowledge helps them better support children

    • Reduced stigma, sense of isolation

  • Trust built with school district

    • Committee leaders influential members of problem-solving teams; asked for input

    • Resource parent program embraced by District

    • Quality programs with expert speakers attract staff as well as parents

    • True partnership among parents and staff

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Committee Impacts

  • Legislative advocacy raised awareness of issues at local, state and national levels

    • Partnered with Council Legislative Advocacy Committee, as well as California State PTA and National PTA advocates

  • Established reputation for excellence with other organizations

    • SchwabLearning Foundation

    • East Bay Learning Disabilities Association

    • Special Education Local Plan Areas

    • Other PTA councils and units

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Requirements for Success

  • Sincere desire to help all children

  • Collaboration among parents, district

  • Special Needs Committee on par with other unit or council-level committees

  • While special education has inherent challenges, focus needs to be constructive education and problem-solving

  • All committee members involved in developing programs, participating, helping

  • Committee members representing various stakeholders

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Requirements for Success

  • Communication of programs, issues, resources

  • Training of facilitators

  • Expert speakers

    • Strict vetting for research-based, proven topics

  • Commitment of time

  • Ability to listen

  • A healthy sense of humor and a thick skin

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Challenges to Success

  • Committee chairman and/or members with personal agendas

  • Members who wish to force change in school district

    • Change can be influenced, but only after trust is established

  • Members or speakers who wish to endorse controversial diagnosis/treatment methods not supported by research

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Evening Programs Held

  • Help - My Child Struggles! Series (January - May, 2003)

    • My child is struggling – where do I start?

    • Understanding Special Needs Assessments

    • Writing Effective Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

    • Implementing IEPs

  • Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Dyslexic (Sept. 2003)

  • Helping Your Child Develop Friendship Skills (Oct. 2003)

  • Parenting the Anxious Child (Jan. 2004)

  • ADHD Medication Update (Mar 2004)

  • Helping Children Learn to Read – Diagnosing & Treating Dyslexia (Apr 2004)

  • Learning Disabilities Matter; Strategies to Help My Struggling Child (Sept. 2004)

  • Diagnosing & Assessing Disabilities (Oct. 2004)

  • Ways to Win the Homework Battle (Mar. 2005)

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Evening Programs Held, cont’d.

  • Forum for Collaboration (April, 2005)

    • Parent-input gathering

    • Facilitated by Special Needs Committee members

    • Observed by District administrators, school-board members

    • Input given to district for resolution; report presented to school board

  • Special Education Back-to-School Night (September, 2005)

    • How to work with your child’s teacher/school

  • Dyslexia – Symptoms and Solutions (October, 2005)

  • Parenting the Anxious Child – Helping Children and Teens Cope with Fear, Worry, and Shyness (February, 2006)

  • An Introduction to SRVUSD web-based IEP System, GENESEA (March, 2006)

  • Social Thinking and Related Skills (April, 2006)

  • Help - My Child Struggles in School Series (September - November, 2006)

    • Where do I Start: Asking for Help, Student Study Teams, and Assessment

    • 504 Plans and Individual Education Plans

    • Placement Considerations

  • Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Person with a Learning Disability (January 2007)

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Full-Day Conferences

  • 1st Annual Special Needs Conference - 12/03

    • Keynote: Child Development and How Parents and Teachers can Affect any Child’s Potential, Dr. Brad Berman, developmental pediatrician in our area

    • 3 breakout sessions (75 min.) – choice of offerings

  • ADHD Conference - 1/05

    • Helping Children and Teens with ADHD Succeed at Home and at School, Dr. Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD., UC Berkeley.

  • 2nd Annual Special Needs Conference - 4/05

    • Keynote: Reflections from A Different Journey – What people with Disabilities Want All Parents and Teachers to Know, Stanley D. Klein, PhD, psychologist and author.

    • 3 breakout sessions (75 min.) – choice of offerings

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Full-Day Conferences (continued)

  • 3rd Annual Special Needs Conference – 2/06

    • Keynote: Redefining Success in School and Success in Life, Rob Langston, author and corporate consultant

    • 2 breakout sessions (105 min.) – choice of offerings

  • 2007 combined the conference with our Council’s annual general parenting conference.

    • Keynote: A Child’s Journey into Adolescence – Neurodevelopment from age 5 to 16, Dr. Brad Berman.

    • 2 breakout sessions – 5 special needs topics offered each session

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Other Activities

  • Coordinated SchwabLearning “Show Your Spark” Assemblies for 3rd - 5th grade classes at all schools at least once over three years

    • Addresses Mission:To help all children understand and appreciate challenges faced by children with special needs.

  • Guest experts for SchwabLearning Website Message Board Forum on “Organizing a Special Needs Committee in your PTA”

  • Recognized SchwabLearning with Council HSA

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Other Activities

  • Resource Library for Parents and Staff

    • Centralized at a school site

    • Online catalog

    • Any parent or teacher can check out remotely

    • Council PTA purchases books, videos, etc. for library and advertises on website, newsletters

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Program Considerations

  • Make sure that speaker meets requirements

    • Research-based, proven material

    • Balance school-district standard practices with newer (although) research-based methods

    • Communicate collaborative focus with speakers

  • Include balance of programs for types of disabilities

    • Reading disabilities, ADHD, Autism spectrum, Anxiety, behavior, social issues, etc.

    • Learning disabilities/ADHD draws larger audiences

    • Offer programs for less prevalent disabilities in conference or subcommittee/support group

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Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs

  • PTA organization

    • Representation from the entire district

    • Elected Executive board

    • General membership consists of PTA Presidents from each school

    • Liaisons; including Board of Education, Teacher’s Association, SEIU, City representatives, Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, SMC, Education Foundation, Personnel Commission, etc.

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SMMPTA Committees

  • Legislation - Coordinates legislative advocacy on a district-wide basis. PTA Council’s Legislative Committee has been critical in the passage of local funding measures, as well as statewide political advocacy on school funding and issues concerning children.

  • Communication - in an unprecedented collaboration between PTA, District leadership, CTA and SEIU, the Communications Committee managed the aggressive World Class Public Schools campaign, including the “Your Schools World” publication, Public Schools Week, monthly e-mail newsletters from Superintendent, etc.

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SMMPTA Committees

  • Operate under PTA Council’s umbrella.

  • Chair appointed by PTA Council President.

  • Chair(s) drawn from or become members of PTA Council Executive Board; make regular reports to PTA Council, raises issues of concern and works with PTA Council to resolve issues.

  • Committees

    • Regular meetings

    • Their own membership

    • Can have subcommittees

    • Not governed by Brown Act

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SMM PTA CouncilSpecial Education Committee

  • PTA Council voted to form committee May 20, 2008.

  • Will be PTA Council’s third independent committee, along with Communication and Legislation.

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SMM PTA CouncilSpecial Education Committee

  • Needs

    • Chair

    • Mission Statement

    • Members

    • Priority list of objectives

    • Timeline

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SMM PTA CouncilSpecial Education Committee

  • Configuration

    • PTA Council President

    • Chair(s)

    • Board of Education Liaison(s)

    • District representation (Superintendent and/or Director of Special Education, Chief Academic Officer)

    • Teachers

    • Parent/community members

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SMM PTA CouncilSpecial Education Committee

  • Is not

    • SMMUSD Special Education Department

      • Led by Special Education Director, Ruth Valadez and overseen by Chief Academic Officer Sally Chou, the Special Education Department actually provides all Special Education Services to students in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District

    • Special Education District Advisory Committee

      • Appointed by the district, SEDAC advises the Board of Education on issues related to Special Education Design Team

    • Design Team

      • Recently approved by the Board of Education, the Design Team will be a new ad hoc committee to be formed soon to engage in a facilitated process of analyzing designing Special Education in Santa Monica Malibu Schools

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Committee Chair Requirements

  • Knowledgeable about and sensitive to special needs children

  • Works in a constructive way with teachers, principal, staff, other parents

  • Can keep personal issues separate from committee

  • PTA member

  • Can volunteer time

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  • Working from PTA’s mission statement, the committee must quickly establish its own mission statement.

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  • Members from across our communities should be recruited; parents from both special ed & general ed, teachers, staff, community members. All are welcome with specific areas of expertise needed in:

    • Special Education

    • Events

    • Communication

    • Research

    • Leadership

    • Legislation

    • ELL Community and translation

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Priority Objectives

  • Parent/Teacher Education

    • Collaborating with staff and teachers to design and oversee a Fall Education Forum

    • Researching and vetting types of presentations needed, and available presenters

    • Partnership with local university to provide continuing education credits for teachers

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Priority Objectives

  • Parent To Parent Support network

    • “A network of trained resource parent volunteers to provide support and information to parents of students with special education needs. Parent Support Network parents are committed to supporting parents and staff as collaborative participants in the process of their child's education programs.” San Ramon Valley

    • Parent Support Volunteer at each school site to work with principal and parents

    • Training in Special Education law, finance and mediation techniques for volunteers and committee members

    • Regular meetings with school staff, and attendance at PTA Council Special Education Committee meetings


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Priority Objectives

  • Support Group

    • Establish ongoing, facilitated support groups in various geographic areas in our communities

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  • Summer 08

    • Establish Chair(s)

    • Mission statement

    • Settle on Priority Objectives

    • Set committee members

    • Possible subcommittees? (i.e., Fall Forum Parent Support Network, etc.)

    • Begin work

    • Prepare report for September 23, 2008 PTA Council General Meeting

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  • Fall 08

    • Establish first general meeting

    • Fall Forum

    • Begin work on Parent Resource Network

      • Find training program

    • Begin work on Support Group

      • Locations & facilitators

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  • 08 - 09 School Year

    • Continue regular meetings with district staff and teachers

    • Parent Support Network and Support Groups slowly established at school sites

    • Evaluate progress at end of year and refine for following school year

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Priority Objectives

  • Focus on students

  • Improve communication and collaboration between all stakeholder groups

  • Lower tension level

  • Work toward real partnership

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By truly embracing collaboration we can build a culture that nurtures and supports every member.

Every member needed

And every person welcome…

Thank You for helping!