Message to Special Education Families from the School Committee

1/30/17

To Special Education Parents,

The School Committee and School Department are listening and are diligently addressing your request for an independent evaluation of the Special Education Department. We are following a process to address the request.

At the January 9th School Committee meeting, several parents delivered the request for an evaluation as follow up to a December 21st request made by the SEPAC Board. The SC acknowledged this public request to include an additional item in the FY18 budget.  At that meeting, the SC also informed parents of several additional meetings where the concerns that you raised would be discussed to help the SC make an informed response to your request. These included, but were not limited to, the SEPAC Parent-only meeting of January 11th, the January 19th Budget Work Session which reviewed the Special Education budget, the January 30th SC meeting which would include further reports on MCAS results of high needs students (which are referenced as a reason for an evaluation), the February 13th Public Budget Hearing, as well as the School Committee would continue to meet with individual parents to better understand the request. In addition, Dr. Galo added that evaluations are good tools and we needed to work out what needed to be done.

After that meeting, a great deal of time, effort and attention continues on this issue.  The School Department held parent outreach meetings on January 18 and 19 to share information about work already underway to improve the Special Education department and to gain input for any future evaluation. This outreach effort and parent input helped inform the recommendation Dr. LaBillois presented to the SC at its January 19th Budget Work Session.

On January 26th, the SC had a lengthy discussion about the evaluation at the Budget Work Session. The consensus of the full SC from that discussion was for Dr. Galo, Dr. LaBillois, and me to conduct additional outreach with parents to focus on further details of the request. We are trying to schedule meetings this week.

I also informed the SC that Special Education parents may want to speak about the evaluation at the January 30th meeting. The agenda tonight includes continued discussion of the FY18 budget and this would be an appropriate time to mention the request. Currently, the SC is reviewing the School Department proposed budget AND additional requests which include the Special Education evaluation. The proposed School Department Budget will be presented to the joint meeting of the Selectmen and Advisory Committee on Thursday, February 2nd.  The request for the evaluation and our process for evaluating it will also be acknowledged.

A formal discussion of the evaluation will be on the SC agenda on February 13 (our next scheduled meeting) as part of the official public meeting. (I will follow up with details of how that will be handled.) There will also be further discussion by the SC about the entire budget. On Monday, February 27th, the SC will vote on the operating budget that it will submit to Town Meeting.

Please understand that the SC has heard your request loud and clear.

I hope this provides more clarity of our process.

Liza O’Reilly

Chair

Hingham School Committee”