This article was submitted to the March "Alcott Action", as a
follow-up to the Alcott School Principal's Coffee, held
Friday January 8, 2005.
January Principal’s Coffee
By Melody Orfei, Concord SPED
PAC Tri-chair, Alcott SPED PAC
liaison, and parent.
At our principal’s First Friday coffee
in the New Year, the focus was special education and in particular the
new organizational structure in which principals are now Team Chairs,
and are responsible for running special education meetings.
Ms. Young, our principal, and about 20 parents gathered in the
cafeteria, on January 7th. Ms. Young started by explaining
why being the Team chair of special education is not a new role for
her. She has a special education background. In her
pervious position, in a small school district in Irving Massachusetts,
she had a combined role as special education director, principal and
With the Department Of Education Reform, came more local control to the
building principals hence Brenda Finn, our Superintendent, expects the
principal to be charge of everything that goes on in their school
One parent asked about
communication between parents, teachers, and
herself. How does she stay in the loop? Young
explained: She meets with teachers on a regular basis and attends
the all Team meetings. If a parent has any questions or concern
they should first talk to the teacher, provider, or case manager.
When requesting an evaluation, direct that request them to her (Parents
can find a sample request letter on our website:
along other special education information.)
While Sharon runs the Team meetings, there are also case managers
involved. The case manger is usually one of the special education
teachers, or certified providers. They are selected based on
support the child needs and who evaluated them.
A question was asked about what parents should tell their child before
they are evaluated. Sharon suggested explaining to your child
what will be happening and who they will be seeing. If parents
note any changes in their child, like tiredness or irritability, let
the school know. Provides can always spread out the testing over
a longer time frame.
Someone asked: “What tests are
used, when doing an educational
evaluation?” Formally, Woodcock Johnson
(WJ) was used and now
it’s the Wechsler
Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) is the standard assessment in Concord. There were
concerns expressed with using this test as diagnostic tool, especially
for written expression.
Unfortunately there is a lack of reliable standardized tests to access
written expression. We
are excited to have so many of
our teachers trained in the EmPower
Another parent asked: how
do we help a child who needs to work with a special educator outside
their classroom? Ms. Young recommended previewing the child’s
schedule at home before they leave for school in the morning.
Some of the parents in attendance recommended that parents talk up the
necessary specialize instruction and make the child feel privileged for
the special attention. Parents commented on the special rewards
offered are very popular with the students. A parent asked about
the special education teachers and providers caseloads? Sharon
explained that it is 15-18 students, and small instructional groups of
A question was asked why a parent would get independent evaluations, at
their own expense, given the significant cost, ranging from $1,000 to
$3,500. Several reasons were mentioned such as access to a
specialized disability evaluator, it is a second option, and it is
independent. Sharon pointed out when the school evaluates using
their own staff; there is no direct cost to the parent.
Before we knew it, the hour had passed and we all had to leave.
Several parents commented that this was a very informative session and
Sharon was thanked for taking the time out of her schedule.
Our principle Ms. Young holds coffees for parents on the first Friday
on each month from 9:30- 10:30 am in Alcott faculty room. Join us for
lively discussions and informative about various school and childhood
issues. All are welcome. To find out what the coffee topic will
be check our Kinder Reminder or the Alcott Action editions. If
you have any suggestions for topics to be discussed, please contact
Sara Pacelle at firstname.lastname@example.org