The Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee (ASEAC) space provides an opportunity for parents to have a voice in the way APS provides services to students with disabilities, from preschool to age 21. A majority of ASEAC members must be parents of students with disabilities, but the committee also welcomes other parents and community members, and must include one teacher. The committee also values the support and contributions of several APS staff, who serve as consultants to the committee.
ASEAC’s role and duties are mandated by the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia as defined by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). As described by the VDOE, Special Education Advisory Committees (SEACs) “are extensions of local school boards since members are appointed by them, and SEACs provide reports and recommendations to their school boards.” ASEAC provides an annual report to the School Board, but also submits comments and recommendations throughout the year as needed. The Regulations state that ASEAC’s official role is to:
- Advise the local school division of needs in the education of children with disabilities;
- Assist in the development of long-range plans designed to provide needed services for children with disabilities;
- Participate in the development of priorities and strategies for meeting the identified needs of children with disabilities;
- Submit periodic reports and recommendations to the school board;
- Assist the school division in interpreting educational plans to the community for meeting the needs of children with disabilities;
- Review the policies and procedures for the provision of special education and related services prior to submission to the school board; and participate in the review of the school division’s annual plan.
All ASEAC meetings are open to the public, parents, teachers, and community members are welcome to attend. Every month, the committee sets aside time to hear the concerns of parents of students with disabilities. If you wish to speak to the committee, or join in committee discussions, simply attend a meeting. You are encouraged to let one of the officers know ahead of time so they can set aside enough time on the agenda, but that is not required. ASEAC also sponsors an annual forum which typically combines a public presentation on a topic of interest to families of students with disabilities, with an extensive parent comment session. ASEAC is very interested in working with other APS advisory committees on topics of common concern, such as transportation, reading or math instruction and interventions, or students who are identified as needing both special education and ESOL/HILT services.