Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

April 10, 2014

New board of directors, focus for SEPAC

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — The Special Education Parent Advisory Council has a new board of directors, which was elected during an emergency meeting last week to fill vacant positions following a mass-resignation of previous board members in March.

The group, known as SEPAC, is made up of parents who have special needs children attending Andover Public Schools. The committee is basically an advocacy group established by state law to give parents a voice in the way special education is handled in local school districts.

Recently, a rift had formed between longtime members and new participants in the group over the contents of a survey focusing on the district’s special needs program as well as over the process for advertising meetings and keeping records of the board’s actions.

School Committee Chairwoman and SEPAC liaison Annie Gilbert said the rift that led to the mass-resignations was due to a “philosophical disagreement over the future direction of SEPAC.”

The new co-presidents are Cindy Cromer and Jeanne Teichert, who both pushed for the creation and distribution of the survey. Sheena Stack is vice president. Other positions include treasurer Nigel Kenen, newsletter Jen Warren, newsletter distribution Lisa Dawson and liaison coordinator Kelle Sutliff.

The vote last Wednesday night fills the posts temporarily until the organization’s official annual election next month.

The new group didn’t waste any time getting right to work, brainstorming a number of ideas that members would like to see implemented in the year ahead. Those ideas include expanding outreach to new families, creating a public relations plan for SEPAC, reviewing the content on the organization’s website, enhancing transparency and collaboration, and a number of other measures, both concrete and philosophical.

The new group was scheduled to meet again Tuesday night as The Townsman was going to press to review provisions of the state’s Open Meeting Law and the SEPAC bylaws, among other agenda items.

The survey of Andover special education parents is available on the group’s website at www.andoversepac.org.