What is SEPAC? 3 Ways SEPACs in Mass Can Help Your Family


November is SEPAC Awareness month in Massachusetts. But what is SEPAC?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the term before. The SEPAC acronym stands for Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Massachusetts state law requires all public school districts to maintain one. Like a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), the SEPAC is parent/caregiver led. The SEPAC supports the education of all children with disabilities on an IEP or 504 plan through planning and development participation, district communication, and advising the School Committee on matters pertaining to students with disabilities. 

As a caregiver with a child in special education, how can your SEPAC help you?

1. Be informed.

Your SEPAC is a resource for the Special Education programming in your schools. Your district’s SEPAC provides you information about Special Education during General Meetings as well as updates during School Committee meetings. Not only can you learn about the updates about the Special Education your child is receiving, SEPACs have the ability to host workshops regarding IEPs, 504s, or specific disabilities. They work regularly with The Federation for Children with Special Needs to offer informational workshops. They’ll feature topics like Special Education Basic rights, effective communication [between schools and families], transition planning, and more.

2. Voice your concerns.

The SEPAC is a self-governing public body. Its purpose is to help make change and protect our children’s rights within Special Education. We can work together to create change. If you have a concern, they offer the time and place to voice it! Chances are there is another caregiver in a similar situation who may not yet feel empowered to speak up. They can provide that opportunity. Don’t feel comfortable during a meeting? Send an email to your local SEPAC. You can find their contact information on your school’s district website, usually under “Student Services”. The Council advises your school district on issues pertinent to their families.

3. Feel connected.

Community is key. I work for Relief Parenting in Hampton where I wrote about how integral community is when raising a child with disabilities. SEPACs can provide this networking. Our SEPAC in Amesbury, Massachusetts hosts support groups throughout the school year at our local pizza joint. It’s a welcomed respite to sit with other caregivers for an hour and chat about topics that only they will understand – like your anticipation of your upcoming annual IEP meeting or a new fun way for your child to practice crossing their midline.

The point is, we all need help! There are structures in place to support parents of kids with disabilities. We can rely on them and one another.