Would you like to be involved in making recommendations on special education policy?
Do you want to have a voice in the policies, programs, and practices that impact services and supports for children with disabilities and their families?
Then you came to the right place. The communities of Hammonton, Waterford and Folsom are committed to providing quality programs for students receiving special education services. The three local school districts and their families work together to improve policies, programs, and practices to ensure students who are receiving special education services have the opportunity to progress and become productive citizens of our community.
In collaboration with Sharon DeNafo, Supervisor of Special Services, Ashley Power, Waterford Assistant Principal, Amanda Petersen, Folsom Chairperson of the Child Study Team, the Hammonton SEPAG is led by Jessica Comunale, a parent. A year and a half ago, Ms. Comunale attended a workshop “Starting and Running an Effective SEPAG” presented by Michele Tyler from the START-Engaging Parents of Students with Disabilities (START-EPSD) Project. Afterwards she connected with Tatsiana DaGrosa, the Parent Group Specialist in her region, for additional support and guidance to form a SEPAG. During the next few months, the group explored resources on creating Collaborative Action Teams and Serving on Groups webinar series to develop a mission statement, identify and prioritize issues, set goals, and communicate group’s message to the school community.
Ms. Comunale received additional help from many parents and school staff who used their unique strengths and creative ways to support the group. For example, Denise Long, an elementary teacher, applied for a grant through the Hammonton Education Association designed to help promote collaboration between the school and the community. This mutual partnership allowed the group to offer refreshments to parents and staff at the SEPAG meetings this year. In addition, Stacey Delaurentis, a parent member, helped with planning and organizing SEPAG meetings as well as volunteered to help update the SEPAG Facebook page throughout the year.
Ms. Comunale also networked with another parent leader of a local SEPAG who mentored her and provided helpful information. During the first year, the group held several public meetings which included parent-only SEPAG meetings, presentations, and public forums.
In response to the needs identified by families and the districts, the SEPAG hosted trainings on Person-Centered Approaches in Schools and Transition (PCAST), SEPAG Guide, and Dyslexia. The group is inclusive and welcomes parents and educators from all over the county to attend their workshops and learn alongside with their families.
The group created a stand-alone Hammonton SEPAG website where families can find the SEPAG meeting calendar, ask questions, and find valuable resources. Presently, Hammonton SEPAG provides regular updates on COVID-19 information and resources, including links to
- SPAN COVID 19 Information Page
- SPAN Fact Sheet
- Temporary Service Modifications for Students with Disabilities (April 15, 2020)
- COVID 19 Related Resources for Families by SPAN
- Social Stories for Children to help them understand the pandemic: What is the Coronavirus? by Amanda McGuinness and My Story about Pandemics and the Coronavirus by Carol Gray
The Hammonton SEPAG welcomes families of children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a 504 Plan, or any parent who has questions about academic accommodations and supports for their child.