An open letter from the Executive Director of Exceptional Children, Millville Public Schools
Over the past three years as the Executive Director of Exceptional Children for Millville Public Schools, we have developed a great partnership with our Special Education Parent Advocacy Group (SEPAG) and the START- Engaging Parents of Students with Disabilities in Schools (START-EPSD) Project at SPAN.
We believe that in order to be effective in supporting children and parents, we must change the tradition of working with our kids until the school bell rings. We recognize that in order for the family-school relationships to be effective, we must be flexible and available after school hours to offer parent trainings on topics of interest to families, to provide necessary supports (i.e., Spanish interpretation) for parents to be able to participate in the group work, and to facilitate information sessions to share district initiatives and gather parent feedback.
We meet with the Millville SEPAG members multiple times throughout the year to discuss the status of special education services and programs in the district, receive direct input from parents on how our services can be improved, provide trainings and opportunities for parents to interact with our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA), various district staff, as well as to ask questions, share what resources are available for kids and families, and learn from each other.
A Parent Group Specialist from the START-EPSD Project is an active participant at our SEPAG meetings. She will review programs sponsored by SPAN, START-EPSD Project, and the New Jersey Department of Education and be available to offer strategies and answer any questions from families. We have closely collaborated to meet the needs of our students and families and to support the work of the Millville SEPAG to improve programs and services for students with disabilities. The key to collaboration is working together and combining both our resources and passion to help kids and families.
Here are some of the district initiatives implemented based on parental input:
- Prioritized re-opening of schools for in-person instruction for students with disabilities;
- Bringing related services to students with disabilities if they are unable to attend school in-person and making in-person related services available to students with disabilities during virtual learning;
- Collecting benchmark data to identify students who need targeted and intensive supports to inform instruction and interventions;
- Providing additional academic tutoring as part of our latchkey program at each school;
- Creating an enhanced transition program on the high school level that includes additional certified community-based instructor, job coaches, and transportation for students;
- Developing extended summer programming for PreK-12 grades for academic support.
Our expertise in supporting students with disabilities has been featured in the webinar “Supporting Students with the Greatest Need” hosted by the START-EPSD Project where we presented the district model of how students are identified for tiered interventions and how Tier 3 supports can be implemented across all academic settings – a virtual, hybrid, and in-person.
We are proud to share our experience facilitating collaborative relationships with families of students with disabilities in our district. We have a motto in our department that if you “treat every child like your own, you will never go wrong”. Working with the Millville SEPAG has been a tremendous partnership, and we hope to grow and strengthen our group.
For additional information and join the Millville SEPAG, please contact:
Executive Director of Exceptional Children, Millville Public Schools
Millville Public Schools
110 N 3rd Street, PO Box 5010
Millville, NJ 08332
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