START–Engaging Parents of Students with Disabilities
Offering programs and services that support the engagement of families to improve outcomes for students.
Special Education Parent Advisory Groups (SEPAGs) are required for all school districts in New Jersey. The purpose of these groups is to provide opportunities for parents and community members to offer input to their districts on critical issues relating to students with disabilities.
New Jersey Administrative Code states: Each board of education shall ensure that a special education parent advisory group is in place in the district to provide input to the district on issues concerning students with disabilities. 6A:14-1.2(h)
Parent Groups Listing: “FIND” or check the listing in your county to connect with SEPAGs in your area.
Parent Group Specialists (PGS): “CONTACT” us if you would like help starting or running a parent group.
Add/Update a Group Listing: “LIST” an update to an existing group or add a new group to connect others with their SEPAG.
The following documents are available for parent leaders/groups to share with their districts to provide more information about SEPAGs and the role START-EPSD plays in supporting families and districts as they start and run SEPAGs:
- About the START-EPSD Project (English/Spanish) (PDF)
- About Special Education Parent Advisory Groups (English) (PDF)
- Grupo Consultivo de Padres en Educación Especial (Español) (PDF)
- About the NJ SEPAG Guide to Developing and Conducting an Effective Group (English/Spanish) (PDF)
- START-EPSD Project At-A-Glance (English) (PDF)
- START-EPSD Resumen del Proyecto (Español) (PDF)
Special Education Parent Advisory Groups in NJ: A Guide to Developing and Conducting an Effective Group | This guide was developed utilizing best practices to assist parents and professionals interested in starting and running effective groups.
Grupos Consultivos de Padres en Educación Especial en Nueva Jersey l Una guía para desarrollar y dirigir un grupo efectivo | Esta guía se desarrolló utilizando las mejores prácticas para ayudar a los padres y profesionales interesados en crear y manejar grupos efectivos.
START-EPSD Quick Guides | Helpful information about different topics, in an easy-to-digest format | English (PDF)
Datos Generales START-EPSD | Información útil sobre diferentes temas, en un formato fácil de digerir | Spanish (PDF)
- Sample Questions to Ask Board of Education (BOE) Members Seeking Election/Reelection I English: PDF I Ejemplos de preguntas para los miembros de la Junta de Educación que buscan elección o reelección I Español: PDF
- American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding in New Jersey: Key Details and Strategies IThis quick guide outlines key details of the ARP funding in New Jersey and offers specific strategies so that schools, educators, families, parent groups, and community stakeholders can better advocate for systemic changes that intentionally target the education of students with the greatest needs, including students with disabilities. English: PDF
- Financiamiento del plan rescate estadounidense en Nueva Jersey: Detalles y Estrategias Clave I Esta guía rápida describe los detalles clave de la financiación del ARP en Nueva Jersey y ofrece estrategias específicas para que las escuelas, los educadores, las familias, los grupos de padres y las partes interesadas de la comunidad puedan abogar mejor por los cambios sistémicos que se dirigen intencionalmente a la educación de los estudiantes con las mayores necesidades, incluyendo estudiantes con discapacidades. Español: PDF
- Samples of SEPAG Letters and Interest Surveys I Ejemplos de Cartas y Encuestas de SEPAG I
- Samples of SEPAG Surveys I Ejemplos de Encuestas de SEPAG I
Sample 1 – English: DOC I Ejemplo 1 – Español: DOC
Sample 2 – English: DOC I Ejemplo 2 – Español: DOC
Sample 3 – English: DOC I Ejemplo 3 – Español: DOC
Sample 4 – English: DOC I Ejemplo 4 – Español: DOC
Sample 5 – English: DOC I Ejemplo 5 – Español: DOC
- Sample Bylaws– This is a general, “fill-in-the-blank” set of bylaws. You may wish to use this template as a general outline for your own bylaws. English |Este es un conjunto de estatutos generales para “llenar los espacios en blanco”. Es posible que desee utilizar esta plantilla como esquema general para sus propios estatutos. Español
- Sample – Essential Items to Include in SEPAG Bylaws I English: DOC I Eleme
ntos esenciales a incluir en los estatutos del SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Brochure I English: DOC I Mod
elo de folleto de SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Letter of Introduction I English: DOC I Ejemplo de carta de introducción del SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Chairperson Job Description I English: DOC I Modelo de descripción de funciones del presidente del SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Member Job Description I English: DOC I Modelo de descripción de funciones de los miembros del SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Membership Grid I English: DOC I Ejemplo de cuadrícula de membresía de SEPAG I Español: DOC
- Sample – Public Comment Form and Guidelines I English: DOC I M
odelo de formulario de comentarios públicos y directrices I Español: DOC
- Sample – SEPAG Report Format to the School Board I English: DOC I Modelo de formatos de informes del SEPAG a la junta escolar I Español: DOC
- Family Engagement Inventory Tool for School Reopening and Recovery I This tool offers an opportunity to gather a team of stakeholders to take an inventory of family engagement practices across four domains – communication, parent/family engagement in student learning, engagement in decision-making, and strategic family and community partnerships. The results can help build and strengthen staff and families’ capacities to create partnerships that will benefit all students. English PDF I Spanish PDF
Instructional Guide for using this tool: English PDF I Spanish PDF
- Developing & Implementing an Effective Special Education Parent Advisory Group (SEPAG) | This chart includes the steps and questions to consider when developing a SEPAG. Use this tool as a guide for discussion when forming your group. English: DOC / PDF | Español: DOC / PDF
- Action Minutes—Organizational tool for taking minutes | Use this form at meetings to quickly and effectively take minutes, document a group discussion, and create an action plan. It can also be copied into a Google Doc and made interactive so anyone with a link can add comments or suggestions. English: DOC / PDF | Español: DOC / PDF
- Input Tool for SEPAG Meetings—Organizational Tool for collecting input at SEPAG meetings | Use this chart to organize input, identify systemic issues, and include suggestions for possible resolution. It can also be copied into a Google Doc and made interactive so anyone with a link can add comments or suggestions. English: DOC / PDF | Español: DOC / PDF
- Webinar: Special Education Parent Advisory Groups in New Jersey l Guide to Developing and Conducting an Effective Group | Developed for parents and professionals to present an overview of the structure, content, and use of the Special Education Parent Advisory Groups in New Jersey l Guide to Developing and Conducting an Effective Group
- Serving on Groups—Webinar Series and Resources | Developed by the WI Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support (WI FACETS), this training enables individual or group users to learn how to:
- confidently and actively participate in decision-making groups,
- recognize personal leadership skills,
- build an understanding about decision-making groups, and
- develop skills essential for active and meaningful participation in groups.
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) RESOURCES
- Education-Related Acronyms: This list includes most frequently used education-related acronyms. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Special Education Delivery Cycle: Use this chart to learn the steps and timelines for special education delivery cycle. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Classification Chart: This chart includes classification categories for special education eligibility. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Positive Student Profile: Use this template to organize information about your child’s strengths, challenges, goals, needs, and successes of your child. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- All About Me: This tool encourages asking questions about student’s strengths/interests, challenges/concerns, and activities with the focus to prepare them for the transition into adult life. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Sample Letter Requesting an Evaluation and Sample Letter Requesting an Independent Evaluation: Use this sample letter as a guide to write your own letters requesting an evaluation/independent evaluation. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Parent Involvement in the IEP Process: Use this checklist to guide you as you prepare for the IEP meeting, participate in the IEP meeting, and keep involved after the IEP meeting. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Preparing for the IEP Meeting: This collection of tools provides the IEP team members (parents, educators, and students) with guiding questions to prepare for the collaborative IEP development and implementation. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Communication Strategies: This chart explains various communication strategies the IEP teams can use to facilitate effective meetings. English: PDF | Español: PDF
- Establishing a Collaborative Team: This document offers specific examples for collaboration the IEP members can use to promote trust, teamwork, and partnerships. English: PDF | Español: PDF
OTHER HELPFUL LINKS
Engaging New Jersey families in learning and development during prekindergarten and kindergarten I This fact sheet provides districts, schools, and educators with resources they can use to build relationships, communicate effectively with families, and help engage them in their children’s learning and development.
Beginning of the Year Relationship Building Toolkit I Designed for educators, this Toolkit provides strategies and considerations to build strong, authentic, and trusting relationships with students and families at the start of the school year – regardless of how you may be teaching this year.
Strategies for Equitable Family Engagement I This resource provides an overview of evidence-based strategies that schools and districts may use to promote equitable family engagement practices.
Embracing a New Normal: Toward a More Liberatory Approach to Family Engagement I This report explores the dynamics and barriers that stand in the way of effective family-school partnerships and outlines how to reach a more liberatory, solidarity-driven, and equity-focused family engagement practice that supports educational excellence for all children. The report challenges educators and system leaders to build equitable family engagement practices throughout the American educational system and provides recommendations for doing so to the field.
NJDOE The Road Forward: Engage, Recover, and Reimagine Education in New Jersey I The Road Forward features a series of initiatives that paves the way forward for the education community by investing heavily in identifying and addressing the academic and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on our students and educators.
The School Leader Tool: Building Your School-wide Approach to Family Engagement I The purpose of this toolkit is to support school leaders to create the conditions for REAL Family Engagement to thrive, illustrate what high-quality, equitable school-level family engagement looks like by providing examples, tools, and resource, and guide those who are coaching school leaders – such as district or family engagement personnel – on what to prioritize and how to support REAL Family Engagement in schools.
NJDOE Restart and Recovery Plan: The Road Back This Restart and Recovery Plan provides educators and administrators with the information necessary to ensure that our schools reopen safely and are prepared to accommodate students’ unique needs during this unprecedented time.
Creating Collaborative Action Teams: Working Together for Student Success These Web pages give an overview of the Collaborative Action Team process and link to the set of materials, including the Collaborative Action Team Guide and toolkit masters.
Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships: Presents a new framework for designing family engagement initiatives that build capacity among educators and families to partner with one another around student success
New Jersey Department of Education Office of Special Education: Information and updates on Special Education from NJDOE
NJ State Special Education Advisory Council: The purpose of the advisory council is to provide guidance on special education and related services
Joining Together to Create a Bold Vision for Next-Generation Family Engagement: Engaging Families to Transform Education: This report is intended to spark a conversation around the power of family, school, and community engagement.
Taking It To the Next Level Strengthening and Sustaining Family Engagement through Integrated, Systemic Practice: This document examines regional and district family engagement practices that highlight systemic exemplars and integrated strategies for strengthening and sustaining family engagement.