Student Services Newsletter: December 2023/January 2024

We hope that you and your children have had a good transition into the school year. As the weather turned colder, students and families began to settle into their routines while the Student Services Office was gearing up for an innovative and exciting school year. Please take a moment to read about what we have done and what we have planned.

New IEP Initiative

For the first time in 22 years, the state is launching a new IEP form that we will begin using here in Weston in September, 2024. As the Department of Education explains, “This new statewide IEP form helps teams to more effectively address the needs of students eligible for special education services. The revised form focuses attention on gathering complete information about your child’s strengths, challenges, and individualized goals to develop a more personalized education plan for your child”. The goals in developing this new IEP form were to enhance collaboration, provide more clarity and consistency and provide a more comprehensive documentation of the student’s program. Here in Weston we have already started to train our Team Chairs and our staff and this training will continue throughout the school year. We also plan on working with SEPAC to offer trainings and open sessions for caregivers to learn more about the new IEP format and ask questions. For more information, including a technical guide and sample IEPs, please visit the DESE IEP Improvement Project Website. There is also a summary letter available here with additional information. Please save the date for a training session for parents on the new IEP in the evening on February 1st and February 9th – there will be more information about these presentations coming soon.

 

Cartwheel

We are excited to announce that the Weston Public Schools have partnered with Cartwheel, an organization that will “provide students and families with rapid access to mental health assessments, evidence-based therapy, and medication evaluation, entirely via telehealth with licensed clinicians.” We believe this partnership will provide a needed support for our community by connecting families with mental health services for their children as we know that it has been increasingly challenging to find high quality providers. If you are struggling to find a mental health provider for your child please reach out to the school counselor at your child’s school and they can connect you with Cartwheel and/or other support services. In addition, Cartwheel provides regular webinars on relevant topics for caregivers. You can watch the most recent presentation on Raising Healthy Kids in a Digital World and Five Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD. The next webinar is: When and How to Seek Mental Health Support for Your Kid or Teen which will be held on January 10, 2024 from 7-8PM. Please register for this session here.

 

Tiered Focused Monitoring (TFM)

School Districts are reviewed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) every three years through Tiered Focused Monitoring. This review process emphasizes elements most tied to student outcomes, and alternates the focus of each review on either Group A Universal Standards or Group B Universal Standards. This school year (23/24) the district will take part in Group A review of Special Education and English Learner Education. As part of this process we completed a Self Assessment and Record Review last school year and staff from DESE will be onsite here in Weston the week of May 27, 2024. Part of this process typically involves a survey of parents of students with disabilities soliciting information regarding their experiences with the district’s implementation of special education programs, related services, and procedural requirements. We will let you know as soon as we have more information about timing so you can look out for a survey from the Department.

New Staff

Please join me in welcoming the following new staff to the Student Services Department. We are excited to have hired a wonderful group of dedicated individuals.

● Diane Trueblood, Team Chair, Country

● Elizabeth Edwards, LBC Special Education Teacher, Woodland

● Cecelia Gloski, Special Education Teacher, Woodland

● Katelyn Frade, Occupational Therapist, Field School

● Laura McMann, Speech and Language Pathologist, Field

● Aisling Hegarty, School Adjustment Counselor, Middle School

● Mary Clare Stevens, Psychologist, Middle School

● Manela Suphaphorn, Nurse, Middle School

● Katelyn Lee, ELL Teacher, Middle/High School

● Morgan Furber, School Counselor, High School

● Luke Townsend, School Counselor, High School

● Tess Little, School Psychologist, High School

● Jody Steinhilber, BCBA, District

 

Weston Student Services Newsletter

Weston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC)

The Weston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (Weston SEPAC) is an all parent volunteer group that promotes a network for parents of children with disabilities to provide a forum to share information, support, provide resources and discuss important issues.

  • We provide educational presentations for parents and teachers of both special needs and typical students.
  • We meet with school administration and school committee members to give our input on policies and programs that impact our children. We promote and raise awareness of children with special needs.
  • We meet with our state representative to share and discuss information to advocate for children with disabilities.

Please contact Lisa Lappi if you would like to join the SEPAC email list.

The next SEPAC meeting is Friday Jan 5th, 9:00 am at Heirloom in Weston Center.