The Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) is an aggregation of parents, community representatives and Saint Paul Public Schools staff.
According to Minnesota Statute 125A.24 PARENT ADVISORY COUNCILS:
In order to increase the involvement of parents of children with disabilities in district policy making and decision making, school districts must have a special education advisory council that is incorporated into the district's special education system plan.
1. This advisory council may be established either for individual districts or in cooperation with other districts who are members of the same special education cooperative.
2. A district may set up this council as a subgroup of an existing board, council, or committee.
3. At least half of the designated council members must be parents of students with a disability. When a nonpublic school is located in the district, the council must include at least one member who is a parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability, or an employee of a nonpublic school if no parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability is available to serve. Each local council must meet no less than once each year. The number of members, frequency of meetings, and operational procedures are to be locally determined.
Statement of Purpose:
- Increase the involvement of parents of children with disabilities in district policymaking and decision-making.
- Advise the district on policy and decisions affecting and/or related to special education.
- Recommend priorities to be addressed by the district in their annual and long-term strategic plan.
- Support the needs of students with disabilities regarding the special education budget at school committee meetings.
- Be parent lead and directed, in order to advocate from the perspective of individuals and families of children with special needs.
The following may be addressed by the SEAC:
- Support activities on behalf of students with disabilities.
- Development of cooperative relationships between general and special education.
- Training and support for parents, families and students with disabilities.
- Development of strategies so district and parent groups can work together to advocate for current and future legislation including, but not limited to, the implementation and/or reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- Serve as a forum for the expression of concerns and recommendations pertaining to the education of students with disabilities in the Saint Paul Public Schools.
- Identification of annual goals and present them to the school board.
- Encourage involvement of families of learners with disabilities in their school and educational programs.
- Promote an attitude of respect towards all learners and an appreciation of their unique differences.
- Serve as a resource for Saint Paul Public Schools regarding special education issues.
- Request accountability data from the district for key performance indicators on a variety of metrics.
- Monitor implementation of Policy 508.00 Students with IEPs.
The SEAC shall consist of up to a maximum of 36 persons. To the greatest extent possible, members of the council should represent the language and cultural diversity of the Saint Paul Public Schools community, and the diversity of students’ ages and disabilities served in Special Education. At least half of the designated council members must be parents of students with a disability. Parent members should represent each of the seven attendance areas in the district. About one-fourth of the representatives should include students receiving special education services, individuals with a disability or representatives of community agencies. About one-fourth should be members of the staff of the school district. There must be a nonpublic school representative on the council. Members must be at least 16 years and have a basic understanding of issues affecting individuals receiving special education services. The council co-chairs will appoint a Membership Committee if needed to recruit. This committee will be responsible for recruitment of new members with the goal of achieving a representative council as described above. The council’s Executive Committee will review applications for membership and approve new members.
Terms of Office:
Council members shall be appointed to a term of two years and may serve a total of three terms. Terms may be extended at the discretion of the Executive Committee. Co-chairs will be elected by the SEAC membership to serve two-year, staggered terms. Terms begin at the last meeting of the school year. If a new member joins in the middle of a year, the term ends at the end of the second school year. Terms do not end in the middle of a school year. Example: A member joins in October of 2016; the term would end at the last meeting of that school year.
In order to promote cohesiveness and to enable an informed decision-making process, members are encouraged to attend each council meeting. If a member is unable to attend a council meeting, it is expected that they contact the SEAC staff person before 4:30 p.m. on the day of the meeting. In the case of a member missing two consecutive meetings without notice, a member may be removed from the council at the discretion of the Executive Committee. In cases when a council meeting is cancelled, every effort will be made to alert members of the cancellation via a phone call, email or text. Members also may contact the SEAC staff liaison to check the status of the meeting.
The SEAC will meet monthly at a time determined by the SEAC membership at the last meeting of the school year. Special meetings may be called at the discretion of the Executive Committee. Every effort will be made to meet with the Saint Paul School Board annually. The council will prepare an annual report to be presented to the Superintendent/School Board.
Discussion and Information Sharing:
SEAC members strive to discuss and advise on issues of broad importance to Saint Paul Public Schools as a whole. While not a forum for solving individual issues, personal stories and reflection can be used to inform the group’s understanding of those broad issues. SEAC members and the district agree to respect the perspectives and confidentiality of all personal experiences shared. All members are encouraged to bring forth concerns and recommendations without fear of reprisal. As such, SEAC discussions and recommendations will develop independent from district control.
Members and guests should avoid disruption of meeting activities for personal gain. All conversations are expected to be respectful of everyone's time and the mission and purpose of SEAC.
In order to facilitate discussion among all council members, members will be asked to limit their comments so as not to prohibit others from speaking. Agendas will be timed to facilitate an efficient meeting schedule. If a particular agenda item requires more discussion or more information is needed to make an informed decision, an agenda item may be carried over to the next meeting.
If members wish to bring an item to the council for discussion, they are encouraged to submit the item at least two weeks prior to a meeting so that it may be added to the agenda; members should provide the council with any necessary information to aid in the discussion. If more information is needed, the member may be asked to bring it to the next meeting and discussion will be tabled until that time.
All decisions will be made by consensus. If the council cannot reach consensus, a majority vote will determine a decision. One-third of the council’s membership shall constitute a quorum and must be present, either in person or via teleconference, for a vote to be taken.
Amendments to Council Guidelines:
Members may propose amendments to organizational guidelines. Proposed amendments will be distributed to all members in a draft form at least one month prior to a vote. A proposed amendment will be adopted with an affirmative vote by a quorum of the council.
Organizational guidelines will be reviewed at least every two years. The Executive Committee will appoint a temporary Guidelines Committee to conduct the review. Grammatical and typographical corrections do not require a vote of approval if substance of content remains unchanged.
The Director of Special Education will serve as an ex officio member of the SEAC and assure that a staff person is available to record minutes of council meetings. A staff person will type agendas and minutes of all council meetings, as well as arrange for meeting space, childcare, transportation, meals or other meeting accommodations as needed. The Director of Special Education will act as the administrative liaison between the SEAC and the district administration, the School Board and the teaching staff. The Director of Special Education will give an annual report on the status of special education services in the District, will respond to recommendations of the SEAC, and report back to the SEAC with a response to recommendations if necessary.
Co-chairs of the SEAC shall consist of two co-chairs. If either of the co-chairs are unable to fulfil their obligations, these positions will be filled from the current SEAC membership at the discretion of the Executive Committee. Terms of co-chairs will begin at the last meeting of the school year and will be staggered terms. Every effort will be made for the council co-chairs to be a parent or community member.
The Executive Committee shall consist of the Co-chairs and at least three additional members appointed by the SEAC. The Executive Committee will be responsible for:
- establishing meeting agendas,
- dealing with issues that arise between regular SEAC meetings,
- reviewing applications for membership and approving new members.
- other issues specified by the SEAC.
These actions by the Executive Committee shall be discussed and voted on at the next SEAC meeting.
Special Education Advisory Council Committees:
The Co-chairs, with the advice and authorization of the SEAC, may establish task forces and study committees to accomplish specific, time-limited assignments. SEAC members will be encouraged to participate in any task force or committee.
School District Committees:
Representation from the SEAC will be solicited on all school district task forces, committees or groups. The SEAC will refer its members to these committees as needed.
Forum: A place, situation or group in which people exchange ideas and discuss issues, especially important public issues.
Fully participate: members are supported to take part, be or become actively involved, and share.
Family involvement: "The term parental involvement means the participation of parents in regular, two-way, meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting their child's learning" - Joyce Epstein
SpEd System Plan: Documents SPPS' Special Education policies, procedures and programs.
Advisory Council: A representative group of stakeholders from a particular community appointed to provide comments and advice, from their perspective, that may be lacking on projects or issues.
Updated December 2021