Energize Your SEAC
Local Special Education Advisory Councils (SEACs) advise school districts on the development of programs and services to meet the special educational needs of children and families. By sharing their unique perspective of what it is like to use these services, parents can help the district to be more effective. As a result, outcomes for children with disabilities should improve.
Educational research supports a correlation between high expectations and high outcomes. This is true for SEACs as well. Setting the bar high for structuring and implementing the activities of the local SEAC, rather than following only the minimum requirements of the law, will increase the probability for meaningful and positive outcomes.
Top 10 Tips to Energize Your SEAC
Make Your SEAC Membership Count
You can help your SEAC be effective, useful, and valuable to the school district in several ways:
- Encourage the group to look at its mission statement (if one exists) and answer these questions: Does it provide direction for the group? Is it clear? Is there a need to write or rewrite a mission statement?
- Help clarify expectations. Do members expect only to give advice, or do some also expect the advice to be followed? How do members feel about this? Do expectations need to be examined or made clearer?
- Be sure members treat each other respectfully. Do parents listen to each other’s unique perception and experience?
- Distinguish between long- and short-term goals. Does this distinction need to be defined and made clearer?
- Discuss how conflict is handled. Does the group look for consensus and solutions? Are different viewpoints valued?
- Help the group find the information it needs to make decisions.
- Suggest that the group adopt communication ground rules.
- Encourage diversity by including parents with the cultures, languages, and disabilities represented in your district.
- Be sure that meetings are run in a timely, organized way. Making and following an agenda is effective.
- Support productive decision making. Are conclusions reached by consensus, or do discussions continue with no resolution or closure?
The Importance of SEAC Mission and Goal Statements
SEACs that have a clear mission and goals tend to be productive and effective. Here are some examples of mission and goal statements from Minnesota SEACs:
- Support, advocate, and advise on special education matters.
- To act as an advisory body to the district through the director of special education on behalf of students receiving special education services. SEAC will work toward the district mission to instill in each learner a passion for learning and a commitment to reach one’s potential throughout life.
- We exist to advise the school district on matters relating to continuous program improvement efforts as they pertain to special education. We provide communitywide support to families with students from birth through grade 12 in the school district’s special education programs.
- Provide input into the decision-making process of the special education department. Provide a communication link with the community at large. Advocate for high-quality educational programs for all learners. Assure the implementation of the district and special education mission to all students in the district.
- To advise the district on the education of children with disabilities. The essence of the council’s purpose is to provide parents of children with disabilities input into the district regarding policies, practices, and issues related to the education of children and youth with disabilities.
- Advise the director on special education–related issues and engage in at least one substantial project each year to benefit students with disabilities.
- The long-term goal is to advocate for high quality programs and services necessary to meet the needs of all children with disabilities and their families effectively and efficiently. Each year the council also establishes a short-term goal.
- To seek advice from parents on district practice and policy relating to special education and to involve parents in decision making.
- To act as an advisory body to the district on behalf of students receiving special education services. The purpose of the SEAC is to improve the educational opportunities for students with disabilities working as partners in a collaborative relationship.
- To provide a forum for parents and staff to share ideas, identify concerns, and advise the district in order to improve services for children with disabilities.