Join Your Local SEAC
There are many benefits to joining your local SEAC. You will form relationships with other families and district staff, learn skills and information that may help you work more effectively with the school district, and become more knowledgeable about special education. You will also model engagement and leadership for your child, make a difference for your own child as well as other children in the district, and make a contribution to the wider community.
How Do I Find My Local SEAC?
Contact the office of the Special Education Director for your school district to get connected to your local SEAC. Ask when and where the group meets next.
How Do I Join My Local SEAC?
Each school district determines SEAC membership differently. Some SEACs ask for applicants and appoint members. Others use volunteer members. Your district’s Special Education Director can explain how your SEAC works.
Before You Join a SEAC
Before you join a SEAC, learn more about the group by attending a meeting and observing. Meetings are open to the public. Get there early and talk to SEAC members to find out:
- What is the written mission of this SEAC?
- Are there any bylaws? May I see them?
- How often does the SEAC meet? When? Where?
- How does one become a member?
- How long does a member serve?
- Whom does the council advise? How often? What is done with the advice?
- Who runs or chairs the meeting?
- Who sets the agenda?
- Is there an orientation for new members?
- Do additional committees or work groups meet outside of the regular meeting times?
- Who serves on this council besides parents?
- Are there annual reports or past meeting minutes I could read?
- Whom could I contact for more information?
After attending a SEAC meeting, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I able to set aside the needs of my own child and look at the “big picture” in my district? Would my feelings about the issues discussed make me less effective than I’d want to be? Can I set aside my own emotions?
- Is it a good use of my skills?
- What talents or strengths could I bring to this group?
- Can I commit the necessary time and energy?
Finding Your Role on the SEAC
Once you’ve joined your local SEAC, it will take time and patience to become a truly effective participant. These techniques can help you find your unique place in the group.
- Ask yourself if you feel welcome there. If not, what can you do to improve the situation?
- Be willing to listen at first. Learn about the people, the issues, the programs, and background information before offering advice or opinions.
- Be willing to say, “I don’t know yet” or “I need more information before I can comment on that issue.”
- Ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If acronyms are used, ask if there is a list of acronyms and definitions for your reference. Ask where you could find information covered at a previous meeting.
- Think about your personal skills and how they might best be used. Are you a writer, speaker, computer expert, or technology professional? Are you politically savvy? Are you well organized, perceptive, verbal, and caring? SEACs can make use of all these skills.
- Learn all you can about your school district’s structure, policy, and administration.
- Do your homework. Read materials provided to participants.
- Come prepared to contribute.
- Develop an understanding of the “big picture” issues facing the district, beyond those of your own child and family.