Advocates, educators and parents of children with special needs will gather in Montgomery on Wednesday, June 15, at 9:30 a.m. for their twice-yearly meeting.
Interpreter services for the hearing impaired and Spanish speaking individuals will be available.
According to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), the Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) will review current issues pertaining to services for students with disabilities and receive an update of recent Special Education Services activities.
Though no agenda has been published, the topic of changes to the way parents file complaints about their child’s special education services will likely be discussed.
How Alabama’s SEAP Differs from Other State’s Advisory Panels
The makeup of Alabama’s SEAP does not currently comply with federal law governing the SEAP, which requires the majority of members to be parents of children with disabilities or people with disabilities. At the June 2014 SEAP meeting, we learned that none of the panel members in attendance were parents of children with disabilities. Only seven of the 25 members of the SEAP at the time were parents of children with disabilities.
Bylaws, last amended in 1997, indicate SEAP members are appointed to three-year terms by the State Superintendent of Education. It’s unclear how people get nominated for those positions. ALSDE officials have said at past meetings that it is difficult to find parents willing and able to serve on the SEAP.
Names of members of the SEAP have not been shared publicly, so it is unclear how they can be contacted by members of the public who want panel members to take issues to the SEAP on their behalf.
Here’s a question-and-answer page about special education advisory panels, sometimes called State Advisory Panels (SAP) or Special Education Advisory Committees (SEAC), from the National Association for Directors of Special Education.
Here are a few other state’s SEAP/SAP/SEACs. Click on a few web sites to get a feel for how other states are using the federally-mandated panel members to address special education issues in their states.
If you are unable to attend the actual meeting, you can participate via WebEx by requesting it via e-mail to Ms. Susan Goldthwaite (firstname.lastname@example.org). at this meeting. Written comments may be sent by mail to Goldthwaite at this address: ALSDE, Special Education Services Section, P.O. Box 302101, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2101, or by e-mail.
Here’s where the meeting will be held: 515 South Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36104
Here’s a fact sheet on Alabama’s SEAP from the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program (ADAP), pictured below.