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Youth with Disabilities, Parents, Educators, Assemble at the State House to Urge Support for H.159, Transition Legislation to Promote Jobs and Independence for Youth with Disabilities

June 22, 2011

Youth with disabilities, parents, educators, and advocates from around the state along with Rep. Tom Sannicandro gathered at the State House on June 21, 2011 to present a 100 ft. long petition to Governor Patrick demonstrating their support of bill H. 159 An Act to Promote the Successful Transition of Students with Disabilities to Post-Secondary Education, Employment, and Independent Living. This bill promotes employment opportunities, independent living, and post-secondary education for individuals with disabilities.

Over 100 supporters met with House sponsor Rep. Tom Sannicandro at the State House who gave a brief presentation on the importance of transitional services for youth with disabilities. Keith Jones, a well known disability rights advocate, and Brian Heffernan, a youth with Down syndrome also presented on their experiences with transition. Everyone then convened in front of the Governor’s office where youth with disabilities presented to Governor Patrick a petition that included more than 1,000 signatures from parents, students, educators and administrators. The petition was unrolled and extended from the Governor’s office down the hall to the House Chamber. The petition asks for support in enacting H.159, which will help ensure students with disabilities receive the federally mandated special education planning and services essential for a successful transition to the adult world. Read more

Click here to read the Globe "blurb" that was printed on June 22.

Click here to go to the Transition legislation page to learn more about House Bill 159

Click here to see a powerpoint presentation of the day's event at the State House


MAC testimony on applications for Boston charter school expansion

March 14th, 2011

MAC spoke before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at its February 28 meeting to consider the applications submitted to expand the number of charter schools in Boston and around the state, calling for significant improvements in the way that the proposed new charter schools provide special education supports and services to students with disabilities, as well as for English language learners. 

Our testimony noted that as applicants currently operating charter schools in Boston do not enroll students with disabilities in comparable proportions, disability types, and placement options to the Boston Public Schools, it is particularly important to make reforms now as these applicants are proposing the establishment of networks of multiple charter schools. Not to improve capacity but simply to replicate existing charter schools will contribute to the further divide of a two-tiered public education system in Boston, with BPS enrolling proportionally higher numbers of children who require significantly more resources to provide with a quality education.

MAC recognizes the valuable role charter schools play in cities like Boston, providing a viable alternative for many low-income children of color.  Now is the time, though, for charters to build upon their success and increase their capacity so they can recruit, enroll, educate and retain a broader range of the population, including children with disabilities and English language learners. 

MAC has previously gone on record calling attention to the failure of charter schools to provide an equal educational opportunity for children with moderate and severe disabilities and English language learners. 

Click here to read the testimony presented at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting on Feb. 28

Click here to read full testimony submitted in writing on January 3, 2011

Click here to read letter to editor in the Boston Globe, November 12, 2010


 

Governor's budget restores most of the special education funding - Thank You for your support

January 26th, 2011

We are pleased to inform you that the governor's budget released today restored most of the circuit breaker account, from $133 million to $213 million.

It is still $17 million short of the FY09 level that we are seeking, but it provides a great platform to now go to the legislature to ask for the full restoration to $230 million.

Thank you to all of you who made calls and who reached out to your networks and constituents asking them to do the same.

Please know that your efforts were successful and we appreciate all that was done.

We will come back to you with a new alert soon for advocacy with the legislature.

MAC is advocating for the restoration of special education funding as part of a broad-based coalition including the following organizations:

Children's League of Massachusetts, Disability Law Center, Federation for Children with Special Needs, Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Massachusetts Association of Special Education Advisory Councils, Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools, Parent Professional Advocacy League

Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan issued by DESE

By December 31, all school districts must have a bullying prevention and intervention plan.  As required by the new anti-bullying legislation, DESE was required to issue a model plan.  MAC and TLPI successfully advocated for DESE’s Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan to be organized and drafted in conformance with the Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework set forth in Section 19 of Chapter 321 of the Acts and Resolves of 2008. The model plan issued by DESE can be viewed at http://www.doe.mass.edu/ssce/bullying/. The anti-bullying law requires school districts to invite the community to submit “public comments” during the drafting of local plans.
  

This Framework is based on the flexible framework in Helping Traumatized Children Learn, which organizes implementation of laws around six elements—leadership, professional development, access to services, academic and non academic strategies, policies and protocols, and family engagement. This Framework approach is now incorporated into the anti-bullying law, the Behavioral Health and Public Schools Task Force law, the regulations addressing failing schools, and the program planning tool for the “Trauma Sensitive Schools” grant program at DESE.  It has proven to be an effective way to organize whole school approaches to ensure the success of all children and to enable schools to simultaneously create whole school, safe and supportive environments that weave multiple initiatives, such as anti-bullying, into the infrastructure of the school.

Anti-Bullying Regulations

The anti-bullying legislation signed by the Governor in early May required the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to promulgate regulations by September 30th on two subjects: notice to parents, and notice to police departments. MAC and eight other members of our Education Law Task Force (ELTF) co-authored “public comments” on the proposed regulations issued by BESE in late June. In late September, DESE Commissioner Chester recommended that BESE adopt many of the recommendations made by the ELTF, which BESE approved in late September. Examples include the addition of a requirement that notices to parents be provided in their primary language, that police departments need not be notified in situations in which bullying can be handled appropriately within the school,  and that any disciplinary action should balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior.



New coalition for Community voice in BPS-BTU contract

On August 31, Boston United for Students, a grassroots coalition that MAC helped to form, rallied on the steps of the Boston School Department Headquarters at 26 Court Street. For months, Boston United for Students has been mobilizing parents, families, high school students and educational advocates to demand that the Boston School Committee (BPS) and the Boston Teachers’ Union (BTU) include and implement major reforms in the new teachers’ contract to achieve significant educational improvements in the achievements of BPS students.

See Contract Priorities

See Boston United for Students Coalition Membership

See VIDEO courtesy of Neighborhood Network News

See Press Release

See News article


New Law for Children who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices

S. 2579, An Act to Improve Augmentative and Alternative Communication Opportunities for Children, was signed by Governor Patrick as a result of extensive advocacy by MAC’s autism team, leading critical voices of parents and advocates throughout the Commonwealth. The bill, as amended, now requires that new teachers of students with moderate and severe disabilities receive instruction on the appropriate use of augmentative and alternative communication devices and other assistive technologies. This law will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of children who are nonverbal or have limited speech, including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and acquired brain injury, and rely on augmentative and alternative communication methods to interact with others. This law is an important first step, as new teachers of students with moderate disabilities - representing the majority of special education teachers—have never before been required to learn about AAC.


Children's Autism Medicaid Waiver

SEPTEMBER 20-OCTOBER 1, 2010
New Application Period for Massachusetts 
Children’s Autism Medicaid Waiver


For a short and limited time period, the Department of Developmental Service’s (DDS) Autism Division will be conducting a new application process for parents of young children with autism to apply for the Children’s Autism Waiver Program.

PLEASE NOTE, DDS HAS NOW DECIDED TO PLAN THE OPEN APPLICATION PERIOD FROM SEPTEMBER 20-OCTOBER 1, 2010, in order to provide sufficient time for outreach to families throughout the Commonwealth.

The Autism Division anticipates that approximately 60 additional children will be eligible for the Waiver program during this initial application period that will last for approximately 12-18 months.

The Children’s Autism Medicaid Waiver program provides up to $25,000 worth of services per year of intensive in-home services (such as ABA and DIR/Floor Time) for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other services that will support children who are from low-income families in their homes and communities. The program is limited to children between the ages of 0-8 who are Medicaid eligible and at risk of institutionalization now or at some point in the future.

We have attached an Autism Waiver Program Renewal Overview that was just released by DDS. With the limited time to get the word out to families and providers, we hope you can start identifying families and informing them about the Waiver and the process for applying. The one page application for families to submit should be available soon on the DDS website (translated into different languages). Click here for more information

 

Remember even families that you know are on the current wait list for the Waiver need to re-apply, so please contact all families that you think may benefit from this important program.

Remember, application forms MUST be postmarked September 20-October 1 (applications postmarked earlier or later are not eligible). Read More 


Kim Janey Appointed as Senior Project Director at Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Massachusetts Advocates for Children takes great pride in announcing the appointment of Kim Janey as Senior Program Director of the Boston School Reform Project,” said Jerry Mogul, Executive Director.  “Kim is extraordinarily competent and committed, and she has provided leadership to the Boston School Reform Project for a number of years.  We are very excited to have her take the helm. Read More

 

 

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MAC at Fenway Park
 
 

MAC invited to an onfield presentation at Fenway Park by the Boston Red Sox

 
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