Under standard 1 of the Standards for School Boards’ Special Education Plans (2000) the school board is expected to consult the public about the Special Education Plan and proposed changes.
One of the key goals of the Ministry of Education is “public confidence in education” and parent engagement in the school system is an important component. There is considerable evidence to show that parent engagement contributes to student success. SEAC has an important role to play in supporting parents of students with special education needs to be engaged in the school system.
As discussed in Section 3.5, SEAC can support the development of information about special education, including in the Special Education Plan and Parent Guides, that is easy to understand and readily accessible to families. SEAC also has an important role in public consultations about special education and changes in programs and services. PAAC on SEAC recommends that SEAC members work with the school board staff to increase awareness of SEAC and its role as an advisory committee to the Trustees.
SEAC is a standing committee of the school board and the meetings of SEAC are open to the public. The school board is responsible to provide access by holding the meetings in a location that can accommodate the public and by making information about the meetings available. Typically, the time and date of meetings is posted on the school board’s website.
PAAC on SEAC observes that public awareness of SEAC is generally quite poor and only a small percentage of parents of students with special education needs are aware of SEAC or the important role that SEAC plays in special education. Increased public awareness of SEAC is also necessary in order to attract and recruit new members.
The Ministry of Education has reconfirmed the commitment to parent engagement in education with the release in September 2010 of a new Parent Engagement Policy. SEACs are an example of effective parent engagement.
All school boards have a Parent Involvement Committee (PIC) and every school has a School Council. Both PICs and school councils have been developed to foster parent engagement by providing information to parents and inviting their input to school and board activities. PAAC on SEAC recommends that SEAC have a strong connection with PICs and School Councils to strengthen parent engagement in special education.