The PAC is an organization dedicated to empowering families of students receiving special education services through communication, education, and support with the purpose of obtaining the finest programs and services available within the Rochester community.
AAC Technical Support in District
Currently, RCS students using AAC devices do not have proper backups and are at the mercy of the ISD for help.
This is challenging, because if a student's AAC program or words are deleted then the student goes without their “voice” causing distress in the classroom and at home.
Concetta Lewis is working with PAC rep, Kari Norton, to bring IT in-house for AAC devices.
Special Education Students Missing from Communications
Currently, the Synergy system (database) used for pupil accounting does not allow for program students to be both in special education and general education classes.
Students, staff and families are impacted when they are left out of communications. Teachers and Custodial staff need to know how many desks and cubbies to be made available for students. If a program student is not included in the general education roster their parents often miss out on important inclusive communication.
PAC believes and is told that all students are general education first. PAC is requesting a solution for program students to be both in general education and special education to help teachers and families better communicate.
Programs Following Their General Education Peers
Currently, students in programs such as ASD, EI, CI or SXI do not follow their general education peers through each school transition.
When a child is in a program they are more successful with routine. Having students follow their general education peers not only helps the student in special education but fosters an awareness and empathy in their general education peers.
PAC is proposing that program students follow their general education peers from elementary school through high school.
Increased Support for School Transitions
Currently, RCS has one move up meeting per transition. Some of these move up meetings are recorded but do not have a virtual space for families to easily access them.
Move up IEPs do not always take place at the same time of year, although, the majority do. Having access to recorded meetings would help families feel more prepared and at peace with the upcoming transition. Fear of the unknown can trigger grief and negative emotions.
PAC would like to work with RCS administrators on creating more resources for families whose children are transitioning. Having a virtual space and a PAC parent who can be a resource for each level could help ease tensions during move up meetings.
Sensory Foundation Funds
$5000 was raised by parents in the district to support sensory and mindfulness projects in our district. We have decided the best way to distribute this money is among the 10 schools who have not received general foundation funds in the last few years for sensory or mindfulness centers. Each of the ten schools are eligible to apply for $500. If funds remain after the next grant cycle (September 10, 2022) we will look to distribute the remainder.
Having access to these funds will help schools create space for all students to decompress.
PAC would like for schools to apply for funds according to their needs so that they may purchase items to help students decompress. Funds will be advertised and made available to all schools.
General Education Staff Support
Currently, general education teachers are accommodating many students in their classrooms and are, at times, without the specialized knowledge needed to help serve them best.
When general education teachers are not given the proper education or resources to help students this can cause disruption for the student with an IEP/504 as well as the entire class.
PAC is working with Concetta Lewis to find a digital drive to store resources for general education teachers to readily access. Topics may include ADHD, OCD, Autism, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, etc. PAC is also proposing that principals send out tips for teachers so they can slowly learn ideas that may help their students.
Dylexia Training for General Education Teachers of Dyslexic Students
As of May 2019, PAC has been working with RCS to have Dyslexia training implemented for general education teachers. Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 students, most will be in general education. Historically most teacher prep programs have not trained general education teachers on learning disabilities like dyslexia. We want to increase the knowledge and tools in general education (as well as in special education) to better identify and serve these students.
Students with dyslexia learn to read with explicit systematic instruction, which benefits all readers. Our current instruction does not meet the needs of all of these students in general education.
Our Director of Special Education, Concetta Lewis, is working with our PAC rep, Julie Stalker, and the Executive Director of Instructional Practices to bring in training on characteristics of dyslexia and the appropriately effective reading instruction for these students.