Special education group seeks more parent voices

School district hopes to draw answers to questions and concerns

The Monroe Township Public School District wants parents to join its special education group and voice their ideas and concerns.

The  Special Education Parent Advisory Group allows  parents to have input about procedures for special education students and related services. Although it is parent driven, there are more opportunities for collaboration when the group is joined by staff, administration and child-study team members. 

“It is not just for parents who have students with disabilities and I think that is important,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Ficke, who wants to resurrect a robust group in Monroe Township.

“In the past, we targeted our identified students, but it is really important to hear all voices … It should really be a cross section of the school community, and I think that is a healthy representation.” 

The group was started in Monroe Township a few years ago, but since Ficke has come on board as superintendent, she has invented it to address the needs of parents, staff and students. 

“In the past, the group met through professional development opportunities,” Ficke explained. “Attending professional development programs will be part of the group’s goal this year, but we want to make sure we are serving our families and asking them for their feedback … This is an opportunity to let our families know that we want to hear from them and engage with them.”

Last year, the parent advisory panel met via Zoom to discuss important introductory topics, such as what the group does and its role in the school community. This year, the district will bring in a Statewide Parent Advocacy Network professional to help the meetings reach their full potential. The network helps communities across the country bring in the resources and support they need to have special education students reach their full potential.

“When I arrived I wanted to see more than just the professional development side of things,” Ficke explained. “I want to make sure parents know what their rights are, how to read an individualized education program and what the processes and procedures for their students look like.”