What is SEAC?

A group dedicated to enhancing special education services within Fauquier County public schools

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC: pronounced See – ack) is a state-mandated group whose primary role is to advise the local school board on a variety of needs and issues pertaining to children with disabilities. Fauquier County Public Schools’ SEAC provides parents, educators, community residents, and school administrators an avenue to discuss, educate and plan for improvements in the educational setting.

According to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), “A majority of the committee shall be parents of children with disabilities or individuals with disabilities, and shall include one teacher, and school division personnel shall serve only as consultants to the committee.” The SEAC performs a variety of functions, but primarily advises the local school district on the educational needs of children with disabilities of all types.

Amanda Hazlehurst, acting chair of Fauquier County Public Schools’ SEAC, is a parent who wants to make a difference. “Ultimately I got involved with SEAC because I was asked to and after learning what the purpose of the committee is, I thought it sounded like a worthwhile cause to devote my time to,” Hazlehurst shared. “I do believe SEAC can be a positive asset and I wanted to be an active part of the committee, serving local families. All children can benefit and perform better in school when parents and school professionals collaborate.”

Hazlehurst also shared her daughter will most likely have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) throughout her schooling, and she “wanted to jump right in and be as involved” as possible while staying current on legislation, school policy and services offered at the county and state levels. “I thought SEAC might be a good way to stay ‘in the know’ while surrounding myself with other parents and professionals who also wanted to work together to make positive changes for students with disabilities,” she shared. “I want to encourage parents, teachers, and really any member of the community to join us for a meeting. Together we will be able to make a difference by identifying the good things we have, but also by being realistic and identify the areas we need to improve.” Hazlehurst wants to increase public awareness about this committee, as well as overall community involvement in SEAC.

Robin Verity, a teacher in Fauquier County for five years said, “I enjoy helping to identify the supports our school district is implementing, and SEAC is a parent-friendly, relevant place for the community to express ideas for future programs and identify unmet needs of these students.” As a special education teacher at James G. Brumfield, Verity has also been involved in the Just Say Hi Program at Brumfield and is interested in seeing this inclusion program, or similar ones, at other schools.

“I see new positive energy coming into not only SEAC, but to our County. We have significant resources where people can get answers to their questions,” Verity said. “It is exciting to attend SEAC and hear what other schools in our district, and even what other counties are doing to create a positive learning environment for the children.”

SEAC was instrumental in the idea behind the Transitions Program which is working well within the county. Transitions is a new community-based program which benefits the County’s special education students, ages 18 to 22, by providing hands-on experience and life-skills in a real-life setting.

The format of the meetings this year is slightly different than previous years. Hazlehurst said, “This year we try to have a presentation or a guest speaker prior to the start of the actual meeting. Our hope is to attract more parents and educators, who then will stay for the meeting.” Once the meeting begins, the first agenda item is allocated to public comments, in accordance with school board policy. This is when individuals may express concerns or ideas regarding educational issues within the school district. “Public comment is first on the agenda, so if people need to leave afterwards they are able to do so,” shared Hazlehurst.

Hazlehurst described the the meetings as “a place to develop connections with other parents and learn about resources available in the County.” It is not a support group. If you live in Fauquier County and would like to help create instructional ideas and a more positive environment, consider attending and participating in SEAC meetings.The committee itself is comprised of up to eight parents of students with disabilities and/or community members and one special education teacher.

Another role of SEAC is to review both policies and procedures regarding special education and related services, and to participate in the review of the school’s annual plan. For a full list of Virginia mandated SEAC functions you my visit the website doe.virginia.gov and read through regulation 8VAC20-81-230 B.2.

According to Fauquier County Public Schools’ website (fcps1.org) SEAC’s vision is to “promote access of students with disabilities to a public education that cultivates unique abilities and maximizes potential.” The website also noted: “Anyone interested in improving the education of individuals with disabilities in Fauquier County is welcome.”

SEAC welcomes community feedback from parents and those who wish to improve educational services, and hopes individuals seeking more information will attend meetings to learn more and become involved. If you have questions regarding the meetings or becoming a member, contact the clerk of the board, Ginger Callahan at gcallahan@fcps1.org. All SEAC meeting dates and times are posted on FCPS1.org for the public to review.


How often does it meet and where?

SEAC meets on the first Thursday of each month from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Central Complex, Building A. The address is 430 East Shirley Ave, Warrenton, which is located on the same campus as the Warrenton Community Center. For more information contact the school district by calling 540- 422-7101 or visiting the website (fcps1.org/Page/1551).

2017/2018 School Year SEAC information is also posted on FCPS1.org

Members

  • Amanda Hazlehurst
  • Ann Marie Dewald
  • Heidi VanVoorhis
  • Marie Tucker
  • Marilyn McCombe
  • Neil Swanson
  • Robin Verity

Non-staff Consulting Members

  • Linda Corcoran

Staff Consulting Members

  • Randy Corpening

Parents of students and other community members concerned with creating the most effective educational environment for individuals with learning differences may participate, you need not be a member. For information regarding special education services contact Randy Corpening; director of special education via email at rcorpening@fcps1.org.

For more information about the Virginia Department of Education’s SEAC requirements or laws regarding special education services, visit the website (doe.virginia.gov) or contact:

Virginia Department of Education

Division of Special Education and Student Services

Office of Specialized Education Facilities and Family Engagement

Hank Millward, Director

804-371-0525

 

Debbie Eisele
About Debbie Eisele 45 Articles
Debbie Eisele is an editor and writer for Piedmont Lifestyle Publications. She is also a certified horticulturalist, an education advocate, and president of the board of directors for Allegro School of the Arts. She lives in Warrenton with her husband and twin daughters. In her free time, she enjoys a cup of coffee and being outdoors.

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