There are currently 758 students in Accomack County Public Schools who receive special education services. As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), they are entitled to a free, appropriate, public education which meets their individual needs. Special education students, like their non-disabled peers, have the right to pursue post-secondary education; to be engaged in rewarding and gainful employment; to participate as valued citizens in our community; to achieve self-determination; to enjoy recreation; to have meaningful relationships; and to be happy. The instruction and supports they require may be different from typically-developing children, but they are essential.
In recognition of the role of parents as the primary advocates for their children, the Virginia Department of Education requires that every school division have a special education advisory committee (SEAC). The major purpose of the committee is to provide a voice to parents and other concerned citizens regarding the way programs and services are provided.
Every SEAC meeting includes an opportunity for public comment. This input is formally recorded and provides a way for administrators and the Board of Education to become aware of questions and concerns regarding students with disabilities. Although policy, staffing, and funding decisions are made by the Board of Education, systemic change often begins with individuals. One student’s story of success or difficulty can provide information that will lead to improvement in programs and services for many others.
The Accomack County SEAC is reaching out to parents by extending an invitation to our next meeting on Jan. 28, 6 p.m., in the Arcadia Middle School media center. This is an opportunity to network with other parents, share concerns, and meet our director of special education. If you are unable to arrange childcare, children are welcome. All SEAC meetings are open to the public, and we welcome the participation of any individual who is interested in the state of special education in Accomack County.
M.Ed. Accomack County SEAC Interim Chair