Group that Advocates for Special Needs Students Growing, Hosting Multiple Events for Parents

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The group that advocates for students with special needs in Watertown has had a surge of activity, and will hold a number of upcoming events for both parents of special needs students and others.

Parent Heather McManus, who chairs the Watertown SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council, told the School Committee Monday about some of the activities the group is participating in, including chances for parents to learn about services for their children, and how to get involved in the group.

On Oct. 17, SEPAC will host a virtual Disability Listening Session. During the event, parents, guardians and caregivers can share disability-related concerns and feedback touched on in the WPS 2022 Equity Audit. (Find out more below).

A Basic Rights Workshop on Nov. 15 will focus on evaluation and eligibility for special education students. A range of topics will be covered. (See more details below).

The Watertown SEPAC will work with the Federation for Children with Special Needs (FSCN) to develop an action plan. McManus, ELE/ESL Director Kate Phillipson, and parent and Lowell Diversity Council Leader Sheila Krishnan will work with Meghan Chapman, a Family Partnership Specialist from FCSN.

Also, McManus said the National Family Engagement Summit selected Watertown to be featured as part of an upcoming presentation called “Schools and Families: A New Path to Equitable Family Engagement” on Oct. 11 at 12:15 p.m. See more at

School Committee member Lily Rayman Read, who is the School Committee’s liaison to SEPAC, said she was glad to see the group getting more active.

“This is a group of really motivated, really passionate parents who are very interested in making sure their kids are connected within our schools,” Rayman Read said, who added that anyone can join the SEPAC, not just parents of students with IEPs or 504 Plans.

She also thanked McManus for her work.

“She has been working tirelessly for the last few months to reform SEPAC, make it a functioning entity to advise the School Committee on issues that they are legally responsible to advise us on and also be a working member of our district,” Rayman Read said.

City Council President Mark Sideris, who also serves on the School Committee, also thanked McManus, saying that he appreciates her efforts and hopes that the Watertown SEPAC will keep growing and more people will become involved.

See more about Watertown SEPAC on its website. For more information contact them at

Upcoming Events

Disability Listening Session

Oct. 17, 2022 @ 6:00 – 8:00 PM

● Moderated by representatives from the FCSN (teantive)
● Space for caregivers to share disability-related concerns and feedback touched on in the WPS 2022 Equity Audit
● Kathleen Desmarais (SPED Director) and other District Administrators will be present to listen

Basic Rights: Evaluation and Eligibility

November 15th, 2022 6 – 8 PM

The workshop provides and introduction of the complex special education laws and procedures.


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Massachusetts Laws, Evaluations & Referrals, Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504 Plans, Effective Progress, Transition, Review of Important Timelines, Strategies for Success, and more.

Register here:

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