What's New?

News and updates for the PCTI community: Fall 2022

In this Edition

  • Special Education Updates
  • Programs and Resources 
  • Share your Input!
  • FCSN Events & Conferences
  • Get Involved!
  • Stay Connected!

What's New is a quarterly newsletter for Federation-trained parents and parent consultants. In each edition, we will provide you with special education updates, resources, and upcoming events to support you in advocating for your students

Updates in Special Education

Selected updates in special education policy and guidance. To view more, visit DESE's Special Education Webpage or Join DESE's Newsletters

Massachusetts Updates

Higher Education Law Signed by Governor Baker, July 28th, 2022

The Higher Education law is the first of its kind in the US and will allow persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism who cannot obtain a regular high school diploma to attend state colleges and universities. After over a decade of advocacy, students who have previously been excluded from higher education, will be able to attend classes as nondegree-seeking students and join extracurricular activities at state colleges and universities. 

Learn More or Read the Law

Literacy Screening Amendment Approved by Board of Education, September 20th, 2022

Based on public comment from parents, educators, advocates, experts, and organizations, including FCSN, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to approve an amendment to 603 CMR 28.03 (special education law) that requires school districts screen ALL students for early literacy issues twice a year from from kindergarten through third grade. Schools must determine actions to support students who are significantly below benchmarks and inform parents or guardians within 30 days. This amendment will go into effect in July 2023.

Learn More

Reduced Mileage Reimbursement for Parents Memo, September 2022

School districts are required to reimburse parents who provide transportation for their child who requires special transportation as part of their IEPs at the same rate as state employees, which was raised to 62 cents per mile in July 2022.

Learn More

National Updates

New Discipline Guidance from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), July 2022

This long-awaited guidance supports public schools on avoiding the discriminatory use of school discipline for children with disabilities. OCR & OSERS explain the requirements under Section 504 as it applies to nondiscrimination of children with disabilities and clarify how FAPE as applies to disciplinary action.

Learn More

Recommendations to Improve Young Children's Social-Emotional Development and Mental Health, Issued by the Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS), June, 2022

Dear Colleague Letter with 4 recommendations to support social-emotional development and mental health in early childhood systems. This letter compliments the October 2021 ED report on Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs.

Learn More

Programs and Resources 

Department of Developmental Services' Children's Autism Waiver Program

The Children's Autism Services Waiver Program serves children under the age of 10 who meet both the clinical and financial eligibility. This program allows children to receive Expanded Habilitation, Education, in-home services and supports for a total of up to 3 years. At the conclusion of the three years of the intensive in-home services, a child may access ongoing Supplemental Services that meet the child’s needs until the child’s 10th birthday. Currently, the program serves approximately 400 children a year. While the program is near capacity, we are expanding the number of participants.  


The Autism Division is accepting new application requests for families interested in this program between the dates of October 14, 2022 and October 31, 2022. Applications must be postmarked or emailed from a parent/guardian no later than October 30, 2022.  

Learn More

MCAS-Alt Decision Making Tool Translation and Availability

Translations of the MCAS alt Decision Making Tool are available on the DESE website in multiple languages. This tool may be used to make annual decisions regarding student participation in the MCAS. 

Learn More

IEP Improvement Project (Ongoing)

DESE has converted the Draft Improved IEP to a Word Format and Translated it into Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The Improved IEP is being piloted in 19 districts across the state.

Learn More

Share your Input!

MCAS Accessibility and Accommodations

DESE has invited Federation to provide input on the following topics:

  1. The current MCAS accessibility and accommodations policy
  2. Which features and accommodations are most helpful
  3. The current computer-based testing platform (TestNav)

Do you have thoughts, experiences, and/or concerns regarding the above topics that you would like to have conveyed to DESE?

Email Ruth Diaz at [email protected] be before October 11, 2022 to provide your input.

Advocate Survey

The Federation would love to hear from you! We are in the process of updating our Parent Advocate database. If you haven't already done so, please take a few moments to complete the following survey regarding your participation in our PCTI programs. Thank you!

Complete the Survey!

Federation Events and Conferences

Check out our Events Calendar for any additional events

Networking Series Fall 2022!

Join us for the Following Networking Sessions!

October Networking: Bullying

Thursday, October 13, 12pm-1pm

Presented by: Leslie Leslie, Project Director, MassPAC/APPLE

In this session, we will provide an introduction to bullying and take a look at some resources from the state of Massachusetts related to bullying. There will be time at the end of the session for questions and discussion. 

Register Now!

November Networking: Social Emotional Learning

Thursday, November 10, 12pm-1pm

Presented by: Emma Gregory, Statewide Trainer, PTI

Let's talk about Social Emotional Learning (SEL)! We'll start with an overview of what SEL is and then discuss how to incorporate it in the IEP. Bring your questions and be ready to share some ideas.

Register Now!

December Networking: Let's Reflect!

Date: Thursday, December 8


With the winter break just around the corner, let's take some time to reflect on how the school year is going so far. We invite you to share some of your successes and challenges and what is coming up for you in the new year.

Register Now!

Connecting Families

Office of Civil Rights 101

Thursday, October 6, 5pm-6pm

Presented by: Paul Easton, Supervisory General & Program Manager 

This presentation will provide a brief introduction to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), its mission, and how OCR enforces civil rights laws that protect students and others from discrimination.

Register Now!

Better Together: Strengthening Family School Partnerships Summit

Friday October 28th, 8:30am-4:15am

Registration is open for the first-ever Better Together: Strengthening Family School Partnership Summit, hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This summit will be an opportunity to listen to families and educators, put the spotlight on effective partnership practices, and help districts center family school partnership in every aspect of how we do school.

Districts can register a team of up to 8 people. In the spirit of partnerships, at least half must be family members (who are not school/district staff).

For more information, and to register, visit the Summit Event Website

Upcoming FCSN Conferences

Planning a Life (PAL) Conference 

FCSN's Premiere Transition conference, Planning A Life, is happening this October 14 & 15 for PAL -Making the Most Out of High School / November 4 & 5 for PAL - Planning for College and Beyond. The conference will be virtual on the first day and in-person on the second day. Youth and young adults (13-22) are welcome!

Register Now!

Making a Difference Conference (MADC)

The Making a Difference Conference will be held on Tuesday, November 15th from 8am-5pm. This conference provides an opportunity for Special Education Surrogate Parents (SESPs), Foster/Adoptive and Kinship Caregivers, Educators, Child Welfare Providers, Community Partners and Others to experience a full day of high-quality education and networking. Attendees will come away with information and resources to assist them with supporting the at-risk students they serve.

Register Now!

Get Involved!

Become an Special Education Surrogate Parent

Special Education Surrogate Parents make educational decisions for students in Massachusetts whose parents are unknown or unavailable. They meet with their assigned student or observe them in the classroom, receive all progress reports and report cards and attend IEP meetings as an acting surrogate parent.

Learn More!

Volunteer or Mentor with the FCSN Information Center

Volunteering and mentoring provides you with opportunities connect with other volunteers and professionals, learn how to respond to a diversity of inquiries and maintain your relationship with the Federation, while helping parents learn about their special education rights.

Contact [email protected] for more information!

Stay Connected!

Join the PCTI Facebook Group

If you haven't already, join our Facebook Group for PCTI grad. This is a forum where people can ask questions, exchange ideas and learn in a positive environment.

Join now!

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