Nut and Bolts of Being a Special Education Liaison
The Special Education Liaison serves as a resource to the school community about Special Education for students with disabilities.
- Attending meetings of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs Special Education Committee.
- Sharing relevant information about special education and related activities and events with the school community.
- Reviewing, and as appropriate, reporting on recent activities of the FCPS Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities, http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ACSD/index.shtml
- Providing periodic updates to the school unit PTA. Requirement: a moderate level of activity throughout the school year.
Communication is key
- Use your PTA's website, newsletter or email contact system to keep the school community informed about events and activities that impact students with disabilities.
- Possible sources of information items:
o Fairfax County Public School's Parent Resource Center: www.fcps.edu/cco/prc/index.shtml
o FCPS Office of Special Education Instruction: www.fcps.edu/dss/sei/index.shtml
o Parent Education Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), Virginia's federally funded parent training and information center: www.peatc.org
o Kellar Institute for Human Disabilities at GMU: www.kihd.gmu.edu/library
o Contact list for FCPS Department of Special Services- www.fcps.edu/dss/directory.pdf
o List of FCPS Procedural Support Liaisons- www.fcps.edu/dss/seps/psl/psl.pdf
o Virginia Department of Education: www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/index.shtml
o Many more, subscribe to listservs and e-mail lists for updates from these organizations.
- Consider ways to raise awareness of disability and special education-related issues. For example, National Inclusive Schools Week (www.inclusiveschools.org) during the first full week in December, can be an opportunity to highlight inclusive practices, raise disability awareness and share information about resources available to families of children with special needs. Also check out the FCPS www.fcps.edu/cco/prc/resources/packets/documents/InclusionResourcePacket...
- Other proven ideas:
o Parent coffees with a presenter
o “Field trips” for parents or for families to an activity or event
o A Q & A –format in every edition of the PTA newsletter
o Conduct a needs assessment of the families in your school
o Include special education information in Welcome or Newcomer packets
Foster relationships that help students with special needs
- This is primarily an information-sharing role. Provide factual information whenever possible.
- Two important jobs are to listen and clarify.
- Avoid taking sides in any individual dispute.
- Remember the importance of keeping confidences and maintaining relationships with parents, teaching staff and administrators alike. You cannot help parents be informed advocates if you have alienated the professionals serving their children!
- Beware single-disability focus or speakers promoting a specific agenda or product.
- Welcome the entire school community to events and activities.
There is no one way to be a special education liaison
- Beyond the tasks in the job description, there are no “required” tasks of the liaison.
- Use what worked in past, but also try new approaches. If it does not fly, that is OK!