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Needham SEPAC Bylaws

last update April 8, 2016

ARTICLE I: NAME 

The name of this organization shall be the Needham Special Education Parent Advisory Council, also known as Needham SEPAC (hereinafter referred to as “SEPAC”). 

ARTICLE II: Purpose 

The SEPAC receives its statutory authority from the Chapter 71B, Section 3 of the Massachusetts General Laws. This authority is also codified in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), 603 CMR 28.07(4). The SEPAC’s business duties include, but are not limited to:

  • advising the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; 
  • meeting regularly with school officials; and 
  • participating in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs. The mission of the SEPAC is to work for understanding of, respect for, and support of all children with special needs in the community. To that end, they will work to: 
  • advise the School Committee on matters that pertain to the education, health and safety of students with disabilities; 
  • meet regularly with school officials to participate in matters pertaining to the education, health and safety of special needs students, including in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of the School Committee’s special education programs; 
  • assist the district in coordinating the presentation of at least one workshop annually within the school district on the rights of students and their parents and guardians under state and federal special education laws; 
  • provide educational/informational forums to parents, educators, students and professionals 
  • promote communication among families with special needs students and the Needham Public Schools; 
  • promote a support network of parents of children with special needs, and provide the forum to share information and discuss matters of common concern and interest; 
  • promote communication between SEPAC members, local, State and National organizations, councils and groups; and 
  • promote communication and programs within the community to encourage understanding, acceptance and inclusion of special needs children. 

ARTICLE III: POLICIES 

The Needham SEPAC shall be non-commercial, non-sectarian and non-partisan. The name of this organization, or the name of any of its member in their official capacities, shall not be used in connection with any commercial concern or any partisan interest, or for any purpose other than the regular work of the organization. 

ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP

SECTION ONE: General membership

General membership shall be open to any interested person. General membership responsibilities include electing the SEPAC Executive Board (Article V).

SECTION TWO: Voting membership 

Voting membership shall be limited to any general member who 

a) is a parent or guardian of a student with documented special needs residing in or attending school in Needham with or without an Individual Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan, and 
b) who has attended at least one meeting of the SEPAC during the past twelve months, and 
c) is a current or past Board Member or current or past member of one of the standing or special committees within the past three (3) years. 

Voting membership responsibilities include: financial decisions, nominating SEPAC Executive Board, and voting on changes to the By-laws (Article XI). 

As used in these by-laws, the word “member” means general members, voting members or both, as the context indicates. 

ARTICLE V: EXECUTIVE BOARD 

SECTION ONE: The Executive Board of the SEPAC shall be comprised of a Chair (or two equal Co-Chairs), Secretary (or two equal Co-Secretaries), a Program Coordinator (or Co-Coordinators) and Treasurer. All Executive Board members shall be voting members of the SEPAC, elected per the provisions of Article VII. Officers may, from time to time, delegate any of their duties to another officer.

SECTION TWO: The duties of the Executive Board shall include:

Chair/Co-Chair

  • Set the agenda for each general meeting. 
  • Preside at all meetings of the SEPAC. 
  • Recommend the organization and monitor the function of committees and subcommittees and appoint committee members 
  • Act as liaison between parents of students with disabilities or suspected disabilities and the Director of Student Support Services, SPED Directors and other SPED administrators. 
  • Prepare periodic reports for the Special Education Administration regarding SEPAC activities and needs Represent and speak on behalf of the SEPAC at meetings of the School Committee 
  • Make an annual presentation to the School Committee. 
  • Oversee creation and appropriate distribution of SEPAC informational material. 
  • Assist the President as appropriate and perform those responsibilities of the President at his/her request. 

Secretary

  • Maintain an accurate attendance log 
  • Coordinate the recording, filing and posting of minutes of the SEPAC and its committees. 
  • Collect and review all correspondence of the SEPAC. 
  • Conduct hospitality correspondence as necessary. 

Treasurer

  • Shall keep a full and accurate account of receipts and expenditures, and in accordance with the budget adopted by the organization. 
  • Shall arrange disbursements as authorized by the Executive Board or SEPAC. Disbursement for non-budgeted items must be approved by the Executive Board and is limited to $50.00. Disbursement for non-budgeted items exceeding this amount must be approved by a majority vote of the voting members at the monthly SEPAC meeting. 
  • Shall present a financial statement at least annually at SEPAC meetings and at other times when requested. 
  • Coordinate efforts to apply for grants, donations, reimbursements or any other funds for which the SEPAC be eligible. 

Program Coordinator

  • Preside at meetings of the Programming Committee. 
  • Oversee process for determining program schedule, topics, presenters and other information for SEPAC’s educational programs. 
  • Coordinate or delegate to committee members logistics for all educational programs. 
  • Responsible for announcements in district calendar, school bulletin, and newspaper announcements. 

ARTICLE VI: COMMITTEES 

The Chair(s), with input from the Board, may create standing and special committees to promote the purpose and interest of SEPAC. Committee involvement shall be on a voluntary basis. Co-chairs shall be ex-officio members of all standing and special committees. Standing Committees include Parent Liaison Committee and Programming Committee.

Parent Liaison Committee

  • Comprised of one or more general members who are parents from each elementary, middle, and high school, and including one or more general member parents who have students with an out-of-district placement. 

Programming Committee

  • Comprised of one or more general members. 
  • Participate in determining program schedule, topics, presenters and other information for SEPAC’s educational meetings. 
  • Coordinate logistics for one or more educational programs. 
  • Assist with announcements in district calendar, school bulletin, and newspapers. 

ARTICLE VII: VOTING/QUORUM

A quorum of no less than three (3) voting members must be present to constitute a meeting.

ARTICLE VIII: ELECTIONS

Officers of the SEPAC are elected by the general membership and hold office until June 30th of the following year. Elections shall occur by ballot (annually) at the May/June meeting. All voting members, as defined in Article IV, are eligible to make nominations. If any office becomes vacant, an election for that office shall be held at the next monthly meeting, with term to expire June 30th following the election.

Elections shall be decided by a simple majority vote of the general membership present at the May/June meeting, subject to the presence of a quorum. New officers shall take office July 1st, following their election.

Any officer may resign by delivering a written notice of resignation by mail, in person, or by email to the Director of Student Support Services. Resignation shall be effective immediately upon such delivery unless the resignation is slated to be effective at another time. An officer may be removed with or without cause by vote of the voting members.

The SEPAC will inform the school district of the outcome of the annual elections and the names, addresses and phone numbers of the new board by July 1st of each year.

ARTICLE IX: MEETINGS

Meetings are defined as any SEPAC business meeting or committee meeting at which a quorum is met. The number of meetings to be held each year and the dates of those meetings shall be determined annually by the Executive Board. Meetings are to be held no less than three (3) times per year. Advance notice of any and all meetings and elections will be published/posted with a minimum of 48 hours advance notice and comply with the MA Open Meeting Law regulations. Meetings shall be conducted by the Co-Chairs, who shall set the agenda, determine the length of discussions, recognize participation, and conduct votes of the voting membership as needed.

Voting Members shall make a good faith attempt, whenever possible, to elicit input from the general membership before taking a vote on a particular item.
Minutes of all SEPAC meetings shall be recorded and posted in accordance with the MA Public Records law.

The SEPAC shall hold an Annual Meeting of the voting members each year for the purpose of electing officers and to vote on any matters as shall be specified in the notice of such meeting.  

ARTICLE X: CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Any member of the Executive Board who has a financial, personal, or official interest in, or conflict (or appearance of a conflict) with any matter pending before the SEPAC, of such nature that it prevents or may prevent that member from acting on the matter in an impartial manner, will offer to the Board to voluntarily excuse him/herself and will vacate his seat and refrain from discussion and voting on said item. 

ARTICLE XI: AMENDMENTS

These by-laws may be amended by a simple majority of the voting members at a general meeting, but by-law changes may not be voted upon in the same meeting as they are proposed, unless a quorum (as described in Article V) votes unanimously to approve the change.

ARTICLE XII: PROCEDURES

Roberts Rules of Order are the default procedures for this organization.