Statement of Support

June 11th, 2020

Dear SEPAC community,

Needham SEPAC recognizes that, although the pandemic has been difficult for all of us, no community has been harder hit than people of color, another example of the lethal and pervasive devastation of systemic racism. The unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among so many others, demand that we call out policies that disproportionately harm Black people and actively work to change them. Needham SEPAC is committed to being an antiracist organization.

Before schools closed, we were beginning to collaborate with Sinceree Diego, Chairperson of METCO Needham Parent Council, in developing a partnership of shared opportunities and had been scheduled to speak at a Needham METCO meeting before it was canceled by the lock-down. Ignited by the international protest movement, we are propelled now more than ever to pursue measures of support for our families of color, both those residing in Needham and outside it, as well as other underrepresented members of our special education community. To that end, we are taking the following actions:

    • Better Representation: SEPAC relies on school liaisons to share concerns from parents to SEPAC, communicate programming to parents, and foster networking opportunities. We realize that Needham SEPAC families living in Boston might have some concerns and needs that are different from those of other SEPAC families and for that reason, we are adding a METCO SEPAC liaison role.
    • Deeper Engagement: For the 2020/2021 academic year, we will host at least one Educational program, ideally in conjunction with the Needham Diversity Initiative, that addresses specific circumstances that uniquely affect special education communities of color.
    • Broader Outreach: Our annual survey collects feedback from families about our programming as well as the timing of our meetings as a way to determine what parents want and need from us. Typically, the survey is distributed via our newsletter, which only reaches families who have opted in to receive it. This year, the survey will be distributed through the NPS Special Education listserv to reach all families with a child on an IEP. We will ask Sinceree to highlight it to Boston families, too.

We understand that the best way to instill less biased and more inclusive practices and programming is by cultivating a leadership group that represents the demographics of our members and our allies. Although our efforts are a work in progress and we will likely make mistakes along the way, we are committed to this work. It will lead Needham SEPAC to become a better organization and make our members stronger within it.

With this letter, we hope to start a conversation and we invite all families, but particularly families of color, to share how we can better serve you and your needs.


Sincerely,

Jenn Scheck-Kahn, Co-Chair and Eliot Liaison

Christianne Bayliss, Co-chair and Mitchell Liaison

Nathalie Blitz, Eliot Liaison

Hilary Bruel, Communications Chair

Rebecca Carroll, Preschool Liaison

Meredith Fried, Out-of-District Liaison

Carrie Galhouse, Sunita Williams Liaison

Anna Giraldo Kerr, High Rock/Pollard Liaison and Programming Committee Member

Karen Han, Needham High School Liaison and Programming Committee Member

Pamela Greenfield, Newman Liaison

Jen Kaddy, Secretary and Preschool Liaison

Carla Kopikis, Community Liaison and Sunita Williams Liaison

Michelle Lawrence, Treasurer

Sara Levy, Programming Committee Member

Liz Neustaedter, Out-Of-District Liaison

Raven Register, Eliot Liaison

Katie Rollauer, Newman Liaison

Jodi Rooney, High Rock/Pollard Liaison

Alisa Skatrud, Programming Chair

Mira Tamir Spiegel, Out-Of-District Liaison