On Saturday, June 13, 2015 we held our annual meeting and election of SEPAC Officers.
Congratulations to the following individuals who were elected to represent the PAC for the 2015-16 school year.
Karen Dobak, Co-Chair
I am the mother of two children. My son is 22 and recently aged out of his IEP, having been diagnosed with PDD when he was 2.5 years old. At the time, Cambridge did not have self-contained classrooms for children on the autistic spectrum and did not value inclusion. While facing Cambridge’s refusal to provide significant services, and his doctors’ insistence that intensive early services were essential to his long-term prospects, I was forced to become an expert in education law. I became involved in the PAC, and played a role in getting Tom Hehr and the Department of Education in Washington DC to evaluate CPS’s implementation of the IDEA, which led to significant changes in how children with disabilities are educated in Cambridge.
My son was out-placed in a year-round school prior to first grade. After high school and until he turned 22 my son was on an IEP for transition planning and attended community college while working in the community. He is now attending community college independently. Seeing the progress my son has made as a result of his education and services has made me even more committed to ensuring that all children receive the education they need.
My daughter is 11 and has been diagnosed with multiple complex learning needs, including medical, neurological and speech language needs, as well as learning disabilities and was out-placed at the end of second grade.
This past year, as a Co-Chair of the PAC, I have enjoyed assisting other parents who are experiencing similar struggles that I have experienced. This year I will continue to work with the PAC to keep the focus on all children with disabilities to ensure they all meet their dreams and potential in adulthood.
Julie Viens, Co-Chair
I have three children, ages 18, 12 and 9, and have navigated the special education system on behalf of my children for 6 years. In this time, I’ve learned how to obtain appropriate assessments, services, and placement related to issues around mood disorders, sensory processing, ADHD, and anxiety.
My family has experience with special education in the general education environment, with home schooling, and with out-of-district placements. C-PAC has been a lifeline for me, and I first assumed the position of C-PAC officer in order to give back and offer practical and emotional support to other families, especially those new to the system.
Professionally, I am Site Director and Research Coordinator at a local childcare center. In this role, I also enjoy and value my work with the Early Childhood Alignment Grant Leadership Team, a CPS initiative.
Pamela Blau, Secretary
My family lives in North Cambridge and we have two children. Our daughter is a 6th grader at the Amigos School. Our son is an 8th grader who was at the Haggerty School for elementary school and then at Vassal Lane Upper School. He is now outplaced to a school that can better serve his complex learning profile.
I have been Vice Chair of C-PAC for the past year and have been involved with the PAC for 9 years. Our family has benefitted greatly from the advice and support I have received from fellow members.
Over the past two years the leadership of C-PAC has worked closely with the leadership of OSS to make changes in special education and general education in Cambridge in order to better serve children with special needs. Much has been accomplished but there is a long way to go.
I am committed to continuing this collaborative work as well as to helping individual parents get support and navigate the system in order to get their children the best education. Professionally, I am a therapist with a private practice in Cambridge.