Adopted May 10, 2012

Section 1.   Name

The name of this unincorporated association is the Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education, also known from time to time as Cambridgespedpac, CPACSE or the PAC.

Section 2.  Purpose

The Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education is established pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71B, Section 3, the relevant text of which is set forth in Appendix A to these by-laws.   The CPACSE is established for the purposes and shall have all of the powers and duties set forth in that section and any amendments thereto and regulations thereunder.

Section 3. Membership

General membership in CPACSE shall be open to any interested person.    A voting member shall be any general member who:

(a)  is a parent or guardian of a child residing in Cambridge younger than age 22 who has a disability or suspected disability, with or without an Individual Education Program (IEP) and

(b)  has indicated an interest in voting on CPACSE matters by doing either of the following:

(i)  joining the parent support email listserv related to CPACSE (the parent-only listserv),

(ii)  notifying the CPACSE in writing of his/her mailing address and requesting that notices and ballots relating to matters to be voted upon be mailed to such address.

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

Section  4.  Meetings of Members

4.1 Place of Meetings. Meetings of  the members shall be held at such place within the City of Cambridge as shall be specified in the notice of such meeting.  Any changes to the meeting place specified in the notice will be communicated promptly to the parent-only listserv.

4.2 Annual Meeting.   An annual meeting of  the voting members shall be held in May or June of each year on such date and at such time as shall be determined by the officers and stated  in the notice of such meeting.  The purpose of the annual meeting is to elect officers and to vote on any other matters as shall be specified in the notice of such meeting.  If the annual meeting is not held during May or June, a special meeting in lieu thereof may be held at any time with all the force and effect of an annual meeting.

4.3 Regular and Special Meetings.  Regular meetings of the Members may be held at such times and on such dates as the chair or co-chairs may determine.  Special meetings may be held at such times and on such dates as may be called by the Chair or Co-Chairs, by the Director of the Cambridge Office of Special Education (OSE), or by three or more voting members.

4.4   Annual Notice of Regular Meetings.   Notice of regular meetings of the members shall be given once each year by mail to each parent or guardian of a Cambridge student age under age 22 whose mailing address is known to OSE.  Such notice shall be prepared by the officers, with input from the Director of OSE, and may be combined with any other mailing being sent by the Cambridge public school district (the “District”)  to parents or guardians (for example, the annual mailing in August of forms to be signed by all parents and guardians).

Such annual notice shall contain a brief statement about the existence and purpose of CPACSE, the dates of its regular meetings scheduled for the current or next school year, that general membership is open to any interested party, the procedures for becoming a voting member, and the name and contact information of an officer of the CPACSE or other voting member volunteer that parents may contact for more information.

4.5   Notice of Annual Meetings.   The expected date and time of the annual meeting of members shall be set forth in the mailed annual notice sent pursuant to the preceding section.

4.6   Notice of Special Meetings and Date Changes for Regular Meetings.   Notice of special meetings called pursuant to section 4.3 and notice of any date change for a regular meeting listed in the annual notice will be given by email to the parent-only listserv at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting and again at least 2 days prior to the meeting.   Such electronic notice will include the date, time and place of the meeting and a brief statement of the agenda for the meeting.   If the CPACSE maintains a website, such electronic notice will also be posted on such website as soon as practicable prior to each special meeting.

4.7  Electronic Notices.  In addition to the mailed annual notice of regular meetings required by section 4.4, an electronic notice of each regular meeting of members shall be emailed to the parent-only listserv at least 2 weeks prior to each meeting and again at least 2 days prior to each meeting.   Such electronic notice will include the date, time and place of the meeting and a brief statement of the agenda for the meeting.   If the CPACSE maintains a website, such electronic notice will also be posted on such website as soon as practicable prior to each meeting.

The electronic notices referred to in this section 4.7 are for convenience and reminder purposes only.  Failure to email an electronic notice and post same on the PAC website within the time periods set forth in this section will not affect  the validity of any meeting for which notice has been properly given by mail pursuant to section 4.4.

4.8  Notices to School Committee, District and non-voting Members.  Copies of all meeting notices given pursuant to section 4 will be sent to each school committee member, the Director of OSE, the superintendent,  the deputy superintendent and each general member who has submitted a written request to the PAC requesting such notices.  Notices to the parties listed in this section shall be given via email only, except that notices will be mailed to voting members who have requested that notices be mailed; provided that the PAC receives reasonable assistance from the District in producing and mailing such notices.

4.9  Other notices required  by  law.  The requirements of section 4 are in addition to any notice requirements under applicable laws, such as the open meeting law.  Subject to the availability of reasonable assistance from the District, the officers will exercise reasonable efforts to comply with any such notice requirements under applicable law.

4.10   Quorum for voting at a meeting.  Whenever a vote of the members is to be held, the presence at a meeting, in person, by absentee or electronic ballot or by proxy, of 11 voting members shall constitute a quorum for purposes of voting on such matter.

Section 5.   Officers 

5.1   Offices.  The officers shall consist of one chair, or up to three co-chairs, and a secretary.

5.2   Duties.

(a)  The chair or co-chairs shall:

  • Set the agenda for each meeting of members.
  • Preside at all meetings of members.
  • Monitor the function of committees and subcommittees.
  • Act as liaison between parents of Cambridge students with disabilities or suspected disabilities and the Director of OSE.
  • Meet regularly with the Director of  OSE.
  • Represent and speak on behalf of the CPACSE at meetings of the Cambridge school committee on matters relating to the education and safety of students with disabilities.  The chair or co-chairs may from time to time conduct “straw polls” or informal surveys of the voting members for the purpose of communicating member views to the school committee or District officials.
  • Maintain or delegate to others the maintenance of the parent-only listserv or other electronic equivalent.

(b) The secretary shall:

  • Maintain a list of voting members and a list of general members who have requested meeting notices.
  • Maintain written records of the meetings of members and other CPACSE activities.
  • Record the minutes of each meeting of members and email same to the parent-only email listserv as promptly as possible following each meeting and in any event, before the next regular meeting of members.

If  there is no secretary in office, the chair or co-chairs shall perform the duties assigned to the secretary or appoint volunteers from among the PAC membership to perform such duties.

5.3   Other Officers.    In addition to the foregoing, the CPACSE shall have such other officers as the voting members may elect.  Such other officers shall have such powers as are described in the notice soliciting votes for their election.

5.4  Term.  Officers are elected by the voting membership and hold office until the next annual meeting and until their successors are elected or until their sooner death, resignation or removal.

5.5  Resignation and Vacancies.  Any officer may resign by delivering a written notice of resignation by mail, in person, or by email or other electronic means to the Director of OSE and to the parent-only listserv.   Resignation shall be effective upon such delivery unless the resignation is stated to be effective at another time.  Any officer may be removed with or without cause by vote of the voting members.  Vacancies in any office may be filled by vote of the voting members.  Any successor so elected shall hold office until the next annual meeting of the voting members.

5.6   Other provisions pertaining to officers.

(a)  One person may hold more than one office at the same time.

(b)  All officers must be voting members.

(c)  Officers may, from time to time, delegate any of their duties  to another voting member or to the PAC Coordinator, if any.

Section 6.  Elections

6.1  Election Coordinator(s).  Prior to each annual meeting, a volunteer or 2 volunteers will be recruited from among the voting members for the pro tem position(s) of Election Coordinator(s).   If more than 2 voting members volunteer, the selection of the Election Coordinators will be decided by a lottery of the names of volunteers.

6.2  Duties of Election Coordinator(s).  The Election Coordinator(s) will coordinate activities necessary to conduct the election of officers at the annual meeting.  This includes:

(a) soliciting nominees for office via the parent-only listserv and by posting on the CPACSE website, if there is one,

(b) preparing or supervising the preparation of  the notice of meeting, ballots, absentee ballots, proxies and other election materials in electronic form and in paper form,

(d) emailing (or supervising such) the electronic election materials to the voting members on the parent-only listserv and mailing (or supervising the mailing of) the paper election materials to the voting members who have delivered written request to the PAC to be included as a voting member,

(e)  tallying the electronic and paper ballots, and reporting the results to the voting members and to the Director of OSE  at or promptly following the annual meeting.

6.3  Voting methods.  Voting members may cast their votes by submitting a ballot at the meeting, by designating in writing a proxy to submit a ballot for them at the meeting, or by absentee ballot submitted to the Election Coordinator(s) no later than the day prior to the a meeting at which votes are taken. Absentee ballots or proxy designations may be submitted via email.  All methods of voting will be anonymous and will include a statement by the voting member that he/she is the parent or guardian of a Cambridge student age under age 22 with a disability or suspected disability.

6.4  Vote Required.  Elections shall be decided by a plurality of votes cast at a meeting of voting members, by ballot at the meeting, by proxy and by absentee ballot.

Section 7.  Committees and Subcommittees

7.1  General.  The chair or co-chairs and the secretary may create such committees or subcommittees of CPACSE as they deem necessary or advisable.  Membership on committees or subcommittees shall be by appointment.

7.2  Executive Committee.  In the event that there are no nominees for election to the position of chair or co-chairs at an annual meeting and the outgoing officers do not wish to continue as officers, the outgoing officers will solicit volunteers to serve on an executive committee consisting of not less than 3 and no more than 7 voting members who are willing to share the duties of officers.  The executive committee members will be appointed by the chair or co-chairs from among the volunteers and shall take office at the annual meeting for which there are no nominees and serve until the next annual meeting of members and until their successors are elected or their sooner death, resignation of removal.   If there are again no nominees for officer positions  to be elected at the next annual meeting, the outgoing executive committee will solicit volunteers to serve on the executive committee for the succeeding year.  Outgoing executive committee members may volunteer to serve for another year.  The new members of the executive committee will be appointed by majority vote of the outgoing executive committee.

7.3  Advisory Committee.  The chair or co-chairs may create an advisory committee from among voting members who volunteer.  The role of the advisory committee is to assist the officers in carrying out their duties and the work of the PAC.   The advisory board members will be appointed by the chair or co-chairs and serve at the pleasure of the chair or co-chairs.   Duties of the advisory committee may include:

(a) advising the PAC officers and PAC Coordinator (if any)

(b)  assisting the officers and the PAC Coordinator (if any) in outreach to parent/guardians and other activities which promote the PAC; and

(c)  assisting the officers in addressing parent inquiries.

Section 8.  Vote required for matters other than elections

On any matter submitted to a vote of the voting membership, other than the election of officers, the matter shall be decided by a majority of votes cast by ballot at a meeting, by proxy and by absentee ballot.  However, amendments to these by-laws may not be voted upon in the same meeting as they are proposed unless the change is approved by at least two-thirds of votes cast.

Section 9.  PAC Coordinator

At the time of adoption of these by-laws, the District has funded a part-time (10-15 hr/week) position known as the “spedpac coordinator.”  The role of the coordinator is to assist the school committee in meeting its statutory obligation to establish a parent advisory council on special education in the district.

As long as a spedpac coordinator exists within the District, the officers of CPACSE and any committees or subcommittees of CPACSE  may seek assistance from the coordinator in carrying out their duties or may delegate duties to the spedpac coordinator. Duties which may be delegated to the Coordinator may include:

  • Coordinating outreach activities (i.e. School Open House Nights, School council meetings, parent breakfasts) collecting email addresses and maintaining membership records. Membership listing shall be recorded and kept only for the use of the PAC and cannot be shared or sold to anyone.
  • Soliciting workshop requests from the membership and collaborating with the PAC officers to set the schedule, plan and organize at least monthly meetings between October and May of each school year. Communicate the schedule to the Executive Director of Special Education to confirm the budget for the year’s events and arrange for meeting space, childcare and refreshments.
  • Produce an annual mailing to families within the Office of Special Education databases, which will include updated PAC brochure and schedule of meetings.
  • Publicize meetings and events through fliers, emails, press releases and Internet.
  • Collaborate with the PAC secretary to produce meeting minutes and notes.
  • When possible, join officers at meetings with the Office of Special Education and School Committee, to assist with communication.
  • Conduct outreach with service providers to build awareness of the PAC and share information back to members, in collaboration with PAC officer efforts to do the same.

When the present Coordinator no longer can fulfill this position for any reason, the SPED PAC and the Special Education Director shall form an interview team who, after interviewing, will put forth their recommendation(s) to the Superintendent of Schools. A preferred qualification of the PAC Coordinator is experience as a special education parent or parent of a child with disabilities or special needs. It will be the decision of the Superintendent to whom the job will be offered.


APPENDIX to By-laws of the Cambridge Parent Advisory Council on Special Education

Excerpt from Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71B, Section 3

The school committee of any city, town, or school district shall establish a parent advisory council on special education. Membership shall be offered to all parents of children with disabilities and other interested parties. The parent advisory council duties shall include but not be limited to: advising the school committee on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities; meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school committee’s special education programs. The parent advisory council shall establish by-laws regarding officers and operational procedures. In the course of its duties under this section, the parent advisory council shall receive assistance from the school committee without charge, upon reasonable notice, and subject to the availability of staff and resources.