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'Parent University' to develop advocacy skills, understanding of special education system

February 26, 2010

Jennifer Russo
(315) 443-4751

The Syracuse University Parent Advocacy Center (SUPAC) is facilitating “Parent University,” a six-session series focusing on raising the capacity of parents to advocate for their children with disabilities to be meaningfully included in social and educational settings.

Saturday morning sessions will be held on March 6 and April 10, 9 a.m.-noon at SkyBarn. Tuesday evening sessions will be on March 9, March 23, April 13 and April 27 from 6-8:30 p.m. at SkyBarn or Goldstein Student Center, both located on SU’s South Campus. The complete schedule of sessions can be found at

The panel of presenters for each session includes Julie Causton-Theoharis, assistant professor of inclusive education at the School of Education; Thomas Bull, former school teacher and facilitator of the NYS S3TAIR project for the mid-states region; Lisa Finnerty Coggi, director of SUPAC, and Jennifer Russo, marketing director at the School of Education.

The six sessions will address topics such as best practices in education; education law and the rights of families; friendships and building community; articulating your vision with Personal Futures Planning; and making the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process work for your student.

“Through this series, parents will be enriched and empowered to effectively communicate and advocate for their own children as well as develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to assist other parents, partner with their school districts in a meaningful way and be effective parent leaders within their community,” says Coggi. “This is a time for positive change, access and opportunities for all children.”

The fees to attend are $15 a session, or $75 for all six sessions. This fee covers the cost of food and materials. Scholarships are available for all sessions for individuals who register through SUPAC. Participants can register online at or call (315) 443-4336. Goldstein Student Center and SkyBarn are located on SU’s South Campus; parking is free.

SUPAC is dedicated to promoting the right of every child to receive a meaningful, inclusive education and promoting parent involvement in the education of their children with disabilities. Through education, advocacy and training services, SUPAC assists Central New York parents to develop strong advocacy skills and understanding of the special education system. SUPAC is funded by a grant from Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, New York State Department of Education, and is a project of the SU Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies. It is located on the SU campus.

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