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SU Parent Advocacy Center announces spring workshops

February 25, 2011

Sapna Kollali
(315) 443-4751

The Syracuse University Parent Advocacy Center (SUPAC) will host two major programs this spring to help parents and professionals better advocate for their children, both during and after their K-12 schooling, and keep informed about available options.

On April 1, SUPAC will sponsor its first “Transforming Tomorrow Together: A Conference on Transition,” an informational session on helping students transition between different stages of school. This year’s Parent University, a six-session series on navigating the special education system, will run March 5-April 28.

“A successful transition process is based on the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, and requires collaboration among the student, family, school district and community agencies,” SUPAC Director Lisa Finnerty Coggi says. “Too often parents, educators and students see transition as an ‘event’ rather than a ‘process’ over time that needs a solid foundation for successful completion and transition. By the time they are thinking of transition, it could be much too late.”

Transforming Tomorrow

“Transforming Tomorrow” will provide parents and families with information on helping their children move as seamlessly as possible from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to various post-secondary options. The conference will offer parents strategies for working collaboratively with the school team to help their children transition successfully to the next stage.

The conference was started as a way to help improve graduation and success rates for students with disabilities, which have generally been significantly lower than general education students, Coggi says. Sessions available to participants will include: individualized education plans; bullying and disability harassment; due process during transitions; and the roles of teachers, students and parents in the transition process.  Presenters will include SU School of Education faculty member Christy Ashby, as well as representatives from Legal Services of CNY, University of Rochester, New York State Education Department, Capital Region Parent Center, state Office of Mental Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

The conference will run from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. April 1 at the Holiday Inn at Syracuse’s Carrier Circle.  The conference is free, but advance registration is required. Visit http://www.supac.org for more details and registration information. In addition, agencies, vendors and service providers interested in sharing information during the conference should contact SUPAC for more details.

“Transforming Tomorrow” is sponsored by SUPAC, NYSED Office of Special Education, Legal Services of CNY, Advocates Inc., ARISE and the CNY Regional Interagency Technical Assistance Team.

Parent University

Parent University will provide parents with information, training and strategies to better advocate for their children, particularly when moving them to more inclusive or general education settings. The six sessions will be led by faculty, staff and inclusive education advocates from SU and SUPAC.

Training sessions focus on a variety of topics, including communicating your child’s strengths, knowing your legal rights, academic and behavioral supports, helping your child socialize and putting your plan into action. The program also features a ParentU Book Club.

This is the second year SUPAC has hosted Parent University. Coggi says parent feedback after last year’s seminar was so positive, she expanded the scope of this year’s program to include more on state regulations and strategies for involvement. Parents last year said the seminar gave them more confidence, better understanding of the law, and knowledge of how to turn hostile situations into more cooperative ones, Coggi says.

Parent University is free, but advance registration is required and space is limited. Attendance at the first session is mandatory and attendance at all six sessions is strongly encouraged. Those who attend all classes will receive a Parent University Core Training Certificate. For specific meeting dates and times, as well as additional details about the topics to be covered, visit http://www.supac.org.

Parent University is funded through a grant from the New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education and through sponsorships from the SU School of Education and the SU Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies.

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