Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Special Education PTA Committees (SEPTA)

National PTA

Why start a Special Education PTA?
Families with children who have special needs often seek out opportunities to meet other parents in similar circumstances. Special Education PTAs (SEPTAs) provide this opportunity and often bring together families of students who attend different schools in a district under one PTA umbrella. Becoming a SEPTA provides families with an organizational structure, resources and the opportunity to be a collective voice for their child and for all children.


National PTA

PTA recognizes that parents of children with special needs require some resources different from those used by parents of children without special learning needs. In an effort to assist parents of children with special needs, a growing number of Special Education PTAs (or SEPTAs) are being chartered in schools and school districts around the country. Parents of children with special needs are also engaging in existing PTAs and finding a place as a part of the total school community.



Each local unit is strongly encouraged to have this committee. This committee recognizes and promotes each child's abilities rather than disabilities. It is not designed to be a sounding board, but is organized to help assist in the education of all children.



Parents of special needs children should advocate for starting Special Education PTA’s in their school!!  It is my understanding from National PTA that if a parent volunteers, it must be allowed…….(just in case your school opposes your forming this committee).


In 2002 at my children’s school, I started an Exceptional Children’s Committee against much adversity from our school’s administration.  I developed a PTA website that won Wrightslaw National Award for Best PTA Website .  It contained disability and special education law resources for parents and school staff.  I also developed a special needs library, which contained books for our students on various disabilities and a lending library for parents and the school staff.  My committee also won State, Regional and School awards.


The Mountain Rd. PTA website has since been taken down, but below I copied my PTA Report in the hopes that others can use this information to help them in the formation of their own special needs committees.


Parents can make a difference in their schools through PTA……….VOLUNTEER!


Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

IEPadvocate4you also now on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter


"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson

“Refrain from Restraining, Secluding and Corporal Punishment” ---- Carol Sadler, Advocate

GNET=GetNoEducation/Therapy=PsychoNOed=Jail without jury or trial=Imprisonment without legal representation


Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.




Exceptional Children’s Committee Report

Mountain Road Elementary


     The Exceptional Children’s Committee is a new committee for Mountain Road this year.  Our first goal and priority was to explain to the PTA and School what this committee’s plans were and what this committee was about.  We accomplished this by publishing in the school newsletter and on our new website the following:

#1 An Explanation of Exceptional Children - This committee addresses the needs of a diverse school population.  An exceptional child includes the gifted and talented as well as the mentally challenged; the physically handicapped, including the chronically ill; the sensorially handicapped, including the visually and hearing impaired, those with defective speech; the socially or emotionally disturbed; children with specific learning disabilities, and in some instances, disadvantaged and deprived youngsters.

#2 An Explanation of the Goals of this committee - Goals of this committee from the PTA Handbook:

  • Through recognition, acceptance and support, strive to secure for every exceptional child the highest standard of education and quality of life possible.
  • Promote and attend conferences and workshops addressing the needs of Exceptional Children.
  • Keep current information as a resource for parents on services available to Exceptional Children.
  • Encourage student to volunteer to mentor Exceptional Children.
  • Recruit teachers to encourage Exceptional student participation in projects sponsored by the PTA in Nutrition, Substance Use and Abuse, Seat belt Safety, Energy Conservation and Reflections.
  • Plan special activities to celebrate Exceptional Children’s Week.
  • Keep parents of Exceptional Children information of legislation that may affect their child.
  • Work within the community to encourage businesses to provide employment opportunities for Exceptional Children.
  • Conduct educational workshops for the parents of Exceptional Children

#3 An Explanation of our Budget - Programs budgeted to be implemented for 2001-2002:

  • Resource Library for parents and teachers

v  Free information on various disabilities

v  Purchase of videos and books related to disabilities and giftedness

v  Information on IDEA, Section 504, ADA, GA State Special Education Regulations, SST process, and AIM.

  • Activities for AD/HD Awareness Week

v  Provide teachers information about AD/HD

v  Give students information about AD/HD

  • Activities for Exceptional Children’s Week

v  Plan opportunities for learning about exceptionalities during regular education classes.

Ø  During reading, read age appropriate books on various disabilities.

Ø  For art, have a poster contest related to disabilities

Ø  During music, sing songs related to disabilities

Ø  During PE, simulate various disabilities

v  Plan a Parent & Teacher Information Conference

v  Put up Exceptional Children’s Banners

  • Activities for Mental Health Awareness Month

v  Host a Bullying and AD/HD skit performed by the NMHAG (National Mental Health Association of Georgia) puppeteer troop “Kids on the Block”

v  Provide information and resources to teachers and students pertaining to Mental Health issues.

  • Implement a web page on the Mountain Road school website pertaining to Exceptional Children which will list resources for parents and teachers.


     Our second goal was to create a website to contain all kinds of pertinent and related information to Exceptional Children that parents and teachers could use as a resource.  As a result, we are happy to report that we created an “Award Winning” website which can viewed at .  In December of 2001, Wrightslaw, a prestigious website run by two married special education attorneys devoted to the needs of exceptional children named our website as “Winner of Wrights Law’s National Best PTA Website”.  We are now getting exposure, contacts and information nationwide.  We are continuing to update and add information to our website, and encourage parents and teachers to participate by giving us more links on their children’s exceptionality areas.  Our website currently contains information about Exceptional Children, information related to different exceptionality areas, disability organizations, resource information and contacts, county and state disability contacts, conference and seminar information, and disability facts


      Our third goal was to create a special needs library for the parents, teachers and children of Mountain Road.   New disability books purchased for the children’s library includeA Boy and a Bear – Children’s Relaxation Book; Andy and His Yellow Frisbee – Autism; Ben, King of the River – Developmental Disabilities; Brian’s Bird – Visually Impaired; Bullies Are A Pain in the Brain – Bullies; Cliques, Phonies, & Other Baloney – Cliques; Dad & Me in the Morning – Hearing Impaired; Dustin’s BIG School Day – Down Syndrome; Eddie Enough! – AD/HD; Eukee The Jumpy Jumpy Elephant; I’m Somebody Too – AD/HD & Learning Differences; Many Ways to Learn – Learning Disabilities;

My Buddy – Muscular Dystrophy; Princess Pooh – Physically Handicapped; Shelley, The Hyperactive Turtle – AD/HD; The Affirmation Web – Self Esteem; The Boys’ & Girls’ Book of Dealing with Feelings – Feelings; The Don’t-give-up-Kid – Learning Disabilities;

And Zipper, the Kid with ADHD – ADHD.  New disability books purchased for the parent/teacher resource library includes:  ADHD in the Young Child, Driven to Redirection – A Guide for Parents and Teachers of Young Children with ADHD; Asperger Syndrome – A Practical Guide for Teachers; Breakthroughs – How to Reach Students with Autism (Video); Educational Care – A System for Understanding and Helping Children with Learning; Good Friends Are Hard To Find – Help Your Child Find, Make and Keep Friends; How Difficult Can This Be? – Understanding Learning Disabilities/ADHD, Richard Lavoie PBS Video; Last One Picked…First One Picked On – Learning Disabilities/ADHD & Social Skills, Richard Lavoie PBS Video; Look What You’ve Done – Learning Disabilities/ADHD & Self Esteem, PBS Video; Problems at Home and in School; Fine Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome; The Tough Kid Book – Practical Classroom Management Strategies; When the Chips Are Down – Learning Disabilities/ADHD & Discipline, Richard Lavoie PBS Video; and Why Don’t They Like Me? – Helping Your Child Make and Keep Friends.


     Our fourth goal is to make the children, parents and teachers aware of various special needs areas and to raise awareness, tolerance and acceptance.  We are accomplishing this by advertising the important “Dates to Recognize Special Needs” such asOctober is Down Syndrome Awareness Month; October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month; November 5-10 AD/HD Awareness Week; March 3-8 Exceptional Children’s Week; April is Autism Awareness Month; and May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  These dates are published in the school newsletter and on our website.  We also took an opportunity to use these dates to distribute information to all students and staff at Mountain Road to raise awareness for these various disability areas.  For example, during ADHD Awareness Week, we distributed to all students and staff at Mountain Road four pages of information about ADHD, including information about the disorder, lists of resources and disability organizations, information on the special education laws related to ADHD, and famous people with ADHD.   Also, in May, to celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month, we have invited the NMHAG’s (National Mental Health Association of GA) puppeteer troop to perform two skits related to ADHD and Bullying to all the children at Mountain Road.


      Our fifth goal is to celebrate Exceptional Children’s Week March 4-8 and to raise awareness for special needs children in our community.  At school for the children, we have planned opportunities for learning about exceptionalities during regular education classes by: reading age appropriate books on various disabilities during reading classes; having a poster contest related to disabilities for art; singing songs related to disabilities during music; and simulating various disabilities during PE.  We also plan to do this by hosting a parent/teacher seminar for our regional high school zone.  We have invited speakers to present information on various topics related to Exceptional Children such as:  Don Enis, GLRS (GA Learning Resource Systems) - IDEA & Section 504; Carol Sadler & Kelly Zimmerman, Coordinators CHADD (Children & Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) - In-service program for parents and teachers on ADHD, the Disability, Co-Morbid Disorders, Educational Rights, and Treatments; Sheryl Pruitt, Educational Consultant/Parkaire Consultants - Teaching children with ADHD, LD, OCD, and Tourette's; Dan Pruitt, Professional Coach/Parkaire Consultants - Coaching for neurologically impaired students in high school and college; Robbyn Laufer, OTR/L with Parkaire Consultants - Educational Benefits of Occupational Therapy; Miriam Hanson, LPC - Building Your Child's Self Esteem; Dr. Carla Cohen, Principal Mtn Rd or Ms. Penny Nugent - Multiple Intelligences; and we hope to include sessions on HomeWork Strategies & Behavior Management.


     Our school believes that ALL children are EXCEPTIONAL.  Therefore our committee has consistently made attempts to have all children benefit from our committee.   We have included books in the library that any child could read and benefit from; we have distributed disability information to all children; we have included topics in our parent/teacher conference that any and all parents could benefit from; we have included all students in Exceptional Children’s Week in many areas including distributing pencils to all student’s that say “I Am Exceptional”; and we have included all student’s in the school assembly on “Bullying” & “ADHD”.  Our Exceptional Children’s slogan was developed by our School Counselor, Ms. Dottie Brown and is Don’t “Dis” My Abilities, meaning don’t “disrespect” my abilities!


     Our committee is dedicated to improving the lives of all children with exceptional needs.  In order to do this and to stay current on legislation that affects these children we also volunteer and are involved with various disability organizations in the state of GA including: CHADD (Children & Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder); the Learning Disabilities Association of GA (LDAG); Parent to Parent; and Emory's "Preemie-Child" program.  We also serve on the Cherokee County PTA Exceptional Children’s Committee, the GA P-16 Teacher Quality Plan - Special/General Education Consortium, and are members of the GA-Parent Disability and Advocates listservs.


Prepared by:  Carol Sadler, Co-Chair