March 14, 2009 — The Virgin Islands Advisory Panel on Special Education realizes parents of disabled students could use some guidance as well. Friday afternoons VIAPSE quarterly meeting focused on just that.
"What were designing today is a team of informed panel members who understand what the new laws governing special needs children are," said Judith Slosky, educational consultant for VIAPSE. "Our goal is to synthesize the new interpretations and make sure the parent and student consumers understand how this impacts their lives."
The meeting came in preparation for a three-day retreat on parent empowerment to be held April 3-5 at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa.
"The parents will have a chance to do a whole array of workshops so theyre extremely informed," Slosky said. She added that the retreat would focus on system technologies that can help students improve their ability to learn.
VIAPSE helps those with special needs throughout the territory aged 3 to 21. There are 668 enrolled students with disabilities on St. Croix and 556 on St. Thomas as of last September according to Randolph Thomas, VIAPSE director of office planning and evaluation.
"We meet to be able to discuss all the concerns and rights of children with special needs," Gail Perez, district director for special services, said. "We are advisory to the commissioner and to the governor on the needs and the programs of the State Office of Special Education throughout the territory," she said.
Members of the VIAPSE panel primarily consist of parents of children with disabilities but may also include individuals with disabilities, or special education officials.
The parent advisory panel was established under federal law through The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. VIAPSE is also responsible for updating Virgin Island Code to match federal regulations, reviewing budgets of all entities of special education, and Child Find Project, Perez said.
Child Find is a component of IDEA that requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, aged birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services.
To RSVP for the Parent Retreat call Truvia Plaskett at (340) 776-5802 or for more information visit the State Office of Special Education website.
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