What is a Special Education Advisory Committee?
A Special Education Advisory Committee advises its respective school board on matters pertaining to special education programs and services. Learning for All (formerly known as Special Education) help children who are mentally, physically, socially or emotionally delayed.
SEACs are legislated by the Ontario Ministry of Education and appointed by the Board of Education. They must be established by every school board in Ontario.
SEACs help school boards understand the special needs of exceptional children as well as formulate and implement favourable policies, programs, and services.
Learning for All (formerly Special Education) in Ontario
All students need support from their teachers, family, and friends to thrive and enjoy the full benefits of their schooling experience. It is, however, important to note that some students may have special needs which require support beyond what is typically offered in a school setting. SEACs can help support the schools through advice to help children.
In Ontario, students who have intellectual, behavioural, communicational and physical or multiple exceptionalities are supported through accommodations through an Individual Education Plan (See the IEP Resource Guide - PDF). The Ontario Ministry of Education sets out the guidelines used to define exceptionalities.
SEACs interpret those guidelines and advise school boards. Students are formally identified as special needs or exceptional by an IPRC (Identification, Placement & Review Committee). Specific guidelines for identification as well as placement are detailed in Regulation 181/98 of the Education Act.
The Education Act also gives school boards the mandate to provide special education services and programs for exceptional students. School boards are also mandated to develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for each and every student with special needs after conducting thorough assessments on individual needs and strengths. SEACs offer school boards and other stakeholders advice on all matters advisory pertaining to special education.
Become a SEAC Member
Typically, SEAC members are appointed every four years and tend to coincide with the Board of Trustee elections.
We are in need of Parent Members
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, please contact Kerry Desjardins.
Becoming a Committee Member
To become a SEAC member, you must be a resident in the SEAC’s jurisdiction and be qualified to vote for SEAC board members.
It is, however, worth noting that you don’t need to meet this requirement if you want to serve the committee as a volunteer or if you have been appointed as a First Nations student representative.
It’s also important to note that school board employees are not eligible for SEAC membership if the SEACs in question serves the school board that employs them.
Main duties/roles/responsibilities of SEACs
SEACs have many duties the most notable being;
- Providing special education advice to school boards.
- Participating in school boards’ annual special education plan and budget making processes.
- Reviewing financial statements of school boards in relation to special education.
- Furthering interests of exceptional students through the trustees and representatives of local associations that form part of the membership of SEACs.
- Making recommendations to school boards and/or school authorities on all matters touching on the establishment, development and delivery of special education programs.
How school boards and school authorities help SEACs
- They establish SEACs
- They provide SEACs with opportunities to be heard before any decisions are made (especially those touching on the mandate of SEACs.)
- They provide resources to SEACs, such as facilities, personnel, etc. that SEACs need to carry out their mandate.
- They provide SEAC members with information and orientation on their role, as well as ministry and school board policies, in relation to special education.
Joining: Orientation and Training
New SEAC members including volunteers undergo orientation and training to enable them to discharge their duties effectively.
The orientation and training focus on;
- Regulation touching on special education
- Ministry policy statements and publications on special education
- School board policies on special education programs & services
- The special education plan of the respective school board as well as reporting requirements on special education programs/services provisions
- The roles/responsibilities of the SEAC
Rules and Procedures Governing SEAC Meetings
- Committee members elect one member to chair the meeting and another to assist the chair (a vice-chair) during the first meeting.
- Members who are unable to attend a committee meeting must notify their appointed alternate who is required to attend the meeting on their behalf.
- Members and their alternates have voting rights. If both the chair and vice-chair are absent during a meeting, SEAC members can elect a member to chair that meeting.
- Committee motions must be supported by a majority of members for them to be passed.
- A SEAC must meet for 10 or more times every school year.
The above information summarizes the most important information to note about Special Education Advisory Committees from the definition and role to membership information.
Becoming a SEAC member is one of the best ways of ensuring you make a positive difference in the lives of students with special needs.
SEAC members are involved in the establishment of favourable programs and services for students with special needs from a policy making to an implementation level.
To ensure authentic Catholic education to all through a commitment to gospel values, active partnerships and the celebration of excellence.
To continue to be a spiritual community of learners who celebrate diversity and bear witness to Catholic values.
- the presence of God in each person;
- an inclusive Catholic culture that instills compassion;
- hope, integrity, faithfulness, respect, and self-worth;
- Catholic-based spiritual development; and student success.
Meeting Dates 2020-2021
- September 8, 2020 via Zoom
- October 6, 2020
- November 3, 2020
- December 1, 2020
- January 5, 2021
- February 8, 2021
- March 2, 2021
- April 6, 2021
- May 4, 2021
- June 1, 2021
- Kerry Desjardins, Superintendent of Education
- Judy Wawia, Trustee & First Nations Representative - Chair
- Marline Ilijow, Trustee
- Jennifer Moore, DILICO
- Lindsay Costa, Principal
- Bobbi-Lin Mercer, Teacher
- Mia Laframboise, Educational Assistant
- Nickie Chick, Catholic Parent Involvement Committee
- Tara Patterson, Catholic Parent Involvement Committee
- Gilbert Rondeau, George Jeffrey Children's Centre
- Maureen Parkes, FASD Coordinator, NorWest Community Health Centre
- Helen Gibbons, Mental Health & Addictions Nurse (LHINS)
- Fred Schmidt, Associate Director, Clinical Development, Evaluation & Research - Children's Centre Thunder Bay
- Nicole Beaulieu, North of Superior Programs (NOSP)
Contact Kerry Desjardins if you have questions about joining our advisory committee. We welcome volunteers.