What is a SEAC?
SEAC is an acronym for Special Education Advisory Council, which is a group that provides input on special education issues to its local school district. Its purpose is to advise and advocate, not to decide policy. Minnesota law requires each school district in the state to have a SEAC although it does not specify how the groups should be organized or what duties they should perform. As a result, each SEAC may have a unique mission and structure.
Local SEACs advise school districts on the development of programs and services to meet the special educational needs of children and families. By sharing their unique perspective of what it is like to use these services, parents can help the district to be more effective. As a result, outcomes for children with disabilities should improve.
Minnesota law requires each school district in the state to have a special education advisory council (SEAC). Here is what the statute says:
125A.24 Parent advisory councils.
In order to increase the involvement of parents of children with disabilities in district policy making and decision making, school districts must have a special education advisory council that is incorporated into the district's special education system plan.
- This advisory council may be established either for individual districts or in cooperation with other districts who are members of the same special education cooperative.
- A district may set up this council as a subgroup of an existing board, council, or committee.
- At least half of the designated council members must be parents of students with a disability. When a nonpublic school is located in the district, the council must include at least one member who is a parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability, or an employee of a nonpublic school if no parent of a nonpublic school student with a disability is available to serve. Each local council must meet no less than once each year. The number of members, frequency of meetings, and operational procedures are to be locally determined.
SEAC Missions and Goals
SEAC's mission and goal statements from Minnesota SEACs:
- Support, advocate, and advise on special education matters.
- To act as an advisory body to the district through the District leadership for special education on behalf of students receiving special education services. SEAC will work toward the district mission to instill in each learner a passion for learning and a commitment to reach one’s potential throughout life.
- SEAC is to advise the school district on matters relating to continuous program improvement efforts as they pertain to special education. We provide community wide support to families with students from birth through grade 12 in the school district’s special education programs.
- Provide input into the decision making process of the special education department. Provide a communication link with the community at large. Advocate for high-quality educational programs for all learners. Assure the implementation of the district and special education mission to all students in the district.
- To advise the district on the education of children with disabilities. The essence of the council’s purpose is to provide parents of children with disabilities input into the district regarding policies, practices, and issues related to the education of children and youth with disabilities.
- Advise the director on special education–related issues and engage in at least one substantial project each year to benefit students with disabilities.
- The long-term goal is to advocate for high quality programs and services necessary to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of all children with disabilities and their families. Each year the council also establishes a short-term goal.
- To seek advice from parents on district practice and policy relating to special education and to involve parents in decision making.
- To act as an advisory body to the district on behalf of students receiving special education services. The purpose of the SEAC is to improve the educational opportunities for students with disabilities working as partners in a collaborative relationship.
- To provide a forum for parents and staff to share ideas, identify concerns, and advise the district in order to improve services for children with disabilities.