SPEDWatch - Special Education Activism

History/Accomplishments

July 2009 SPEDWatch meets privately with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to discuss statewide noncompliance with special education law and its human consequences.
March 2009 SPEDWatch Founder receives the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates national Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Educational Advocacy on Behalf of Children with Disabilities.

The Advocacy Institute of Washington, DC chooses SPEDWatch to be the Massachusetts state watchdog for its IDEA MoneyWatch project.
December 2008 SPEDWatch Founder receives the Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly Women of Justice Award in recognition of the organization’s meaningful and inspiring contribution to the fields of social justice and advocacy.
November 2008 SPEDWatch article Confronting the Silent Crisis in Special Education appears in the Advocate, the newsletter of the Arc of Massachusetts, reaching 8,000 homes and offices statewide.

SPEDWatch presents Special Education: Rights & Realities at the Massachusetts General Hospital “Reading, Writing and Paying Attention” Conference.
September 2008 SPEDWatch launches its Basic Rights: Denied training: a first-of-its-kind workshop on how special education law, policy and basic advocacy technique can be used to address and prevent common violations of students’ special education rights.

SPEDWatch is interviewed on Boston’s ABC affiliate television station regarding vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s remarks about disability advocacy given at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Motivated by information provided by SPEDWatch, The Cape Cod Voice magazine publishes a back-to-school issue featuring a six article exploration of the battle Cape Cod parents endure when trying to secure appropriate special education services for their children.
July 2008 SPEDWatch organizes parents in the multi-town Wachusett Regional School District resulting in significant reforms to the district’s special education policies, practices, and programs.
June 2008 SPEDWatch meets with Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, Dr. Mitchell Chester.
May 2008 Dr. Mitchell Chester assumes the post of Massachusetts Commissioner of Education. He is greeted by SPEDWatch demonstrators on his first day on the job.
January 2008 More than 50 parents, teachers and students endure below freezing temperatures during a three hour protest demonstration outside Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) headquarters.
November 2007 Boston’s ABC affiliate television station yields to pressure from SPEDWatch and devotes an episode of its' Chronicle program to the struggle parents experience fighting for the educational rights of their children with disabilities. The episode receives such high viewer ratings it is rebroadcast in March 2008.

SPEDWatch meets with Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, Special Advisor for Education to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
October 2007 SPEDWatch testifies at public hearings on proposed special education legislation at the Massachusetts State House.
August 2007 DESE meets SPEDWatch’s demand that it update its academic achievement expectations for students with disabilities to mirror its expectations for non-disabled students.
June 2007 First SPEDWatch protest demonstration and legislator visiting day is held at the Massachusetts State House.
May 2007 First SPEDWatch Conference held in Natick, MA.

SPEDWatch receives IRS recognition as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.
April 2007 SPEDWatch releases its ground-breaking report Broken Promises: Special Education in Massachusetts making the facts and human consequences of school district noncompliance with special education law easily accessible for the first time.
March 2007 SPEDWatch appears on Ablevision, an award winning local access television show produced entirely by people with disabilities.
November 2006 SPEDWatch leads a group of 70 Medford, MA residents in a discussion about the city’s special education system. Lively public debate continues for months thereafter. Medford’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SPED PAC) is reformulated, their special education director retires, and parents begin to have their voices heard.
August 2006 SPEDWatch organizes Reading, MA parents resulting in the special education director’s resignation before the end of the school year. A Reading SPED PAC officer comments: “SPEDWatch was the catalyst for change. Without their involvement we definitely wouldn’t have gotten as far as we have.”
June 2006 Boston Sunday Globe spotlights SPEDWatch in its article: “Group monitors special ed system”
May 2006 SPEDWatch publicly pressures the Somerset, MA School District to justify its widespread noncompliance with special education law, prompting a Somerset parent to exclaim: “I believe you’ve helped us enough of a stir to scare Somerset onto the road to compliance! “
January 2006 SPEDWatch incorporates in the state of Massachusetts with a membership of 39.