North Berkshire School Union Parent Advisory Council on Special Education (NBSU SEPAC)


What is a SEPAC?

SEPAC is a Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Every public school district in Massachusetts is required to establish a SEPAC, according to Massachusetts General Law 71B and 603 CMR 28. Massachusetts state law assigns both an advisory and participatory function to SEPACs. Membership is open to all parents/caregivers of children with special needs and other interested parties.

Duties shall include, but not be limited to:

  • To provide communication between school staff, administrators, school committees, and families of children with special needs concerning all aspects of special education and any concerns or needs families may have; meeting with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school committee’s special education programs.

  • Educating and advising the district and families on matters related to Special Education. Supporting families by providing them information and assistance in connecting with teachers, Student Support Teams, and community resources.

The North Berkshire School Union Parent Advisory Council on Special Education (NBSU SEPAC) is a self-governing public body which creates its own by-laws and operational procedures.  The NBSU SEPAC is different from other parent groups such as a PTG or School Council – it does not represent families from one school or school district, but represents all families of children with disabilities from the entire school union.

What is having a SEPAC important?

  • Build positive relationships within the school community—Effective SEPACs engage parents/caregivers and school leaders to collaborate to make positive change happen by establishing shared goals and priorities that benefit students with disabilities.

  • Outreach—Outreach can engage families of students, research shows that student success is directly linked to family involvement within the school community. SEPAC's connect with teachers, Student Support Teams, and community resources as sources of support for helping improve programs and services for students.

  • Improved services and programs based on input—A SEPAC can communicate the needs of parents and caregivers whose children receive special education and related services, and can advise school leaders on unmet needs.

  • A trusted source of information—SEPACs can strengthen the bridge between the school districts and families. SEPAC members who educate themselves about school policies and procedures can be a great source for parents/caregivers who need information, support, and resources from their school, and can hep navigate them in the appropriate direction.

  • Deepened trusts—Over time, as school leaders react and respond to the input from families through the SEPAC, trust builds and grows.

Why should parents get involved?

Being a member of a SEPAC, or even just participating in a meeting offers the opportunity to raise questions, voice concerns, and provide direct input to school leaders which influence policies and decisions on programs related to special education. The individual needs of one child become part of ‘the bigger picture’ and can help a broader community of children.



Rebecca Randall


Brittani Sprague


Amanda Bosley

Upcoming Workshops/Events


Zones of Regulation

Free Resources

The Zones of Regulation Apps

Exploring Emotions App

Book Nook ( ages 11-18)

Book Nook (ages 4-10)

Zones of Regulation Activities

The Zones of Regulation program is a self-regulation tool to help kids identify, address, and use strategies to achieve self-control and emotional regulation in a non-judgmental and safe way.

We all encounter trying circumstances that can test our limits. If we can recognize when we are becoming less regulated, we are able to do something about it to manage our feelings and get ourselves to a healthy place. This comes more naturally for some, but for others it is a skill that needs more attention and practice. This is the goal of The Zones of Regulation​.

Division for Children & Youth with Special Health Needs - "The Division for Children & Youth with Special Health Needs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health works with families, providers, and others to support children and youth with special health needs ages birth to 22 and their families.." They provide a community support line that can help connect families with services and other families and answer questions around a variety of topics.   

Community Support Line: 1-800-882-1435

Northern Berkshire Community Coalition - nbCC is committed to support families with children 0-18 in north Berkshire. We strive to create a safe and welcoming space for parents and guardians to find information, resources, and support to help them address the needs and concerns they have and help them meet the demands of parenting children today. We offer support services, skill building workshops, support groups, family fun events and more.

Family TIES of Massachusetts -  Is a program under the The Division for Children & Youth with Special Health Needs. They "provide information and training for families of children with special health needs or disability and their professional partners. We are a primary source for information about Early Intervention (EI) and maintain a complete listing of EI programs in MA. Driven and staffed by parents of children with special needs, we offer a unique type of emotional and practical support to families with similar life experiences. " They offer a program for connecting families of children with special needs and information and referral services with emphasis on early intervention.

Parent/Professional Advocacy League - describe themselves as "a statewide, grassroots family organization that advocates for improved access to mental health services for children, youth and their families." They offer a variety of informational materials as well as training services and support groups.

Sibling Support Project - "Founded in 1990, the Sibling Support Project is the first national program dedicated to recognizing, promoting and addressing the life-long and ever-changing concerns of millions of siblings of people with developmental, health, and mental health concerns." They offer a variety of resources including a facebook group for teen siblings of children with special needs to connect.

The Arc of Massachusetts - States their mission "is to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. We fulfill this through advocacy for community supports and services that foster social inclusion, self-determination, and equity across all aspects of society." They offer a variety of resources and programs aimed at families.

Parents Helping Parents - Helps connect parents with parents in both virtual and community support groups to share challenges, express frustrations, and ask questions. Find the support and feedback you need to help yourself and your children. Parents Helping Parents provides a parent stress line that can be helpful along with access to support groups, some of which are focused on parents with special needs.

Parental Stress Line: 1-800-632-8188

MassFamilies - Is a grassroots coalition of individuals with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses and their families.  Provides information, leadership training and support to families, and also has regional meetings for families and individuals.  MassFamilies focuses on legislative advocacy and training individuals to become advocates for high quality, individualized community support and service options, including family support, for people with disabilities and their families.