Special Education Updates

from Kate Ryan, Director of Pupil Services

September 18, 2020

Dear Families,

I know none of us planned for this summer and return to school to be this chaotic. Please know that all of us are ready for your children to return!

I’m excited to begin my 20th year in education, with 18 being right here in Millbury! This will be my eighth year as the Director of Pupil Services in the Millbury Public Schools. I continue to be proud of the staff educating and supporting your children. Their dedication and skill are much admired.

During the summer months, the administrative team was busy developing return to learning plans, preparing professional development, and hiring new staff to support our students. Staff new to the Pupil Services Department include:

  • Ms. Brittany Balkus, Special Education Teacher, MMJSHS (jr. high)

  • Ms. Stephanie Bazinet, Elementary Team Chairperson (Grades 4-6)

  • Ms. Jennifer Chartier, English as a Second Language Teacher, Shaw School

  • Ms. Emma Delaney, School Adjustment Counselor/Social Worker, MMJSHS

  • Mrs. Stephanie Hermann, Speech and Language Pathologist, Shaw School

  • Ms. Casey Lyons, Integrated Preschool Teacher, Elmwood St. School

  • Mrs. Samantha Mansur, Speech and Language Pathologist, Elmwood St. School

  • Mrs. Heather Mistretta, Special Education Teacher, Elmwood St. School

  • Ms. Coleen Thomas-DeBari, English as a Second Language Teacher, MMJSHS

  • Ms. Heather Witkowski, Speech and Language Pathologist, Elmwood St. School

Throughout the school year, you will receive ConnectEd phone calls and/or emails from my office. This correspondence is intended to inform Millbury families of events and resources available to you to support your students. Should you feel the message does not pertain to you, kindly delete the email or hang up during the phone call. If you opt-out of receiving these notifications, you will be opting out of all ConnectEd calls from the district, including the calls notifying you of school cancellations.

Throughout the school year, I will be releasing the following SMORE newsletters:

  • “Special Education Updates” will be sent to families of children with disabilities

  • “The Pupil Services Post” will be sent to all Millbury families and will include updates and information specific to the various departments overseen by my office.

In accordance with federal special education law, IDEA 2004, school districts may distribute the Parent’s Notice of Procedural Safeguards once per year to parents/guardians of students in special education. In previous years, these safeguards were included in this mailing. You may find these safeguards online by visiting http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/prb/ or https://www.millburyschools.org/Page/66. Should you prefer to receive a paper copy, please contact my office and one will be mailed to you as soon as possible.

If you have any questions regarding the contents of these Safeguards, please contact the appropriate Special Education Team Chairperson:

Elmwood St. School (Preschool-Grade 3): Ms. Kristie Barry-Ayres 508-865-5241

R.E. Shaw School (Grades 4-6): Ms. Stephanie Bazinet 508-865-3541

Millbury Jr./Sr. High School (Grades 7-12): Mrs. Christine Warren 508-865-5841

For students in out-of-district programs, you may contact Mary O’Brien at 508-865-0875.

Lastly, in an effort to improve communication with families, I encourage you to update your contact information, including email addresses and emergency contacts.

Other news:

  • As of this writing, all Special Education IEP and Section 504 Plan meetings will be held virtually. If a meeting must occur in person, clearly delineated protocols for screening, physical distancing, hand washing/hand sanitizer use, and use of masks/face coverings will be fully enforced. Regardless of whether meetings are held in person or remotely, interpreters will still be provided as needed to ensure multilingual families are able to participate in their native language.

  • The Millbury Special Education Parents’ Advisory Council (SEPAC) is seeking parent leaders. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact my office.

  • Notices and information about upcoming regional SEPAC meetings will be communicated via the District webpage, Twitter (@MPS_SpecialEd), the Millbury Public Schools Facebook page, local Cable Access TV, ConnectEd calls, the digital marquee found in the center of town, parent information centers within the schools, as well as sent home with your child. If you have ideas for future SEPAC meetings, please contact my office.

I look forward to this new school year and to working collaboratively with parents and staff as we strive to achieve a common goal of ensuring a positive school experience for all our students. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any additional questions or concerns.


Kate Ryan, M.Ed.

Director of Pupil Services

Foster Care Point of Contact

McKinney-Vento Liaison

Back to School Letter for Families of Children with Disabilities from Russell Johnston, Sr. Associate Commissioner and State Director of Special Education


In the spring, special education liaisons and Team Chairs developed Individualized Remote Learning Plans (IRLPs). For the 2020-2021 school year, the MA DESE has changed these to be COVID-19 Service Learning Plans. These plans are different in that your child's case manager/liaison will be inviting you to provide input into the development; services will be provided in-person, asynchronous (on-demand), synchronous (live), or a combination of all.

By now, your child's liaison should have reached out to introduce themselves and schedule a time to discuss this plan. Staff will be working to complete all student service learning plans over the next few weeks. While these plans are in development, your child will be receiving the accommodations, modifications, and services noted in the IEP.

Should you have any questions please contact your child's liaison or Team Chair.

  • Elmwood St. School (Preschool-Grade 3): Ms. Kristie Barry-Ayres 508-865-5241
  • R.E. Shaw School (Grades 4-6): Ms. Stephanie Bazinet 508-865-3541
  • Millbury Jr./Sr. High School (Grades 7-12): Mrs. Christine Warren 508-865-5841

Do you need assistance quickly? Get the answers you need. It's FREE, confidential, and multilingual.

Dial 2-1-1. Or search online MASS 211.

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Callers can use Mass Relay (7-1-1). 7-1-1 is the single, toll-free, nationwide number that gives everyone access to relay services. People can simply dial 7-1-1 from any phone to reach someone who uses a standard phone or a TTY. An operator will relay verbatim the conversation between the parties.

You can also chat with us online at mass211.org

Call 2-1-1 or 1-877-211-6277

Runaway Assistance (Police Officers) ext 11

Childcare ext 23

Call2Talk (Mental Health Line) ext 25

Child Requiring Assistance ext 24

Disaster ext 20

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

The Department of Public Health is sharing the following information on access to WIC services and food for our families with young children.

The MA Department of Public Health's Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Nutrition P​rogram is informing our health and community partners that WIC services are available by phone. ALL WIC Programs are able to provide all services by phone to align with social distancing efforts. Our website​ will be kept up-to-date as well. Contact local WIC programs with any questions about breastfeeding, nutrition or shopping. Even if local program offices are not open, they are responding to phone calls and providing services from remote locations. WIC is committed to providing families with continued support now and in the days ahead.

WIC welcomes families at any time. Check out WIC's eligibility page to see how to families can apply online for WIC services. Parents, grandparents and foster parents may apply for children under the age of five years who are in their care.

Call WIC at 1-800-942-1007 or 617-721-6601weekdays Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm. If you hear a recording, please leave a message with your name and telephone number, and staff will respond the same business day or email the Worcester WIC Program (Oanh.Nguyen@FHCW.org) directly with any questions.

Contact the Director

Kate Ryan, Director

Mary O'Brien, Administrative Assistant to the Director