Director's Update

What's Going On In Special Education in Bedford

What Is Ableism?

Why am I asking? As we should, our district has a focus of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Often, people, including me, attribute those discussions to race and racism. However, the discussions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion should include so much more. To me and to special education, DEI should also focus on ableism and disablism. The Stop Ableism website defines ableism and disablism as follows:

Ableism – The practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities. A set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value (worth) to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.

Disablism - A set of assumptions (conscious or unconscious) and practices that promote the differential or unequal treatment of people because of actual or presumed disabilities.

At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability.

What does ableism look like?

  • Lack of compliance with disability rights laws like the ADA or IDEA.
  • Segregating students with disabilities into separate schools.
  • The assumption that people with disabilities want or need to be "fixed.'
  • Refusing reasonable accommodations
  • And more....

Here is a short video that does a really good describing what can look like through the eyes of a student.

What are ablest micro-aggressions?

Micro-aggressions are everyday verbal or behavioral expressions that communicate a negative slight or insult in relation to someone's gender identify, rate, sex or disability.

Ableist microaggressions might look like:

  • That's so lame
  • You are so retarded
  • That guy is crazy
  • Are you off your meds?
  • I'm super OCD about how I clean my house

Here is a short video that describes describes what a ablest microaggression might look like.

What are some practices you can change or incorporate into your daily practices to stop ableism and disablism?

Brendan Mahan to Speak in Bedford!

SEPAC presents Brendan Mahan, ADHD/executive functioning expert, to speak in Bedford!

Please join us on Monday, January 9, 2023 from 7-9pm in the


Brendan Mahan, MEd., MS, is a dynamic ADHD/Executive Function consultant, coach, and speaker. As a veteran educator, he is skilled at teaching people how to effectively manage the challenges they face. He loves to help people affected by ADHD troubleshoot, and redesign their lives in order to lessen the impact of the disorder.

An internationally recognized expert, highly engaging speaker, and host of the ADHD Essentials podcast, Brendan helps individuals, families and institutions address the emotional, academic and lifestyle impacts ADHD has on them. He gets ADHD because he has ADHD. (As well as a heck of a lot of experience and schooling!)

In his workshops, Brendan shares personal stories, case studies, various intervention techniques, and important insights with a liberal dose of humor and caring. He trains schools from pre-K though college.

Brenda's website:

Extended School Year (ESY) SAVE THE DATES

I know that it's only January but I've received several inquiries about the dates of our ESY programs for the summer. This year, our 5 week program will run the weeks of July 10- August 10. We will also have a 6 week program for students with more significant needs that will run from July 5- August 10. Because each student's services are individualized, you will receive information on your students specific days of the week and times from your student's liaison.

We have already had several discussions with Josh and Nikki from the Recreation Department and we're excited about some new ways in which we'll be able to collaborate this year. We'll share more information about that in the near future.

In order to be able to collaborate more effectively, we plan to host all of our ESY programs at JGMS and BHS this summer. If your student participates in ESY, you will receive more information in the near future. If you have questions about your student's individual programming, please contact your student's liaison.

DMH has a new Behavioral Health Help Line

The Department of Mental Health's (DMH) new Behavioral Health Helpline will launch January 3, 2023 at 8 a.m., making 24/7 help available across the state and in more than 200 languages. To address questions providers and the public may have, I attached information you may find helpful. Please feel free to distribute them to anyone you feel may find them helpful.

Here is a link to an article from the Boston Globe describing the new services.

Here is some information from the State on the 25 designated Community Behavioral Health Centers. You'll notice that Bedford's CBHC is Advocates in Waltham.

The local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) invites you to register for a webinar on Monday, January 23rd at 7:30 PM to learn more. Representatives from Advocates will outline the new role and services available at the CBHCs. See attached flyer for more details including registration or register HERE.

SafetyNet Tracking Systems

Having a child who runs or bolts can be extremely worrisome for parents. I was recently contacted by SafetyNet Tracking Systems, which is based in Boston. They offer a radio frequency tracking system (not GPS or Cell) operated by the Middlesex County Sheriff's Dept, the MA State police and hundreds of public safety agencies' around the country. The Public Safety agencies have the training and equipment to bring children who wander off or bolt from a safe and secure environment home safe and sound.

I have attached a brochure that describes how the system works.

If any family requires financial assistance for a child at risk, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation will support them with the SafetyNet device. Lisa Collins ( and she will send you the application.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Upcoming Events

Bedford SEPAC Literacy Discussion

Wednesday, January 11th, at 8 pm at Bedford High School LGI Room

Please come join us for an update and discussion on literacy.

Bedford SEPAC Daytime Meetup

Thursday, January 12th, at 9:15 am at Bedford Whole Foods Seating Area

Come grab coffee or breakfast and meet in the eating area near the registers to chat with other parents/caregivers.

Bedford SEPAC Meeting

Wednesday, January 18th, at 8 pm on zoom

Marianne Vines, Director of Bedford Special Education, and a guest from Bedford Recreation will join us to discuss inclusive recreation and summer programming.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 864 0481 0950

Passcode: 333333

Engaging Minds presents Executive Function Skills

Wednesday, February 8th, at 7 pm on zoom

Executive function skills have become increasingly important for students of all ages. Join Engaging Minds to learn actionable strategies you can use at home to help strengthen your child’s executive function skills to keep them on a successful path this school year and beyond.


Bedford SEPAC General Meeting

Thursday, February 16th, at 8 pm on zoom

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 417 227 5285

Passcode: 333333

Bedford SEPAC General Meeting

Wednesday, March 15th, at 8 pm on zoom

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 417 227 5285

Passcode: 333333

Facebook group: