SOMSD Special Services Newsletter

November 2020

Dear Parents & Guardians,

First, let me thank you for your support and understanding as we continue to work within the realm of virtual learning. I know that while many students have benefitted from the individualized supports that the teachers and CST have been working to provide, there are also some students who need more. For the students and families who continue to seek additional supports, please reach out first to your child's teacher, and then case manager for support. Together, you as a team can work together to make adjustments that will help your child be successful.

Like you, our teachers and staff cannot wait to get everyone back into the building, but safety is the number one priority in doing so. We look forward to the time we are together again in person.

Thank you for the partnership and collaboration.

Yours in education,

Dr. Melody Alegria

November Dates to Remember

November 2-6 No School Fall Break (District Closed)

November 25: PreK-12 Half Day (3 & 4 Hour Day) Holiday Recess

November 26-27: Thanksgiving Break District Closed)

Spotlight on Transition Services at CHS

Mr. Matthew Endlich is the SOMSD Transition Coordinator and is excited to announce a series of webinars that he is hosting this year to address issues related to transition throughout the high school years.

On Tuesdays at 2;00, the freshman are invited to meet with Mr. Endlich to discuss issues related to acclimating to the expectations of high school, understanding your IEP and the IEP process, develop strategies for success, and figure out what you want to do after high school.

Every other Wednesday at 2:00, the juniors are invited to meet with Mr. Endlich to understand their IEP and the IEP process, develop strategies for success, figure out what they want to do after high school, understand how support services work in college, and alternative post-secondary options.

On Thursdays at 2:00, the seniors are invited to meet to discuss developing strategies for success, navigating the college application process, self-disclosure, how to get accommodations in college, college life, self-advocacy in post-secondary life, and alternative post-secondary options.

In addition, Mr. Endlich is available to meet with seniors and their parents/guardians individually to help navigate life after high school. Appointments can be set up by emailing Mr. Endlich at

Flyer with links to meetings:

Your Best Shot at Good Health!

With so many healthy habits to practice during this COVID-19 pandemic, here are SEVEN IMPORTANT REASONS TO VACCINATE YOUR CHILD:

1. It is the law! Immunization requirements for children to attend childcare centers, preschool facilities, and schools in New Jersey - both public and private - are established by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH). These requirements are not being waived or extended during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

2. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of immunizations, including the annual flu vaccine, is even more evident for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations and further strain the healthcare system.

3. Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before.

4. Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.

5. Immunization protects others you care about. For example, some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination while other individuals may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to weakened immune systems.

6. Immunizations can save your family time and money. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll on families. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. To find out more about the VFC program, visit or ask your child’s Health Care Professional (HCP).

7. Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago.

Summary of vaccines required* by NJDOH to attend virtual or in-person school:

· Preschool – Up-to-date on: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DtaP); Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Haemophilus B (HIB); Varicella; Pneumococcal Conjugate; and Influenza (flu due by December 31st)

· Kindergarten: Up-to-date on above plus Hepatitis B plus boosters for: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DtaP); Polio; Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

· Sixth Grade and 11-years-old: Up-to-date on above plus Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap); and Meningococcal

· High School: Up-to-date on above

*Please consult your HCP. New Jersey still allows for medical and religious exemptions when applicable.

Students that do not meet the NJDOH vaccine requirements may be excluded from virtual school beginning November 12, 2020. Please email, scan, or FAX proof of required immunizations to your school nurse immediately. Please keep a copy. Feel free to reach out to your school nurse with questions, concerns, or hardship.

We hope you and your families are healthy and finding happiness and patience with yourselves during this time. Be well.

School Nurse Contacts

Therese Crigler


Gretchen Shook


Hilary Conway


Keith Turpin


Joann Harrigan


Tanisha Anderson


Jean Johnson


Steffi Golden

Montrose Early Childhood Center

Theresa Oweifie

Seth Boyden

Sharyn Wills

South Mountain School (SMS) Elementary

Julie Porter, RN

South Mountain School (SMS) Annex

School Nurse Leader

Angela Thompson


Did you know....November is....

Epilepsy Awareness Month

Special Services Staff Shout Outs!

Is there a special education teacher or special services staff member who you would like to recognize? If so, please complete this form so they can be recognized!

November 2020 Shout Outs!

This month we would like to acknowledge the following...

Meredith Roig- Special Education Teacher

Kristin Auriemma-Special Education Teacher

Miss DeMartino and Miss Dulny- Co-Teachers

Danielle Mooney-Chavez-School Counselor

Phil McCormick-CST Social Worker

Big picture

Preschool Parent Guide to the Curriculum

Example of Teletherapy during Virtual Learning

OT Teletherapy Session

Requesting Support!

Instructional Accommodation Request

  • -Please reach out directly to the teacher, and copy the case manager
IEP Revision Request
  • -Please reach out directly to the case manager

Progress Monitoring and Reporting

  • -Please reach out directly to the teacher, and copy the case manager

Related Service Question

  • -Please reach out directly to the assigned therapist and copy the case manager

Unresolved Challenges on Above Concerns

  • -Please reach out to the assigned supervisor (see below), if not resolved, please reach out to Asst. Superintendent, Special Services

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC)


Out-of-District Families' Meet Up

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Google Meet:

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) Meeting

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

7:15 - 8:45pm

Topic: Behaviors and Mental Health

Google Meet:


The Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, or SEPAC, is an advocacy group focused on policies, programs, and practices within the South Orange/Maplewood School District. Families and caregivers of student(s) with learning needs or students eligible for or receiving services under an IEP or 504 plan are encouraged to attend SEPAC Meetings. SEPAC provides parents with tools and information to work collaboratively with the school district and to be more effective advocates for their children with special educational needs.

Find us at Contact us at

SEPAC BOARD, 2020-2021

Michele Richman, Vice President of Policy

Malia Herman, Vice President of Community Outreach

Caryn Gehrke and Nicole Josey, Vice Presidents of Family Support

Nicole Stewart and Lindsey Stone, Vice Presidents of Programming

Beth Cosentino, Communications Officer and Administrator

Ann Leeb, Ex Officio

Department of Special Services Leadership Team

Dr. Melody Alegria, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services

Leroy Johnson, III, PreK Program Supervisor

Karen Thomany, Supervisor of Special Education K-5

Susan Ellis, Supervisor of Special Education Self-Contained K-8 Programs & 6-8

Gerri Colon, Supervisor of Special Education 9-12