SOMSD Special Services Newsletter

May 2021

Message from the Assistant Superintendent of Special Services

Hello DOSS Family,

April 27th marked my official one year anniversary in the district. While it has just been a little over a year, with all of the changes brought about by the pandemic, it feels like much longer! I would like to thank the many parents and families that welcomed me into this great district, and look forward to continuing our work together.

As you will see from this newsletter, we are gearing up for another great ESY! Please be sure to complete the registration form in your child is eligible so that we can plan accordingly. There are other summer programs across the district if your child was not found eligible for ESY, and we encourage you to look into them.

As the weather warms up, please continue to use all safety measures as you enjoy family time! Sun and warmth most certainly helps to rejuvenate and bring smiles to faces.

As always, thank you for all of your support and advocacy.

Dr. Alegria

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Month raises awareness of trauma and the impact it can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children, families, and communities. Mental Health Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans' lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. Mental health is essential for a person's overall health. Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover from mental disorders and live full and productive lives. (

May Shout Outs!

Mrs. Karen Leary

Mrs. Rebecca Milligan

Mrs. Stacey Field

Mrs. Dana Franza

Mrs. Meg Richardson

Mrs. Amy Pittuco

Shout out a Special Services Staff Member!

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee

SEPAC Meeting
Wednesday, May 26 7:15-8:45pm
Google Meet:

For our final meeting of the school year, we’ll be voting on SEPAC Board positions, looking for input on next year’s programs and sharing our experiences from the last year. All are welcome to join!


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 the 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

Dates to Remember

May 28th - District Closed Give Back Day

May 31st- District Closed Memorial Day

Big picture


Dear SOMSD Families,

The preschool team is pleased to announce that due to our preschool expansion efforts, all families who enrolled their child with the District to participate in the preschool lottery prior to the February 26th deadline, and completed the enrollment process by meeting all registration requirements for the 2021-2022 school year will receive placement into our program! All families will be notified in the next few weeks of their child's school placement.

All families who filled out an online pre-registration application after the February 26th deadline will remain on the wait list. Please be advised that we anticipate additional seats in our preschool program opening up prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. As such, we encourage all preschool-eligible families to pre-register their child by filling out the online pre-registration application so that their child's name can be added to the wait list. Please visit the District's Registration Page for all registration guidance.

Please be advised that adding your child to the wait list at this time does not guarantee placement. Families on the wait list will be notified if and when a seat for the 2021-2022 school year becomes available. For more information on our preschool program, please visit us HERE. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at:


SOMSD Preschool Team

Extended School Year 2021

ESY will be held from July 6-August 13.

ESY eligible families you should have received an email with ESY registration information. Please complete the registration form contained in that letter. If you have not received the ESY Registration email please reach out to your child's case manager.

Returning to School Tips

Phase 5 of the SOMSD began this week . This is an exciting time but one that may be anxiety-producing. Please use the resource from CDC for helpful ideas on how to continue supporting the return to in-person learning.

Reminder: Frontline Collaboration Portal


During virtual IEP meetings, you will be asked to sign the participation page of the IEP electronically via the Collaboration Portal. The Collaboration Portal is a message delivery system we are that allows us to share documents related to your child’s IEP. It is a service provided by Frontline Education, which is our IEP platform (IEP Direct). You will receive an email indicating that a document is available for your review/signature.

The access code for this document is the first three letters of the student's last name (upper case) plus his/her date of birth in mmddyyyy format. Example: XYZ04032005. Note: if a student has fewer than three letters in his/her last name, the full last name is included with date of birth.

Your case manager will be available to support as needed.

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 Middle & Self-Contained K-8 Programs

Gerri Colon, Supervisor of Special Education 9-12