SOMSD Special Services Newsletter

April 2021

Message from the Assistant Superintendent of Special Services

Hello DOSS Family,

We are so excited about the details shared in the reopening plan! As we continue to welcome more students into the buildings, we again want to thank you for all of the supports that you have provided!

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

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Every April Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month, beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Throughout the month, the focus is on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support.

April Shout Outs!

Mrs Erika Onyeberechi

Mrs Meredith Roig

Mrs Amanda Quinitchett

Mrs Hannah Waxman

Shout out a Special Services Staff Member!

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) Meeting
Focus Topic: Transitions for All Ages: PreK - K; 5th - 6th; 8th - 9th; 12th and beyond
Monday April 26 7:15-8:45pm
Google Meet link:


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

April 5-16- Districtwide Virtual Instruction - Post Spring Break Quarantine

April 19- Hybrid In-Person Instruction Resumes

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Preschool Expansion and Student Placement Update!

Dear Preschool Families,

As you are aware, the South Orange and Maplewood School District is committed to providing access to a high-quality preschool education to all eligible students. As such, we look forward to announcing our new preschool partnerships with local childcare providers in our next update.

We are also pleased to inform you that our preschool team anticipates providing placement decisions for the 2021-2022 school year very soon. Our goal is to release this information to families who participated in our preschool lottery somewhere between late April and early May!


Preschool Program Team

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Community Resource for Families-Virtual Developmental Screenings

Virtual developmental screenings are being offered through Children’s Specialized Hospital, free of cost to families!

Families who are interested are encouraged to register for this valuable resource so they can learn more about their child’s development and how to support their development as they get older. Any family is welcome to register, regardless of whether or not they have any concerns about their child.

Screenings are offered in English and Spanish for children ages 1 to 5 ½ .

Information for how to register can be found on the program's website at:

Extended School Year 2021

The SOMSD Special Education Department is pleased to announce the dates of our 6 weeks Extended School Year (ESY) program. ESY will be held from July 6-August 13. More information will follow as plans are further developed.
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Returning to School Tips

As the SOMSD prepares to welcome back more of our learners to our schools. This is an exciting time but one that may be anxiety-producing. As we prepare for the return to in-person learning there may be many things we forget about Please click on this link from the CDC to find out some helpful ideas on how to prepare for a smooth transition back to in-person learning.

Educational Resources


Learning Ally, which is an online audiobooks program. Learning Ally provides either audiobooks or audiobooks with highlighted text for many textbooks and other books. Any student that falls into one of the following categories can use this program:

  • Students with print disabilities (learning disabilities)

  • Students with Physical Disabilities

  • Students with Visual Impairments

  • Struggling readers who are receiving intervention in the school setting


Lexia, is an online reading supplemental program to support struggling readers.

If you would access to Learning Ally and Lexia, please contact your special education teacher(s).

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.