What is CACSE?
CACSE is a liaison group between parents, educators, school administrators, community organizations and support groups. Our mission is to provide advice and counsel to the Board of Education on matters related to educational programs and related services for infants and toddlers, children, youth, teens, and young adults with disabilities that are attending or are supported by St. Mary’s County Public Schools. We work closely with the SMCPS Department of Special Education to accomplish those goals.
Why do we have it?
According to Maryland law, each local school system must establish a special education citizens’ advisory committee. CACSE fulfills this requirement for St. Mary’s County Public Schools. From the Maryland Code of Regulations (COMAR), 13A.05.02.13.I Local Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee:
- Each local school system shall establish a special education citizens’ advisory committee to advise the local school system on the needs of students with disabilities within the jurisdiction.
- The [Maryland State] Department [of Education] shall annually allocate federal funds to each local school system to support the activities of the local special education citizen advisory committee.
- Each local school system shall submit a budget for the use of federal funds, consistent with §C(1)(a) of this regulation.
What does all of that really mean?
We need people who have ideas for improving supports and services for children with disabilities and their families. We need people to help us understand where problems occur. We need people to help us make decisions and shape policies to resolve those problems. And we have funds to help us do so.
What are CACSE’s functions?
We study specific issues and concerns of parents, educators, and concerned citizens. We offer advice and counsel to the St. Mary’s County Board of Education and the Department of Special Education about the needs of students with disabilities.
We consider the relevancy of educational programs and related services and whether they meet the needs of students with disabilities. We offer suggestions for the local education budget. We offer training and instructional aids to help families help their children. We support teachers by helping to keep them informed of community needs. And we recognize teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists and staff when they go above and beyond to help our children succeed.
When do we meet?
Regular CACSE Representative Meetings are usually held the 2nd Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the St. Mary’s County Board of Education Building, in the second floor “Red” or Special Education Meeting Room at 21360 Moakley Street in Leonardtown, MD, 20650. These CACSE meetings are open to the public and are run like typical Board meetings. You do not have to be a CACSE Representative to attend.
In addition, CACSE now offers regular monthly Support Group Meetings at the same location and date. These start at 5:45 PM and have a much looser structure. Parents and caregivers who have concerns about their child’s situation, or who are seeking more information to help their child, or any person in the community who wishes to raise a concern that may affect students with special needs in some way, are greatly encouraged to attend this meeting. All information discussed will be considered confidential.
Can’t attend a meeting in person? Well now you can dial in by phone! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how to access the conference system currently in use! You’ll be given an phone number to call as well as an access code to punch in.
What can CACSE do for me?
CACSE offers parents and caregivers the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about local, state, and national special education issues and resources. We encourage parents and caregivers to share their knowledge with others just starting the journey, or who want to work on similar goals. We collaborate with the SMCPS Department of Special Education to improve the education of all children with special needs. And we collaborate with Partners for Success and and other SECACs and Partners for Success/Family Support Networks in Southern Maryland, as well as disability support groups and service providers, to support our children and their families as we can.
What can I do for CACSE?
You can help spread the word! Any parent or caregiver of children who receive special education services Maryland may participate in a Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee like our CACSE. Educators and community members can participate, too. Please contact us if you would like us to keep your community group informed, attend one of our meetings, or tell your group what we do! By sharing your unique perspective of what it is like to experience this journey and use these services, parents like you can help St. Mary’s County Public Schools, and other parents and caregivers, to be more effective. As a result, outcomes for our children with disabilities should improve.
How can I help?
Come to a meeting! And consider being a representative for your school! As a participant in CACSE, you can hear about developments and changes within the Department of Special Education, influence decisions and policy, meet other parents, educators, and service providers with similar goals, learn about and attend local workshops and events on topics of interest, and access resources that are beneficial to your child. Talk to your school’s principal or IEP chair about being a representative. And anyone can come to our meetings or they can dial in by phone; they are open to the public!
What do CACSE Representatives do?
CACSE has representatives from almost all public schools as well as many local agencies and support groups. Any parent, educator, or community organization member can join CACSE and become a Representative. Representatives have voting rights on issues of policy and decision making that impact the education of their children.
Representatives agree to attend and participate in monthly CACSE meetings, to report relevant meeting information to their agency or school (such as to parents, parent groups like PTA, or educators), to help advertise upcoming events, and to focus on group needs rather than personal issues. Representatives also help honor outstanding educators and support providers with our new RISE UP award, given every spring. Representatives also help to plan or help out with workshops or conferences, assist with our Family Toolbox lending program through St. Mary’s County Library, keep up our website and social and print media, discuss new educational developments such as the current focus on dyslexia and other learning disabilities, help propose solutions when problems occur with support services, special needs transportation, or assistive technology, and more!
What if I have questions, problems, or need additional support?
Feel free to contact us! You can email us anytime, or even post a question on our open Facebook page. You can also request to join our closed Facebook group.
Join us at a regular CACSE Meeting to see what we are up to. We meet at 6:30 PM on the 2nd Monday of each month. Can’t come in person? We understand – contact us by email in advance and we’ll give you the phone number and access code to dial in from home!
You can also come to a CACSE Special Education Support Group meeting! Now open to families and caregivers, educators, and support providers, the Support Group Meeting is an informal gathering held prior to each monthly CACSE meeting at the same location from 5:45 to 6:30 PM. We will keep your concerns anonymous and all issues discussed are confidential.
What if my child is not in a public school?
CACSE is not structured to support children in non-public, private, or home school situations, however, we welcome families and caregivers of children in these placements to use our website for informational purposes and to learn about events and training in St. Mary’s County. And as some of your child’s needs are the same as those of children attending SMCPS schools, you are always welcome at our meetings. We will try to answer your questions. Almost every event is public, and all of our CACSE meetings are public. We will assist you as we can!
Where can I learn more?
CACSE meetings are public – anyone can attend! Stop by your school’s guidance or special education office to see the meeting schedule, pick up a brochure, or see what is new. Check back with this website often. We are also on Facebook (CACSE – St Mary’s County MD) and Twitter – be sure to “Like” and “Follow” us!