Office of Special Education Monthly Newsletter

Office of Special Education (OSE) Newsletter

January 25, 2023

Read the OSE newsletter online at here and click the translate button on our website.


Boston Public Schools' vision is that our students on Individualized Education Programs (IEP) will have equitable opportunities to engage in innovative, high-quality instruction in the least restrictive environment (LRE) as appropriate to meet individual needs, empowering each student to achieve high levels, leading to post-secondary success.


We welcome you to our first Office of Special Education Monthly Newsletter. We aim to provide information on upcoming events, updates, and resources. Each month we will publish our monthly newsletter on our website.

Community Bright Spots

Special Education Family Social

The Office of Special Education and the Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SpEdPAC) recently hosted a Special Education Family Social. It was a great opportunity to connect with our families. Our students and families participated in a memorable talent show, in raffles, painting and other activities. Thank you to our families, community members, SpEdPAC and BPS staff for attending! We’re looking forward to seeing you again next year.

Madison Park Carpentry Vocation Students Collaboration

We’re excited to announce that the Office of Special Education Related Services department has partnered with Madison Park Technical Vocational High School-Carpentry vocation students. Students using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)/Assistive Technology (AT) sometimes need adapted materials to access their devices. Scott Richards, Occupational Therapist (OT)/Assistive Technology (AT) staff member, in collaboration with Brandon Purcell, teacher, had students make these stands to use their communication devices safely. They also engraved them with students' names! Carpentry students will learn about adapted equipment as they will continue to make various pieces to accommodate students' needs in our district. We are working on having them visit the students so they can see their creations at work. 

Singing Cardinals Winter Concert

On behalf of the OSDC program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, here is the Singing Cardinals Winter Concert video for all of you to enjoy. Click here to view the video.

Remembering the Life & Legacy of

Heidi Cahoon-McEwen

Heidi M. Cahoon-McEwen brought drive and purpose to every role in her life. Heidi was a passionate educator, mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. She raised her three incredible children, Jason, Mikayla, and Shaun, and was a loving wife to her husband, Brandon McEwen. Heidi was proud of her beautiful family and enjoyed sharing and celebrating every accomplishment. Heidi passed on Sunday, January 15th, in her home. 

Though she has passed, her devotion to uplifting others through education and love left a sustained impact on her family, friends, colleagues, and students. She used her light to enkindle confidence and direction in those that sought her guidance. Among her family members and friends, Heidi is remembered as one who laughed from her shoulders to her toes. Her aspirations to promote equality and diversity stirred her to listen to those that were often brushed to the side. She had no fear of speaking out against any injustice, large or small. She was a champion for others and never hesitated to fight for their needs. 

Heidi's favorite time was spent with her family. She took every opportunity she could to watch Jason and Shaun play hockey, even traveling across the country to support them. She cheered courtside for Mikayla at countless basketball games. She split her time between South Hadley and Marblehead, where she spent additional time with her parents over the last few years. She loved taking family ski trips and spending time at the beach. She loved her two dogs and was excited to spend more time with Brandon as an empty nester. 

She will be missed.

-The Office of Special Education

Upcoming Events & Updates

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SpEdPAC)

The Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (Boston SpEdPAC) is the independent district-wide volunteer parent advisory council of families with students with disabilities and other interested parties. The volunteer parent advisory council duties include but are not be limited to:

  • Advising the district on matters that pertain to the education and safety of students with disabilities
  • Meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning, development, and evaluation of the school district’s special education programs
  • Establish by-laws regarding officers and operational procedures
  • Provide information and support to members through direct communication and outreach, and monthly meetings

SpEdPAC has access to an interpreter platform that BPS uses to speak with multilingual families. Families can reach out to SpEdPAC and request the use of these services to address any questions or concerns that families may have. 

You may also share your feedback by completing a feedback form. Boston SpEdPAC wants to hear your thoughts and concerns, please share information with us here

Join us at our next monthly meeting on January 27! Topics for the January meeting include the 504 plan and ADHD related topics. Flyers are below.


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Visit our Website

SpEdPAC School Parent/Family Council Member

Please consider being your school's SpEdPAC representative for the School Parent/Family Council. As a representative, you will have the opportunity to learn more about special education services and resources and share this information with families in your school community. Interested? Contact the family liaison in your school community for more information.


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Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools

Listening Sessions

Please join us for an upcoming Green New Deal for BPS listening session to share your experiences in BPS with the design team. Your feedback will directly inform the educational foundation for new and renovated facilities.

  • February 4, 2023 at Dearborn STEM Academy
  • February 8, 2023 at Brighton High School
  • February 13, 2023 at Burke High School
  • February 21, 2023 at East Boston High School (en español)
  • February 27, 2023 at New Mission High School
  • March 2, 2023 on Zoom
  • March 6, 2023 por Zoom (en español)

Interpretation and childcare will be provided.

To register and for more information visit at

Transportation Updates

If your student has transportation through their IEP and you have transported them to and from school due to a lack of transportation, you are entitled to seek mileage reimbursement at the prevailing state rate and/or taxi and rideshare costs for any trips between your home and the school. For example, if your child’s bus did not pick up your child for school and/or your child’s bus was not available to transport them home after school, you are encouraged to seek mileage reimbursement.

For more information visit our website:

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with the BPS Helpline at 617-635-8873 or via email at The Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am until 5:00 pm.

BPS Department of Behavioral Health Services-Monthly Wellbeing Digest

Check out the Behavioral Health Services Digest for practical tips around social, emotional, and behavioral development. This month’s digest will focus on habits to support parents’ and student’s mental health. To sign up for the digest click here.



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Child Find (Ages 3-21) 

Boston Public Schools must conduct Child Find activities for all students living or attending school in Boston (ages 3–21), regardless of whether students attend public or private schools or are home schooled.


Child Find activities for privately enrolled students must be comparable to those conducted for students in public schools and must include all students who are privately educated, including those who are home schooled, in the district. The district also must provide all private schools and students who are privately enrolled with information about how students can access publicly funded evaluations and special education services.


While Boston Public Schools conducts screening activities, if you suspect or know that your child has a disability, please contact the Office of Special Education for a full evaluation for special education services. You do not need to attend a screening date to request an evaluation. Visit our website to sign up.

Visit our Website

Coordinated Pandemic-Related Transition Services

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has appropriated 10 million dollars for transition “services for individuals with disabilities that reached age 22 between March 10, 2020 - September 1, 2023 and were entitled to special education services up to age 22.”

This funding is being used to collaborate Mass Commission for the Blind, Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative.

The enclosed flier provides information on connecting with the Federation for Students with Special Needs to learn how to access these extra services.


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Visit to learn about “services for individuals with disabilities that reached age 22 between March 10, 2020 - September 1, 2023 and were entitled to special education services up to age 22.

Empowering People for Inclusive Communities (EPIC)

The EPIC Service Warriors program is a community service and leadership development program for youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-23. EPIC Service Warriors meet from May 2023 - May 2024 for one year to participate in community service projects and leadership development skill building sessions. By creating the change they want to see in the world, the Service Warriors learn more about local communities and develop practical skills that will help them develop as leaders and pursue future goals. We believe that every young person has a Warrior within.

EPIC is currently accepting Service Warrior applications in 2 different cities, Boston and Worcester. Depending on the city you apply to, you will be serving the entire year within that city and its surrounding communities. The Service Warriors program has a one-time program fee of $250 for the program year. EPIC has full and partial scholarships available for all that need them. Please do not worry about the program fee or scholarships when applying. EPIC staff will ensure you have all the information you need for this through the application process.


Deadline Application: Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

To apply click here:

To view the Frequently Asked Questions document click here.

Questions? Contact Dorothy Whitfield | Call (617) 917-5181 | Email:

Contact/Helpful Links