SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
What is a Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)?
According to Section 57.1 (1) of the Education Act, every school board in Ontario must have a SEAC. Ontario Regulation 464/97 is the “constitution” or “rule-book” for these committees. New members are encouraged to visit the Ministry’s SEAC Learning website at www.seac-learning.ca for detailed information on SEACs and Ontario education.
SEACs are responsible for:
- Making recommendations to the Board of Trustees with respect to any matter affecting the establishment, development, and delivery of special education programs and services for exceptional pupils of the Board;
- Participating in the annual review of the Board’s Special Education Plan;
- Participating in the Board’s annual budget process as it relates to special education;
- Reviewing the Board’s financial statements as they apply to special education; and
- Providing information to parents, as required.
At a SEAC meeting, the administrative staff regularly provides information and requests input on initiatives in special education programming. There is also an opportunity for member organizations to share information.
Who can be a Member of SEAC?
Up to 12 local associations can have representatives on a SEAC. A “local association” is an organization that is (1) incorporated, (2) operates throughout Ontario, (3) furthers the interests and well being of one or more groups of exceptional children or adults, and (4) does not represent professional educators.
One representative and an alternate are recommended by the local association and are appointed by the Board to SEAC. A member of SEAC must be qualified to vote for Trustees in the LDCSB and must be a resident of London, Middlesex, Elgin, or Oxford.
The Board may also appoint one or more additional “at large” members who are not members of a local association.
Members of the public may observe SEAC meetings. Board administration and Trustees attend meetings and take part in discussions, but are non-voting.
How long is a term on SEAC?
SEACs are appointed for the three-year term of the Board. If a representative on SEAC is unable to serve for the full term, the alternate may take over or a new representative may be recommended to the Board.
A SEAC representative is considered to have vacated his or her seat if he or she (1) commits and indictable offence; (2) is absent from three or more consecutive meetings, or (3) is no longer qualified to be on the committee.
What is a quorum for meetings?
A simple majority of member local associations is a quorum. Motions must achieve a simple majority of those local associations representatives present at a meeting. Even if the representative and alternate are present, the local association gets only one vote.
SEAC has at least ten scheduled meetings per year. The SEAC operating year follows the school year (September to June).
How is the Chair/Vice-Chair chosen? What are their duties?
The Chair and Vice-Chair both must be members of a local association and are chosen by a majority vote of members present. A Chair/Vice-Chair must be in place for June in order to lead SEAC for the following school year.
The Chair is responsible for:
- Presiding over the meeting and ensuring that the rules of order are followed;
- Preparing (in consultation with Board Administration) the agenda for the meeting and ensuring that minutes are taken;
- Recognizing contributions made by members or special presentations made by non-SEAC members;
- Presenting, on behalf of SEAC, presentations to the Board or other organizations;
- Authorizing, on behalf of SEAC, official documents or letters (subject to approval by the Board); and
- Providing leadership in support of SEAC initiatives or aims.
In the event that the Chair is unable to be present at a meeting, then the Vice-Chair is to assume his or her responsibilities.
What contributions are expected from SEAC members?
SEAC makes a significant contribution to the LDCSB. Before becoming a member of SEAC, consider that:
- Representatives should bring to SEAC the broader perspectives of children and youth with a wide-range of exceptionalities. SEAC is not the place for personal issues with Board programming or services.
- Representatives should be reporting the proceedings of SEAC meetings back to their local association’s executive.
- Representatives should bring the perspectives of their local, provincial, and national organizations back to the SEAC table.
- Representatives should have an open mind and be responsive to the issues and concerns of other local associations or those of the Board.
What does a typical SEAC meeting look like?
- An agenda is usually circulated at least a week before the meeting takes place. Members may send items for the agenda to the Chair or Administration at this time.
- Meetings begin with an opening prayer and welcome.
- Following the approval of the agenda and minutes, presentations by non-SEAC groups are made.
- Following the presentations, there is an opportunity for individual associations to make a presentation on matters of concern to them. Such presentations must be on the agenda to be recognized by the Chair.
- Two standing items following the presentations are reports from the Chair and the Superintendent of Learning Services.
- The agenda is taken up item by item.
- Meetings are usually two hours in length (6:00 pm start and 8:00 pm finish).
- Special meetings are held from time to time – for example, a March meeting to prepare for the April presentation to Trustees is a regular feature of the LDCSB SEAC year.