Carroll County Times
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Special education committee welcomes input at virtual town hall meeting Thursday

Anyone is welcome to contribute ideas about special education in Carroll County during a virtual town hall Thursday, 6-7:30 p.m.

Those interested in attending can use the link to join the Google Meet.


The town hall is a meeting of the Carroll County Public Schools Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee, which is regularly scheduled on the third Thursday of the month. A presentation on the theme of enhancing independence will last roughly 20 minutes before community members will have time to comment, discuss and contribute ideas about special education in Carroll’s public schools.

“This is a great place to bring any issues to light for the good of the county or the good of students with disabilities,” said Carroll Springs School Principal Gretchen Rockafellow, who is the staff liaison to the committee.


Participants should discuss concerns about individual students with the appropriate school system personnel, outside of the town hall, Rockafellow said.

Each speaker’s time allotment will not be restricted, she added, but the amount of time devoted to discussing each topic may be limited in order to address a variety of relevant subjects at the meeting.

Meetings like this help the advisory committee fulfill its mission of bringing all unmet special education needs to the attention of the county’s Board of Education, she said. The committee’s 50 members are board-appointed and represent parents from nearly every county public school, school system staff unions, The Arc and other organizations that deal with special education.

Rockafellow said you do not need to be a committee member to speak at the meeting.

“Our Board of Ed is always looking for information from our families,” Rockafellow said. “It’s just another avenue to provide that information.”

Maryland mandates that every school system provide an organization that serves the purposes of the special education committee, Rockafellow said. As a board-appointed committee, the Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee functions much like the Curriculum Council, which votes to recommend instructional materials to the school board, and the Family Life Advisory Committee, which was recently tasked with providing opt-out family life and sexual education curricula recommendations that the school board unanimously approved.

Holding virtual meetings was an idea that began amid the pandemic, about two years ago, and Rockafellow said it continued because it removed access barriers and made some community members more comfortable speaking.

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Each meeting has a theme that decides the content of its opening presentation, although attendees are not limited to exclusively discussing the meeting’s theme. Topics are decided by the advisory committee’s executive committee with input from members, Rockafellow said, and all leadership positions within the committee are all held by parents.


“Our CCAP meetings are not closed meetings,” Rockafellow said, “they are open to all so anybody can attend — whether they are officially recognized on the committee or not, so it is open to anyone. We serve all students with disabilities in the county so that any parent can come and join us.”

Addressing learned helplessness — when a student feels incapable of independence because others do everything for them — and building real-world confidence are important concepts related to this meeting’s theme, Rockafellow said.

“What we try to do is build in opportunities for students to be as independent as possible,” Rockafellow said, “but how do we start helping the student become more independent? That might be teaching the student how to self-advocate, identify when they need help and what kind of help they need.”

One idea come from a previous meeting has resulted in the implementation of a corollary sports program. Rockafellow said special education students now compete in sports such as boccie and corn hole alongside their general education peers.

The committee’s next in-person meeting is scheduled for April 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. and will focus on alternative assessments for students who do not take Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program tests, Rockafellow said.

Information about upcoming and previous Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee meetings for this school year is available on the CCPS website.