TARC is one of 10 chapters of The Arc of the U.S. selected to participate in a pilot project to create a training curriculum that will be used nationally to train parents and others how to effectively advocate for special education services. TARC was chosen for the project largely because of their more than 20 years of experience and expertise in doing effective special education advocacy.
Sherilyn Walton, TARC’s Family Support Coordinator, provides this service and is well regarded by schools and parents for her expertise. She is a licensed clinical social worker and was a general and special education teacher for several years. As a result, she not only understands the laws affecting special education and what is required, but also can relate well with school personnel.
“We are honored and excited to have been chosen to participate in this important project and lend our knowledge and expertise in the development of this national training curriculum,” said TARC Executive Director John Gajda. “Training others on how to be effective advocates for special education services fits perfectly with our philosophy on advocacy. Sherilyn not only attends meetings with parents, she teaches them how to be effective advocates so they can continue to advocate for their child throughout their school experience,” he added.
The special education advocacy training curriculum developed by this pilot project will be specifically designed for the nearly 700 state and local chapters of The Arc to help prepare chapter staff to effectively train parents and others to advocate on behalf of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in special education matters. The training curriculum will discuss how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 programs apply to individual students participating in these programs as well as advocacy strategies to address potential concerns at each step of the special education process to ensure students receive a “free and appropriate public education.”
Thanks to funding from TAUW and generous donors, special education advocacy services provided by TARC are available to families in the six counties (Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Rogers and Wagoner) served by TAUW. TARC has provided this service in 79 public schools and three charter schools in 17 separate school districts. For more information on this service and others provided by TARC, call (918) 582-TARC (8272).