SWBOCES SEPTA Holds Annual Welcome Back Coffee
Parents Learn about Community Groups, Request Afterschool Activities
At the SWBOCES Special Education Parent Teacher Association’s Back to School Coffee, parents learned about services that local community organizations offer and spoke with administrators about their interest in afterschool programs and a prom.
Groups that provide services and assistance to families attended the morning and evening sessions Oct. 3, including Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Southeast; the Arc Westchester; and Tobii Dynavox, which provides devices to help children communicate by touch and sight. The Music Conservatory of Westchester, Shames Jewish Community Center on the Hudson and the Guidance Center of Westchester attended the evening session and talked about their recreational and support services.
“We all need the support services and to find out what is available for our kids,” said Marcela Stern, a SWBOCES parent and SEPTA board member.
Parents who attended the morning session at the Rye Lake Campus asked if SWBOCES could sponsor a prom for older students and provide afterschool programs.
“I have many friends and neighbors whose children are in all sorts of programming and they’ve had proms that have been at lunch time and in the afternoon, in the evening, and I really wanted to open up a discussion,” said Lisa Siegel, whose daughter is a SWBOCES student.
“I’m hoping to get that prom going and have a special moment these children deserve as any others do,” she said after the meeting.
Several parents have asked if SWBOCES could offer afterschool programs, Ms. Stern said. These opportunities are available in their home districts. It’s a huge problem since the BOCES school programs end at 2:10 p.m. If the parents are working, they have to go home or hire a babysitter, she said. Other schools offer afterschool programs and late busing.
Superintendent Harold Coles said offering such programs can be difficult because home districts transport students. The bus schedules would have to be altered and approved by districts. “So that is something that we can look at, but it’s going to be complicated,” he told parents.
Tappan Hill Principal Phyllis Rizzi, a SEPTA board member, said she was glad parents brought up these issues. The purpose of SEPTA is to be a bridge between families and the administration.
Sharon Slaughter of Irvington, whose son Fitz is in his second year with SWBOCES at Pocantico, said she attended the meeting to learn more about SEPTA and what it offers.
“Now that he’s doing well in school, I’m starting to feel comfortable in exploring the group’s offerings and seeing if I can contribute anything,” she said.
The next events on SEPTA’s calendar are the Barnes & Noble Book Fair Nov. 10 and 11 at the City Center store in White Plains, and a workshop on guardianship and supported decision-making Nov. 16 at the Rye Lake Campus. Each December, SEPTA sponsors a holiday party at Rye Lake, with arts and crafts, singing and dancing, a visit from Santa Claus and gifts for all the BOCES students who attend.