We will be joined by Diane Cooper-Gould who will talk about how she helped form a Special Education PTA and how SEPTAs can provide support for children and families.
Diane is a dyslexic mother of two neurodiverse children and a lifelong advocate for those in need. Diane has a passion for supporting individuals with disabilities and their families. She believes that it is critical that all people are empowered to reach their full potential.
Diane's disability advocacy began in 2013 when she founded an online support group for caregivers of people with disabilities. What began as a small group of 12 individuals has since grown to over 250 members across
the United States and Europe. Soon, Diane began to realize that though our specific circumstances might vary, we all faced similar challenges navigating the special education system and disability services. In 2015 Diane and another Fairfax County Parent decided to join forces to start an organization that could advocate for systemic change and improvements for students with disabilities and their families. This labor of love became Fairfax County Special Education PTA, which launched in April 2017. Diane has been on the Board of Fairfax County SEPTA since its inception, served two years as the Inaugural President, and currently serves as Advocacy Chair. Our advocacy is on behalf of the over 30 thousand students in Fairfax County Public schools who have a disability and are served by either 504 Plans or IEPs as well as their families and the professionals who work with them.
Initiatives of particular focus for our SEPTA led are changing the FCPS policies on restraint and seclusion, advocating for special education students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementing best-practice literacy instruction based on the science of reading for all students regardless of ability, the implementation of programs with fidelity and accountability, and accessibility in resources and programming for all students.
Additionally, Diane has created or co-created, and taught numerous courses related to special education advocacy for a variety of organizations including, VA Parent Education Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), Virginia PTA, NoVA District PTA, and Fairfax County SEPTA. Course topics have included: Navigating Special Education - 504s and IEPs, Building a Community of Support, Organizing your IEP records, Working Collaboratively with an IEP Team, Social/Emotional needs of Dyslexic Students, Tips for 2e Parents, Successfully Leading a Support Group, Supporting Special Education Students in Inclusive Classrooms, and Travelling Tips for Families of Students with Disabilities.Support the show