By Prudence Brighton

Need help navigating available services and resources for a special-needs student? A new advocacy group forming in Dracut hopes to help.

The Dracut Special Education Parent Advisory Council, or SEPAC, is an advocacy group for parents or guardians of students with disabilities who live in Dracut or who attend a Dracut public school.

Marilee Soto, one of the leaders of SEPAC, is the mother of a dyslexic son.

"It can be overwhelming for parents to determine what assistance is out there," she said.

SEPAC's goal is to give parents and guardians a place to turn when they need information or the support of others.

According to Soto, SEPAC's mission is to "increase disability awareness and the understanding of, respect for and support of all children with disabilities in our community." The target group is children and young adults ages 3-22, who have not yet graduated.

The Dracut SEPAC will provide a forum for parents and staff to share ideas and resources, identify concerns, and support families of children with special needs. It will promote the inclusion of students with disabilities in all district and community activities.

SEPAC will provide an opportunity for networking among parents and a venue for voicing opinions about current special-education policy. SEPAC will also:

n Advocate for the education and safety of all Dracut students with disabilities ages 3-22.


n Advise the school district, including the director of student services and School Committee on matters pertaining to the education and safety of students with disabilities.

n Facilitate communication between parents and school officials.

n Sponsor meetings, events workshops.

SEPAC plans its next meeting for Monday, April 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Richardson Middle School Library, 1570 Lakeview Ave. To RSVP for the meeting, contact the Office of Student Services at 978-957-4633 or