Letter from the President

School’s Out but SEPTA keeps going!

School is out for the summer, but SEPTA is still going strong!  Our focus over the summer is to establish organization procedures, develop a strategic plan and to increase valuable web content so that our website can be used as a helpful tool to navigating the special education system in Fairfax County.

During the past month, we held our first Volunteer coordination meeting and our first SEPTA Happy Hour!  Additional volunteer opportunities are highlighted in this edition of our newsletter and we would love to have your help!  The Happy Hour was a ton of fun and due to membership interest, we plan to make parent Happy Hours a regular social event.  Our June SEPTA Board meeting was rescheduled for July 5th.  It was a productive meeting with a surprise guest, Hannah-Catherine Smith, a reporter for WDVM news. Hanna took footage of the meeting and interviewed me. The story aired later that night and a link can be found HERE. In addition, SEPTA testified in front of the VA DOE regarding the new diploma options for students with disabilities on June27.  You can read my remarks here.

There is still more to come in July and August. Three of our SEPTA board members will be attending the VAPTA conference in Richmond from July 13-15.  At the conference, our President and Treasurer will be completing officer training and SEPTA will be awarded our official Charter. Our July Board meeting will be held on July 25, 2017.  At the end of July, the SEPTA Board will have a Board Retreat at which we plan to establish a comprehensive calendar and a strategic plan for the year ahead.  If you have any ideas or concerns that you would like us to take into account, please email us at info@FairfaxCountySEPTA.

The first of our fundraising events are also being planned so, mark you calendar for August 23 when you will have a delicious opportunity to help SEPTA at Sugar Mama’s ice cream.  We are also making plans to create SEPTA t-shirts and car magnets! All fundraising goes to benefit SEPTA and the programs and events we sponsor for our membership.

All of us at SEPTA hope that your summer is full of fun and relaxation! For ongoing news and events remember to check out our FB group and website.

Best wishes,
Diane Cooper-Gould


School Board Special Election

The Fairfax County Public School system is overseen by a school board that consists of one member from each of Fairfax County’s nine magisterial districts and three members who serve at large. All serve four year terms, with the current term running from January 1, 2016, until December, 2019. Board members are usually elected during November General elections and the salaried positions are non-partisan. Ms. Jeanette Hough, At Large Member, resigned in June of this year due to her family’s relocation. As a result, there is now a special election for an at large school board member to replace Ms. Hough for the remainder of the term. Four candidates (see contact information below)  will appear on the ballot and write in votes are permitted.

The Fairfax County School Board is charged by the statutes of Virginia and the regulations of the Virginia Board of Education to operate the public schools of Fairfax County by setting general school policy and establishing guidelines that will ensure the proper administration of the Fairfax County Public Schools programs. School board members work through various committees on different facets of operation including budget, staffing, policy, and strategic planning. The work of the School Board has direct impact on Special Education programming, students, teachers, and related staff, through class size, caseloads, and educational programs and procedures. Refer to for more details about the school board. And, please, mark your calendars and VOTE! 

Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

  • July 14: In-Person Absentee Voting Begins
  • Aug 15: Voter Registration Deadline 5:00 p.m., Online: 11:59 p.m.
  • Aug 22: Deadline to Apply for an Absentee Ballot by Mail, 5:00 p.m.
  • Aug 26: Final Day In-Person Absentee Voting
  • Aug 29: Polls Open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Absentee Ballot Return Deadline, 7:00 p.m.
Chris S. Grisafe
Sandra D. Allen
Karen A. Keys-Gamarra
Michael H. Owens

Photo ID Requirements for Voting in Virginia

Find your voting location


In order to keep the “fun” in fundraising, we’ll be trying a variety of fundraisers. Funds raised will be used to support our programming efforts, including establishing Teacher Grants for materials and training!  Interested in joining the fundraising committee? Have an idea for a fundraiser? Contact Joanne Walton. We will be meeting soon to set our calendar for this school year.

Our First Fundraiser is Going to be Sweet!

Join us August 23 from 1 to 9 p.m. for some delicious, local homemade ice cream at Sugar Mama’s in Fairfax! We’ll have the opportunity to socialize while raising money! Just mention SEPTA at checkout anytime between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Sugar Mama’s will donate 20% to our organization! SEPTA will have a table set up during this time.

You can support SEPTA AND get organized for the fall by purchasing Mabel’s Labels! Keep your child’s stuff from being put in the Lost and Found! These labels are super durable! Dishwasher and washing machine safe, they come in many designs and colors and styles! To order go here and be sure to select Fairfax County SEPTA from the drop down list of organizations or we won’t get credit for your sale! Your labels are shipped directly to you, and Mabel’s Labels offers free shipping in the U.S. Mabel’s Labels donates 20% of each sale to us! This will be an ongoing fundraiser, so feel free to order your labels any time you need some! And please share with your friends who need labels!

Joanne Walton named SEPTA delegate and SpEd Chair to the Fairfax County Council PTA (FCCPTA)


The Fairfax County Council PTA has appointed Joanne Walton to be the SEPTA delegate to the organization as well as Special Ed Chair. She will work closely with FCCPTA in communicating SEPTA information to the schools.

As part of this new relationship, Joanne will coordinate the Special Education Liaisons at local school unit PTAs.

If your school does not have a Special Education Liaison or Committee and you are interested in this position, please reach out to Joanne at We will be having an Orientation in late September as well as quarterly gatherings to share information.

Special Education Liaison

Job description: This Liaison serves as a resource to the school community about Special Education for students with disabilities.  Duties include:

  • Attending an Orientation session and quarterly gatherings
  • Attending meetings of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs
  • Sharing relevant information about special education and related activities and events with the school community
  • Reviewing, and as appropriate, reporting on recent activities of the FCPS Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities, to the school unit PTA and
  • Providing periodic updates to the school unit PTA

Toby Latham Appointed to Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities

At its July 13, 2017, regular meeting, the School Board approved the appointment of SEPTA Co-Founder Toby Latham to the Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). Toby will serve as the ACSD representative for the Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA), reporting to FCCPTA Special Education Committee Chair Joanne Walton.

The ACSD’s statutory functions (8 VAC 20-81-230(D)) include: (a) advising the school division of needs in the education of children with disabilities; (b) participating in the development of priorities and strategies for meeting the identified needs of children with disabilities; (c) submitting periodic reports and recommendations regarding the education of children with disabilities to the division superintendent for transmission to the School Board; (d) assisting the local school division interpreting plans to the community for meeting the special needs of children with disabilities for educational services; (e) reviewing policies and procedures for the provision of special education and related services prior to submission to the School Board; and (f) participating in the review of the local division’s annual plan.

Each year, the School Board provides the ACSD a “charge”—or subjects—to examine.  If the School Board approves the charge recommended during its July 13 meeting, the ACSD will examine the following subjects during the 2017-2018 school year:

  • How students with disabilities are making progress in the general education curriculum (IDEA, 2004), exploring “progress” as supported by, at a minimum, student growth progression, cohort progression, national data and parental goals.
  • Current FCPS staffing practices and facility adequacy and/or limitations to evaluate efficacy in delivering services at the building level while meeting the needs of a diverse population of students with disabilities in grades PK-12 with current composition of FCPS facilities.

SEPTA will send additional information to our members and supporters regarding public participation in ACSD meetings, when they resume in September. Meanwhile, you may contact Toby at for more information.

What is Twice-Exceptional (2e)?

FCPS and Virginia Department of Education (VA DOE) are making an effort to raise awareness of identification and placement of Twice-Exceptional (2e) learners. 2e learners are students with academic disabilities (e.g. Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD) who qualify for Advanced Academic programs. These students require accommodations for their disabilities, but they also need higher level instruction to best meet their academic and socio-emotional needs. These students can be especially complex, and placement may require unique solutions from a team involving parents, Special Ed staff, Advanced Academics administrators, and teachers. The VA DOE has published a guidance document called “Supporting the Identification and Achievement of the Twice-Exceptional Student.  The Parent Resource Center also offers trainings, and FCPS parents and staff may receive the national 2e Newsletter free by emailing the PRC.


The National Center for Learning Disabilities has compiled information on state laws as of November of 2016. It has also compiled a two page snapshot that focuses on key data points in various areas such as educational environment, discipline and graduation rates for students with learning and attention issues and compares them to national averages. Search on the following link and enter your home state to see your state snapshot.


A New law is effective July 1 in Virginia and it requires every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license to complete dyslexia awareness training. Are you interested in seeing what teachers need to know about dyslexia? You can find the training module here.


Copyright © 2017 Fairfax County SEPTA, All rights reserved.

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