Each student will ascend


Purpose: The Department of Pupil Services is focusing on communication this year.  One of the department’s goal is to ensure that the community and staff members have multiple opportunities for open, two-way communications with all stakeholders to foster trusting partnerships in our mission to deliver exceptional programs.  Therefore, one form of communication will be our quarterly update named “Pupil Services Progress Report”.  The intention of these updates are to provide families with upcoming important dates, highlights that are happening within our department, resources for our families and feedback opportunities. Another form of our communication will be reporting out our SEPAG meeting minutes.  

SEPAG Information from 11/21/19

SEPAG Meeting Minutes 11/21/19

  • Introduction (3 minutes)

    • Director Marc Gold, Supervisor Pre-K-5 Danae Heywood and Supervisor 6-12 Rori Benson introduced themselves to the community and shared their backgrounds

    • Please refer to the Google Slides presentation slides 2-4 for more information


  • Purpose of SEPAG (4 minutes) 

    • Marc Gold shared the purpose of how a SEPAG should function  

    • Please refer to the Google Slides presentation slides 5-8 for more information


  • Interest in joining the executive SEPAG Committee (3 minutes)

    • Danae Heywood shared how the district is seeking families to join the district executive SEPAG committee that will develop future meetings with the district  

    • Please refer to the Google Slides presentation slides 9-10f or more information

    • Please click the link to fill out a Google Form to join our Executive SEPAG Committee


  • Transition Presentations (3 minutes)

    • Rori Benson shared about transitional presentations that will happen for students attending FMS and MHS.

    • Please refer to the Google Slides presentation slides 11-15 for more information

    • We are seeking additional questions/topics to be discussed at these transition presentation.  Please click on the Google forms below to add to this discussion:

    • Middle School Google Form

    • High School Google Form


  • Future Topics for Parent Meetings (2 minutes) 

    • Marc Gold shared with the audience that the department is seeking to gather interests about what type of topics should be discussed at future SEPAG meeting


  • Focus Group Questions: (40 minutes)

    • Marc Gold described to the audience that they would break up into three groups and would respond to 4 focus group questions

    • Please see below the themes that were gathered from the focus groups


  • Questions, Comments, Feedback (5 minutes)

    • Parent questions:

    • Q: How often will these meetings occur? 

    • A (Marc Gold): It will be dependent on the executive SEPAG committee.  Please note that an executive committee is not effective with 40 members coming to the table.  We will invite everyone who is interested in being involved in the executive committee to the first meeting and will figure out a diplomatic way of identifying an appropriate amount of committee members.  

    • Q: Will these meetings always be at night?

    • A (Marc Gold): These meetings will rotate from day time to night time as we would like to accommodate families that need to work at night and vice versa.  If you are not able to make one of the meetings, that is okay as minutes will be shared and there will be opportunities for feedback through online platforms.  

    • Parent Comment: We are envisioning this SEPAG being a parent-led group and we are really interested in getting an executive SEPAG committee up and running.  We see everyone being involved and an extension of the committee even if you formally do not have a seat at the executive committee table. Your voice will be heard as we are one large committee.  

Department of Pupil Services thanks everyone for coming and ends the meeting.  

Themes of Focus Group Questions

Below are some of the themes that were identified during the focus groups.  These themes will be reviewed 

  • Question Number 1: What are your hopes, dreams and goals for your child within the Morris School District?

    • Students are provided with enriched social skills 

    • Students are supported throughout their experience

    • Obtain the necessary skills to succeed in college and beyond

    • Students develop independence skills

    • To learn a hands-on trade and connect with an apprenticeship opportunity

    • To have a place to go where people have a genuine interest in my child’s well being

    • To be accepted for being twice exceptional

    • To be able to function without parent/adult supervision

    • To have more academic/technology experience

    • To be have more after school opportunities for social growth

    • To be less prompt-dependent and more able to function globally

    • To have more focus on daily living skills


  • Question Number 2: How do you envision special education supports in the Morris School District?

    • Every child is getting what they need at their particular level

    • Holding students to appropriate high expectations (not setting the “bar” to low or high)

    • Make changes to the services/programs at the necessary times

    • Communication needs to be improved on all levels and communication needs to be clear

    • Providing parents with the menu of services, programs and supports that are available to them within the district

    • Preparing the students for the next level of classes/building

    • Small, structured environment that fosters independent thinking and problem solving skills

    • Nurtured Heart Approach (or a similar style) to implement positive behavior supports and build confidence for students who demonstrate challenging behaviors

    • Social Emotional Learning

    • Effective School Solutions

    • ALL IN is a great opportunity for all students to interact.  Encourage SNAP Ambassadors at FMS to go with their buddies.

    • To be truly “Least Restrictive” to allow students to succeed in the g. Ed

    • More support for parents

    • More information for parents


  • Question Number 3: What are some important questions/information that we should address with families before they transition to Middle School and/or High School?

    • What are the supports/peer supports available at the next level?

    • For CABAS/MD students at FMS what does their programs look like at MHS?

    • What are the continuum of services that are provided at FMS and MHS?

    • What are the supports for students and families with regards to the technology requirements? 

    • What is the flowchart of who to contact within the building (FMS and MHS)?

    • What type of transitional support are available at each building?

    • How long should a parent expect their child (6th grader/Freshman) to take to be acclimated to the new building?

    • What is the procedure for setting up an observation of in-district and out-of-district special education programs?

    • Who do I contact for what?  Flow chart of who is who at each school and contact information?

    • What are the components of the transition skills class?

    • What are career pathway options and how will my child access those options?

    • Can we schedule an Open House to inform parents about special education programs?

    • Can we arrange for a parent buddy when my child is transitioning to FMS and MHS?

    • What are the class sizes?

    • Is there availability of transition aides?

    • Parents want a deeper understanding of special education supports, what types of supports are available?

    • What is the structure and functioning of the school? 

    • If you would like to add to this list, please click the appropriate link below:

  • Question Number 4: What are some future topics and/or information session that we can provide to our Special Education families?

    • Plan summer ALL IN events

    • Crash course in parent options

    • The flow chart for parents when hitting a wall with the IEP process

      • Parent rights: what to do when at an impasse? 

    • IEP process and the rights of parents.  

MSD SEPAG Meeting Presentation


Please click the following link to view the presentation from our SEPAG meeting on 11/21/19: MSD SEPAG Meeting Presentation



Executive SEPAG Committee

If you are interested in joining our executive SEPAG committee that will work with the district to develop future SEPAG meetings please click the Google Form below, so that you can be invited to a meeting.  At this meeting the committee will develop a diplomatic process of getting representation on the committee.  If you are interested, please complete this form by Thursday, December 5th.   

If you have any questions or concerns about the Executive SEPAG Committee and its purpose, please do not hesitate to contact the Director of Pupil Services, Marc Gold via email marc.gold@msdk12.net or by phone 973-292-2200 Ext 2040.  

Please click the link to fill out the Google Form if you are interesting in joining the Executive SEPAG Committee 

Pupil Services Quarterly Progress Report Volume I

Important Dates

  • 1st Marking Period Progress Report Window:

    • Elementary window: Progress to be mailed home on/or around 11/20 by case managers

    • Middle/High School: Will be published on Parent Portal on/or around 11/20


  • 1st Special Education Parent Advisory Group (SEPAG) Meeting:

    • 11/21/19 at Morristown High School, Media Center/Library from 7-8pm.  Please see link for more information regarding this event. Looking forward to see you there.  A translator and childcare will be provided for the meeting.


  • Transition Presentations:

    • These transition presentations will focus on the services, supports, programs, activities that will be available for your incoming 6th grader and 9th grader at each respective location.  

    • 1/15/20 at Frelinghuysen Middle School Auditorium from 6:30-8:00.  

      • A flyer will be sent out in December with more information.  Please save the date and time.  

    • 1/22/20 at Morristown High School Learning Commons from 6:30-8:00.  

      • A flyer will be sent out in December with more information.  Please save the date and time.


  • ALL IN

    • ALL IN at the high school is going well this year. The attendance at the September and October lunch events are usually a little lighter than the rest of the year, but this year we saw an increase which is great.  All students are welcome to join an inclusive lunch setting which is located in classroom 102. We held our monthly board meeting last week to discuss the twice weekly lunch hang out now that the weather is getting colder.  We also discussed our November and December after school events and assigned committee duties. We are also working on identifying representatives of ALL IN to attend this year's Special Olympics Unified Champion School Youth Summit in December.  Our October event was Homecoming. In the past, students have only attended the game, but this year they wanted to attend the dance as well. (Write up provided by Stephanie Corona, Matthew O’Brien and Kaitlyn Brady)



    • This fall, Morristown High School was extremely fortunate to once again partner with ENABLE for their transition program, via the DVR PRE-ETS grant. This is the second year that MHS has partnered with ENABLE. Over the past 6 weeks, 12 students (juniors and seniors) participated in the after school program at MHS. Topics covered included “soft skills” such as interview skills, workplace social skills, resume writing, and networking. Mrs. Ellen Blake and Ms. Karlene Chi, ENABLE employees, facilitated the after school program along with Dr. Kristen Rudiger, School Psychologist at MHS. Mrs. Blake and Ms. Chi successfully developed relationships with the MHS students in the program and learned about each student’s individual strengths and preferences. Mrs. Blake and Ms. Chi also developed meaningful relationships with community businesses, which resulted in business owners coming to MHS to speak with the students in the program. These individuals volunteered their time to tell their stories to our students, teach our students about networking, interviewing, and various career paths. Some of the most memorable connections were made when the business owners discussed their personal struggles and differing paths to success in the workplace. Students are currently being matched with internship placements at various job sites throughout the greater Morristown community, and will soon earn their first paychecks, and most importantly are building confidence in the workplace. (Write up provided by Dr. Kristen Rudiger)


  • SNAP 

Kim Strasser writes: It has been an exciting and productive start of the school year and I am honored to be a part of a program that embraces inclusion, acceptance and kindness for all. 

Over the last several weeks, I have  met with the selected SNAP ambassadors from  Sussex Ave. School, Normandy Park School, Thomas Jefferson School and Alexander Hamilton School.  These meetings were done on 4 separate evenings from 6:30-8:00. Ambassadors practice their presentation and new leadership role, and parents experience what it feels like to have a disability when SNAP ambassadors take them through 4 stations that make everyday tasks challenging.  Everyone left the meeting feeling empowered to help out. I am happy to report that Sussex Ave. School and Normandy Park School have completed all the SNAP trainings for their 3rd grade classes. There was 100 percent attendance for all the ambassadors attending the sessions. They took their role seriously and were thorough in delivering impactful message of helping others, including everyone no matter what.  

During the October 25th School Spirit Day, 34 kids from Sussex Ave. School were  recognized with SNAP certificates, bracelets, t-shirts and bags for their kind and inclusive actions.   

The SNAP sports clinics have been going strong through the month of October.  With approximately 10 participants and 20 mentors per session, SNAP has provided friendship and a safe environment for kids with special needs to play sports with a friend from middle school or high school.   In addition, the "Peace for Parents" room has also been a hit, giving parents of special needs kids a much needed break, or the chance to collaborate with other parents while their child is engaged in exercise across the hallway with a mentor. (Write up provided by Kim Strasser)   

Please click here for some pictures from our SNAP events.  

SNAP Dates to look for: 

  • Thomas Jefferson School SNAP training will be done by October 29th 
  • Alexander Hamilton School's SNAP training will be done by November 15th


  • Colonial L.I.F.E.

    • The Morris School District's Colonial L.I.F.E. (Learning Independence for Employment) Program for adult learners age 18-21 hit the ground running in September, led by teacher Scott Ronay!  Our adult learners participate each morning in a two hour Structured Learning Experience (SLE), hosted by Beyer Ford, Verilli's Bakery, Morris County Courthouse, Morris County Sheriff's Department, Iron Culture Gym, Lafayette Learning Center, Morristown High School Custodial Department and Morristown High School Athletic Department. While at their SLE, students are  learning job skills first hand, helping them to be successful in the workforce. The rest of the day our young adults can be found working on their health and physical fitness at the Morristown Greater YMCA as they implement their personal training plans developed with personal trainers at the Y. When not on SLEs or hitting the gym, students can be found in the classroom honing their functional life skills through meal prep, laundry, cleaning, planning for community trips and practicing work related skills.  

    • You may find these young adults out and about in Morristown where they participate in rich community based experiences. These experiences include banking, shopping, leisure activities and community service.  And of course they are learning the finer points of public transportation as they participate in travel training utilizing NJ Transit travel system. Coming up, The Colonial L.I.F.E. participants are looking forward to joining other young adults from local 18-21 programs for scheduled social events like Friendsgiving, a Holiday Social and a meet up at the mall. (Click here for pictures) (Write up provided by Patricia Herbert)


  • Unified Sports at MHS

    • We are off to a good start! 14 students have signed up for Unified Swim and 11 are approved and participating in the developmental clinics on Tuesdays and Thursdays (click here for pictures).Special Olympics provided support and resources for the respect week at Hillcrest.  Unified sports will be attending a field trip to the Unified Youth Summit at College of St. Elizabeth. (Write up provided by Cynthia Chiariello)


  • Updated Website

    • The district has invested in revamping our district website to make it more accessible on all digital platforms as well as translating the information into multiple languages.  The Department of Pupil Services has worked on re-organizing the website to ensure that families have accurate information as well as accessible contact information to ensure they know who they should be contacting first.  We are looking for some feedback on our website (please see feedback section) and please take two/three minutes to complete the short survey.  

    • You can find our Pupil Services website by going to the district’s main page and we are located underneath the tab of Offices (please select Pupil Services or click the following link: Pupil Services Website



  • Website Improvement

We would appreciate your feedback on our updated website.  Please take a moment and fill out this short survey to provide us with feedback regarding our website.  Website Feedback Survey