Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Provincial Conference,
May 2, 2015


On May 2, 2015, the Ministry of Education held a Provincial Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Conference. The networking day brought together over 300 representatives from district school board SEACs across Ontario, including SEAC chairs, new and returning SEAC members, trustees, and superintendents responsible for special education.

The conference began with opening video remarks from Minister Liz Sandals (above), who reinforced the important work of SEACs, while acknowledging the 35th anniversary of Bill 82. The passage of Bill 82 established the vital function that SEACs fulfil in providing for boards, and ensured that for the first time, all children, regardless of disabilities, were to be provided with the opportunity for a publicly funded education, and that school boards in Ontario were required to ensure special education programs and services were provided to exceptional pupils.

Following remarks from Special Education Policy & Programs Branch Director, Barry Finlay, and Joe Trovato, chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE), a panel discussion explored questions about current themes of the day.

Participants then discussed these themes in workshops with district school boards, provincial associations and the Ministry of Education, which were repeated twice throughout the day. Key themes/workshops included SEAC orientation and training, parent engagement, SEAC best practices, and a session on how to effectively provide advice and influence others. Presentations were also given by the Provincial Parent Association Advisory Committee on Special Education Advisory Committees (PAAC on SEAC).

Throughout the day, SEAC members were given opportunities to network and discuss their future goals, as well as strategies for building capacity, engaging parents, and overcoming some of the regular challenges SEACs may encounter as they perform their vital function.

In the words of the participants:

– “What a refreshing conference where the whole province could get a quick look at what is going on in other boards. Great network and idea sharing. Our students will benefit with the knowledge we got to share.”
– “The conference was well-organized and the atmosphere was great! Appreciated the opportunity to network with representatives from across the province.”
– “Thank you to the Ministry of Education for organizing and hosting this very informative conference. It was an important component in the process of collaboration across the province when considering the current and future prospects of our students in special education.”