What is SEPTA?
The National PTA first introduced the concept of a Special Education PTA in 1996 to address the needs of parents of children with special needs. Arlington SEPTA is a separate 501c3 organization affiliated with the National PTA and Virginia PTA. Organized on March 8, 2010, Arlington SEPTA is the first Special Education PTA in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
What does Arlington SEPTA do?
Arlington SEPTA does the following:
- facilitates events and resources about special needs services in the Arlington Public Schools (APS) system and Arlington community.
- provides a voice of advocacy for the good of our children and families.
- supports APS teachers and administrators to achieve the best outcomes for students with special needs, including mini-grants for educators.
- raises awareness and acceptance of disabilities and special needs
- hosts social events with for special needs families
What’s the difference between a SEPTA and a regular PTA?
SEPTAs are community-wide organizations, so Arlington SEPTA represents all of APS schools and programs, not a single school. SEPTAs focus on special education issues and advocacy for children with disabilities.
Like all PTAs everywhere, SEPTAs exist to improve the welfare of children.
Every SEPTA has bylaws and a board of directors.
Like all PTAs, SEPTAs report their membership to the state PTA and submit the same dues,
providing a forum for them to share their experiences.
Why have a PTA for parents of children with special needs?
Because parents of children with special needs have special needs themselves:
- to learn how to work with the special education teachers and other specialists who educate their children.
- to understand the system of special education and their rights under the law.
- to connect with and support other parents.
SEPTAs help meet these needs by bringing together people who have an interest in special education.
While it is not required, SEPTA members should also participate in their school PTA. School-based PTAs provide parent involvement opportunities that county-wide SEPTAs cannot.
Is SEPTA the only kind of special interest PTA?
No. National PTA and Virginia PTA also encourage the formation of:
- PTSA (Parent Teacher Student PTA) in middle and secondary schools.
- Early Childhood PTA for parents of young children.
- Senior Citizen PTA for older people who want to get involved in the PTA mission.