Weekly District Update: April 8, 2022

Weekly District Update: April 8, 2022
Posted on 04/08/2022
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Non-Discrimination Statement:
Natick Public Schools does not discriminate in employment nor in its educational programs, services, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, age, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, physical and intellectual differences, immigration status, homeless status, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Federal and State Legislation Addressing Discrimination in Educational Institutions

You will find links to the contacts for each of the following statutes below.
NPS Engage | Weekly District Update: April 8, 2022
April 8, 2022
District Calendar
Please also refer to your school calendar for school-based activities & information.
School Committee
  • Virtual Coffee Hour: May 17, 6:00-6:45 p.m. (Time Changed) - Dismantling Systemic Barriers for Equitable Access to Opportunity
Next Meeting:
Novus Agenda is updated frequently, please check the agenda 24-hours before any upcoming meetings.
Email the School Committee with questions, concerns, or comments: schoolcommittee@natickps.org.
Superintendent Memo
Feedback Request: As we head into the final 1/3 of the school year and turn our eyes to planning for the 2022-23 school year, I'd like your feedback on how you feel we should prioritize district resources and grant funding in the coming year. Please fill out this one question survey! It's totally anonymous.
The rainbow infinity symbol symbolizes the great diversity in the Autistic community, and is widely used to represent the larger neurodiversity community beyond autism, such as ADHD and dyslexia.
Dear Natick Community:
As many of you might know, Autism "Awareness" Week is celebrated during April, and, last week, we shared information related to that. Since then, we've heard concerns from many of you regarding the use and reference of controversial organizations, symbols, and language shared. Our district strives to create connection and belonging in our schools and the overall community and the disagreements and mistakes made in representing part of our community is an opportunity to educate ourselves and our community.
There will always be challenges in the pursuit to educate ourselves and our community. This underscores the need for systems, families, and communities to continue a dialogue about the perspectives of its various members so we may understand the evolution of how diverse communities wish to be represented. 
Here are a few things we've learned from you this past week and steps we're taking moving forward:
  • Some members of the autism community have moved from the language of autism to using the term neurodiverse or neurodiversity. 
  • In a recent article published through Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nicole Baumer describes neurodiversity as no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. People experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways.
  • We recognize the importance of our words. In the future, we will utilize the word acceptance over awareness in our work in inclusivity. In speaking with neurodiverse students, families, and advocates, the word "awareness" which was more acceptable in years before this is easy, and not sensitive enough for Natick's current state of evolution in the work. while acceptance requires actual work; acceptance with understanding seeks to meet people where they are to understand their unique traits and diversity. 
  • While the puzzle piece autism symbol has, in the past, been a symbolic representation of autism, we now understand that opinions have changed about this symbol and it is not an appropriate representation of autism acceptance. 
  • The puzzle piece implies that autistic individuals or neurodiverse individuals can be "puzzling" or a "mystery," whereas there is nothing problematic or needs to be fixed with neurodiverse individuals.
  • Our school community and the neurodiverse community have adopted the use of the infinity symbol to represent our neurodiverse community and acceptance. The rainbow infinity symbol symbolizes the great diversity in the autistic community and is widely used to represent the larger neurodiversity community beyond autism, such as ADHD, and dyslexia.
I appreciate all of you who wrote to us and talked with us on this matter and I'd like to thank Ms. Miller, our Director of Student Services for her work on this as well. We learn and grow every day.
Update on Statewide COVID-19 Testing Program
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) are extending the statewide testing options currently available to districts and schools past April 22, 2022. DESE and EOHHS continues to monitor factors related to COVID-19 and may make further adjustments to the statewide K-12 COVID testing options this school year. Next steps, including those for summer and fall, will follow later this spring.
DESE Conducting It Regularly-Scheduled Tiered Focused Monitoring Review of NPS
Virtual parent orientation set for April 14
During the week of May 2, 2022, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Public School Monitoring (PSM) will conduct a Tiered Focused Monitoring Review of Natick School District. The Office of Public School Monitoring reviews each district and charter school every three years to monitor compliance with federal and state special education and civil rights regulations. Areas of review related to special education include student assessments, determination of eligibility, the Individualized Education Program (IEP), Team process, and IEP development and implementation. Areas of review related to civil rights include bullying, student discipline, physical restraint, and equal access to school programs for all students. 
Parent outreach is an important part of the review process. Prior to the review, the chairperson from the Office of Public School Monitoring will send an online survey to all parents of students with disabilities receiving services. The survey focuses on key areas of their child’s special education program. Survey results will contribute to the activities of the onsite review and the development of the final report. 
During the onsite review, the Office of Public School Monitoring will interview the chairperson(s) of the district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC). Other onsite activities may include interviews of district staff and administrators, reviews of student records, and onsite observations. After the conclusion of the review, the public will be able to access the report at http://www.doe.mass.edu/psm/tfm/reports
There will be a virtual parent orientation held by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Thursday, April 14th at 6:30 to review this process. Here is meeting information:  
Topic: Natick TFM Parent Orientation Zoom Meeting
Time: Apr 14, 2022 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 886 5347 0629
Passcode: iC5RdY
Parents and other individuals may call Winnie Koko, Public School Monitoring Chairperson, at (781) 338- 3736 to request additional information, or contact Tim Luff, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services at 508-647-6510.
Support NHS Exchange Programs Through Boston Marathon Fundraiser
Deanna Kanavas-DeRocher and Sarah Dwyer are running the Boston Marathon in support of Natick High School's exchange programs. All of the money raised helps low-income Natick students participate in exchange programs in West Africa and Latin America. If you would like to learn more and support them, you can fill out this form.
Natick High Theatre Company's Big Musical is Back On Stage
All Shook Up to have three performances
Friday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 30 at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m.
All Shook Up, the musical uses music inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley paired with the book (plot and dialogue) by Joe Dipietoro. The book (plot) borrows loosely from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The story is a familiar one. A stranger, a guitar slinging roustabout comes to town somewhere in the midwest during the summer of 1955. The town he enters is full of people who are in a sense depressed and/or restricted, afraid to risk and afraid to grow. The town has lost its sense of joy and openness. The roustabout introduces a new way to see and experience the world, for a moment the townsfolk’s outlook is brightened. Unfortunately not everyone wants the town to change or welcomes an outsider's ideas. How will our characters find love, joy, and a sense of fulfillment in a town that is judgmental and afraid? A seemingly simple story about self discovery, love, and acceptance with some comic mishaps, and a lot of musical energy mixed in.
Performances are Friday, April 29 & Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. with an additional matinee on Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m. offering both in person at the high school auditorium and live streamed performance. Tickets are $15 and may be requested through this form.