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Applications for SSD Parent Leadership Institute Due May 1

SSD’s Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) continues to be a great source of information for parents of students with disabilities.  

Participants are chosen through an application process and attend three full days of training on Saturdays once a month for three months during the fall.

Melissa Karge, whose child receives services from SSD, attended the 2018 PLI. She said she is always looking for learning opportunities and ways to better advocate for her son, but also discovered the added benefit of forming friendships and building relationships with other parents.

“I always find it interesting how fast I connect with other parents who have children with special needs,” said Karge. “There is almost an instant bond knowing that we have many of the same struggles and challenges, that we’ve been through many similar experiences when it comes to our kids, and that they’re familiar with the complications of navigating your child’s school district along with SSD.”

Karge said she hopes to incorporate the new strategies she learned into her son’s school day and at home. Additionally, she said she learned tips that can be helpful at individualized education program (IEP) meetings, as well as improved ways to communicate with paraprofessionals and other staff.

Karge said she highly recommends the PLI to other parents. “It’s a great way to connect with other parents and learn strategies that can help your child.”

Allison Edler, a 2018 PLI participant and parent of a child who receives services from SSD, applied for the PLI in order to better understand some of the processes involved with IEPs and to learn more about advocating for her child. She also hopes to teach children how to advocate for themselves.

Edler said she has gained strength from being a part of the PLI. “I’ve learned what to push for and what to let go,” she said. “I’ve learned to not feel guilty for letting go when it is not in your child’s best interest.”

Edler said she also learned to ask more questions. “The more you know, the more you can help,” she said. “I will continue to make myself available to other parents, to help encourage them in their journey, and to lead them to answers or to other people that might be able to help.”

The PLI is accepting applications for its 2019 program. There is no cost to participate. Applications are due May 1.

Published January 2019


SSD Parent Leadership Institute

The Parent Leadership Institute (PLI) is accepting applications for its 2019 program to be held in three sessions on Sept. 7, Oct. 5 and Nov. 2.

There is no cost to participate. Applications are due May 1.

Parents from St. Louis County whose children receive special education or 504 services, First Steps and early childhood services are encouraged to apply.

arrow icon Download the application below or contact Debra Fiasco by e-mail at or by phone at 314.989.8108.

Download application (PDF)
Note: Right click on link above and choose "Save Link As" to save PDF file to your computer. Open the saved file to complete the fillable form.

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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