Education — February 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

UPDATED: Michigan Dept of Education to change rules for Special Ed students – Public comments due by March 13th

by

NOW is the time to be heard

PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS POST.

The Michigan Department of Education is proposing sweeping changes to the rules that govern how special education students are accommodated in our state’s public schools. The public comment period is short and ends at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2014.

The state website describes the process explicitly this way:

The Office of Special Education (OSE) is proposing changes to the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) through the state’s rule promulgation process. The MARSE are the implementing rules for federal and state law for special education in Michigan. The resources below explain the process, the proposed changes, and information for how to provide public comment.

You can learn more about the proposed rule changes, send in comments online (which I am told is a rather convoluted process), and find out how to mail in your comments HERE.

There are also two public hearings, both on March 10th:

March 10, 2014
1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.
Detroit School of Arts
123 Selden Street
Detroit, Michigan 48201

March 10, 2014
4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Lansing Community College West Campus
5708 Cornerstone Drive
Lansing, Michigan 48917

Education activist Marcie Lipsitt says that, “the MDE is pulling out the stops to limit public input on these devastating rule revisions.” Because time is short (again the deadline is March 13th), it’s critical that you act NOW if you wish to weigh in on the proposed changes.

Marcie provided me with this overview of the proposed changes:

  1. Giving local control to ISDs and school districts to determine special ed staffing annually based upon the number of students will be devastating. The State Rules on Special Ed Programs and Teacher Caseloads will be meaningless between the ISD Alternate Rule (1832e) and “local control.”
  2. A rule that requires paraprofessionals to have only a high school diploma codifies the lowest bar of expectations.
  3. Allowing physician assistants to be on the evaluation team to determine a Physical Impairment (PI), Other Health Impairment (OHI), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Deaf-Blind is dangerous and psychologists should be allowed to be on the team for OHI.
  4. Eliminating short term objectives removes accountable and measurable progress.
  5. Removing the ‘multidisciplinary evaluation team” will result in more superficial evaluations and confuse parents and districts.
  6. Requiring parents to initiate consent for special education prior to convening an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team is not only devaluing the important role that parents play in determining eligibility, it is incongruent with the idea that requires an IEP team to determine eligibility prior to completing an IEP.
  7. Removing R 340.1832e that documents when the ISD Alternate Plan is being implemented in a child’s IEP and only requiring the ISD to have the “Alternate Plan” on file is completely non-transparent.
  8. A student will only be a student with a disability until the high school credits necessary for a diploma are earned and then a district can unceremoniously exit the student and with no concern for the student’s preparedness for Post-Secondary and employability.
  9. A watering down of requirements for Hearing Impairment and Visual Impairment teachers due to the critical shortage. So students will be short-changed.
  10. To determine a student’s eligibility for an Emotional Impairment only a psychiatrist and social worker will be necessary. How do you “rule out a learning disability” when no special education teacher or school psychologist is required to evaluate?
  11. The proposed revisions have nothing to do with “improving student outcomes” and everything to do with allowing the State, ISDs and LEAs to balance their budgets on the backs of students with disabilities.

If you have an opinion on these rule changes, please take a few moments to submit your comments online, by mail, or in person at one of the March 10th hearings. All the information that you need can be found HERE.

UPDATE: Marcie informs me that State Superintendent Flanagan emailed the State Board of Education yesterday and announced that the Michigan Department of Education that, effective immediately, public comments on the rules will now be accepted through email at MDE-OSE-EIS-Public-Comment@michigan.gov

  • Larry

    The ONLY thing the state of Michigan needs to do to bring cost down while still offering the same high quality is to change the age from 26 to 21 (like EVERY other state in the union). After the age of 21, it is about healthcare not education. If a person cannot graduate from high school by 21, they will not by the age of 26. Don’t get me wrong, SXI students needing services still need services, but I do not believe it is educational services; it is healthcare services.

    • Autumn Collins

      In response to:”If a person cannot graduate from high school by 21, they will not by the age of 26.”
      Not true! I was 3 credits short of earning my high school diploma when I was shoved out of school due to turning 21. Had I been allowed to continue, I would have completed my high school education, and by extension, earned my high school diploma.

    • Andrew

      My child is capable of finishing his high school diploma…But didn’t start talking and engaging until very late, he has autism—he needs until age 26–you are wrong for students with Autism, but your opinion will hinder them for a lifetime.

  • TeacherPattiS

    I am a bit confused about the thing for visually impaired or hearing impaired (VI/HI) teachers. First, there is no critical shortage of anything. The state uses that language but there are plenty of people. When my school was closing in Detroit, I went to an interview where 8 other VI teachers were interviewing. So I’m not sure why that is being used as a reason…the language as I read it will not deny any services to kids.

    The only thing I think that language is doing is changing the name from “teacher consultant (TC) of the visually impaired” to “visual specialist” which is actually more in line with what I do. Also, right now to be a “VI TC”, you need 3 years minimum in a VI classroom. Most districts have done away with those so there is no way to get that for most people. My only fear will be that I will somehow end up on another pay scale and get paid less but I have two other endorsements so we’ll have to see…..

    • Marcie Lipsitt

      I very much appreciate your post although if you read the proposed revisions the VI and HI are being revised to lower the bar because there are a shortage of teachers. Further, the MDE has removed the “MET” and watered down the necessary participants in a child’s evaluation.

      • TeacherPattiS

        Do you mean because they watered down the TC requirements? The specialist jobs still require you to be a certified teacher of VI or HI.
        Don’t get me wrong…the name change does make me question the ultimate motivations but I do wonder how much of it is because it will be impossible to be a certified TC once all of the VI rooms are gone (Detroit has some, LIvonia has one or two and Lincoln Park have one or two…none in Oakland, Jackson, Macomb or Washtenaw)

    • Matt Korolden

      TeacherPattiS

      Great observation regarding shortages. Remember, however, that the shortage is statewide, not just in the SE Lower MI. Outstate and in the UP, the shortages are very real.

      The MDE-OSE has in fact proposed removing the MET language from the rules but he assertion below that it waters down the necessary participants is patently false.

      Here’s the fact: The Multidisciplinary Team has always been a generic group of professionals. Removing the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team language does not change the requirement that a group of professionals including, the parent input, evaluate and identify the need(s) of a child. The specificity around which professionals form the membership of a specific evaluation team has always been found in the definition of each eligibility area. The removal of this language merely removes an
      out of sequence step in the process.

      Under the Current MARSE process, the MET conducts evaluations and recommends eligibility to the IEP team. Then an IEP team is convened to determine eligibility. The proposed Rule language will allow the group of qualified professionals (which requires inclusion of the parent) to complete the evaluation, identify the child’s needs, determine eligibility, and secure parental consent for the provision of services in a
      single step. This clearly supports greater participation by parents in the entire process.

      Look at the evaluation rules for the 13 specific areas of eligibility. The inclusion of those individuals required to participate in the evaluation is still specified, school psychologists continue to be included and no deletion of potential evaluation team members has been suggested. MI has Rules that identify who is required to be part of the evaluation team depending on the focus of the evaluation. This change in language will remove an unnecessary procedural step only.
      R 340.1701b

  • Marcie Lipsitt

    Larry- You are missing the entire point of these revisions. These revisions are about only reducing state funding and returning children with disabilities to a dark period of educational warehousing. If the Age 26 was so costly it would have been a part of this package of rules. It isn’t and simply because a small percentage of children remain in school until the age of 26. Further, the Age 26 is more than health care for students who need more years to build proficiency in vocational training and employability. These proposed revisions are devastating and will result in a growing number of dropouts and discipline referrals. These rules shut parents out of their child’s IEP process and will make it harder for kids to receive services.

    • TimV

      These rules do not “shut parents out of their child’s IEP process”. They bring Michigan’s Administrative Rules for Special Education more in-line with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, which is FEDERAL LAW.
      And to “TeacherPattS”, there IS a critical shortage of VI and HI teachers and TCs. Just because there were 8 other candidates for that position in Detroit (by the way, a heavily populated region in the state), does not mean that there is not a shortage in less-populated regions all over the rest of Michigan.

      • thinkB4UType

        That is not correct. Under the proposed changes, parents are removed and asked to sign an legal contract prior to the assessment being done, On what plant could that be a good idea? Read the actual text – its crystal clear.

        Bringing us ‘more into line’ with the bare bones outline of Federal IDEA is nothing to be proud of. Your caps lock issue with Federal Law not withstanding, in almost every area of law, a Federal Law can set a base line but the States, by virtue of their being closer and more responsible, sets the minutiae. There are notable exceptions such as the education law on desegregation where States complied only with the lowest standard. Its nothing to be proud of.

        • TimV

          Unfortunately for you, I have read the text, and it is clear. In the proposed Rules, evaluation, eligibility, and identification of need are linked in a single process. Once this is completed, the IEP team (which includes parents) can then construct an IEP based on identified needs and recommendations from the evaluators and parents. The consent that parents sign prior to assessment is for the assessment to occur.

          • thinkB4UType

            Why would that be unfortunate for me? Hope you are right, but what I see is this “Within 10 days from the receipt of parental consent for the initial provision of services, the public agency shall develop an individualized education plan” No parents involved.

          • TimV

            The IEP is developed by the school professionals after the group of qualified professionals has determined eligibility and the educational needs of the student. This group of qualified professionals determining eligibility and the educational needs includes the parent (R 340.1702 2c). Therefore, it is explicitly stated that the parent is involved in determining eligibility and the educational needs of the student. The programs and/or services are developed by the district to address the identified needs, and are proposed to the parent via the offer of FAPE.

          • thinkB4UType

            I went and read that area again and I do see it – however I would call these then contradictory at best. I have been reading all your comments and I have to ask – did you help write these changes?

          • TimV

            No, I did not help write the changes. However, I work in special education compliance, and am familiar with both the old MARSE rules and the proposed new rules. I’m concerned, as many of us are, that there seems to be a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of many of proposed changes. So I’ve been trying to help provide some clarity.
            I don’t understand why you think they’re contradictory? The parents are involved with the other qualified personnel in determining eligibility and the educational needs of the student. From that process, the school personnel develop programs and/or services to accommodate and/or address those needs of the student. The resulting document is the IEP, the offer of FAPE to the parents of what the school and its personnel propose to address the educational needs.

          • thinkB4UType

            They seem contradictory because of this:

            “Within 30 school days of receipt of parental consent for evaluation, the public agency shall complete an evaluation, determine eligibility, and request parental consent for the initial provision of services. (3) Within 10 school days from the receipt of parental consent for the initial provision of services, the public agency shall develop an individualized education program service plan and …” Fairly exclusionary language.

            The proposed changes are large, they are done with no discussion and are trying to be hidden under a rug by the OSE. There is no possible way to trust them after seeing how much legalese has been put back into the MARSE and how little they felt the need to present the changes openly and honestly or ask for input and reasonable feedback. I listened to their videos on their page – its a lie of omission. I would punish my kids for lying like that since its an attempt to mislead people.

            Multidisciplinary Evaluation Teams are critical to success and correct evaluations. Removing them is an gigantic change and no minor verbiage clean up or “definition removal.”

            Short term goals and objectives being replaced with annual ones is simple bad management – period. There is no good management structure that does away with short term goals and objectives where people are concerned. Where you want to have any meaningful data, course of action or ability to see what is happening, short term goals and objectives are essential. They a critical to parents, who must monitor progress and from the Special Ed teachers I have spoken with, critical to their work and planning.

          • Matt Korolden

            Dear readers,

            Please consider availing yourself of the opportunity to visit the MDE-OSE, read the proposed rules and learn about the impact they will have on Special Eucation in MI. You can do that here: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-6530_6598-321773–,00.html

            There is certainly a great deal of infomration floating around; some based in fact and some not. Following is a list of assertions and some regulation and rule based facts. I hope they will add clarity to your understanding so that you can make a fully informed decision regarding your comment.

            Assertion: Require parents to give written consent for special education prior to the IEPT determining eligibility. IDEA 300.306 recognizes parents are members of the
            team that determines their child’s eligibility. This revision is virtually the equivalent of writing a contract blind.

            Fact:
            In the proposed Rules, evaluation, eligibility and identification of need are linked in a single process. Once this is completed, the IEP team can then construct an IEP based on identified needs and recommendations from the
            evaluators and parents. IDEA is very clear: at 300.300(b)(3)(iii) If the parent refuses or does not provide consent for initial services, the school is not obligated to convene an IEP. Here’s the exact language from the IDEA:

            (3)If the parent of a child fails to respond to a request for, or refuses to consent to, the initial provision of special education and related services, the public
            agency–

            (i) May not use the procedures in subpart E of this part (including the mediation procedures under Sec.300.506 or the due process procedures under Sec.Sec.300.507 through 300.516) in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided to the child;

            (ii) Will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make FAPE available to the child because of the failure to provide the child with the special education and related services for which the parent refuses to or fails to provide consent; and

            (iii) Is not required to convene an IEP Team meeting or develop an IEP under Sec.Sec.300.320 and 300.324 for the child.

            This procedural requirement of the IDEA mandates that schools ask for and obtain initial consent to provide services prior to convening the initial IEP. This is
            a change from current practice in Michigan and it is an example of how the intent of this revision to MI’s rules will create enhanced alignment with the IDEA.

            Procedurally, it is not yet clear how districts will address this change but it is hard to imagine that a discussion about evaluation results, eligibility and educational
            needs will not include conversation about the resources available to support the student’s access to and support for achievement in school. Following such a discussion, the parents are in a position to make an informed decision if they want to further pursue this option or not. Parents make that choice. Once consent for services is provided, the IEP team (which includes the parent) can
            get to work on designing the individualized program of supports the student will need.
            R 340.1721b

            Assertion:
            Removing all transparency from ISD Alternate Special Education Plans. A “Plan” that overrides the state rule. Since 2002, ISDs have used this rule (R 340.1832e) to create cross categorical mish mosh programs and explode special education program sizes. This is all budgetary.

            *****The brutal reality is that the outcomes for students with IEPs are egregiously poor. Only 52.8 percent graduated last year with a diploma and many earning D’s
            in every content class. This is a counterfeit diploma.

            Fact:
            ISD plans will continue to be the vehicle for creating unique alternate services for students. Results of graduation of students with IEPs are lower than the state target. Might there be a different way to get better results? We still have program rules from the 1980s yet we have learned so much about specialized instruction for students with disabilities. R 340.1832

            Assertion:
            It is wrong to lower the requirements for VI and HI teachers and simply because there is a shortage.

            Fact:
            Nevertheless, there is a shortage and students need services. Much like the medical community has turned to physician assistants and nurse practitioners to
            meet health care demands, schools would be remiss in their FAPE obligation to students if they let needed services go unfulfilled simply because state rule
            artificially constrains their ability to access the services the student needs.

            R 340.1784 & 1785

            Assertion:
            It is wrong to set the lowest bar of expectations and only require paraprofessionals to have a high school diploma.

            Fact:
            Paraprofessionals are intended to support the educational professional in delivering special education services to a student, not supplant them in their
            instructional role. A high school diploma is a typical bar of expectation for many jobs that require similar skill levels. This is a minimal educational requirement which has to date been established through each ISD Plan.

            R 340.1832

            Assertion:
            It is wrong to change the definition of a student with a Disability to give school Districts permission to ram them through the high school credits. Those who need a 5th and 6th year of high school deserve that opportunity and
            additional years in school to earn a MEANINGFUL diploma.

            Fact:
            There is no proposed change to the definition of a student with a disability. In statue and regulations of the IDEA, the following conditions end a student’s
            eligibility for special education: 1) Student graduates with a regular high school diploma, 2) Student is evaluated and determined to no longer be eligible, 3) Student exceeds the age of eligibility, 4) the student’s death, and 5) when the parent revokes consent for special education.

            The IDEA has, at least since its last reauthorization in 2004, been explicit – a purpose of special education is to support a student’s access to and progress the general curriculum towards the achievement of a regular high school diploma. A student in Michigan with an IEP has extended opportunities to earn that diploma and districts have been able to account for this since 2006.

            From the IDEA’s statutory language:601(c)(5) Findings of Congress

            (5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education
            of children with disabilities can be made more effective by
            (A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the
            general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent
            possible, in order to—

            (i) meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging
            expectations that have been established for all children; and

            (ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum
            extent possible;

            What is being made explicit in the proposed rule language is that students, who have attained a high school diploma by successfully completing the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, have effectively completed their public education. It does nothing to stipulate a mandatory time frame for doing so.

            R 340.1702

            Assertion:
            It is wrong to allow Physician’s Assistant to determine a child’s eligibility for an OHI, PI, TBI and. Hearing-Vision Impairment. Not enough training and further eliminates school psychologists.

            Fact:
            These are organic impairments that require a medical diagnosis from a medical professional. The medical community determines which medical professional is
            certified to provide a diagnosis.

            District staff are required to establish the need for special education services, of which psychologists may be a part. The determination of eligibility remains with the group of qualified professionals and the parent, one of the potential qualified professionals may be a PA’s input/documentation. The determination of
            eligibility by a single person is not compliant. School psychologists have never been a required member of the evaluation teams addressing VI, HI, PI, OHI or TBI. Their participation remains open to who will be needed to determine the needs of the child.

            R 340.1709 & 1709a

          • thinkB4UType

            If there is this much debate about what the rules changes mean, they are poorly done and should still be withdrawn. What you think they mean, what another consultant thinks they mean and what parents think they mean seem to all be different. That’s concerning. Ultimately it will get down to what a judge thinks they mean, and then we are splitting hairs. The words then really matter – not what any of us think.

            Why make such large changes without presenting them to people first and asking for input? Why change things at all if they are not making substantive changes?

            Why turn what used to be an understandable document into a an exercise in legal citation referencing and legalese comprehension? Seems directly contrary to the words of the IDEA.

            Why change such significant things as the MET and call it simply a definition removal? Where is the data and explanation showing this was not working well or that something else worked better?

            Why make the word changes in defining different disabilities from “such as’ to ‘including’ if there is no meaning change? Just for fun? Just to be confusing? Success.

            Why reduce the parental challenge period to 45 days? How does that benefit the child?

            There is no defense for removing short term goals and objectives in favor of annual ones. This is poor management in every circumstance where the subject includes human beings change over time. Annual goals cannot ever replace the value and necessity for short term goals and objectives. This is only a way to remove accountability and implement distance in responsibility. Sorry – this one is absolute in every undertaking involving people. HR, engineering – its unequivocal.

            I hope I am wrong about everything I see in the new wording. I am only convinced now that the rules changes are both confusing and misleading.

          • Matt Korolden

            You and I seem to be in perfect agreement – the whole special education process could use an improvement in clarity. That’s one if the reasons this rules revision is important.

            Here’s some additional reading that may help. I’m not trying to convert you, simply contributing to shared understanding. http://www.theoaklandpress.com/opinion/20140306/stay-informed-on-policy-changes-regarding-special-education

            I would assert that these rules have been shared with many interested stakeholders for input. Input is precisely what the public comment period is all about. If there is a proposed change that you have a particular concern about, now is an excellent time to provide your informed comment. These rules have already been shared with the statewide Special Education Advisory Committee (https://seac.cenmi.org/), Parent Advisory Committees at numerous ISDs, ISD and local Directors of Special Education. And they are posted for public comment on the MDE-OSE website.

          • thinkB4UType

            The rules changes as proposed are poorly written and do nothing to further clarity. In fact they make things less clear. The document as a whole is now less reader friendly and there are many large and substantive changes made, which is not in keeping with how the OSE presents these changes on their web site.

            I would call this a failure. The changes should be withdrawn and redone with more competent writers.

          • Marcie Lipsitt

            The assertion that these rules have been shared with stakeholders is inaccurate. Folks- Ask yourselves why Oakland Schools employees are spending hours trying to explain-away the MDE’s proposed revisions to the MI Admin Rules for Special Education. The ISD is working hard to keep parents and teachers from understanding the proposed revisions. Trust us, they say? You are making a grave mistake if you do. Read the proposed revisions carefully. These revisions are about nothing but Gov Snyder’s “promise” to eliminate all state rules that exceed a federal law. This is about bringing down special education in MI that is already un-special,, to the bare bones federal minimum required.

          • Matt Korolden

            Dear thinkB4UType,

            There is certainly a great deal of confusion regarding these rules. Some of which is intentional and some is an artifact of the slow pace at which one set of policies keeps pace with another.

            In the proposed rule language, a school district would have 30 school days thoughtfully complete an evaluation, determine eligibility and need and obtain parental consent for the initial provision of services. Here’s the proposed rule language that appears at R 340.1702 which speaks to who MUST be involved in determining the eligibility of a student. Parents are explicitly INCLUDED in this very important group.

            “Student with a disability” defined; determination of eligibility.

            Rule 2. (1) As used in these rules, “Student with a disability” means a person who has been evaluated and found eligible for special education according to 20 U.S.C. chapter 33, §1400 et seq. and this part.

            Eligibility and the educational needs of a student shall be determined by a group of qualified professionals which includes at least the following:

            (a) A person qualified to interpret the results of evaluations required in R 340.1705 to R 340.1717.

            (b) A person who has knowledge of each suspected disability.

            (c) A parent of the child suspected to be a student with a disability.

            (d) The student’s general education teacher qualified to teach a student of his or her age or, for a child less than school age, an individual qualified by the department to
            teach a child of his or her age.

            (e) A special education teacher.

            IDEA itself speaks to the impact consent to the initial provision of services at 300.300 where the regulations address parental consent.
            Here’s the link you can use to read it for yourself. http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cregs%2C300%2CD%2C300%252E300%2Cb%2C3%2C

            The language you will find there is as follows

            (3)If the parent of a child fails to respond to a request for, or refuses to consent to, the initial provision of special education and related services, the public agency–

            (i) May not use the procedures in subpart E of this
            part (including the mediation procedures under Sec.300.506 or the due process procedures under Sec.Sec.300.507 through 300.516) in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided to the child;

            (ii) Will not be considered to be in violation of the
            requirement to make FAPE available to the child because of the failure to provide the child with the special education and related services for which the parent refuses to or fails to provide consent; and

            (iii) Is not required to convene an IEP Team meeting or
            develop an IEP under Sec.Sec.300.320 and 300.324 for the child.

            I hope this helps clear things up for you. In the end, I simply ask that you make fully informed comment.

            Thank you.

          • Marcie Lipsitt

            Folks- Ask yourselves why Oakland Schools employees are spending hours trying to explain-away the MDE’s proposed revisions to the MI Admin Rules for Special Education. The ISD is working hard to keep parents and teachers from understanding the proposed revisions. Trust us, they say? You are making a grave mistake if you do. Read the proposed revisions carefully. These revisions are about nothing but Gov Snyder’s “promise” to eliminate all state rules that exceed a federal law. This is about bringing down special education in MI that is already un-special,, to the bare bones federal minimum required.

            http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Proposed_Rule_Changes_2014_447265_7.pdf

          • TimV

            I think, maybe, it’s a difference of perspective regarding the “largeness” of the changes. However, they are not “done with no discussion and are trying to be hidden under a rug by the OSE.” This is the period of public comment, and OSE/MDE has made it very easy to make public comment on the proposed rules. I do not understand your position of feeling that there is no possible way to trust them. The changes in their entirety are up on the MDE site, and this period of public comment allows anyone with an opinion to approve/disapprove and provide comment on their position. There are also open forums to discuss in person.

            I also, still, do not understand your point of them being contradictory. Nor do I understand your perspective of the process being “fairly exclusionary”. The parents will be, just as they were previously, involved in determining eligibility and the educational needs of the student. From that determination of eligibility and needs, the school develops an IEP to address the educational needs. The parents are not excluded.

            Regarding the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team language, only the language and term Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) is being removed from the language. If you look at R 340.1702 (2), this language clearly states who will be involved in determining eligibility and the educational needs of the student, which includes everyone from a MET team. The purpose and membership of the MET team is NOT being removed from the process, only the actual term of MET.

            Regarding short-term goals and objectives, it is more important to have annual measurable goals with shorter-term benchmarks that are visible in the progress monitoring data. The problem with short-term objectives is that they can limit annual expectations for achievement. By setting an annual measurable goal, you can then benchmark progress to attain that goal, and provide quarterly (or by semester) progress via the progress reports.

          • thinkB4UType

            The problems I have are the differences in how the changes are presented in the OSE videos and how they read. There is a real disconnect. Example, removing the MET was described as ‘definition removal’ when in fact its the team removal. Everything else in the changes is soft sold as minor language and the reading does not match that description. In common core terms, the videos would get a D. One must accurately describe what changes are, not simply the syntax coming and going.

            The other problem is the limited comment period with stunted methods of commenting. I work in the tech sector, so lets get something straight right now – the methods of comment lack easy use and are not at all modern. The on line commenting section by section is either designed to make comments hard for people or poorly designed. Take your pick. The lack of email was noted until the change. The lack of public comment above Lansing has to make you wonder what the OSE thinks about Northern Michigan. Not valuable? Not important? Why are public comment times set so teachers cannot come? Surely they are one of the most valuable voices. So no, I have little trust with the OSE after all this.

            In principle I agree with what you are saying about short term and long term goals The problem is that what you have said is not reflected in the rules changes. Both short term and long term goals should be included in every IEP and the short term ones should be fluid. In truth this is how our IEPs have always worked.

            My overall issue with the changes as written is that they are too able to be interpreted in ways detrimental to students. I have seen many people comment that they are all for the benefit of the kids and none of the terrible things we see are actually true.

            To accept that, we would have to trust not only the commenters who claim to be unaffiliated with the changes but also trust that a judge would agree with that meaning and that local schools would also agree.

            Where special needs children and their rights are concerned, its very bad idea to leave such things so wide open. We all know there are some bad actors out there who will interpret these changes in the worst possible light. Their decisions may be reversed on appeal – if the child’s parents are aware of their rights and can afford and navigate that process. That’s a lot of if and in the meantime, you have a child whose education is suffering.

            Why no simple write them more clearly and with less room for interpretation? It’s not that hard. In fact, I would argue it is the duty of the OSE to do so.

          • Michelle

            thinkB4UType, The members of the IEP Team is identified specifically in the IDEA under 34 CFR § 300.321(a). The first member listed is the parent of the child…
            (a) General. The public agency must ensure that the IEP Team for each child with a disability includes–
            (1) The parents of the child;
            (2) Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
            (3) Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less then one special education provider of the child;
            (4) A representative of the public agency who–
            (i) Is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
            (ii) Is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
            (iii) Is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency.
            (5) An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be a member of the team described in paragraphs (a)(2) through (a)(6) of this section;
            (6) At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
            (7) Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.

          • thinkB4UType

            I see that, as several people have already pointed out.

          • Marcie Lipsitt

            Folks- Ask yourselves why Oakland Schools employees are spending hours trying to explain-away the MDE’s proposed revisions to the MI Admin Rules for Special Education. The ISD is working hard to keep parents and teachers from understanding the proposed revisions. Trust us, they say? You are making a grave mistake if you do. Read the proposed revisions carefully. These revisions are about nothing but Gov Snyder’s “promise” to eliminate all state rules that exceed a federal law. This is about bringing down special education in MI that is already un-special,, to the bare bones federal minimum required.

          • Michelle

            Marcie, Again, I ask you to provide your readers with facts and actual Rule or Regulation language. The assertations (and assumptions) you continue to provide are simply sentences with absolutely no data or documentation to verify your negative claims. It saddens me how incorrect your claims are.
            Less time should be spent on figuring out who people are, bashing the MDE, and stirring up resentment. The bloggers deserve more access to reading the Rules and Regulations that do, in fact, require FAPE to our children with disabilities.

          • Lefty

            Read the section of the rule that talks about required members of the IEP Team. Parents are included in that listing.

      • TeacherPattiS

        Really? Where? I’m not being facetious but I am on the statewide VI list and I very very rarely see posts for jobs.

  • One Mom Who Gives a Damn

    As a parent of a child with Down syndrome I must say that I’m saddened to hear that our government is wishing to change the rules when it comes to the accomodations for special needs students. I have many concerns about these rule changes.

    These are just a few of my concerns:

    “A rule that requires paraprofessionals to have only a high school diploma codifies the lowest bar of expectations”

    First off, parapros not needing to have a college education? What is wrong with this picture? We are now just allowing anyone to just come in and work with our children and be okay with it? I think not. Paraprofessionals need to be seasoned and learn how to work with children with disabilities across the board, hiring a kid out of HS isn’t going to cut it. He/she is only going to be there for a mere paycheck, not for the benefit of the children. It’s madness. This is lowering the bar and allowing our children with disabilities to have the bottom feeders for instructors/helpers in their classrooms, and this is unacceptable.

    “A student will only be a student with a disability until the high school credits necessary for a diploma are earned and then a district can unceremoniously exit the student and with no concern for the student’s preparedness for Post-Secondary and employability.”

    So, we just give up on the students? Is that how we treat our disabled community? This is what Michigan wants to do to our children .. bottom line, it’s not right.

    “Eliminating short term objectives removes accountable and measurable progress.”
    Why on earth would short term objectives be eliminated? What sense does that make? Answer: NONE! Seriously, people get your heads out of the sand!!!

    “To determine a student’s eligibility for an Emotional Impairment only a psychiatrist and social worker will be necessary. How do you “rule out a learning disability” when no special education teacher or school psychologist is required to evaluate?”
    An LD can’t be ruled out by a psychiatrist or a social worker. A student needs to be evaluated by a licensed special education teacher .. someone who is well versed in seeing LD’s and knows what to look for in the first place. By allowing psychiatrists and social workers to determine eligibility more and more students with LD’s are going to fall through the cracks and miss out on learning opportunities because they are going to be overlooked.

    The proposed revisions have nothing to do with “improving student outcomes” and everything to do with allowing the State, ISDs and LEAs to balance their budgets on the backs of students with disabilities.
    I highly agree with this statement. I feel that the State is doing nothing more than making cuts in the wrong places. Children with disabilities can become productive members of society if they are given the opportunity to have a free and appropriate education, vocational training and job opportunities, along with the love and support of others. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do something, if we can only learn to be patient, and teach these children, they can learn. People with disabilities are differently-abled, and they need advocates to stand up for their rights. If you had a child with a disability and you were faced with these changes, how would you feel? Many people could care less because it doesn’t affect them, but when it comes down to it, it is all about budget cuts, and the easiest thing for our State to cut is programs for children with disabilites. Eliminate jobs that make a difference in the lives of these children… That is pure Michigan. :'(

    • instructorj

      There are a lot of instructors that have a high school background
      And work wonders with these kids & have the love & teaching
      In them. To call them bottom feeders is being judgmenal
      I’ve known some teachers that Should not be working
      With these kids. I am a instructor & love my job
      & enjoy the kids very much. If they walk out learning
      Some thing new that makes me proud I did my job.
      Keep in mind not everyone can do this but be greatful
      To the ones who can.

      • thinkB4UType

        So being qualified to deal with complex limitations of children with disabilities should be tossed because you know some nice people? I appreciate your sentiment but not your logic. Nice people can make terrible mistakes and limit the growth of children with special needs simply by not being trained or having a well trained practice in proper methods. Teaching these kids is not about nice, its about ability and training.

        • Lynn

          Then I suggest you start paying these “educated” para-professionals more than $10.00/hr. You cannot expect to get highly qualified, educated people to work for the same amount my teen makes working at the mall.

          • thinkB4UType

            You really have no idea what you are talking about, do you.

          • TimV

            No, Lynn really hit the nail on the head. Many (most?) paraprofessionals are only paid around $10/hour and top out around $13-14/hour. Subsequently, very few college graduates apply for and hold these jobs. And, historically, paraprofessionals have not been required to have college degrees.

          • Michelle

            I am seeing a missed point here… Paraprofessionals do NOT provide specialized instruction (in fact, by Rule & Reg they are not allowed to), their job is to support instruction under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Changing, feeding, assisting sensory diets, administering medications, observing, accompanying, helping with work… these are things that a person with a high school diploma can accomplish.

    • TimV

      I am a parent of a student with a disability as well. However, these proposed rule changes do not “change the rules when it comes to accommodations for students with special needs”. I’d like to address your concerns:
      – Many paraprofessionals across the state have nothing more than a high school diploma and regular professional development, and perform their jobs with a high level of competence. They are not just anyone off the street as they must pass background checks just like everyone else employed by the schools. This will not bring “bottom feeders” into the classroom, and I would think that all paraprofessionals would be offended that you are calling them that. Paraprofessionals receive regular and mandated training and professional development, specific to their positions, provided by quality and certified teachers and other professionals.

      – A student will only be a student with a disability until the age of 26 or they have completed the requirements of a high school diploma. Every student with an IEP has transition goals in their IEP beginning around 8th-9th grade, to help transition them for their post-secondary life. This is federally mandated by IDEA, and will not change with these proposed rules. This is certainly NOT “showing no concern for the student’s preparedness for post-secondary and employability”! It has been, and will continue to be quite the opposite. No one is, has been, or will be giving up on these students as a result of these proposed rules.

      – The specific language of “short-term objectives” is being deleted from the proposed rules because the annual goals now have to be measurable. The term “short-term objectives” is redundant and it’s intent is satisfied with the annual measurable goals.

      – A student’s eligibility for an Emotional Impairment is not done solely by a psychiatrist and a social worker. This is explicitly stated in R340.1706 Rule 6 (4) An evaluation of a student suspected of having an emotional impairment, shall include documentation of all of the following: (a) the student’s performance in the educational setting and in other settings, including adaptive behavior within the broader community. And also (5) A full and individual evaluation shall include assessments by both of the following: (a) a psychologist or psychiatrist. (b) a school social worker.
      The evaluation is by a group of qualified individuals, as listed in R 340.1702 (2) (a) through (e) and includes a special education teacher, a general education teacher, and a parent, among others.
      This full evaluation would certainly consider performance in the classroom, and concerns from both special and general education teachers and the possibility of other eligibilities.

      – Many (most?) of the proposed revisions are to align the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) more closely with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and to reduce redundancies and add some clarity and efficiency. They do not have “everything” to do with helping the State, ISDs, and LEAs balance their budgets on the backs of students with disabilities. Students with disabilities, and their parents, are not being shut out of the process, nor are their federally-guaranteed protections being infringed upon. Children with disabilities most certainly can become productive members of society if given the opportunity.

      I AM a parent of a student with a disability, and I am happy about these changes, as they will help LEAs, ISDs, and the State to provide special education more efficiently, while maintaining quality.

      These proposed rule changes are not about budget cuts, and the easiest thing for our State to cut is certainly NOT programs for children with disabilities.

      I would strongly suggest you carefully read the proposed rule changes, in their entirety, before agreeing with the statements 1 through 11 listed in this article.

    • Matt Korolden

      Dear One Mom who GIves Damn,

      There is certainly a great deal of information swirling around about the proposed rules. If you will allow me to, I’d like to present some common assertions and the related facts as based in regulation and rule. I hope they will assist you in making fully informed comment.

      Paraprofessionals are intended to support the educational professional in delivering special education services to a student, not supplant them in their instructional role. A high school diploma is a typical bar of expectation for many jobs that require similar skill levels. This is a minimal educational
      requirement which has to date been established through each ISD Plan.
      R 340.1832

      Remember that in 2006, Gov. Grandholm signed into law a rigorous set of high school graduation requirements. A high school diploma means something very different today than it did just 8 years ago. What a shame it would be to think that individuals who have achieved their diploma are qualified to service in defense of our country but not qualified to provide service in the education of its children.

  • TeacherPattiS

    I would also look at the diploma vs. certificate of completion issue. Most of my kids are low incidence (VI) so they have been going for their diploma. I have my first student who is about to get her “certificate of completion”…she can’t qualify for financial aide, can’t go to community college/tech or training school or the military with it. I have been asking my colleagues what the point is but no one has answered me yet.

    (The diploma is what you get when you go through the Michigan Merit Curriculum–the one with the algebra/geo/algebra 2 requirements…plus much much more. While it is true that special ed kids can do a personal curriculum, I haven’t seen it used much.)

    • ccorwin

      I don’t know what area you are in, but I was told at that at least some – if not all – community colleges do accept the certificate of completion (aka attendance certificate) I know Schoolcraft College in Livonia is one of them. Not sure about the others. we aren’t there yet.

    • TimV

      “Low incidence” has nothing to do with whether students are working toward a diploma or a certificate of completion. “Low incidence” refers to the number of students with a particular disability. VI and HI students are “low incidence” because, compared to many other disability (Speech and Language Impairment, Learning Disabled, Emotionally Impaired, etc.), there are relatively few.

      Also, many (most?) community colleges accept students with a certificate of completion, as well as many “training schools”. I do not know about financial aid or the military.

      Certificates of Completion were instituted as a symbolic end to the high school career for students who did not/could not/would not earn a diploma, were not severely disabled enough to attend a center-based program to primarily work on life skills and in highly-supervised and structured work-based learning programs. This symbolic end to the high school career could then be entered into the State Pupil Accounting system as not a “graduate”, but not a dropout either.

      • TeacherPatti

        Yes, I’m well aware of what “low incidence” means.
        The community college that is in my county will not accept the student with a C of C. Not sure about other areas. The fact that ours won’t (in mid-Michigan) concerns me.

        • Matt Korolden

          Dear TeacherPatti,

          Sounds like an issue to address with your CC’s board. TimV is absolutely correct. When I was working for the MDE as Co-Director of the Transition Outcomes Project we worked collaboratively with our colleagues in the Superintendants office to develop some very nice materials regarding the Michigan Merit Curriculum, the state graduation requirements and the impact it might have. Here’s an excerpt from one of those documents that address your concern.

          Without a diploma a student may:

          Enter trade or vocational school (“Ability to Benefit”* admission method which is usually based • on the results of a standardized test such as the ACT, SAT, Work Keys, etc.).

          Attend most community colleges (“Ability to Benefit”* admission method which is usually • based on the results of a standardized test such as the ACT, SAT, Work Keys, etc. Most community colleges also require students to take placement exams).

          Enter certain branches of the U.S. armed forces• —

          The U.S. armed forces will accept applicants who possess a “Certificate of Attendance.” ◊ These are sometimes called certificates of competency or completion, but they are based on course completion rather than a test such as the GED or CHSPE. These applicants are called Tier II candidates.

          Less than 1% Air Force enlists are Tier II candidates each year. Approximately 10% of ◊ Army and Navy enlistees are Tier II candidates. Approximately 5% of Marines enlistees are Tier II candidates.

          Apply for scholarships and financial aid such as: •

          Michigan Competitive Scholarship◊

          Michigan Tuition Grant◊

          Tuition Incentive Program ◊

          Children of Veterans Tuition Grant◊

          Survivors Tuition Grant

          You can find the entire document here: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/PC_Extras_Final_5-10-12_384724_7.pdf

  • ccorwin

    Marcie, is there a link to the actual wording of the proposed changes? No offence, but I would like to look at the actual wording so I can properly construct a letter. Thanks…

  • Christy Thelen

    My son is an SXI child in a special needs school. Changing the above things will make it harder on him, myself and the staff. Our children need ALL of the readiness school can give them for life ahead of them. If you follow a child from the start age on you will find a lot of them make GREAT improvements. PLEASE don’t make it harder for them to succeed at their best possible self’s. 1) They should NOT be able to make staffing changes based on student numbers! They already have some of the classes at max!!! 2) Para pro play a BIG role in the classrooms and should have the correct education! 3) “Allowing physician assistants to be on the evaluation team to determine” things for our children? NO no no! They are NOT a doctor or a psychologist and some of our children are very complex. 4) Why would you want to do without short term objectives? To save money on our children’s expense? 5) Wrong in so many ways, it can already be confusing enough! 6) We should NOT have to request an IEP, it should be automatic! 7) I don’t need to go on… But I could! PLEASE don’t take ANYTHING away from our children, they will only suffer!!!

    • TimV

      I agree that our children need all of the preparations our schools have to offer to give them the best outcomes in life. However, I think that several of your points carry with them some misunderstandings:
      1 – Many staffing changes are based on numbers. The ISD Plans allow for some flexibility in staffing, to accommodate both student needs and available staff
      2 – Many (most?) paraprofessionals only have a high school diploma now. In addition, many (most?) paraprofessionals are only making $10-13/hour, virtually ensuring that those with college degrees do not pursue these positions. I do agree that paraprofessionals play a big role in the education of students, but they do not lead or design instruction, they are under the supervision and guidance of a teacher.
      3 – Physician Assistants are only involved in evaluation teams where medical diagnoses are needed. The Michigan Public Health Code allows these professionals to make such diagnoses, as they are under the supervision of fully certified and qualified medical doctors.
      4 – The term “short-term objectives” has been removed because the Annual Goals now need to be measurable. Having “short-term objectives” in the language was redundant. The intent of “short-term objectives” is satisfied with Annual Measurable Goals.
      5 – I do not understand what you mean by this comment.
      6 – What should be “automatic” about an IEP? Parents can request an evaluation for eligibility and list specific concerns, but so can school personnel. Nothing is changing about this.

      Nothing is being taken away from our children. These rules bring us into greater compliance with IDEA and reduce redundancies and inefficiencies in the current MARSE rules.

  • lotsapinions

    Require Paraprofessionals to have more than a high school degree? I hope this comes along with a significant pay increase. I know I certainly would not pay for college certification for a job that pays squat. In many districts these workers do not work a full forty hour week and the TOP of the pay scale is $17 per hour. If they don’t supplement their income with a second job they end up earning below poverty level income. Who in their right mind would pay for or go into student loan debt for a job with that type of compensation?

    • PatriotGranny

      An AA in child development isn’t an unreasonable request. $17/hour isn’t peanuts.

      • TimV

        No, $17/hour is not peanuts, but I would guess that most parapros do not make $17/hour, and many pay through the nose for their 20% of health insurance, making their take-home pay significantly less.

        • TeacherPatti

          I have heard anywhere from $10/hour to $14 or $15/hour at the ISD. And remember that since this is per hour, you are only paid for 6.75 hours per day, 180 days per year (not sure about snow days and such).

      • Lefty

        It’s not peanuts, but many paraprofessionals are the sole income-earners in their families…and they pay for health insurance, and taxes, and, and, and.

  • Matt Korolden

    Dear readers,

    What a wonderful opportunity we have hear to engage some useful and productive dialogue. This topic has certainly generated more than the usual interest, which is a good thing in a free democracy.

    I would like to offer here some fact based information as one additional source the public can draw on. Fully informed comment on the MI Rules for Special Education is the only sure way to move things forward for our children.

    Remember, that you can go to the MDE-OSE website to see the actual rule language that is being proposed and learn about the impact these rules will have.

    You can visit the MDE-OSE at: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-6530_6598-321773–,00.html

    So, let’s address some popular assertions with regulation and rule based fact.
    It is my hope that people will continue to access multiple sources of information and make up their own minds as fully informed citizens.

    Assertion: Proposing to give local control to school districts to determine special education staffing annually. This will be used to explode special education teacher caseloads and class-sizes. History lesson? The MDE monkeyed around with Pres. Obama’s big stimulus bill (ARRA) and allowed school districts to reduce their special education budgets by 50% of this onetime increase and shift the dollars to their general fund. Many districts did this and it has dramatically reduced the kids services.

    Fact: The Michigan Rules that are in part 3 specify the required caseloads/class sizes for programs and some services. The language added to the ISD Plan 1832 language requires that ISDs review with districts that their staffing does indeed meet the needs of the students. It is in addition to, not a replacement of, and effectively adds an additional layer of oversight and accountability. R 340.1832

    Assertion: Requiring a child to “be unable to make eye contact” to be eligible for special education as a student with Autism. This will make MI the state with the most restrictive criteria in the nation and leave out countless children.

    Fact: This assertion has no basis in fact. Neither the proposed rule nor the current rule explicitly require eye contact as a single indicator that either rules in or rules out eligibility. The purposed language reads as follows:
    (3)(2) A Determination that a student has autism spectrum disorder is based on documentation of all of the following:
    (a) Qualitative impairments in reciprocal social interactions including at least 2 of the following areas:
    (i) Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors including eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
    (ii) Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
    (iii) Marked impairment in spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people, for example, by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest.
    (iv) Marked impairment in the areas of social or emotional reciprocity.
    R 340.1715

    Assertion: Remove “short term objectives” in a student’s IEP and have nothing but an annual goal. MDE pushed this one in 2008 and we stopped this change.

    Fact: The proposed Rule language creates alignment with IDEA. The removal of this obligation in Michigan rule does not negate district obligations to follow IDEA which requires regular reporting of progress on goals (at least as often as progress is reported for every students) and further requires that a lack of progress on goals and in the general education curriculum be addressed. 300.324(b)(1)(ii)(A) & 300.320(a)(2) R 340.1721e

    Assertion: Eliminate the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team” in favor of a more generic group of experts. This is being pushed to save districts time and money and completely marginalize school psychologists.

    Fact: The Multidisciplinary Team has always been a generic group of professionals. Removing the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team language does not change the requirement that a group of professionals including, the parent’s input, evaluate and identify the need(s) of a child. The specificity around which professionals form the membership of a specific evaluation team has always been found in the definition of each eligibility area. The removal of this language merely removes an out of sequence step in the process.

    Under the Current MARSE process, the MET conducts evaluations and recommends eligibility to the IEP team. Then an IEP team is convened to determine eligibility. The proposed Rule language will allow the group of qualified professionals (which requires inclusion of the parent) to complete the evaluation, identify the child’s needs, determine eligibility, and secure parental consent for the provision of services in a single step. This clearly supports greater participation by parents in the entire process.

    Look at the evaluation rules for the 13 specific areas of eligibility. The inclusion of those individuals required to participate in the evaluation is still specified, school psychologists continue to be included and no deletion of potential evaluation team members has been suggested. MI has Rules that identify who is required to be part of the evaluation team depending on the focus of the evaluation. This change in language will remove an unnecessary procedural step only. R 340.1701b

    Assertion: Require parents to give written consent for special education prior to the IEPT determining eligibility. IDEA 300.306 recognizes parents are members of the team that determines their child’s eligibility. This revision is virtually the equivalent of writing a contract blind.

    Fact: In the proposed Rules, evaluation, eligibility and identification of need are linked in a single process. Once this is completed, the IEP team can then construct an IEP based on identified needs and recommendations from the evaluators and parents. IDEA is very clear: at 300.300(b)(3)(iii) If the parent refuses or does not provide consent for initial services, the school is not obligated to convene an IEP. Here’s the exact language from the IDEA:

    (3)If the parent of a child fails to respond to a request for, or refuses to consent to, the initial provision of special education and related services, the public agency–
    (i) May not use the procedures in subpart E of this part (including the mediation procedures under Sec.300.506 or the due process procedures under Sec.Sec.300.507 through 300.516) in order to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided to the child;
    (ii) Will not be considered to be in violation of the requirement to make FAPE available to the child because of the failure to provide the child with the special education and related services for which the parent refuses to or fails to provide consent; and
    (iii) Is not required to convene an IEP Team meeting or develop an IEP under Sec.Sec.300.320 and 300.324 for the child.

    This procedural requirement of the IDEA mandates that schools ask for and obtain initial consent to provide services prior to convening the initial IEP. This is a change from current practice in Michigan and it is an example of how the intent of this revision to MI’s rules will create enhanced alignment with the IDEA.

    Procedurally, it is not yet clear how districts will address this change but it is hard to imagine that a discussion about evaluation results, eligibility and educational needs will not include conversation about the resources available to support the student’s access to and support for achievement in school. Following such a discussion, the parents are in a position to make an informed decision if they want to further pursue this option or not. Parents make that choice. Once consent for services is provided, the IEP team (which includes the parent) can get to work on designing the individualized program of supports the student will need.
    R 340.1721b

    Assertion: Removing all transparency from ISD Alternate Special Education Plans. A “Plan” that overrides the state rule. Since 2002, ISDs have used this rule (R 340.1832e) to create cross categorical mish mosh programs and explode special education program sizes. This is all budgetary.
    *****The brutal reality is that the outcomes for students with IEPs are egregiously poor. Only 52.8 percent graduated last year with a diploma and many earning D’s in every content class. This is a counterfeit diploma.

    Fact: ISD plans will continue to be the vehicle for creating unique alternate services for students. Results of graduation of students with IEPs are lower than the state target. Might there be a different way to get better results? We still have program rules from the 1980s yet we have learned so much about specialized instruction for students with disabilities. R 340.1832

    Assertion: It is wrong to lower the requirements for VI and HI teachers and simply because there is a shortage.

    Fact: Nevertheless, there is a shortage and students need services. Much like the medical community has turned to physician assistants and nurse practitioners to meet health care demands, schools would be remiss in their FAPE obligation to students if they let needed services go unfulfilled simply because state rule artificially constrains their ability to access the services the student needs.
    R 340.1784 & 1785

    Assertion: It is wrong to set the lowest bar of expectations and only require paraprofessionals to have a high school diploma.

    Fact: Paraprofessionals are intended to support the educational professional in delivering special education services to a student, not supplant them in their instructional role. A high school diploma is a typical bar of expectation for many jobs that require similar skill levels. This is a minimal educational requirement which has to date been established through each ISD Plan.
    R 340.1832

    Assertion: It is wrong to change the definition of a student with a Disability to give school Districts permission to ram them through the high school credits. Those who need a 5th and 6th year of high school deserve that opportunity and additional years in school to earn a MEANINGFUL diploma.

    Fact: There is no proposed change to the definition of a student with a disability. In statue and regulations of the IDEA, the following conditions end a student’s eligibility for special education: 1) Student graduates with a regular high school diploma, 2) Student is evaluated and determined to no longer be eligible, 3) Student exceeds the age of eligibility, 4) the student’s death, and 5) when the parent revokes consent for special education.

    The IDEA has, at least since its last reauthorization in 2004, been explicit – a purpose of special education is to support a student’s access to and progress in the general curriculum towards the achievement of a regular high school diploma. A student in Michigan with an IEP has extended opportunities to earn that diploma and districts have been able to account for this since 2006.

    From the IDEA’s statutory language:
    601(c)(5) Findings of Congress
    (5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by—
    (A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to—
    (i) meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and
    (ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible;

    What is being made explicit in the proposed rule language is that students, who have attained a high school diploma by successfully completing the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, have effectively completed their public education. It does nothing to stipulate a mandatory time frame for doing so.
    R 340.1702

    Assertion: It is wrong to allow Physician’s Assistant to determine a child’s eligibility for an OHI, PI, TBI and. Hearing-Vision Impairment. Not enough training and further eliminates school psychologists.

    Fact: These are organic impairments that require a medical diagnosis from a medical professional. The medical community determines which medical professional is certified to provide a diagnosis.

    District staff are required to establish the need for special education services, of which psychologists may be a part. The determination of eligibility remains with the group of qualified professionals and the parent, one of the potential qualified professionals may be a PA’s input/documentation. The determination of eligibility by a single person is not compliant. School psychologists have never been a required member of the evaluation teams addressing VI, HI, PI, OHI or TBI. Their participation remains open to who will be needed to determine the needs of the child.
    R 340.1709 & 1709a

  • thinkB4UType

    I spent an entire day reading the changes. It was mind numbing. The changes in most cases are very confusing. I am just a parent, who is capable of reading for meaning. It is not an easy document to plow through and the changes are not all clear or good.

    Why remove the words “such as” and replace them with the words “including”? One is a very clear statement of example. The other is not and can be interpreted as a mandatory listing. It can also be interpreted as not being a mandatory listing. In regulation writing, this is a never good unless one wished to create the opportunity for it to be interpreted the other way. One has to assume then, that this was intentional. Otherwise, why change it at all?

    Why make the document now so unreadable? It is now a legal minefield and serves no one, least of all a student or their parents.

    Why remove the MET without discussion? How does that help a student? Why simply call it a definition removal? Its a serious process change and one that deserved more investigation and data prior to removing.

    Why remove short term goals and objectives? This is a really bad idea and removes accountability for progress from a reasonable time frame to an unreasonable one. There is nothing in this I see that helps anyone. Please dont say that annual goals replace this sufficiently, its simply not credible in any field as a measurement.

    Why change the complaint period to half the time? How does that serve the student?

    Lastly, why call people ‘angry and bitter’ when all they are trying to do in understand something that directly affects their children and were told was minor? No one here is advocating against special education kids – most everyone seems to be advocating for them.

  • thinkB4UType

    I think the OSE should go back and try again. I spent an entire day reading the proposed changes to the MARSE – a day I will never get back. What a nightmare. Coming from the automotive industry that lives and dies by quality standards, these changes are unclear and poorly written.

    It is not clear why some of these changes benefit students, as the OSE claims. The rules changes are presented as minor verbiage ‘clean up’ on the OSE web site, but reading the document seems to be a different experience and different set of facts. Why do that?

    ‘Removal of the definition’ of Multidisciplinary Evaluation Teams also has the net effect of removing the teams. Seems to me that that removal would have been the more correct point to present and not a definition removal. What replaces it is less than clear. The reasons for removing the MET are also unclear. Who benefits from this?

    A very convoluted system of days are inserted so that it appears that eligibility and an IEP are all now done at the same time? It’s impossible to draw a straight line time frame using the times outlined in the new changes. Something is off somewhere. In any case, how hard is it to write out a simple time line in a way anyone can understand? Standards and rules should be clear and easy to follow.

    For Autism eligibility, the words “such as” followed by various symptomatology are removed and changed to “including”. I have seen several people claim this is not a change in meaning. I beg to differ. As we all know, this document becomes a legal document when disputes come up. A judge will determine the meaning. Why make this change? “Including”, when researched, is a very clear word, no matter how we use it colloquially. ‘Including” in every dictionary I have looked at refers to the parts of a whole, not to possible pieces. If a judge wants to determine these are now rigid requirements, they would be fully in line with what was written. Moreover, they would be in line inferring this since they would ask themselves, ‘why did they change the wording?’. ‘With intent’ would be the reasonable answer. If this is not what is intended, then get rid of it, because it is surely what has been written. Please do not ask me to trust you – in my business we learn early that ‘In God we trust, all others must bring data’. In this case, the correct unambiguous wording will do.

    Short term goals and objectives are removed, to ‘keep us in line’ with Federal minimums. This is simply horrendous. What possible good does it do to remove short term, measurable, goals and objectives? This is simple poor management practice. When dealing with human beings, asking for a long term goal only is never wise. Short term measurable goals allow one to track and adjust as necessary to reach a long term goal via the short term ones. They also allow parents to understand what is happening with their students’ progress. We do not issue report cards once a year either – its just not smart practice. Dropping to the lowest standard is not a benefit to students as claimed.

    Why is it that Special Education teachers and school administrators are now only just being made aware of this change proposal? Why did it take an outcry from parents to make this an issue worthy of being presented? That doesn’t speak well for the OSE or these changes. Above board, when there is nothing to hide, always is best.

    This document used to be parent friendly and easy to read – not anymore. For that reason alone it should be scrapped. It could be that some of these changes help students, or it could be that these changes help budgets and hurt students. It’s not possible to tell right now, which also makes it a bad document. I am sure of one thing, however, the way the changes are being presented on the OSE web site is disingenuous.

  • thinkB4UType

    I want to point out it is not only parents who are in disagreement. The ARC of Michigan has also come out with similar comments: http://www.arcmi.org/pdf/Arc%20Comments%20MDE%202014.pdf

  • mimom2one

    Are we allowed to fill out the Public Comment form? I am confused as to how to answer some of the questions. I strongly believe Special Education should not be watered down in any fashion. I just want to make sure I answer questions correctly. Many of the changes on the public comment form I don’t see in the IDEA and Michigan Administrative Rulebook. Such as R 340.1701a Definitions; A to D.

    SUMMARY:

    Removes inaccurate language that states a complaint can be filed regarding a violation of a court decision.

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  • Elise

    I am replying to a different post, the one where you list the “plethora” of tuition assistance available to special education students who graduate with a certificate of completion versus a diploma. You conveniently don’t say that applying to FAFSA, as the vast majority of graduates do, is out of the question, thanks to our misguided politicians. Truly, I cannot believe there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit on behalf of those students.

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