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


NOW is the time to be heard


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