Advocates concerned with proposed changes to special education

Mar 10, 2014

Changes may be in store for special education students and teachers in Michigan. Lately, the Michigan Department of Education has been getting public comment on a host of proposed rules changes that govern special education. They include giving local school districts more authority over special education staffing and changes in how Michigan evaluates special education students, and then how they customize students' individual education plans, labeled IEP's. 

A student testing.
Credit Flickr - biologycorner

Two public meetings on the rules changes, one in Detroit and one in Lansing, are scheduled for this afternoon. The period to comment via e-mail ends this Thursday.

Vanessa Keesler is a deputy superintendent for the Michigan Department of Education, which is proposing the rules changes. She says the changes are part of a periodic update and review to determine alignment with federal law.

Mark McWilliams is an attorney for the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service (MPAS), a non-profit organization designated by the governor to advocate for and protect the legal rights of people with disabilities in Michigan. He says he is concerned that, because of different interpretations of the rules, the changes would alter the number of days evaluation processes take.

Marcie Lipsitt, longtime grassroots advocate for persons with disabilities and founder and co-chair of the Michigan Alliance for Special Education, is advocating against the rules changes. She says the changes are "catastrophic" because they would reduce state rules, which exceed the minimum requirement of federal law.