Parent/Staff Resources

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For additional information about special education, call the MAISD Special Education and Early Childhood Services Department at 231-767-7251.

 

ChildFind and Children with Disabilities

ChildFind and Children with Disabilities

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT, IDEA, requires schools to identify, local and evaluate children with disabilities.  Either schools or parents/guardians can request a special education evaluation for a child who is not yet eligible for special education.  If the school requests the evaluation, the school must contact the parent/guardian and request written consent (permission) to evaluate the child.  If you are a parent/guardian who wants to request an evaluation, send a written, signed and dated request asking the school to evaluate your child.

  • If you are a parent/guardian living in Muskegon County and are concerned about your infant or toddler's development, contact the Administrative Assistant for Birth-Three Early Childhood Services at 231-767-7253.
  • If you are a parent/guardian living in Muskegon County and have concerns about your preschooler or child in elementary, middle or high school, contact your local school district or public school academy Special Education Office.

The K-12 Special Education Process

The Preschool Through Grade 12 Special Education Process

Requesting an Initial Evaluation - an "initial" evaluation refers to the "first" time a child is evaluated for special education, when the child is not yet eligible for special education.  Either schools or parents/guardians can request that a child be evaluated to decide if the child is eligible (qualifies) for special education.

  • Schools may request that a child be evaluated and must obtain parent/guardian written consent (permission) prior to conducting the evaluation.  Parents/guardians may either consent (give permission) or refuse to consent to have their child evaluated.  In either situation, the school is required to provide written notice to the parent of the decision.
  • If the parent/guardian requests an evaluation for their child, the school may choose to conduct the evaluation if the parent consents or may choose to refuse to conduct the evaluation.  In either situation, the school provides a written notice to the parent of the decision.

Completing an Initial Evaluation - as a first step a team of qualified educators and the parent/guardian review evaluations that already exist, meaning evaluations that have already been completed with the child.  A completed Review of Existing Evaluation Data, known as the REED, contains the existing evaluation data, information about the special education evaluations that will be used with the child, and a section for parent/guardians to give or refuse consent (permission) for the evaluation.  Parents/guardians must be provided with their procedural safeguards (parents rights) at this time.  In Michigan, once parent/guardian consents is given for evaluation, the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET), made up of qualified educators, conducts the evaluation and completes an Eligibility Recommendation (ER) form, which shows the evaluation results.  Copies of the completed ER form and all evaluation reports are given to the parent/guardian.

Holding the Initial Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Meeting - the parent/guardian and qualified educators make up the IEP Team.  The IEP Team determines whether the child is eligible (qualifies) for special education.  If the child is eligible, the IEP Team then develops the programs and/or services the child needs to participate and make progress in the general education curriculum.  The child's programs and/or services are documented in the IEP.

Timelines - an initial IEP Team meeting must be held with 30 school days of the date of parent consent (permission) for evaluation for special education.  If the school needs a longer period of time to conduct the evaluation, the school may ask for more days to complete the evaluation and request that the parent give written consent to extend the 30 school day timeline.

For more information on the Special Education Process, watch the Special Education Process Video.

 

Parent/Guardian Procedural Safeguards

Parent/Guardian Procedural Safeguards

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, includes procedural safeguards that protect the rights of children and youth with disabilities and their parents/guardians.  Some of the rights in the procedural safeguards include the parent’s/guardian’s right to give or refuse permission (consent) to have their child evaluated, the right to receive written notice when the school proposes to change or refuses to change the identification, evaluation or placement of the child for special education and rights regarding school discipline of children who qualify for special education.  For all the rights contained in the procedural safeguards, go to the:

It is very important that parents, guardians and age of majority students have a clear understanding of their rights in special education.  For more information on rights/procedural safeguards, contact your local district Special Education Office or contact the MAISD Assistant Director for Special Education at 231-767-7251.

 

Special Education Eligibility

Special Education Eligibility

In order for children and youth to qualify to receive special education, the child 1) must have a disability and 2) the effects of the disability must be such that the child needs special education to participate and make progress in curriculum.  For more information on eligibility categories, go to the following eligibility criteria documents:

Additional information on eligibility categories for special education can be found in:

Local District & Public School Academy Special Education Contacts

Local District and Public School Academy Special Education Office Contacts

If you have questions about the special education process, call or email your local district or public school academy special education contact.

Organizations that Assist Parents & Guardians

Organizations that Assist Parents & Guardians

Organization that Assist Children and Youth with Disabilities

Organizations that Assist Children & Youth with Disabilities

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee

Special Education Parent Advisory Committee

Part 7 of the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) requires each intermediate school district to have a parent advisory committee.  The MAISD's parent advisory committee is the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, known as the SEPAC.

SEPAC Mission
The SEPAC strives to represent the interests and concerns of students with special needs and their parents.  It also strives to promote partnerships among parents, students, the local school district and the MAISD by facilitating communication and cooperation.

SEPAC Membership
The Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education requires the SEPAC to be composed of parents or guardians of children and youth with disabilities who have a current Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Members are nominated by local district and public school academy boards of education and appointed by the MAISD Board of Education for two year terms.

SEPAC Activities

  • SEPAC members represent their local school district or public school academy and serve in an advisory capacity to parents and schools.  Parents of children and youth with disabilities can contact a SEPAC member when they have questions or concerns.  Training in the special education process and in how to advise parents/guardians is provided.
  • SEPAC members may participate in special projects, such as participation in a local resource fair or creating information materials for parents/guardians.
  • SEPAC members may serve as surrogate parents as outlined in federal and state special education regulations and rules.
  • The Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education requires the SEPAC to serve as a formal mechanism for parent input into the ISD Plan for the Delivery of Special Education Programs and Services.

SEPAC meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month in September, October, November, January, March, April and May.  Meetings are open to the public. 

SEPAC Members

For more information about the SEPAC contact the MAISD Assistant Director of Special Education at 231-767-7251.
 

SEP

 

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MAISD Plan for Special Education

MAISD Plan for Special Education

Every intermediate school district (ISD) in Michigan is required to develop an ISD plan for special education.  These plans are to be developed in cooperation with constituent local school districts, public school academies and the ISD parent advisory committee.  The plans become effective when approved by the state superintendent. 

The description of what must be contained in an ISD plan can be found in Part 7 – Development and Submission of Intermediate School Districts’ Plans and Monitoring – of the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE).  The MARSE also describes procedures for modifying plans, plan approval, and objections to plans in Part 7.

Laws, Regulations, and Rules

Laws, Regulations, Rules

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, is a federal law that requires schools throughout the nation to service children with disabilities who are eligible for special education.

The IDEA Regulations guide how the IDEA is carried out at the national, state and local levels.

Under IDEA, parents and guardians are part of a school team that makes educational decisions about their children.  In each part of the special education process, parents have specific rights and protections that can be found in the Procedural Safeguards Notice.

The Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education, known as the MARSE, are State of Michigan special education rules used in addition to IDEA, that guide how schools in Michigan are to carry out the special education process.

Special Education Data

Special Education Data

The IDEA requires each state to publicly report certain data about special education.  This information can be viewed at Michigan's Historical Public Reporting Data website.

To View additional data about special education in Michigan go to MI School Data and click on "Annual Public Reporting - SPP" or "Data Portraits" under Special Education.

Problem-Solving and Dispute Resolution

Problem-Solving and Dispute Resolution

Schools and parents/guardians are encouraged to communicate with each other as soon as possible when concerns or problems arise regarding special education.  A first step for parents/guardians is to contact the child’s teacher and/or principal, as well as the school’s special education administrator, so the problem can be solved at the school level.  Schools and parents may, early on, want to establish regular communication times for working through problems.

When the child’s educational team is needed to solve a problem, either the school or parent/guardian can request that an IEP Team meeting be held, especially if changes are needed in the IEP.  A neutral facilitator may be a helpful participant to work with both school and parent in sorting out a disagreement.  IEP Team meeting facilitators are available to parents/guardians and schools at no cost through the Muskegon Mediation and Restorative Services office at 231-767-4821.

At times, parents/guardians may want a knowledgeable person to help them better understand the special education process and work through a disagreement with the school.  Parents are encouraged to contact a member of the MAISD’s Special Education Parent Advisory Committee to serve as an advisor.  Parents may also contact agencies for advocacy help, including The ARC Muskegon at 231-777-2006, Disability Network West Michigan Disability Network at 231-722-0088 or the Michigan Alliance for Families at 1-800-552-4821.

At any time during a disagreement or dispute with the school, parents/guardians have the right to file a formal state complaint or file a due process complaint. 

  • A state complaint is a written, dated, and signed statement alleging that a school district or other public agency has violated a requirement of state special education rules or federal special education law.  For more information on state complaints and other ways to resolve disagreements, download the Michigan Department of Education’s document, Special Education Problem Solving Process or contact the MAISD Special Education Department at 231-767-7251.
  • A due process complaint can be filed by the school or parents/guardians use to resolve a disagreement about the identification, evaluation, eligibility, educational placement, manifestation determination or the provision of a free appropriate public education of a child who is eligible for special education.  For more information on due process complaints, download the Michigan Department of Education’s document, Special Education Due Process Complaint Procedures.