Equitable Services Ombudsman Office Opens in Michigan Department of Education

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

November 13, 2017

LANSING – In compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Michigan Department of Education has hired an Equitable Services Ombudsman to help ensure equitable services for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston has appointed Dr. Theresa Nugent, who has 30 years in public and private schools as a teacher and administrator, as Michigan’s Equitable Services Ombudsman.

“Dr. Nugent has a rich depth of knowledge and experience in public and private schools and will be a great resource for both,” Whiston said. “We support strong collaboration between public and private schools that results in a positive impact on students and teachers.”

“Equitable Services” requires that whatever federal Title program funds and services public school districts offer to eligible private school children must be comparable to services and other benefits that public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel receive.

Nugent comes to the Michigan Department of Education from the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo, where she was the Associate Superintendent of Schools. Prior to that, she was the Interim Director of Leadership Development for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She has taught in public and private schools in Michigan and Massachusetts.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Rochester (NY), a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.

Section 1117(a)(3)(B) of ESSA requires that each state department of education designate an Equitable Services Ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of that 2015 federal law.

With this ombudsman position, the Michigan Department of Education will provide clear guidelines for public school districts and private schools to ensure that equitable-services resources are proportionately shared and implemented under federal statue.

The duties of the Equitable Services Ombudsman include:

  • Monitoring equitable services under federal Title 1, Part A, Title 1, Part C, Title II, Part A, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Part A programs;
  • Enforcing equitable services under Title 1, Part A, Title 1, part C, Title II, Part A, Title III, Part A, Title IV, Part A programs;
  • Monitoring consultation between districts and private schools by reviewing documentation to ensure a timely, meaningful, and mutually agreed-upon plans;
  • Resolving disagreements between public school districts and private schools as outlined in the complaint process
  • Collaborating with the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Field Services; and
  • Providing information and/or training of equitable services.

The specified federal Title programs cover:

  • Title I, Part A is designed to help disadvantaged students meet high academic standards by participating in either a school-wide or a targeted assistance program.
  • Title I, Part C is designed to support high-quality comprehensive educational programs for migratory children to help reduce the educational disruptions and other problems that result from repeated moves.
  • Title II, Part A supports teachers’ professional development across all core academic subjects to build and retain a highly qualified staff.
  • Title III, Part A is designed to assure speedy acquisition of English language proficiency, assist students to achieve in the core academic subjects and meet State standards.
  • Title IV, Part A is designed to provide students with access to a well-rounded education, to improve school conditions for learning, and to improve the use of technology in order to increase student academic achievement and digital literacy.

For more information on the Equitable Services Ombudsman, go to: www.michigan.gov/mde-esombudsman.