Lt. Gov. Brian Calley: Reforms essential to help all Michigan children reach their full potential

Calley unveils recommendations of Special Education Reform Task Force to State Board of Education

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – By addressing the needs of students who need more intensive support, the state can become a national leader in ensuring all children can lead successful lives, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said today.

Calley, chair of the state’s Special Education Reform Task Force, presented the group’s findings and recommendations during Tuesday’s meeting of the State Board of Education.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed the task force in October to recommend reforms and develop policy recommendations to improve Michigan’s special education system and help special needs children reach their full potential.

“It became clear as the task force met that the state’s responsibility for educating children needs to be refocused,” Calley said. “Everyone in Michigan deserves a chance to live a self-determined independent life and an effective education is essential to achieving that outcome. We look forward to working together with all partners to implement these recommendations.”

The task force was made up of individuals with varied professional backgrounds providing a solid cross-section of support. The group developed a strategic roadmap focused on five key areas in need of improvement and provided suggestions for personalizing and restructuring the state’s special education programs. 

The subject areas and recommendations for each area include:

  1. Develop a more inclusive and transparent rulemaking process
    1. Use standards of Administrative Procedures Act as the minimum
    2. Provide and promote opportunities for discussion on proposed rules
    3. Implement system for clear, unbiased rule revision analysis
    4. Increase number and duration of public hearings
       
  2. Improve access to, and the scope and quality of, services
    1. Create a strategic plan for implementation of Multi-Tiered System of Supports
    2. Develop initiatives for professional development of educators regarding Multi-Tiered System of Supports and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
    3. Implement evidence-based behavioral initiatives
       
  3. End the practices of restraint and seclusion
    1. State Legislature should pass and Governor should sign legislation restricting use of restraint and seclusion to specified emergency situations
       
  4. Create a better problem-solving process 
    1. Convene annual roundtable of advocates, educators and administrators
    2. Create cadre of five specially trained mediators
    3. Encourage mediation and dissuade use of attorneys
    4. Analyze mediation data annually
    5. Continue surveying parents/guardians and school districts on use and outcome of mediation
    6. Reinstate 10-day appeal for special education written complaints
    7. Promote state’s written complaint process
    8. Seek outside consultation on existing processes
    9. Review allowable use of funds for attorney costs with school districts
    10. Provide guidance to school districts that a parent’s team meeting request should be replied to within 10 days
       
  5. Support parents, guardians and educators more with resources and options
    1. Ensure parents and guardians are fully informed of procedural safeguards and problem-solving options
    2. Promote Office of Special Education Help Desk
    3. Develop strategic plan for communication with families with a student with a disability
    4. Universities should review curriculum for teachers
    5. Michigan Department of Education should review current training opportunities for teachers
    6. School districts should use common language with parents
    7. Intermediate school district parent advisory committee should promote activities
    8. Local districts and intermediate school districts should include parents/guardians of students with disabilities in improvement planning process

The task force will work with the State Board of Education, Michigan Department of Education, the state Legislature, educators and parent advocacy groups to help implement these recommendations and give all Michiganders a chance at leading self-determined lives.

To download the full report, visit Michigan.gov/calley.

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