About OSE

The function of the Office of Special Education (OSE) is the general supervision, administration, and funding of special education programs and services for children and youth with disabilities ages 3-21. A free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided to eligible children according to federal statute and regulations, state statute, administrative rules, and department procedures.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) established two separate age segments for students with special needs. Part B refers to special education services for students ages 3 through 21. Part C refers to early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities from birth to age 3.

Michigan special education services extend from birth through 25 (beyond the federal requirement of 21). Therefore, Michigan's special education services and programs serve eligible students ages birth through 25.

The OSE is tasked with implementing and monitoring Part B improvement plans. The Office of Great Start (OGS), in conjunction with the OSE, manages Part C services through its Early On® program. Some infants and toddlers may be eligible for special education services.

The OSE is made up of four units, administration, program finance, program accountability, and performance reporting, and is also responsible for the Low Incidence Outreach program as well as the Michigan School for the Deaf.


The Administration Unit provides leadership and oversight of the office and is also responsible for all programs and services for students with disabilities across the state as well as those at the Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD). This includes reporting and responding to the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Deputy Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer; leadership for and administrative supervision of the functions of each of the programs at the MSD and compliance with all state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements.

The objectives of the office include:

  • Identification of eligible children and youth with disabilities and the provision of appropriate intervention and educational services per state and federal statutes.
  • Coordination and collaboration with other state departments and agencies which also provide services to the eligible population such as Departments of Community Health, Human Services, and Corrections.
  • Distribution and expenditures of state aid categorical funds, department funds, and federal funds to public education agencies and others.
  • Oversight and coordination of all federal reporting requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations.
  • Oversight and implementation of all general supervision obligations under the IDEA and its implementing regulations.
  • Administer and coordinate all contractors and vendors for Administration to assure that Michigan meets its IDEA general supervision responsibilities.

Program Finance

Program Finance provides oversight for the federal and state funding structures, assuring that approximately $390 million in federal grants is effectively administered. The unit also provides oversight for approximately $996 million distributed under Article 5 of the State School Aid Act.

Unit objectives include:

  • Coordinate the administrative budget, spending plans, and budget development activities.
  • Determine flow through, state discretionary projects, and state aid calculations/allocations; distribute funds and maintain fiscal control over all fund sources.
  • Assist school districts/agencies and state discretionary project recipients in preparing federal grant applications, narrative reports, and final expenditure reports for federal and state aid funds.
  • Conduct federal program fiscal reviews.
  • Provide technical assistance relative to federal and state allowable costs and procedures for obtaining funding/program approval, special education transportation, pupil accounting for special education pupils, and funding requirements for students in juvenile detention centers.
  • Coordinate state discretionary mandated activities projects.
  • Participate in federal and state audits.
  • Conduct Maintenance of Effort testing to all school districts that expend IDEA federal funds.

Program Accountability

Program Accountability is focused on ensuring compliance through the administration of due process and the development and implementation of policy.

The primary functions of the Program Accountability Unit are to:

  • Administer the State Complaint and Due Process Complaint systems.
  • Administer the state's mediation system as an option for problem-solving in special education disputes.
  • Administer the state's toll-free technical assistance information line.
  • Develop, disseminate, and implement state-wide special education policy.
  • Manage the special education administrative rule promulgation process.
  • Administer the state's special education personnel approvals system.
  • Administer the state's system for Intermediate School District plans for the delivery of special education programs and services.
  • Collaborate with all Michigan Department of Education offices and Michigan's state agencies regarding special education policy.
  • Prepare and submit the state's application for federal special education funds.

Performance Reporting

Performance Reporting is focused on the development and implementation of the State Performance Plan (SPP), Annual Performance Report (APR), other federal and state data reports, monitoring and technical assistance to districts and other stakeholder groups in order to improve the performance of students with an individualized education program (IEP).

The primary functions of the Performance Reporting Unit are to:

  • Coordinate the Catamaran system, focused monitoring activities (state-verified desk audits, state-verified self-reviews, and on-site visits) and approval of local education agency and intermediate school district corrective action plans in response to findings of noncompliance.
  • Coordinate the collection, reporting, and validation of student and personnel data for required federal special education reports.
  • Coordinate the development and distribution of the federally required determinations for each Michigan district serving students with an IEP.
  • Coordinate the development of new activities and products as identified through Catamaran, determinations, and related data sets.
  • Coordinate with the IDEA Grant Funded Initiatives.
  • Prepare and submit the SPP and APR annually to the Office of Special Education Programs.
  • Produce required federal reports and data tables and reports for special education stakeholders regarding district and state performance on key measures.
  • Provide and coordinate technical assistance to districts and stakeholder organizations.

MDE, Low Incidence Outreach

The MDE, Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) is funded through the OSE. The project provides technical assistance and resources statewide to serve and improve the quality of education for students who are blind or visually impaired (BVI), and students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH), including those with with multiple impairments.

The MDE-LIO also has direct oversight of Camp Tuhsmeheta (Camp T), located in Greenville. Camp T is a 300-acre outdoor education facility that provides year-round programming for students with a visual impairment and others throughout the state of Michigan.

MDE-LIO services include:

  • Consultation
  • Classes/workshops/conferences
  • Professional development
  • Free or low cost Braille and large print books
  • American Printing House for the Blind (APH) materials
  • Sign Language Assessments (ASLPI & MSLPI)
  • Educational Interpreter Proficiency Assessments (EIPA)

For more information, please visit the MDE-LIO website.

Michigan School for the Deaf

The Michigan School for the Deaf (MSD) is a public residential school in Flint for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) and was established by the Michigan Legislature in 1848. Students are referred to the school by their local school district, and placement is determined by an IEP team. The MSD serves DHH students ages 30 months through 25 years and their families throughout Michigan. Students who attend the MSD receive a unique combination of services and intense exposure to two languages, American Sign Language (ASL) and English, as well as academic and residential support services.

For more information, please visit the MSD website.