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Family Matters provides parents and families with information about special education and other resources.
Our fact sheets explain special education laws and practices. The documents are easy to read and give links to more in-depth resources. Family Matters fact sheets are intended to enhance public understanding of Michigan's special education system and are not a substitute for official laws and regulations.
Fact Sheet Categories
Accommodations, Modifications, Practices and Supports
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Shares the definition, overview, and purpose of ABA which uses methods to change behavior and teach student skills.
Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs)
Explains BIPs and how they are based on results of an FBA and used to improve student behavior.
Extended School Year
Defines Extended School Year (ESY) services and outlines IEP Team considerations for determining a student's need for services.
Finishing High School: Certificate of Completion vs. Diploma
Explains the difference between completing the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) and earning a high school diploma, with or without a personal curriculum (PC), versus earning a certificate of completion.
Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs)
Provides an overview of FBA assessment strategies used to collect data to help determine functions of behavior for the development of a BIP.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS)
Defines MTSS and explains how a collection of research-based strategies designed within a framework meets a range of individual student needs.
Personal Curriculum (PC)
Shares information on how PCs assist students with IEPs by modifying certain MMC requirements for a high school diploma.
Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) at Home
Shares resources and ideas to implement PBIS at home; promotes collaboration with school.
Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) at School
Shares resources to promote PBIS school-wide for students with and without disabilities.
Dispute Resolution Options
Special Education Problem Solving
Provides options for addressing special education concerns. Includes resolutions options listed within in the IDEA: facilitation, mediation, state complaints, and due process complaints.
Facilitated Special Education Meetings
Defines facilitated special education meetings and explains how neutral, trained facilitators guide the meeting process during conflict. Facilitators are available at no cost to parents and schools.
Explains how parents and schools actively work together with a neutral, qualified mediator free of charge in this voluntary problem-solving process.
Educational Evaluation, Placement, and Settings
Charter Schools (Public School Academies)
Defines charter schools and explains how special education services are provided.
Educational Teams and Roles
Describes special education team members and their roles. Includes information regarding different types of special education meetings.
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
Describes parental rights when there is disagreement with the results of a school educational evaluation. Includes information regarding who conducts and pays for an IEE.
Initial Evaluation for Special Education
Explains the process for determining if a student meets eligibility for special education services. Discusses consent, how and why evaluations are done, and how evaluation results are used.
Nonpublic and Home Schools
Defines the differences between public and nonpublic schools and explains the special education services available at each.
Transition: Age of Majority Considerations
Explains the transfer of rights from parents or guardians to the student when the student turns 18. Students have the right to make their own educational decisions when they reach the age of majority (18 years old).
Transition Planning: Considerations for Students with Disabilities and Families
Defines transition planning (planning for life after a student completes high school) and explains legal requirements related to transition.
Educational Law, Policy, and Practices
Explains the Child Find process and the requirement of schools to identify, locate, and evaluate all children who have disabilities and may be entitled to special education and related services.
Educational Development Plan (EDP)
Explains how career goals and plans are developed for all students before entering high school. Differentiates between EDPs and IEPs. Includes timelines and elements of an EDP.
Educational Placement and the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
Explains how students with IEPs must join their general education peers to the greatest extent possible. Includes educational placement information and parental rights if disagreement occurs.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Explains how schools must provide students who are eligible for special education services with a FAPE and how schools are accountable for providing all programs and services documented in the IEP.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Defines an IEP as a written document of special education services provided to students as required by law. Includes information regarding IEP topics, timelines, and team members.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Explains the federal special education law which protects the rights of children meeting special education eligibility and their parents.
Privacy and Access to Records
Explains how FERPA protects the privacy of student records. Includes information on record sharing, reaching age of majority (18 years), and private versus public school protections.
Explains protections for students and parents under the IDEA.
Seclusion and Restraint
Outlines standards for the emergency use of seclusion and restraint in Michigan public schools and shares MDE policy resources.
Section 504 Plans
Defines Section 504 as a federal civil rights law created to stop discrimination against students with disabilities. Explains accommodations and supports that may be available for some students.
Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)
Defines the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) and outlines its mission, membership, and functions. Includes a link to the SEAC visitor registration form for those wishing to attend a meeting.
Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Membership
Explains the role of SEAC members, including how members are selected and the composition of the committee.
Family Support and General Resources
Advocating for Your Child
Shares how to advocate for your child and develop advocacy skills; provides resources to support parent advocacy.
Autism Insurance, Medicaid, and Education
Defines applied behavior analysis therapy and explains how schools and insurance providers may coordinate services to eligible students.
Communicating for Student Success
Defines the importance of collaborative school and parent problem solving and explains facilitation versus mediation (free services) and the benefits of collaboration.
IDEA Grant Funded Initiatives
Outlines the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education's grant funded initiatives and explains their purpose and services available.
Navigating Extended Time Away From School
Provides strategies to reduce student anxiety during time away from school.
Parent Advisory Committees (PAC)
Defines PACs, including roles and activities, as required by the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) for each intermediate school district (ISD). Membership includes parents of children with disabilities.
Special Education Process
Explains the special education process including the steps from evaluation to eligibility, program, specialized instruction, and placement.