The Michigan Department of Education is proposing the following revisions to the MI Administrative Rules for Special Education. The “rules” will be released any day for public comment. Get ready to battle for MI’s children with special needs.
1. New rule giving school districts full authority to determine special ed staffing annually. This will allow school districts to balance their budgets on the backs of students with IEPs. This very same revision was proposed by IL State Superintendent Chris Koch and was killed last night by the IL State Board of Ed.
2. Remove short term objectives for all students outside of those who take the alternate state assessment. The MDE proposed this back in 2008 and it went down due to strong opposition.
3. New rule allowing paras to have only a high school diploma. Thus, setting the lowest bar of expectations for paraprofessionals who are so vital to countless students with IEPs.
4. Proposing to allow a physician’s assistant to be on the evaluation team for OHI, PI and TBI eligibility. Physician’s assistants are less knowledgeable than nurse practioners. This one is just outrageous as the natural revision would be to allow a PhD psychologist to evaluate for OHI.
5. Proposing to give districts authority to exit students from special education as soon as they earn the necessary credits for a diploma. Who cares about IEP goals or the Transition Page? Who cares that any MI student can earn a diploma with a 1.0 grade point? Who cares that the U.S. Dept. of Ed allows for 5th and 6th year seniors. A large majority of school districts already push kids with IEPs through high school without even explaining the 5th/6th year option.
6. Proposing to remove the district’s requirement to document when the ISD “alternate plan” R 340.1832e is used. This is the special ed rule that has allowed the ISDs to override all of the special education programs, services and teacher caseloads since 2002. This has created a free-for-all across 57 ISDs as the “rule” allows the ISDs to alter these rules as they see fit. The MDE is proposing to only require that the ISDs have a copy of the “Alternate Special Ed Plan” on file. Who cares that there will be no transparency for parents and teachers. Who cares that R. 340.1832e has removed the “I” in the IEP..
7. The proposed changes to the 13 areas of eligibility will allow for fewer teachers and clinicians to be members of the MET and IEP team. This is all about cutting staff and cost savings.
I am not making up this information. It is posted on the LARA (MI Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) website under “pending” rule revisions. This is not rhetoric. This is a Call to Action. And MI long ago had a proud history of special ed. That began to die with former Governor John Engler’s 1996 Executive Orders and R 340.1832e that was promulgated in the 2002 revisions; and then you add the MDE’s Criteria to Determine the Existence of a Specific Learning Disability,and the 9th percentile….MI has long lost the right to boast about “special” education.