The Special Education Process
Parents who are concerned about their child's educational process should first speak with the child's teacher. Usually the parent and teacher are able to resolve concerns regarding the student's progress.
Each school also has a student assistance team available for parents and teachers to meet with other school specialists, which may include the school principal, reading consultant, resource room teacher, school social worker, school psychologist, speech & language pathologist, occupational therapist and physical therapist, depending on the specific concern(s). This team brings a variety of perspectives and ideas with them to brainstorm and investigate additional general education supports to help the student be more successful. The team may meet several times as different strategies are tried and assessed.
If the concerns persist, it may be necessary to evaluate the student's learning strengths and needs to determine if the student has more significant challenges affecting him or her in the school setting. The following information outlines the process the school will follow to evaluate whether the student meets the criteria to be eligible for special education programming and/or related supports and services. If the child is not yet in school and concerns exist about the child's development, the parents should contact the special services office at 248-956-2160.
A special education referral is a written statement indicating that a child may have a suspected academic, behavioral, cognitive or physical challenge that interferes with learning. A referral most often comes from a teacher. However, anyone who is concerned, including social workers, parents or a representative of an agency may make a referral.
A referral is the first step in the special education process. After a referral is made, a representative of the district contacts the parent/legal guardian to obtain written informed consent to give permission for the evaluation process to proceed.
Parental Consent/Procedural Safeguards
Written parent consent is obtained before the school district conducts the initial evaluation of your child. Written consent is also obtained prior to placing a child in a program providing special education or related services/supports.
Evaluation by the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET)
After a referral is made and parent consent obtained, the district performs a comprehensive evaluation of the student. This is done by a Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) made up of educational specialists with knowledge in the area of your child’s suspected disability. These may be teachers, school psychologists, speech therapists, social workers, parents, consultants, occupational and physical therapists.
The MET will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your child and will review important information such as school records, test results, medical history and information provided by the parents. Outside evaluations of the child provided by the parent will also be considered.
Once the evaluation is finished, a written report with a recommendation of eligibility is presented at an Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT) meeting by the MET. Using the evaluation information, the IEPT determines whether or not your child is eligible for special education.
The Individualized Education Planning Team (IEPT)
The Individualized Education Planning Team (IEPT) is a committee formed to determine the educational needs of your child. Members of the Team include the child’s parent(s), the child if appropriate, general and special education teachers and diagnostic staff who evaluated the child.
An IEPT must be held to determine whether your child is eligible for special education. If a child is found eligible, the Team develops an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and identifies the programs and/or services to be provided.
A parent/legal guardian has the right to disagree with the IEPT recommendation. If a parent disagrees with the IEPT regarding the identification, evaluation, or placement of a child, they have the right to choose not to implement the IEP, implement the IEP noting disagreement or request mediation or a due process hearing. Mediation or a due process hearing is designed to settle disputes with the school district. A parent must request mediation or a due process hearing in writing as outlined in the Procedural Safeguards information.