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About Special Education

There are many facets to special education, from pre-referral to consent to evaluation to programs and services.  There are also many specialized words and acronyms used in the field of special education.  It can all be quite overwhelming when you try to start navigating the system. 

The links to the side or below will hopefully help you to become more familiar with the many terms and to become more comfortable with the world of special education.

Resources

Early On

When a baby is born, every parent hopes that he/she will be healthy.  Sometimes though, things simply do not go as planned.  The baby may be ill or seem slow in learning how to smile, sit up, speak or seem slow in meeting other developmental milestones.

If you have a concern about a baby's health or his/her development, Early On® serves infants and toddlers from birth to 36 months of age with developmental delay or conditions that could lead to such delay.  It has been well established that early intervention is an effective way to prevent or reduce problems for children at a later age. 

Early On® specializes in evaluating and treating children that are not developing at the same rate as other children.  This can include physical, mental, social or emotional development. 

Please contact our Special Services Department at (248) 865-6470 to be referred for help within our school district.  

Education Process

Pre-Referral Interventions

  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 248-865-6470.

The Referral

  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. 

Parent Notification
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.
 
Parent Rights

  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.

Child Find
The West Bloomfield School District engages in a variety of efforts to inform the community of ways in which we can identify children who might benefit from special education services available prior to a youth entering school.  We try to reach and inform the community through all of the following:

·     Cable television, WBTV Channel 19.

·     Local newspapers, such as The Observer/Eccentric Newspaper.

·     Informational posters hung and displayed in the school hallways.

·     Newsletters sent home by the principals to the families of currently enrolled students.

·     A banner displayed outside of the administration building informing parents of the preschool screening.

If you suspect your child may have a significant challenge affecting him or her in the school setting, you may contact the Special Services Office or any school within the district for additional information.

Eligibility Categories

There are thirteen areas in which a student may be eligible for special education programs and services.  The following is a brief overview of these areas.  More detailed information is available from the school special services staff.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Students who have qualitative impairments in reciprocal social interactions, qualitative impairments in communication, and restricted range of interests/repetitive behavior.

 

Cognitive Impairment (CI)

Students who have impairments in cognitive ability, academic achievement and adaptive skills.

 

Deaf-Blindness (DB)

Deaf-blindness means having both hearing impairment and visual impairment, the combination of which causes severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that cannot be accommodated in special education programs without additional supports to address the unique needs specific to deaf-blindness. Deaf-blindness also means both of the following:

a)    Documented hearing and visual losses that, if considered individually, may not meet the requirements for visual impairment or hearing impairment, but the combination of the losses affects educational performance.

b)    Such students function as if they have both a hearing and visual loss, based upon responses to auditory and visual stimuli in the environment, or during vision and hearing evaluations.

 

Early Childhood Developmental Delay (ECDD)

Students, 0 through 7 years of age, whose primary impairment cannot be differentiated and who have an impairment of one-half of the expected development for chronological age in one or more areas of development.

 

Emotional Impairment (EI)

Students who have emotional challenges which adversely affect their education to the extent that they cannot profit from general education learning experiences without specialized support may be eligible for special education.  Areas of eligibility include:

a)    Inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships within the school

b)    Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances

c)     General pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression

d)    Tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems

 

Hearing Impairment (HI)

Students with a significant degree of hearing loss that interferes with their development or adversely affects their educational performance in a general education classroom may be eligible for special education

 

Other Health Impairment (OHI)

Students with a chronic or acute health problem, which limits strength, vitality or alertness and adversely affects their educational performance, may be eligible for special education.

 

Physical Impairment (PI)

Students with a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects their educational performance and may require physical adaptations within the school environment may be eligible for special education.

 

Severe Multiple Impairment (SXI)

Students who have moderate to severe impairment in cognitive ability and impairment in one or more of the following areas: hearing, vision, physical and health are eligible for special education.

 

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

A specific learning disability is “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such a perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A SLD does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” (34CFR300.8(c)(10)).

District Process for Determination of a Specific Learning Disability:

Each local education agency and public school academy in Michigan is required to publicly post the process used to determine the existence of a Specific Learning Disability.

Consistent with this requirement, West Bloomfield Schools reports the following:

For determination of a SLD, a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) process is used for students in kindergarten through grade 12, which includes: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, reading comprehension, reading fluency, math calculation, and math problem solving.

It is noted that regardless of the process used, all schools must follow all of the regulatory requirements in the IDEA, the MARSE, and Michigan laws, policies and procedures for special education.

 What is a SLD?

A specific learning disability is “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such a perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A SLD does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” (34CFR300.8(c)(10)).

 What is a PSW (Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses) Process?

Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses is a process that is used to determine if a student has a SLD. This process involves the collection of data to determine the following:

• The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or to meet State approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified at 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1)(i) when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or State-approved grade-level standards.

 • The student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the Multi-disciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) to be relevant to the identification of a SLD, using appropriate assessments, consistent with the IDEA Evaluation Procedures and Additional Requirements for Evaluations and Reevaluations.

 

Speech and Language Impairment (SLI)

Students who do not have age-appropriate communicate skills may have a speech and language impairment.  This is manifested in one or more of the following communication impairments that adversely affects educational performance: 

a)    Articulation – omissions, substitutions or distortions of sound, persisting beyond an age which may be corrected by maturation. 

b)    Voice – including inappropriate pitch, loudness or voice quality.

c)     Fluency – i.e. stuttering that interferes with effective communication.

d)    Language – impairment in understanding or using age appropriate vocabulary, grammar or form.

 

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Students who, because of an acquired injury to the brain, have a total or partial functional disability or a social impairment that adversely affects their educational performance may be eligible for special education.  This includes students who sustain an open or closed head injury resulting in an impairment in cognition, language, memory, attention, reasoning, behavior, physical functioning, information processing or speech.

 

 Vision Impairment (VI)

Students with significant visual problems that interfere with their development or which adversely affects their educational performance.  Visual problems include:

a)    Central visual acuity for near or far point vision of 20/70 or less in the better eye after routine refractive correction

b)    A peripheral field of vision restricted to not more than 20 degrees

c)     A diagnosed progressively deteriorating eye condition

Services

The following is a list of programs and services available to you and your child within the West Bloomfield School District.  One of the main factors taken into consideration when determining which programs and services would be most appropriate for a student is Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). 

LRE means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent possible. They should have access to the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, or any other program that non-disabled peers would be able to access. The student should be provided with supplementary aids and services necessary to achieve educational goals if placed in a setting with non-disabled peers. Should the nature or severity of his or her disability prevent the student from achieving these goals in a regular education setting, then the student would be placed in a more restrictive environment, such as a special classroom.

 Ancillary Services 

Speech and Language Services:

Speech and language pathologists work with students who have communication impairments, including: articulation, voice, fluency, or language.  The speech and language pathologists may work with students individually, in small groups, or in the student's classroom.  Speech and language pathologists are also responsible for diagnostic evaluations, and scheduling and facilitating Individualized Education Program Team meetings for students receiving only speech and language services.

School Social Work Services: 

The school social worker assists students whose social or emotional problems interfere with learning and prohibits the student from benefiting from school experiences. They consult with parents and students, as well as, teachers and administrators. The school social worker is a member of the multidisciplinary evaluation team, and coordinates services between the school and community.  In most cases the school social worker facilitates the Individualized Education Program Team meetings.

Teacher Consultative Services:

Teacher Consultants are available in each elementary and secondary school in the West Bloomfield School District.  They provide a variety of services and supports for students eligible for special education who spend a majority of time in the general education setting. 

Psychologist Services:

The primary function of the school psychologist is to provide a comprehensive psychological evaluation of students being considered for special education services.  All students receiving special education must have a re-evaluation every three years.  The psychological evaluation may include assessments of ability, achievement and behavior.

Occupational and Physical Therapy:

Occupational and/or physical therapy is provided when the Individual Education Program Team determines these services are necessary in order for the student to benefit from their education program.  Physical therapy requires a physician's prescription to provide service. The therapist evaluates a student's needs, develops and implements therapy programs, and provides consultative services.  In West Bloomfield, occupational and physical therapists are contracted according to the need of the district.

In District Programs 

Early Childhood Special Education Services - Early Intervention:

Early intervention is designed for children from birth to 3 years of age who are eligible for services.  These services, which follow a twelve month calendar, focus on developing communication, mobility and social skills.  Parents participate with the teacher, speech therapist, occupational and physical therapists to teach children these skills.

Early Childhood Special Education Program:

A classroom program is designed for children from three to five years of age who are identified by a multidisciplinary evaluation as eligible for special education services.  The program, which follows the West Bloomfield School District calendar, addresses the developmental hierarchy of skills necessary for success in later formal education.  Additionally, it provides modeling of successful techniques and added support for parents. 

Resource Room Program:

One or more resource room programs are available in each elementary and secondary school in the West Bloomfield School District.  These programs provide academic assistance for students eligible for special education who spend a majority of time in the general education setting. 

Program for Students with Cognitive Impairment:

Students who qualify for special education in this area are provided with individualized instruction in classrooms taught by a special education teacher.  Classrooms with a small number of students are provided at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  The goal of the program is for the students to live independently as respected citizens.  The program focuses on daily living skills, job skills, personal and social skills, self care skills and functional academics. The students in the program are included in general education classes when it is appropriate as determined by the Individualized Education Program Team. 

Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Students who qualify for special education in this area are provided with individualized instruction in classrooms taught by a special education teacher.  There are six classrooms from preschool through high school.  The program focuses on the development of communication, cognitive, social-emotional, self-help and vocational skills for older students.  Students also participate in community based instruction.  Opportunities in general education are available when appropriate dependent upon  individual student needs and as determined by the Individualized Education Program Team.

Program for Students with Emotional Impairment:

Students who qualify for special education in this area are provided with individualized instruction in classrooms taught by a special education teacher.  Classrooms with a small number of students are provided at the middle and high school levels.  The program focuses on the development of appropriate behavior skills necessary to be successful in school and later in life.  Students are provided with opportunities in general education, when appropriate, to allow them to develop social skills in the environment in which they naturally occur.  The students in the program are included in general education classes when it is appropriate as determined by the Individualized Education Program Team. 

CENTER BASED PROGRAMS

The West Bloomfield School District operates a center-based program that service students throughout Oakland County.  Placement in this program is determined by the Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT).  Because this is a county-wide program, residency in the West Bloomfield School District cannot guarantee placement in the program.

Center Based Program for Students with Emotional Impairment: 

S.T.E.P.S. (Structured Therapeutic Environment Promoting Success) is the West Bloomfield Program for Children with Emotional Impairment.  It is a center based program that provides services for elementary aged students.  It is housed at Roosevelt Elementary School.  The program focuses on the development of appropriate behavior skills necessary to be successful in school and later in life.  Students are provided with opportunities in general education, when appropriate, to allow them to develop social skills in the environment in which they naturally occur. 

CENTER BASED PROGRAMS OUTSIDE THE DISTRICT:

There are some students who will need programs and services not available within the West Bloomfield School District.  Additional center programs are available throughout the county.  For example, the Bloomfield Hills School District operates the Program for Children with Hearing Impairment, the Program for Children with Severe Cognitive Impairment and the Program for Children with Severe Multiple Impairments who require these types of services.  Placement in these programs is determined by the Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT). 

Terms and Definitions

For some reason the school system seems to swim in "alphabet soup".  Most, if not all, important terms have an acronym attached to them.  Below are some of the most common acronyms and what they stand for, to help you more easily wade through the process.  

ADD

Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD        

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ASD  

Autism Spectrum Disorder

AT    

Assistive Technology

CBI   

Community Based Instruction

CI     

Cognitive Impairment

Co-Teaching/

Team Teaching

Co-Teaching/Team Teaching

A team of one general education staff person and one special education staff person teaching specific subject matter together. This occurs when the needs of the students can best be met by having two professionals work together in a

regular classroom setting. Students receive general education credit.

CPI   

Crisis Prevention Institute

ECDD        

Early Childhood Developmental Delayed

ECSE

Early Childhood Special Education

ECP  

Early Childhood Program

EI     

Emotional Impairment

ESY  

Extended School Year

FAPE

Free and Appropriate Public Education

HI     

Hearing Impairment

IDEA 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEIA        

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act

IEP   

Individualized Education Program

IEPT 

Individualized Education Program Team

This is a committee composed of parents (and any persons invited by the parents that have a valid interest in the student’s education), general and special education staff, diagnostic personnel, and administrators. The purpose

of this committee is to determine a student’s eligibility for special education services and to recommend a specific special education program.

IFSP 

Individualized Family Service Plan

LD    

Learning Disability

LEA  

Local Educational Agency

LRE           

Least Restrictive Environment

To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated

with children who are not disabled. Special classes, separate schooling, or

other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is

such that education in regular classes, with the use of accommodations, supplementary aids, and services can not be achieved satisfactorily. 

MDE 

Michigan Department of Education

MDR 

Manifestation Determination Review

MET           

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team

A minimum of two (2) persons who are responsible for evaluating students suspected of being handicapped or handicapped persons being evaluated.

OHI  

Other Health Impairment

OT    

Occupational Therapy

PAC  

Parent Advisory Committee

PLAAFP

Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance

PI     

Physical Impairment

PT    

Physical Therapy

REED

Review of Existing Evaluation Data

This is the process by which a team of individuals composed of special education personnel, general education personnel, parents, and administrators, discuss areas of concern and evaluative measures necessary.

RR    

Resource Room

SE    

Special Education

SLD

Specific Learning Disability

SLI   

Speech and Language Impairment

SSW 

School Social Work or School Social Worker

SXI   

Severe Multiple Impairment

TBI   

Traumatic Brain Injury

TC    

Teacher Consultant

TSLI 

Teacher of the Speech and Language Impaired

VI     

Visual Impairment