Tag Archives: School Boards

Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 06 Special Education Advocacy

Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 06 Special Education Advocacy.

It’s IEP Season and we’re revisiting older episodes that offered information to help with the IEP process. Today we’re Revisiting Special Parents Confidential 06 Special Education Advocacy. Learn about the role of the Special Education Advocate and how they help parents negotiate the Individualized Education Plan, as well as the 504 Special Education Plan, and what the difference is between these two options.

Special Education Advocacy.

As parents of special needs children we hope that our kids will have every opportunity to get a good education, and get assistance when they need it in school. Special Education has changed over the past couple of decades. Special needs children are spending more time in mainstream classrooms and spending only limited time out of the class with their special education teachers for whatever assistance they need.

But what exactly is Special Education? We know that our kids are supposed to get help. Where can we get good advice or assistance when facing the task of getting the educational help for our special needs children? Do we have to see a lawyer? Can we just expect the school to handle it properly? What are the standards? What’s an “IEP” (Individual Education Program), what’s a “504”, and what kind of educational help can we even reasonably expect our children to have in the first place?

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential can answer a lot of those questions. Kathy Holkeboer is a Special Education Advocate in West Michigan. Advocates for Special Education work with families on understanding what kinds of educational assistance their special needs children are entitled to have, based on need.  They can even go with the parents to meet with school officials to put the special education plan in place for each school year.

Links To Websites Mentioned In This Podcast

Pacer Center The National Parent Training and Information Center for children with disabilities. They offer publications, workshops, and other resources to help parents make decisions about education, vocational training, employment, and other services for children with special needs.

Parent Technical Assistance Center Network Directory of regional (State by State) special education advocacy centers for parents of special needs children.

Michigan Alliance for Families Special Education Advocacy for families in Michigan. Note: for non- Michigan residents, you can search similar websites for your state in the PTAC directory.

Wright’s Law Special Education Law and Advocacy, created by two lawyers, Peter and Pam Wright (husband and wife), providing legal assistance and information for parents of special needs children.

Contact Information for Kathy Holkeboer – (note: Kathy is a special education advocate in the State of Michigan, and works primarily in the West Michigan region. Residents of other States or regions in Michigan should consult the PTAC directory for Special Ed Advocates in their area). Holkeboer Advocacy -Facebook page.

Special Parents Confidential Episode 33 Lt. Governor Brian Calley Returns

Lt. Governor Brian Calley Returns.

What a difference a year can make. In December of 2014, the Michigan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules was going to approve some changes to the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) that would have severely impacted parent participation in their children’s education. However, during the only Public Comment time the committee allowed, Michigan’s Lieutenant. Governor, Brian Calley asked the committee to suspend the meeting and take no further action, because he felt that there had not been an adequate amount of time to allow parents to have input into the rules changes.

What followed next, in 2015, was an unprecedented listening tour undertaken by the Lieutenant Governor. He traveled around the State, holding public meetings where he listened to parents of special needs children talk about their concerns. These meetings were up to two hours in length, during which the Lt. Governor said very little and allowed every parent who attended to speak.

I was privileged to attend the meeting the Lieutenant Governor held in Grand Rapids, and had a chance to ask him if he would be a guest on Special Parents Confidential to talk about his efforts. That interview took place in June and you can listen to it here – Special Parents Confidential Episode 24.

In November of 2015, Lt. Governor Calley completed his listening tour and compiled a report summarizing the key points from parents for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who then appointed Lt. Governor Calley to head a Special Education Reform Task Force, which would take the Lt. Governor’s report and make a recommendations strategy for the State Board of Education. That report was presented to the Board of Education in January of 2016.

We are very pleased that Lt. Governor Brian Calley has taken time from his schedule to talk to us on Special Parents Confidential about the Special Education Reforms that the Task Force has recommended, and what Michigan families can do to help. Lt. Governor Calley also talks about a new project that he and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein (who I interviewed in August of 2015 – Special Parents Confidential Episode 30) are working on together, called the Hidden Talent Tour.

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Links mentioned in the podcast:

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley’s Website

Summary of the Special Education Reform Task Force Recommendations

Full Report of the Special Education Task Force (.pdf form)

Information on the members of the Special Education Task Force

Information on the Michigan Hidden Talent Tour 

Michigan Senate Website – including the Find Your Senator link

Michigan House Website – including the Find Your Representative link


Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – New York Times Article

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data. New York Times Article.

Privacy issues are becoming more and more prevalent in almost all aspects of our lives. Now we’re starting to see concerns over the way schools are keeping and storing the private data of their students. For a parent of any student this raises issues but especially for parents of special needs children who’s private records can include medical records such as their diagnosis, therapy information and prescription medications and much more personal information.

This article from the New York Times is a must read for parents and educators. While there can be benefits to utilizing cloud-based data storage, there can also be many concerns over security and potential theft of records.  Deciding who sees students’ data is an issue that should include parents, teachers, school administration, and the school board, not just a few people. While no system may be truly perfect, this is issue far too important to be simply made without real investigation and research.

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – New York Times Article