Tag Archives: School Districts

Special Parents Confidential 51 Michigan Alliance For Families

Michigan Alliance For Families.

Find out how the Michigan Alliance For Families, and other similar organizations around the United States can help you negotiate special education services for free.

What Is The Michigan Alliance For Families?

Trying to get help with the special education process can be very difficult, and potentially expensive. There are dozens of advocacy service businesses and legal firms that specialize in handling IEPS for families. There are hundreds of books you can buy. Seminars you can attend. Personal counseling services. The list goes on.

But did you know that some of the best help for negotiating special education services is available for free from your own State government? Every State in America has what’s known as Parent Information and Training Centers that offer help in everything from early intervention, to writing an IEP, to legal support, transitioning issues, and beyond.

Free Is A Nice Price.

Here in Michigan, the Parent Center is called the Michigan Alliance For Families. They offer parent-mentors… these are parents of special needs children… who have been trained to coach other parents to work with schools and get the help that their children need.

Our guest for this episode is Kelly Orginski, who is the executive director of the Michigan Alliance For Families. She explains how the Michigan Alliance came together, how the parent-mentors are trained and work with families, and how they can help. She also talks about what parents can do to help themselves with the negotiations, and where to find help from similar organizations in other States.

Links Mentioned In This Podcast

Michigan Alliance For Families 

Center For Parent Information and Resources – National parent information center site.

Find Your Parent Center – Directory from the Parent Information and Resources website that links to all State Parent Information Centers.

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Early Intervention – Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 25

Early Intervention – Revisiting Special Parents Confidential Episode 25.

It’s IEP Season and we’re looking back on older episodes that deal with Individualized Education Plans. Early Intervention is one of the first terms that parents hear when they are trying to find help for their children. We talk to an early intervention coordinator to learn about the process.

Early Intervention.

There’s probably nothing more nerve-wracking and stressful for any parent than the realization that your new baby, your toddler, your child might have some problems. Whether it’s not speaking, not walking, or not engaging socially like other kids, the hardest question many parents face is, what do I do about this?

Of course friends and relatives will tell you, oh it’s alright, that’s just how some boys or some girls are… and they’ll grow out of it. But that’s not always the best advice, and if  your child does have a developmental delay or a learning disorder, they are simply not going to grow out of it. They need help. And then the question becomes, where do I get that help?

Our guest on this episode of Special Parents Confidential can answer a lot of those questions. Barbara Corbin is the Early On Coordinator with the Kent Intermediate School District in Kent County, Michigan.  She handles Early Intervention, and Early Childhood Special Education with school districts. She helps parents get their first diagnosis and coordinates getting help for children right at the very beginning. Thanks to advances in medical research and therapies, children can be diagnosed very early, and Early On programs can start at age two.

Links to websites mentioned in the podcast:

1800EarlyOn Early Intervention information for Michigan, with links to other States. The website name is also their toll free phone number: 1 800 Early On.

The Arc of Kent County Information resource for people with intellectual and developmental delays.

Center For Disease Control (CDC) Page for Parents and Infants This page has the Milestones and Schedules information to track expected progress for infants and toddlers.

Great Starts Collaborative Early Intervention Page Success Starts Early’s webpage on Early Interventions. The entire site is full of helpful information for all parents.

Pathways.org  Free online resource and tools for parents.

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center Online resource tools for families of children with special needs.

Michigan Alliance for Families.  Provides information, support, and education for families who have children (birth through 26 years of age) who receive (or may be eligible to receive) special education services.

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 43 Special Education Rights

Special Education Rights.

For many parents of special needs kids, special education rights continue to be the main cause of concern and worry. Are our kids being given the right accommodations in school? Are the schools being held accountable for special education services, and who is supposed to be checking to see if they are? 

Further, with a push in this country to seriously consider doing away with public schools and instead moving into privatizing the public education system into a for-profit model, where does this leave special education and what rights will parents of special needs kids have if it happens?

What Are Your Education Rights?

Back in October of 2016, I attended a rally for Special Education that was held in Lansing, Michigan. Among the speakers at the rally was our guest for this episode, Kristen Totten. She is an education attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLUMich). Kristen spoke at the rally about the special education rights that the ACLU is working on to help our kids. I asked her to be a guest on the podcast and she agreed.

For this episode we talked about the current state of special education rights in Michigan and across the United States, how some states, like Michigan, allow Charter Schools to reject special education students even though they are required to accept them, and what parents can do to get involved to make sure the education rights of their children are being met.

Update: A Major Victory.

One of the issues we addressed in the podcast is the work that the ACLU of Michigan has done along with Lt. Governor Brian Calley in eliminating the use of restraints and isolation on children in schools. And I’m pleased to be able to say that within 24 hours of our interview being recorded, the Michigan State Senate passed the bill that ends the use of those in all schools.

Links Mentioned In The Podcast.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan

ACLU Michigan: Ehlena and Wonder’s Supreme Court Case

What’s Up With Lead Levels in Flint (Michigan) Schools?

ACLU Local Affiliates Directory Connect with your State’s chapter of the ACLU.

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Special Parents Confidential Episode 27 Education Funding

Education Funding.

School districts across the United States are facing education funding problems. Whether through outright tax cuts, or reductions in revenue from State allocations, education budgets are getting smaller every year. 

Unfortunately in order to save funding for general education programs some districts have made the hard choice of reducing special education programs by eliminating support staff, teaching assistants, specialized therapists, social workers, intervention specialists, or any combination of staff who work with special education students.

Recently, one school district in Michigan has taken a bold step to help fund their special education programs. The Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA), which oversees nine school districts and four public service academies in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, put together a ballot initiative to raise taxes specifically to fund their regional special education programs for the next six years. Despite widespread sentiment among most people against raising taxes, the ballot initiative passed successfully.

John spoke to KRESA Superintendent Dave Campbell to talk about the initiative and how their combined districts were able to get the funding passed. Proving that taxes to fund education can be raised when parents, educators, administrators, taxpayers and voters work together to make sure the message is heard.

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Please note: the link to the news article on M-Live about the successful election may be expired, depending on when you see this post. Typically they are good for about two years after the posted date, which was two months before this episode was posted.

 

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