Special Education Department

The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) requires all children (0-25) with disabilities residing in the State of Michigan, including children with disabilities who are homeless children or are wards of the State, and children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified and evaluated. IDEA also requires that Assistive Technology (AT) services be considered for all special education students. AT equipment can be anything from a pencil grip, specially lined paper, and lot-tech communication boards to portable word processors and specialized software for students eligible for special education services.

Effective schools have a written system that is systematically implemented to locate, evaluate, and identify students suspected of having disabilities, from birth through the age of 25. This system includes students who are homeless, children of migrant workers or wards of the state, as well as those attending private schools. If you feel your child may have a disability that prohibits him/her from succeeding educationally, please contact  the Special Education Department.

 

Infant Toddler Program

The Infant-Toddler program, provided by the Special Education Department of Lowell Area Schools, offers services to district families who have children between the ages of birth and three with one or more developmental delays.  Our program offers weekly home visits, where staff work with parents and child to aide in their little one’s development.  In addition, parents may access weekly parent-child groups set within our school building.  The Infant-Toddler Program is centered around the participation of a parent, family member, or a childcare provider.  The purpose of this is to provide carryover on a daily basis to help the child develop to the best of his or her ability.  The goal of this program is to address any delays that are determined, based on criteria met through a special education assessment, to prepare your child for success when they begin school in either preschooler or a kindergarten.  It is found that when a positive and enjoyable educational setting is created, young children make great strides in their development.

The Infant-Toddler team consists of a speech therapist and an occupational therapist who will see your child in their home setting.  Also available on a consultative level are a Social Worker, a Psychologist, a Physical Therapist and a Special Education Teacher. Lowell Area Schools also partners with staff outside of our school district to coordinate additional services within the greater Lowell and Grand Rapids area, such as Early On of Kent County, Mary Free Bed, Ken-O-Sha and Spectrum Hospital. 

During home visits and based on assessment results, your daughter or son will receive help from our professional staff in the areas of speech development, fine or gross motor development, sensory processing, self help skills, and/or behavioral development.  Our therapist will offer suggestions on how you can daily reinforce the strategies they offer.  Parents are a very integral part of the team approach.  On a regular basis, your child’s program will be re-evaluated and accomplishments measured to see what goals have been met, what changes need to be made and any new goals upon which focus should be placed. 

If you suspect your child may have a delay, you may call our office at (616) 987-2522 and speak with one of our Infant-Toddler staff members.  Once a child has been identified as needing an assessment, a developmental evaluation will be completed to determine if your child qualifies, based on state guidelines for special education eligibility.

Special Education Glossary

Accommodations: Changes in curriculum or instruction that do not substantially modify the requirements of the class or alter the content standards or benchmarks. Accommodations are determined by the IEP Team and are documented in the student IEP Team report.

Adapted Physical Education: A diversified program of developmental activities, games, sports, and rhythms suited to the interests, capabilities, and needs of children with disabilities who may not successfully engage in a regular physical education program.

Age of Majority/Transfer of Rights: When a student with a disability reaches the age of 18, all rights accorded to a parent transfer to the student. The parent and student must be informed of the transfer of rights at least one year prior to the student’s 18th birthday.

Americans with Disabilities Act (External LinkADA): Federal law requiring accommodations for people with disabilities in the community and workplace.

Assessment Testing: or evaluation – including mental, social, psychological, physical, speech, occupational, vocational, or educational – done by school district personnel to gather information about a student.

Assistive Technology Device: Any item, piece of equipment, or product that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Assistive technology needs are determined by the IEP Team.

Assistive Technology Service: Any service that helps a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. This includes training with the device.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development, and that interferes with developmentally appropriate social/academic functioning.

Autism: A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction that adversely affects an individual’s educational performance.

Child Study Team/Student Support Team: A multi-disciplinary team in schools that meets to support the needs of students with academic, social, and behavioral concerns. The focus of the team is to provide support to classroom teachers to implement accommodations/modifications so that students can be successful in general education.

Continuum of Service: The range of supports and services that must be provided by a school district that allows students with disabilities to be provided a free, appropriate public education.

Due Process: A procedure guaranteed by federal law for resolving disputes regarding special education services.

Early Childhood Special Education: Special education and related services provided to children from birth to age seven.

Extended School Year Services: Special education and related services provided to a qualified student with disabilities beyond the normal school year, in accordance with the student’s Individualized Education Plan, and at no cost to the parent. The need for Extended Services is determined by the student’s IEP Team.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related services are provided to students with disabilities by the Local Education Agency (LEA) and Public School Academies (PSA) at public expense and under public supervision and direction at no cost to the student’s parents.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (External LinkFERPA): A federal law which gives parents, and the student over 18 years of age, access to, and control over all education and school records.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA): A process of attempting to understand the purpose, motivation, and correlation of a problem behavior. The result of the process is the development of an appropriate behavior support and management plan.

Individual with Disabilities in Education Act (External LinkIDEA): The federal law that requires school districts to provide students with disabilities with a free appropriate public education at public expense. The act provides procedural safeguards and due process rights, as well as specific mandates regarding a free appropriate public education.

Independent Education Evaluation (IEE): Education evaluations of a student by an evaluator who does not regularly work for the school district. Parents who are not satisfied with the school district’s evaluation can request an IEE at public expense.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): The written plan that details the special education and related services that must be provided to each student who receives special education services. It must be reviewed and revised every year.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): A written plan for providing early intervention services to an eligible individual and to the individual’s family.

Intermediate School District (ISD): The External LinkKent ISD provides technical assistance and support to the local school districts and public school academies within the county.

Local Education Agency (LEA): The school district that is directly responsible for providing special education services in a geographical area.

Least Restrictive Environment: A federal mandate that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities be educated with children who are not disabled.

Modification: Changes in curriculum or instruction that substantially change the requirements of the class or substantially alter the content standards and benchmarks.

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET): An evaluation or recommendation of a student having a disability by a group of individuals from various appropriate professional disciplines, such as educators, psychologists, and physicians.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB): In January 8, 2002, President Bush signed NCLB into law. It is an education reform plan making changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (External LinkESEA). It is looking for stronger accountability for results, increased flexibility and local control, expanded options for parents, and emphasis on teaching methods.

Occupational Therapy (OT): A related service that focuses on the development of a student’s fine motor skills and/or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living.

Office of Civil Rights (OCR): An agency with the U.S. Department of Education that enforces the Section 504 Rehabilitation Act and the Title II of the ADA.  The OCR investigates allegations of discrimination based upon disability.

Parent Advisors for Special Education (PASE): Consists of parents of individuals with disabilities with at least one parent from each local education agency and one public school academy. The parent advisory committee may provide advisory input on any matters the committee deems appropriate to the improvement of special education services within the intermediate school district.

Related Service: Services required to assist an individual with disabilities to benefit from special education, including, but not limited to, transportation, OT, PT, and medical care.

School Psychologist: A trained professional who assists in the identification of needs regarding behavioral, social, emotional, educational, and vocational functioning of individuals.

School Social Worker: A trained professional who supports the educational program of individuals by assisting in identification and assessment of the individual’s educational needs, including social, emotional, behavioral, and adaptive needs; the school social worker also provides intervention services.

Section 504: A section of the federal law called the External LinkRehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination by any entity that accepts federal funds.

Special Education: Specifically designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of an eligible individual, including the specially designed instruction conducted in schools, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings.

Speech-Language Pathologist: A trained professional who analyzes speech and language comprehension and production to determine communication competencies and provides intervention strategies and services related to speech and language development, as well as disorders of language, voice, articulation, and fluency.

Transition Services: A coordinated set of activities that promote movement from school to post-school education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and community participation.

Transition goals: are determined by the IEP Team beginning at age 14 and are based on student and family vision, preferences, and interests.

Specific Learning Disability Procedure

This notice is designed to comply with the May 14, 2010 State of Michigan requirement that each local school district publish its procedure for determining whether a student has a Specific Learning Disability (SLD). A SLD is defined in law as 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 as 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.

Lowell Area Schools will utilize a pattern of strengths and weaknesses model for the determination of a Specific Learning Disability in the areas of oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading fluency skills, reading

comprehension, mathematics calculation, and mathematics problem solving. The determination of a SLD will be based upon multiple sources of information including:

  • Parent input
  • Classroom teacher input
  • Individually administered tests of academic achievement and intellectual development
  • Classroom observation(s)
  • A review of past educational records
  • Student performance on State-approved grade-level standards, and
  • Other sources of information required by law or deemed pertinent by the evaluation team

A multidisciplinary evaluation team (MET) consisting of a certified teacher, a certified school psychologist, and possibly other members determined to be critical to the process, will prepare a written report documenting its analysis of the data gathered and its recommendation regarding SLD certification. That recommendation shall be based on whether the student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. “Strength”, “weakness”, and “pattern of strengths and weaknesses” are defined by the use of the Lowell Area Schools Decision Rules for Determining Strengths and Weaknesses grid.

In making a determination as to whether a student has or continues to have a Specific Learning Disability, Lowell Area Schools will also comply with all applicable federal regulations and State rules, including those addressing comprehensive evaluations, determination of the existence of a Specific Learning Disability, observation of academic performance and behavior in the areas of difficulty, specific documentation for SLD eligibility determination, and reevaluation requirements.

Speech and Language

The Lowell Area Schools Speech-Language Pathologists provide services to students in our school district from birth through high school who meet State of Michigan special education eligibility requirements and who have an IEP (Individualized Educational Program). 

Areas of eligibility include:

  • Articulation: sound production and use 
  • Language: understanding and use of language
  • Fluency: smooth delivery of connected speech
  • Voice: quality of voice output (i.e. hoarse, breathy, nasal)

Our website is designed to provide pertinent information related to speech-language development, speech-language disorders and information to assist parents in helping their child develop appropriate skills outside of the school setting.  Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher! 

Visit our External Linkwebsite for more information!