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Michigan Uses I&R for Systemic Education Advocacy

Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc. (MPAS) has historically received nearly 2,000 calls per year on education issues, comprising 20-25% of all of our information and referral (I&R) calls.

MPAS began surveying parents of children with disabilities in November 2010.  We ask parents if their children are having problems related to behavior, including problems that could suggest future behavior challenges such as academic struggles, retention, or multiple absences.  The survey is not intended to produce scientifically valid data, but is designed as an informal measure of the scope of current or possible future behavior issues facing students with disabilities in Michigan.

MPAS callers have completed over 2,700 surveys since the project began, and over 240 in the third quarter of 2013. Individual survey responses have been used to screen and identify cases for investigation for possible complaints. Through September 2012, MPAS had filed 77 individual and systemic complaints, most of which came through I&R screening. In many of these complaints, MPAS has either obtained findings of noncompliance requiring corrective action or negotiated individual resolutions and systemic reforms directly with the districts involved.

The survey results are also useful in supporting systemic and policy work. For example, Michigan’s state special education advisory committee (SEAC) decided there was not sufficient data to take further action on the problem of “de facto” suspension. Schools use “de facto” suspension when they send children home early, tell them to stay home, or otherwise remove children from instruction without recording absences or suspensions. MPAS responded by publishing survey information showing nearly 40% of our callers surveyed at the time complained that their children were being subjected to this practice.

Please feel free to contact MPAS if you have any questions about our I&R survey.


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Posted on:
September 09, 2013