Special Education | Student Services

We provide an Inclusive education environment to best prepare ALL students for success in their lives.

Student Services Mission Statement:

Holland Public Schools believes in an uncompromising commitment to student achievement and an unending quest to maximize student success.  In partnership with our parents and community, we provide opportunities and high-quality education to ALL students, which will allow them to reach their full potential and prepare them for the future.

-Jennifer Headley-Nordman*
Associate Superintendent of Student Services


 

HPS Special Education Policies and Procedures PDF Document


CDC Child Development Basics:

The early years of a child’s life are very important for his or her health and development. Parents, health professionals, educators, and others can work together as partners to help children grow up to reach their full potential. Visit the CDC's Child Development Basics webpage.

Introduction

Students with (1) handicapping conditions and (2) in need of special education must be provided programs and services according to state and federal mandatory special education laws. While the federal law (P.L. 94-142, 1975) mandates services from age 3 through 21, Michigan law (P.A. 451, 1976) mandates services from birth through age 26. Local school districts are ultimately responsible for the provision of programs and services to resident students.

Specific Learning Disability

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

Consistent with this requirement, Holland Public Schools reports the following:

  • For grades kindergarten through 5th grade, in the area of Basic Reading, Holland Public Schools is beginning the implementation of a Response to Scientific, Research-Based Intervention process for literacy intervention. 
  • For determination of a SLD, a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) process is used for students in kindergarten through 12th grade for the skill area of Basic Reading. This process is also used across all other areas of SLD, kindergarten through 12th grade, 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 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.” (34 CFR §300.8(c)(10)).

What is Response to Scientific, Research-Based Intervention Process?

Response to Scientific, Research-Based Intervention is a process 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 does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified at 34 CFR §300.309(a)(1)(i) when using a process based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based intervention.

What is a PSW Process?

A 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.

Source: Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (2010). Michigan criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability. Lansing, MI: Author.

Special education is specially designed instruction that addresses the unique needs of eligible students. Special education is provided at no cost to parents and includes the related services a student needs to access and progress within the school environment. 

Family Matter Special Education Fact Sheets - Michigan Department of Education


How to request an IEP:

Parents should contact their child’s teacher,  building principal, or other child study team member regarding initial IEP requests.  Often, there are a variety of accommodations and supports that can be provided to all learners. It is also beneficial to discuss all options and seek clarification prior to submitting a formal request to the district. 

In order to submit a formal request, the district will need a letter* stating:

  • Parent name(s) 
  • Child’s name  
  • Child’s grade level  
  • The name of the school building your child attends
  • A brief list of concerns
  • A brief explanation of the benefits of the evaluation  
  • Signature and date

*The parent letter can be submitted in languages other than English.  

Any building or office staff member can assist in receiving the letter.  Once received the district has 10 days to respond in writing to this request for evaluation.  A staff member from the Student Services’ team will contact the parent to discuss next steps.


 

“Child Find” is a legal requirement that Holland Public Schools find all children who have disabilities and who may be entitled to special education services. Child Find covers every child from birth through age 26. The school must evaluate any child that it knows or suspects may have a disability.

This process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation is designed to locate as early as possible all children with disabilities who are in need of early intervention and special education services.

The student must have a documented disability that impacts learning in the general education classroom. The 504 Plan usually outlines the accommodations and services that will allow a child to access the curriculum. A 504 Plan is less specific than an IEP.


How to request a 504 plan:

Parents should contact their child’s teacher,  building principal, or other child study team member regarding 504 Plan requests.  Often, there are a variety of accommodations and supports that can be provided to all learners. It is also beneficial to discuss all options and seek clarification prior to submitting a formal request to the district. 

In order to submit a formal request for a 504 Plan, the district will need a letter* stating:

  • Parent name(s) 
  • Child’s name  
  • Child’s grade level  
  • The name of the school building your child attends
  • A brief list of concerns
  • A brief explanation of the benefits of a 504 Plan  
  • Signature and date

Documentation from physicians, psychologists, and other community based providers is beneficial to the review team, but not required.  (Please note that clinical documentation/recommendation does not guarantee eligibility for a 504 Plan. The 504 team will include this data with other student based information within the decision making process.  The 504 Plan review team ultimately determines eligibility)

*The parent letter can be submitted in languages other than English.  

Any building or office staff member can assist in receiving the letter.  Once received the district has 10 days to respond in writing to this request for 504 review.  The designated 504 Plan Coordinator for your child’s building will contact the parent to discuss next steps. 

 

STUDENTS PROTECTED UNDER SECTION 504

US Department of Education, Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving Federal financial assistance. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

What is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?

The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. The Section 504 regulatory provision  at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i) defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The regulatory provision does not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list.

Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(ii), include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504.  In the Amendments Act (see FAQ 1), Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.  Congress also provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.  The Section 504 regulatory provision, though not as comprehensive as the Amendments Act, is still valid – the Section 504 regulatory provision’s list of examples of major life activities is not exclusive, and an activity or function not specifically listed in the Section 504 regulatory provision can nonetheless be a major life activity.


 

Holland Public Schools provides a variety of early childhood programs and services to qualifying students.  Our district makes available walk in, general education, and special education preschool programs in addition to specialized preschool programs for Autism and children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Below are the processes for requesting referrals to these services or programs.

Walk In services:

If your child is between the ages of 3 and 6 years old and does NOT attend a Preschool Program at Holland Public Schools: 

If you have concerns with your child's development, please contact the Student Services Department, at 616-494-2100 or mbosch@hollandpublicschools.org. A team member will gather information and then send your referral to the appropriate diagnostic team member. You will be contacted by that team member within one week. This team member will conduct a comprehensive phone interview with you, as well as schedule a screening session if determined appropriate.  

After the screening session, if the diagnostic team member determines that a formal evaluation is warranted, enrollment paperwork will be distributed, and an appointment will be scheduled with you to turn in the enrollment paperwork, obtain formal evaluation consent (REED form), and begin the evaluation. The evaluation may require multiple sessions to complete. Once it is finished, a formal IEP meeting will be scheduled with you and any other necessary team members. This meeting will take place no more than 30 school days from the date that formal evaluation consent was signed unless an extension form is completed. At this meeting, the team will discuss with you the results of the evaluation and whether or not your child meets criteria in any particular area of eligibility, as well as recommended program/services for your child if applicable.

HPS contains three types of special education classroom programs at the Early Childhood level for students who qualify for this level of support. These include the ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and DHH (Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing) Classroom Programs. 

Regardless of whether or not your child qualifies for a special education program, he/she may qualify for ancillary services through HPS (such as Speech-Language Therapy Services, Teacher Consultative, Occupational Therapy Services, School Social Work, and/or Physical Therapy Services)

If your child is between the ages of 3 and 6 years old and attends a Preschool Program at HPS (GSRP or Head Start): 

If you have concerns with your child's development, please notify your child's classroom teacher. The teacher will communicate your concerns to the appropriate diagnostic team member and will notify you of the procedure that will be followed. The procedure may involve obtaining your signed consent for your child to participate in a screening. It may also involve one or more team members conducting observations and/or screenings of your child while he/she is at school, conducting parent/teacher interviews, and/or participating in follow-up staff meetings regarding your child."   

After the above process has been completed, if the involved diagnostic team member(s) determine that a formal evaluation is warranted, you will be notified, and enrollment paperwork will be distributed to you. After all enrollment paperwork has been turned in, an appointment will be scheduled with you to obtain formal evaluation consent (REED form). Once this form is signed, the diagnostic team member(s) will begin formally evaluating your child. The evaluation may require multiple sessions to complete. When it is finished, a formal IEP meeting will be scheduled with you and any other necessary team members, including your child's classroom teacher. This meeting will take place no more than 30 school days from the date that formal evaluation consent was signed unless an extension is completed. At this meeting, the team will discuss with you the results of the evaluation and whether or not your child meets criteria in any particular area of eligibility, as well as recommended program/services for your child if applicable.

HPS contains three types of special education classroom programs at the Early Childhood level for students who qualify for this level of support. These include the ECSE (Early Childhood Special Education), DHH (Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Classroom Programs. 

Regardless of whether or not your child qualifies for a special education program, he/she may qualify for ancillary services through HPS (such as Speech-Language Therapy Services, School Social Work, Teacher Consultative, Occupational Therapy Services, and/or Physical Therapy Services)."  

Located at Holland West (grades TK-5) and Holland Middle (grades 6-8), our program services students in grades TK-8 and is divided into lower elementary and upper elementary sections. Our goal is to provide a quality education for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders based on best practices in the areas of: social skills, behavior, communication, academic instruction and sensory integration. We promote understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of individuals with ASD in our school community.  

The Total Communication Program is committed to teach students to develop oral and manual (sign language and fingerspelling) communication skills, as well as auditory skills, utilizing all forms of communication. Students develop skills that allow them to communicate comfortably and effectively in any discourse. 

Students are supported in the mainstream with interpreters, speech therapists, and other specialists as needed. They also go to a Deaf/Hard of Hearing teacher for specialized teaching for some subjects.

Students also participate in CBI (community-based instruction) to increase their vocabulary and to learn to function in a hearing world.

Homebound and hospitalized services provide continuity of educational services for pupils with medical conditions that prevent them from physically attending school during the school year. The certification must be by a physician who is either an M.D. or a D.O. or a licensed physician's assistant; psychologists, chiropractors, or other professionals may not certify a person as eligible. Homebound and hospitalized services are designed to be a self-study program that allows pupils to maintain their coursework and studies while they are unable to attend school. These services allow the classroom teacher to work through the homebound and hospitalized teacher to help distribute course materials, deliver instruction, and monitor pupil progress in the course. 

Background

Since 1993, the State of Michigan has participated in a Federal program called Medicaid School-Based Services. The program assists school districts by providing partial reimbursement for medically-related services listed on a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Although this partial reimbursement is available only for students who are Medicaid eligible, services are provided to all students with disabilities regardless of their Medicaid eligibility status.

The Michigan School-Based Services program is under the direction of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

In 2013, the regulations regarding Medicaid parental consent for School-Based Services changed. Prior to accessing a child's public benefits or insurance for the first time, and annually thereafter, school districts must provide parents/guardians written notification. So what does all this mean?

Is there a cost to you?

NO - IEP/IFSP services are provided to students while they are at school at NO cost to the parent/guardian.

Will School-Based Medicaid claiming impact your family's Medicaid benefits?

The School-Based Services program does NOT impact a family's Medicaid services, funds, or limits. Michigan operates the School-Based Services program differently than the family's Medicaid program. The School-Based Services program does not affect your family's Medicaid benefits in any way.

What type of services does the School-Based Services program cover?

  • Evaluations
  • Speech & Language/Audiology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychological/Social Work
  • Orientation & Mobility
  • Assistive  Technology Services
  • Nursing
  • Case Management
  • Personal Care
  • Special Education Transportation

What type of information about your child will be shared?

In order to submit claims for School-Based Services reimbursement, the following types of records may be required: first name, last name, middle name, address, date of birth, student ID, Medicaid ID, disability, service dates and the type of services delivered.

Who will see this information?

Information about your child's School-Based Services may be shared with the Michigan Medicaid agency and its affiliates for the purpose of verifying Medicaid eligibility and submitting claims.

What if you change your mind?

You have the right to withdraw consent to disclose your child's personally identifiable information to the Michigan Medicaid agency and its affiliates at any time.

Will your consent or refusal affect your child's services?

NO. Regardless of whether you have Medicaid coverage or not (and whether you provide consent or not) the school district will still provide services to your child pursuant to their IEP or IFSP.

What if you have questions?

Please call your school district's Special Education department with questions or concerns, or to obtain a copy of the parental consent form.


*Headley-Nordman photo credit: Jen Doornbos Photography

Jennifer Headley-Nordman
Director of Special Education
616-494-2100
Fax:  616-393-7676 or 616-392-8225

Anna Clawson
Assistant Director
616-494-2100

Melissa Bosch
Administrative Assistant
616-494-2106