Special Education

Zeeland Special Education Programs and Services

In Michigan, special education programs and services are available for eligible students from birth to age 26. Special Education provides specifically designed instruction and related services, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique educational needs of students who are found eligible under one of the areas of disability recognized under the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education. Programs and services include classroom instruction, consultation, ancillary support, and adaptive supplies and materials designed to meet the identified educational goals of students.

Zeeland Public Schools offers a full continuum of services to identified students. The vast majority of students receive educational support in their home school with assistance from a special education teacher and/or ancillary service provider. Students who require more support than is available at their neighborhood school may attend a program classroom at designated schools within the district or at our regional center programs, Ottawa Area Center and Sheldon Pines School. All placement and programming decisions are made at the Individual Education Planning meeting.

What is Child Find?

Child Find identifies resident children who may be in need of special education programs and/or services. Child Find offers evaluations, at no charge, to children suspected of having a disability. Early intervention is very important to your child’s development. Signs of possible developmental delay for 3- and 4-year-olds are listed below. If you are concerned about your child’s development, please call Zeeland Public Schools’ Special Education office at (616) 748-3026.

*Signs of Possible Developmental Delay at age 3:

  • Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
  • Drools or has very unclear speech
  • Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
  • Doesn’t speak in sentences
  • Doesn’t understand simple instructions
  • Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
  • Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
  • Doesn’t make eye contact
  • Loses skills he once had

*Signs of Possible Developmental Delay at age 4:

  • Can’t jump in place
  • Has trouble scribbling
  • Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  • Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
  • Can’t retell a favorite story
  • Doesn’t follow 3-part commands
  • Doesn’t understand “same” and “different”
  • Doesn’t use “me” and “you” correctly
  • Speaks unclearly
  • Loses skills he once had

*As referenced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.

Who do I call for more information?

Please call Zeeland Public Schools’ Special Education office at (616) 748-3048.

This is the notification of your rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regarding Medicaid billing. IDEA allows certain services provided under an IEP to be covered by Medicaid. The Michigan Medicaid school-based services benefit is a way for school districts to receive additional federal revenue. These services include attendant care services, nursing services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services, and social work services. Before a school district may seek recovery of costs, you must sign a consent form that gives the school district permission to bill Medicaid and share student information.

The following rights are afforded to parents regarding Medicaid billing under IDEA:

  • A district must obtain your written consent prior to submitting your child’s IEP-health-related costs for Medicaid reimbursement. Consent only needs to be provided once, so you will not have to sign the form each year.
  • The consent form allows the school district to share student education information to Michigan’s Department of Community Health (MDCH), the state agency that administers Medicaid.
  • At any time you decide that you do not want the school district to share your child’s information with MDCH or to bill Medicaid for your child’s costs, you can withdraw consent and the school district will no longer include your bill for Medicaid.
  • School districts are required to provide all IEP services at no cost to parents even if the district cannot bill Medicaid. Parents are not required to sign up for or enroll in public insurance programs in order to receive these services.
  • As a student with a disability, your child will always receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) while attending a public school regardless of insurance coverage. The school district will never require you to enroll in Medicaid to ensure your child receives FAPE.
  • Billing Medicaid:
    1. Will not decrease the availability or length of Medicaid coverage time for your child,
    2. Will not result in you paying for required services outside of school that would have been covered by Medicaid,
    3. Will not increase your insurance premiums or lead to the discontinuation of benefits or insurance, and
    4. Will not risk your child’s eligibility for home and community-based waivers, based on the total costs of your child’s health-related needs.

If you have signed a consent form in the past, this serves as an annual notification to remind you of your rights under IDEA and to stress that accessing Medicaid on behalf of your child does not reduce any of the benefits that you would normally receive under the Medicaid program outside of the school day.

What is a Specific Learning Disability (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)).

How is a Specific Learning Disability determined?

In Zeeland Public Schools, a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) process is used to identify a Specific Learning Disability in students. This process is used across all areas of SLD, which include: Oral Expression, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression, Basic Reading, Reading Comprehension, Oral Reading Fluency, Math Calculation, and Math Problem Solving. A Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses 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.

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

Autumn Dawdy
Assistant Superintendent of
Special Education