Special Education in Michigan

Students are eligible for special education and/or related services if they have been evaluated and determined by the district (with input from the parent) to have a cognitive impairment, emotional impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment, physical impairment, other health impairment, speech and language impairment, early childhood developmental delay, specific learning disability, severe multiple impairment, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, or deaf-blindness. Special Education in Michigan is regulated by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE).

Evaluating a Child for Special Education Services

Not every child with a disability requires special education programs and services. But every child whose disability interferes with school progress and learning is entitled to educational services that meet his or her individual needs.

Parents, teachers, and other professionals may refer a student for special education services by contacting the school’s principal or the administrator of special education to request a full evaluation.

If the district (with input from the parent), determines after an evaluation that the child would benefit from special education programs and/or services, an individualized education program (IEP) is created. Students may receive services in a general education setting, a special education setting, or some combination of the two.

The Role of the Parent and the IEP

The IEP is the centerpiece of a child’s special education blueprint. Creating an IEP for a child in Michigan is a team effort. The team includes, among others, the parent or guardian of the student; the student, if appropriate; at least one of the student’s general education classroom teachers (if the student participates in a general education setting); and at least one of the student’s special education teachers. If the parent and the school district staff cannot agree on the plan of action set through the IEP, several collaborative problem-solving options—including an informal meeting, a facilitated meeting, and mediation—exist. The parent may also file a state complaint or request a due process hearing.

If you have a question related to special education in Michigan, please call 888-320 8384 or email mde-ose@michigan.gov.