Why Macomb County Excels in Supporting Special Education Students

Find out what makes Macomb County unique when it comes to educating students with special needs.

The Macomb County Intermediate School District (MISD) provides students, parents, teachers and staff members the tools and support they need to help special education students succeed. The MISD has been recognized at the national, state and local level for its focus on special needs students and their families.

We spoke with Justin Michalak., Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services for the MISD about programs.  

“The community throughout Macomb County has a long history for advocating and providing services for students and families with special needs,” says Michalak. “It not only provides a continuum of services, but it has strong relationships with every one of our local school districts and public charter schools.”

Special education programs in Macomb County

Special Education services are provided to all those who qualify from birth-age 26.  These services and programs are determined by an identification of a specific disability. This could include a spectrum of issues from speech/language delays to visual and auditory problems to more severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism or cognitive issues.

The MISD staff provide services to children and youth in the county based on the Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is developed by parents, specialists, and staff.

The MISD Center Program Schools include services for children and youth at Bovenschen, Lutz, Bozymowski, Maple Lane, Neil Reid, Peters and Rockwell. Services and programs are also offered in partnership with local districts throughout the county. 

“For all of our center programs we provide coordinated transportation throughout the county,” Michalak says. “This includes curb-to-curb busing to and from schools.  Our buses are able to meet the unique needs of all students including lifts for wheelchairs. We also support medical and behavioral needs on a bus.”

“Another thing the ISD takes pride in is the strong partnerships with community agencies,” says Michalak. These partnerships include the Macomb County Health Department, Arc of Macomb, Macomb County Government and the townships.

How to know what program is best for your child

“Once a child turns 3, they normally go to their local school district, and the district evaluates them based on what that team feels their needs are,” says Michalak. “They may then refer the child to the MISD for a certain program if the team believes that is in the best interest of the child.”

“We provide services to young children, ages 0-3 at one of the sites throughout the county, at the child’s home or in their daycare, if parents are working,” he says. This service is known as Early On and is available for Michigan families children have a 20% diagnosed delay in any number of benchmarks that includes verbal, auditory, muscle development or behavioral issues.

How parents can stay involved

Parents are encouraged to be involved and advocate for their child. One way parents of special needs students can join other parents to learn about opportunities for their child is to join the Parent Advisory Committee in Macomb County.

“The Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meets monthly and anyone can attend,” says Michalak. “It’s normally the first Monday of the month at the ISD on Garfield.”

The ISD asks anyone attending to register beforehand because they provide dinner. Although it is for parents, people have also brought their children to the meetings if they need to. Each meeting has a new topic to discuss.

The next PAC meeting is on Monday, May 6 from 7-9 p.m. and the topic is Sensory Supports. For more information or if you have a concern about your child’s development please call 586-228-3520.

For more information on living and learning in Macomb County, visit Make Macomb Your Home. Find more articles like this at Metro Parent’s A Family Guide to Macomb County.

Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.

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