89.1 WEMU

Advocates And Lawmakers Gather To Raise Awareness For Special Education

Oct 7, 2016

While most of the rallies these days are focused on presidential candidates, a different kind of rally took place Wednesday on the State Capitol lawn.  Parents, lawmakers, and advocates gathered to raise awareness for the needs of special education students.


A recent package of bills banning the use of restraint and seclusion in classrooms except in cases of an emergency is making its way through the legislature.  This legislation came from a recommendation by the Special Education Reform Task Force.  Lt. Governor Brian Calley is the chair of the taskforce.  

Calley says Michigan needs continued funding and reforms, including less isolation, for special education students.  After his speech on the Capitol steps, Calley said, “If we keep our kids with special needs separated out from community and society, how would they ever learn how to function and how to live in the broader communities?”

Debbie Rock is a regional parent mentor for Michigan Alliance for Families, a resource for parents with special needs children.  She was excited the rally was raising awareness but said more work needs to be done. 

“We need an overhaul,” she said. “We need to make some really good positive changes and start implementing some positive behavior support.  Some kind of a system in place that replaces that and gives our kids a fighting chance.”

State Board of Education President John Austin said Michigan is working on bettering special education.  He said, “Our special education students, they deserve a great education and to be treated with dignity and respect and be supported to their full potential.” 

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org