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STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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What happens when parents and schools clash over special education?

teacher in elementary classroom
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Advocates say parents are at a disadvantage in fights over special education.

Children with special needs are entitled to a “free and appropriate education” under federal law. What that looks like varies from district to district.

All schools, though, are required to make a plan for how a student will be educated. This is called an Individual Education Plan, or “IEP."   

So, what happens when a parent and a school district disagree on what that plan should look like? Melody Arabo has spent the past year finding out.

Arabo is a teacher at Walled Lake Consolidated Schools. She’s also the mother of a first grader with a significant language disability.

Walled Lake wanted to move her son to a school that had specialized supports for students with cognitive disabilities. Arabo wanted him to remain in his neighborhood school. The disagreement landed Arabo and the district in administrative court this summer. 

Stateside’s Cynthia Canty talked to Arabo and to Mark McWilliams, an attorney for the Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, about why they think parents get the short end of the stick in disputes over special education. You can listen to that interview here

April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
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