ISD special education department active in many areas

MANISTEE — The Manistee Intermediate School special education department has been busy over the past several months with a series of programs to benefit area

Members of the Manistee Intermediate School District Board of Education listen to a report on the special education program.

students.

ISD special education director Brooke McIsaac, ISD Representative/transition coordinator Tamra Brunke and ISD teacher consultant Becky Biller presented an update this week to the ISD board of education.

Brunke told the board the special education staff has been very busy with professional development for the area schools.

“This year we have done eight crisis prevention intervention trainings and 12 technical assistance,” said Brunke. “Those are things like education plan updates, what is new in the Individualized Education Plan system and we are also implementing a new progress monitoring system to keep track of progress special education students make.”

Other things she touched on were trainings in goal writing, transition services and accommodations versus modifications for special education students. They also did professional development for Manistee Intermediate School District staff that included social and emotional professional development, crisis prevention intervention, opioid, NARCAN, CPR/First Aid, dispensing medication and seizure protocols.

“Centra Wellness came in this past month and did an in-service on what services they have to offer and we also started a Mindfullness presentation,” said Brunke. “Nine teachers from Kaleva Norman Dickson and the Manistee Area Public Schools meet monthly on how to work with students to be more mindful in the moment and remain calm in class.”

Another thing Brunke said they did at the state level was Neurodevelopmental trauma and in the past it was administration going to those meetings, but now it is being offered to the itinerant staff. They also have done sessions for anxiety and defiant behaviors.

“Every February it is on legal issues,” said Brunke. “We have a couple more in April and June and this year they have some coming up on neurobehavior and they have national speakers coming in.”

McIsaac said the Michigan Association for Administrators in Special Education meets six times a year in Lansing. She said all supervisors, directors, special education staff attend, and there usually are several hundred people in attendance.

“Each time we go there they have a set agenda, but we also have a presentation as well,” said McIsaac.

Brunke touched on compliance work the area schools do and said three schools are out of compliance on B 13 which is transition and are writing corrective action plans. There is one school on B 10 out of compliance which is disproportionate representation of eligibility categories so the state comes in to look at their procedures in regards to if they have too many emotionally impaired kids compared to the state average.

“We have one school under a B 4 compliance which is suspension of race or ethnicity, so that is if there are too many students of one race being expelled,” said Brunke. “In our community it is concerned with Native Americans as we have a large population of them.”

Manistee/Wexford  ISD dual superintendent Dave Cox said they had the same issue about a race issue with black students in Wexford.

“They had two black students and one got suspended so they only report to the state the percentage and that showed 50 percent of the black students being suspended and the state wanted to know what was happening,” said Cox. “The state still requires you to have a plan for it.”

Brunke also touched on the new seven year General Supervision grant the ISD received this year.

“We get to pick the category we want to work on with that grant,” said Brunke. “We selected Least Restrictive Environment because we have a strong feeling that kids should be in general education first and only receive special education if they absolutely need it and only for the area they need it,” said Brunke. “So what we are looking at is kids who have been removed and go to an in-school or out-of-school suspension and we are comparing that to their test scores. What we look at is if their scores improve after they have been removed or go down.”

McIsaac said the grant has eight components to it. They chose picked the one they did because it is broad and they can tweak it as they go along.

She also touched on the addition of a four day a week speech therapist this year and the impact it has made in the district.

“Our speech team is thrilled and things are rolling smooth again and kids are getting services they need which is great,” said McIsaac.

She said the physical therapist, who services all the kids 0 to 26 years old in all the schools and is very  busy. They also added a physical therapist assistant to help cut the workload, and it has been going well.

“The assistant works two  days a week and it has been awesome,” said McIsaac.

Biller talked about the fact that the ISD has 70 students in six classrooms at the present time at various locations around the county.

McIsaac said in the Early On classroom the numbers have risen from 12-14 students and currently they serve 33 families. It has been as high as 49 families.

“These are severe students who have been referred to us through the doctor’s office, the court, Department of Health and Human Services,” said McIsaac.

Biller and McIsaac also detailed for the board the recent activities of the various ISD classrooms. It gave the board a good perspective on the many things taking place across the county.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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