More special education students in DPS working toward diplomas with district-wide rollout of Inclusion model of instruction

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542
Kisha Verdusco at 313-873-4546

Thousands of Detroit Public Schools high school students are now on track to earning state-sanctioned diplomas with the implementation of the Inclusion model of special education at nearly every high school in the district this fall. Only a handful of schools previously offered this program.

Inclusion, which is required as part of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), places roughly 7,000 students classified as Learning Disabled into general education settings while providing all necessary instructional supports and other services.

The district has been out of compliance and is moving forward with reforms to avoid funding cuts that could impact student education. In addition, special education students who are not exposed to general education curriculums cannot receive a state-sanctioned high school diploma – they receive a certificate of completion that does not qualify them for jobs that require a high school diploma.

“Parent and educators across the country are recognizing that it is no longer acceptable or appropriate to educate all students with learning disabilities in a self-contained class all day, effectively isolating them from their peers,” said DPS Deputy Chief of Academic Affairs Sherry Ulery. “In Detroit, there are approximately 7,000 students in special education who are perfectly capable, with accommodations, of meeting the state of Michigan’s standards for earning a high school diploma and we are doing them a grave disservice when we do not provide this opportunity.”

Students are classified as Learning Disabled if they are two grade levels behind their peers and their parents request that they receive special education services. In most cases, the students are behind because of attendance or other social issues, not because of impairment.

IDEA requires that 60 percent of special-needs students in the district be exposed to a general education curriculum and their general education peers to the best of their ability at least 80 percent of the time. Last year only 34 percent of special needs students in DPS were exposed to a general education curriculum at least 80 percent of the time.

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