Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: Join our conversation about special education in Detroit

special education

No aspect of fixing Detroit schools is easy, but perhaps the most difficult challenge is the work of improving services for children with disabilities.

That was made clear in the audit of district special education programs that Superintendent Nikolai Vitti commissioned shortly after he arrived in Detroit. The audit, which has already prompted Vitti to spell out a series of reforms, reveals some alarming past practices. We published a list — as well as the audit itself. Among findings: A special education enrollment center had a single phone line and overworked staff who sometimes sent parents to schools that didn’t have the right service for their child.

The audit also spells out one of the reasons district staff working with children with special needs are so overtaxed: The district is serving a much higher percentage of children with disabilities than nearby districts and charter schools.

These are some of the issues that will no doubt come up tonight at the special education listening session that we’re hosting together with the Detroit Parent Network at 5:30 p.m. Parents, educators and advocates will have a chance to tell their stories about special education in the city. If you haven’t already registered, please do. The event is free but space is limited.

Until then, scroll down for the day’s headlines!

— Erin Einhorn, Bureau Chief


Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox, or forward to a friend who cares about public education.


SPECIAL DIFFICULTY Auditors who spent months talking to special education parents and teachers made a series of recommendations for changes to the Detroit special education system. Those changes are now part of the district’s plan to overhaul the system. Chalkbeat

CONCENTRATION An audit that found major problems with the district’s special education programs also offered a reminder to critics: The district is doing far more than its share. Among findings: Children in Detroit who’ve been diagnosed with autism are 22 times more likely to be enrolled in the district than in a charter school. Chalkbeat

SUMMER SCHOOL As many as 2,000 Detroit teachers will be trained this summer to use the district’s new reading curriculum, which will be rolled out in September and will include new libraries of books for elementary and middle school classrooms. The Detroit News

STRIKE FORCE Among the janitors who could go on strike August 1 are about 500 people who clean city schools. Michigan Radio Detroit Free Press