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 Ask the Attorney: Questions and Answers (back to Ask the Attorney)

Question: I am a parent of a child who has just been found eligible for special education services. When I talk with other parents of special education students and with school officials they are always talking about the "law and rules". What laws and rules are they referring to? How do I become familiar with them?

Answer:  See Part III Below; see previous postings for PART I - OVERVIEW and PART II - FEDERAL ROLE


State Law - The state's requirements for the operation of its public and private schools in found in the Michigan Revised School Code. As is done on the federal level, once a law is passed and signed by the governor, it is codified under a subject matter titling system. In Michigan, the School Code is in Chapter 380, found in the Michigan Complied Laws - MCL 380.1.

In terms of special education services, the Michigan Legislature assigned to the State Board of Education the authority to create rules that insure that special education programs comply with federal law and regulations, as well as to insure that the maximum potential of each disabled student was met (MCL 380.1701). The Michigan Department of Education (MDOE), through a public hearing process adopted rules to implement both the federal standards and the increased benefits provided for by the Michigan legislature.

These rules are found in the Michigan Revised Administrative Rules for Special Education; which had nine parts and is indexed by a numbering system starting at Part I, with R 340.1701. Based on the federal Department of Education adopting new regulations after IDEA was amended by Congress in 1997, Michigan was also required to change its old rules. That process started with MDOE soliciting public comments on the proposed rules starting in 2001. Then there was a court ordered delay in the implementation of the proposed rules, followed by significant revision to the proposed rules. Many of the new rules become "law" on June 4, 2002. Those rules are indexed from R 340.1701 to R 340.1861. For most schools, this "rulebook" is a primary source of special education law. Additional rules related to special education process and procedures are now open for public comment through September 30, 2002. A copy of the new Michigan rules can be obtained from the Michigan Department of Education or downloaded from  

In the author's opinion, it is unfortunate that the new rules are now silent in areas where the federal regulations control. Therefore, to effectively understand "the law", one must have available (and locate the proper section) both the federal regulations from the CFR's and the state's "R rules".

Hope this helps your understanding;

John Brower, JD
Education Law Center, PLLC

NOTE: Next week, Part IV - Local Role and Suggestions.

Education Law Center, PLLC 810-227-9850 

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