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Genesee County ISD special education funding formula violates state law, judge says

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FLINT, MI — The formula used to funnel some special education dollars through the Genesee Intermediate School Distrct to local districts violates state law, an administrative law judge has said.

For Flint schools, this could mean the district will get more special education funding because it has a higher than average percentage of special education students. It also could mean less money for school districts with a high total student count but lower percentage of special education students, like Grand Blanc Community Schools.

As it currently stands, the GISD Mandatory Plan appropriates $3.8 million of Act 18 special education funds back to local districts based on a three-part formula: 1. Total special education headcount 2. Full-time-equivalent (FTE) special education student head count 3. Total FTE headcount. FTE head count is adjusted for part-time student numbers. These three factors are currently equally weighted.

However, Administrative Law Judge Michael St. John in a Friday, Oct 9 recommendation to State Superintendent Michael Rice, said this formula should change.

Residents challenge officials to change special education funding to benefit Flint schools

The Flint Community School district has said it is unfair to include total FTE as one third of the formula because it disadvantages the city district, which once was the largest in the county but has since lost ground to suburban districts.

GISD Superintendent Lisa Hagel testified that all three factors, including FTE, are of equal importance.

“However, the funding formula does not provide equal funding for the three factors,” St. John wrote in his recommendation. “Because the three numbers are simply averaged together, the larger number of FTE students dwarfs the smaller SEHC number and substantially dwarfs the much smaller SEFTE number. Rather than using relative percentages of each factor, they are simply added together and then divided. FTE therefore dominates both

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Texas flouted special education guidelines for therapy, U.S. officials say

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Texas has failed to ensure that children with developmental delays have early access to speech and occupational therapy and other services, according to a letter ​written this week by U.S. education officials who say the state is not complying with federal special education guidelines.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has three months to draw up a plan to ensure that a program that pays for infants and toddlers to receive such early intervention therapies is reaching all eligible Texans, federal officials wrote. Failure to do so could cost the state federal funding.

After years of budget cuts in Texas caused nonprofit therapy providers to drop out of the program, U.S. Department of Education officials found Texas to be in “significant noncompliance” with education guidelines on early intervention services.

Children’s advocates called on state leaders to provide additional funding to Texas’ Early Childhood Intervention program.

“The investigation clearly shows that state funding cuts to ECI made it harder for Texas toddlers with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and disabilities to get the services they need,” said Stephanie Rubin, chief executive of the nonprofit Texans Care for Children.

“Because so much brain development happens during the first couple years of life, we know that investing in infants and toddlers has a huge payoff in terms of kids meeting developmental goals, being ready for school, and growing up healthy,” she added.

Christine Mann, a spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the agency is reviewing the report to determine its next steps.

The Early Childhood Intervention program pays for caseworkers to work with families to track the progress of developmentally delayed children younger than 3 years old,

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State education board calls special meeting on Epic Charter Schools audit | Education

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Byrd’s office found that Epic exceeded the state’s 5% state cap on administrative overhead costs intended to ensure public schools direct most resources on students “year after year.”

The state auditor’s report cites “questionable classification and reporting of administrative costs” between FY 2017 and FY 2019 totaling $16.6 million for Epic One-on-One, a statewide virtual charter school, and $6.7 million for Epic Blended Learning Centers, which offer students in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties a blend of at-home and classroom-based studies.

And a $530,000 penalty imposed by the state school board in February, while significant, represented a fraction of what the state auditor said she has documented proof that Epic actually owes for underreported administrative payroll costs the past six fiscal years: $8.9 million.

Byrd previously called the penalty “a slap on the wrist.”

Her report says had Epic Charter Schools been assessed full penalties by the state, Chaney and Harris’ company called Epic Youth Services would reportedly have collected at least $837,000 less in management fees.

The state audit team also found in 2016, Epic Charter Schools “inaccurately reclassified administrative costs,” thus avoiding a $2.6 million penalty for exceeding Oklahoma’s limit on administrative costs.

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Ottawa County special education school closes after staff member tests positive for coronavirus

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ALLENDALE, MI – The Ottawa Area Center, a public school serving students with cognitive impairments, is closed to in-person instruction for one week after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.



a person in a blue blanket: Registered Nurse Hailey Allen changes gloves while testing patients for coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Mercy Health Saint Mary's drive-through testing center in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Patients must have a doctor's order to receive a test. Mercy Health also offers a testing site in Muskegon.


© Cory Morse | [email protected]/Cory Morse | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS
Registered Nurse Hailey Allen changes gloves while testing patients for coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s drive-through testing center in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Patients must have a doctor’s order to receive a test. Mercy Health also offers a testing site in Muskegon.

About 50 students and staff have been placed in quarantine following the positive test result, according to a news release issued by the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The suspension of in-person instruction is effective Thursday, Oct. 7 through Friday, Oct. 16, district officials said. The school will use remote learning during the facility’s closure.

The school, located at 10160 96th Ave., serves around 200 students ranging from ages 3 to 26 with moderate to severe cognitive impairments, according to the OAISD website.

The facility will remain vacant until Oct. 9 out of an abundance of caution, according to a letter sent to Ottawa Area Center parents. The facility will then undergo deep cleaning in preparation for the building’s reopening.



A certified medical assistant places a swab into a vile for people tested for coronavirus at a Flint drive-thru testing site April 15, 2020 at Atwood Stadium in Flint.


© Jake May | [email protected]/mlive.com/TNS
A certified medical assistant places a swab into a vile for people tested for coronavirus at a Flint drive-thru testing site April 15, 2020 at Atwood Stadium in Flint.

In-person instruction will resume Monday, Oct. 19, according to the parent letter.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to us that we provide a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff,” Ottawa Area Center Director JoAnne Thorsen and Assistant Director Julia Plaggemeyer wrote in the letter to parents.

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In First Career Postseason Start, Yankees’ Clint Frazier Answers Bell With ‘Special’ Moment

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Making his first career postseason start on Monday night, Yankees’ outfielder Clint Frazier wasted no time making the most of an opportunity.

On the second pitch he saw in his first at-bat—leading off the third frame—Frazier unloaded on a fastball from Tampa Bay Rays’ ace Blake Snell, sending a no-doubt solo home run over the left-field wall at Petco Park. 

Considering Frazier was out of the starting lineup for both of New York’s Wild Card Series games against the Cleveland Indians, seeing his name on the lineup card and making the most of it made the moment as “special” as can be.

“It was exciting,” Frazier said after the 9-3 series-opening win. “Obviously I didn’t get the playing time I wanted last series and to have my first postseason hit in my career be a home run in that moment was special for me and special for the team.”

READ: Gerrit Cole, Yankees’ Bats Power Past Rays in Division Series Opener

The 1-0 fastball to Frazier wasn’t just high in the zone, it was nearly at his shoulders. No problem for the 26-year-old and his renowned bat speed, however, as he turned a 95.6 mph fastball into a 105 mph missile destined for the second-deck 418 feet away.

“With Snell, he’s a guy that likes to throw up in the zone a lot and his fastball plays up so I was going into that at-bat anticipating him to try to go to that pitch up in the zone,” Frazier explained. “It’s not often you hit that pitch because it’s so difficult, it’s a tough one to hit and it’s probably the first one in my career I’ve ever done like that and it came in a big time.”

It wasn’t just Frazier’s first postseason knock in his fourth big-league season,

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