I’m a caseworker in Michigan who works with a student that just started the 9th grade. She has been getting special education services and has been placed on a certificate track for high school graduation instead of a diploma. Her parent doesn’t agree with this, but the school expresses that because she is reading at a second grade level in the 9th grade she will not be able to get a diploma. What type of resources are out there in Michigan for a student like this who has a least four years to improve, and can this decision by the school be forced on the parent and student?


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

First, thank you for advocating on behalf of this student. This is not the first case of a child being sent the certificate track because of a learning disability.

Relative to services for her, here is a provider list for Michigan. My colleague in my private practice, Dr. Lauren Katz, worked with a young lady who did improve but for whom school was so hard that the family decided to put together a home schooling program for her. Additionally, Dr. Katz is working with a man who, at age 40, is not a reader, and she is teaching him to read.

So, this young woman can definitely get help and learn. She will need a good assessment to baseline her skills and then a systematic program of therapy from a person with a track record of working with similar-age students. Relative to whether the school can force them into this direction, I recommend a conversation with Calvin and Tricia Luker, who have an advocacy practice. They could provide direction on that front. You can tell them I referred you.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Hopefully these leads will get you going in the right direction.