Disability Rights Michigan

In fall of 2014, Brandy Gladding of Flint was told her 5-year-old daughter, Maddeline, would not be permitted to enroll in kindergarten because she was not fully toilet trained. Maddeline, who is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), speech and language delays, and additional impairments, never received evaluations from the school district to determine if special education services were needed.  With the help of Brandy’s community mental health (CMH) worker, Maddeline was able to eventually attend school. However, problems with the Flint Community Schools did not stop there.

“I was told Maddeline caused chaos in the classroom and was too much work for the staff,” said Brandy. “Her class took a field trip and left her in wet underpants because they refused to take her backpack and change her.”

Brandy, at a loss for options, called DRM for assistance. Kris Keranen, DRM Director of Education Advocacy, asked the Flint school district for a copy of Maddeline’s school records. Flint schools ignored repeated requests for records, which necessitated legal action by DRM attorneys, Brad Dembs and Crystal Grant.  After a prolonged delay, followed by a court ruling requiring action the district finally produced the documents.

After reviewing Maddeline’s records, DRM filed a special education administrative complaint. The Michigan Department of Education, Office for Special Education (MDE-OSE) found the district noncompliant on five allegations. The MDE-OSE directed the district to provide specific amounts of compensatory services to Maddeline, including instructional services, speech and language services, and occupational therapy.

Maddeline is no longer a student at Flint Community Schools. Through school of choice, she is enrolled in a different district. Hew new district provides one-on-one assistance from a teacher’s aide, speech therapy and occupational therapy as part of her special education services. Maddeline loves school. She has friends, is close to her teachers and has learned how to hold a pencil correctly and write her name.

“I am so thankful for MPAS {DRM},” said Brandy. “If it weren’t for their advocates and attorneys, Maddeline would not be in school. I want my story to help someone else. MPAS {DRM} gave me the courage to speak up and not be afraid.”

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