"Each year the special education problems have gotten worse and there has been no response to that from the district,'' said Lily Schulting, a special education parent and founder of Disability A-TEAM, after the meeting."

"We will continue to advocate for all students with disabilities, whether center-based students or those in other GRPS programs.''

Schulting said parents expect a transparent process and one in which they have a voice. She said their group still intends to consult an advocate about filing state and federal complaints regarding district violations.

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"We are happy about this development because it was one of our goals,'' said Lily Schulting, a district special education parent who founded Disability A-TEAM of West Michigan.

"We hope that it will be completely independent from GRPS. Truth and credibility are very important.''

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"Lily Schulting, a special education parent who founded the advocacy group Disability A-TEAM of West Michigan, said the report is a good starting point for addressing issues they’ve been lobbying for because it provides a framework and assessment.

“As parents, we have high expectations for our children to reach their full potential and become high functioning and that will require more resources and support,’’ said Schulting, who has a 15-year-old, nonverbal autistic son.

She said a few things stood out in the report, including that while many of the staff express a strong desire for opportunities to grow and learn through exposure and practices, Steenwyk reports “current cultures do not foster a mindset of high expectations and student potential.’’ “Our teachers are amazing and have a heart for children but need access to training, specific professional development to better support students,’’ Schulting said.

The report references a need for “high quality and consistent access” to professional development specific to those supporting the most complex learners.

Schulting and Bouwense also took note of Steenwyk’s remarks related to allegations parents and staff were merely disgruntled because they didn’t like certain program changes.

“The perception that stakeholder concerns were rooted in a difficulty in accepting change were not substantiated during this process, in fact stakeholders repeatedly voiced not only acceptance of change but a willingness to be part of it,’’ according to the report.

Steenwyk’s program implementation plans will be developed, and implementation supports will be provided using key elements of current research around effective implementation practices within educational settings."

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