Special Education


Student Support Services Handbook


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Early Childhood


Early On Oakland (Birth- 3 Years)

Don’t Worry, But Don’t Wait..

Early On® Oakland is a system of services for families of children birth to three years who have an established health condition and/ or a developmental delay.

The system includes a collection of activities, supports, services and resources provided by many different agencies and programs. Early On® Oakland helps you find the individual support that your child and family needs.

How can Early On® Oakland help?

If that little voice inside your head is telling you that something isn't "quite right" with your baby or toddler, don't wait to reach out for help. The first years of a child's life are too important to let slip by. Don't wait to see if your little one "outgrows" your concern. Working on delays and concerns early means that children have a good chance for a great start in life.
Put your mind at ease, and give your child the help he or she may need by calling Early On® Oakland today! For free information and resources about your child's development, call 248.209.2084 or toll-free at 866.456.2084.  

Who can receive Early On® Oakland Services?

Early On® Oakland is available to any Oakland County family with a child from birth to age three who has a developmental delay or an established medical condition. 

What is a developmental delay? A developmental delay is seen when a child’s rate of growth and learning is different from that of most children the same age.

A developmental delay may be in one of the following areas:

  • Thinking
  • Talking
  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Moving
  • Taking care of basic needs
  • Responding to others

What happens when I call?

A Referral Specialist will discuss your concerns and connect you with a Service Coordinator. The Service Coordinator will set up a developmental evaluation to see how your child is learning and growing. The evaluation can be done anywhere your family or child spends time and should work into your family's schedule. The evaluation process will determine if your child is eligible for Early On®, and the kinds of support your family may need.  

What if my child is eligible for Early On® Oakland?

Your Service Coordinator will help you think about the changes you would like to see for your child. Services and supports are coordinated through an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is your family's plan of action. 

How does Early On® help?

You and your Service Coordinator will decide what is best for your family. You will talk about activities, the things you can do every day, or programs where your child can learn and play with others. Your family may also need other supports like information or resources to help your child grow and develop. A few children may need extra help, and you and your Service Coordinator may decide your child needs special services to go along with the activities and supports. Examples of these services include family counseling, nursing services, nutritional counseling, audiology services, and physical, occupational or speech therapies. 

For more information, call Early On® Oakland today! 248.209.2084 or toll-free at 866.456.2084.


Developmental Screening

Developmental screenings are one way of gathering information to determine if extra support is needed.


Please note that it is necessary to complete the full developmental screening (ASQ-3) before completing the social/emotional screening (ASQ-SE2).


Parent & Family Resources


Check out the links below for information about free preschool programs and eligibility, free family events, and other great resources for parents and families of 0-5-year-old children.

Parent & family resources
Free family and child (0-5 years) event calendar


Ferndale Early Childhood Special Education 

Ferndale Public Schools has a full continuum of special education programs, services and supports available to meet the individual needs of students ages 0-5 years, including Early On and Early Intervention special education services provided in natural settings such as the home and/or other community settings, early childhood special education teacher services in regular preschool settings, an early childhood special education program classroom for students who are not able to make progress in a regular preschool setting with supports and services and who require a separate setting, and the full range of ancillary/ support services such as S/L therapy, school social work, school psychologist services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and low incidence disability teacher consultant and support services via Oakland Schools. 

*Please note, early childhood (0-5 years) special education services are available to Ferndale Public Schools district residents only; School of Choice is not available at this level.

Child Find Procedures

Child Find is a component of Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) that requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate all children/ persons ages 2 years 6 months through 25 years with disabilities who are in need of special education programs and/or services. To receive special education services, children must meet eligibility guidelines according to the IDEA and the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE). 

Ferndale Public Schools engages in a variety of efforts to locate and identify students who may need special education services.  We try to reach and inform the community in the following ways:

  • Informational flyers available in school entrances/ offices/ community locations and/or at school community and parent & family events hosted by the district
  • District and school newsletters sent to the families of currently enrolled students
  • Information posted on the district website

If you suspect that your child has a disability that impedes educational performance and requires special education programs and/or services, please contact your child's teacher, counselor, principal, or you may also contact Natalie Kulikowski, Director of Special Education at (248) 586-8693 or natalie.kulikowski@ferndaleschools.org.

Ferndale Public Schools Special Education Programs & Services, 2023-24 School Year

Ferndale Public Schools provides an array of special education programs and services to meet the needs of students with a disability.  The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team, including parents, determines which program and/or services are appropriate for each student based on individual student needs and circumstances.  Per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), IEP teams must ensure that every student is educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent possible, with supplementary aids and supports provided.  


District Programs

Ages 0-3- Early On and Early Intervention:

Early On and special education early intervention special education services are provided for eligible children from birth to 3 years of age and their parents/ families. 0-3 services follow a twelve-month calendar and are provided in natural environments such as the family home and/or other community settings.  Services focus on improving students’ communication, learning, mobility, and social skills via parent coaching, direct services provided to the child, and collaboration with family and community supports.  Parents/ families participate in services with an early intervention teacher/ case manager and/ or team (speech therapist, occupational therapist, and/or physical therapist).

Early Childhood Services in the Regular Preschool Classroom (1755):

Early childhood special education services such as special education teacher and ancillary services, supplemental aids/ supports, and positive behavior supports may be provided in the regular preschool classroom if/ when the need is identified by the IEP team.

Early Childhood Special Education Program (ECSE-1754):

A separate early childhood special education (ECSE) program is designed for children from 2 years 6 months to five years of age who are identified by a multidisciplinary evaluation team as eligible for special education services and who are not able to participate and make progress in a regular preschool classroom with special education services and supports.  The ECSE program follows the Ferndale Schools' regular district calendar (1/2 day program, 4 days per week) and addresses the delays and needs identified in each student’s IEP.  Ancillary services such as school social work, speech/ language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are integrated into the program and individualized based on each student’s IEP goals/ objectives and needs.

Elementary and Secondary Resource Program:

Elementary resource programs are available at Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Ferndale Middle School, and Ferndale High School for students in grades K-12.  Resource program support provides learning and academic supports and specialized instruction to enable students to achieve their IEP goals/ objectives.  Resource program services may be “push-in” (i.e. in the general education classroom setting) or “pull-out” (i.e. occur in a separate setting outside the classroom.)   

Program for Students with Moderate Cognitive Impairment:

The Moderate Cognitive Impairment (MoCI) program is available at Ferndale High School and is available to students in grades 6-12. This program may serve students with a range of disabilities, who have or function as if they have a mild to severe cognitive impairment.  Students participating in a MoCI program require individualized specialized instruction and participate in the modified general education curriculum called the Common Core Essential Elements.  The program focuses on daily living skills, job skills, personal and social skills, self-care skills, and functional academics. The students in the program are included in general education classes when it is appropriate as determined by the IEP team, and work towards/ earn a Certificate of Completion versus a high school diploma.

Self-Contained Resource Program (Cross-Categorical) for Students with Significant Disabilities:

Self-contained resource programs at Ferndale Lower Elementary, Ferndale Upper Elementary, and Ferndale High School are available to K- 12th grade students with varying disabilities, such as ASD, CI, PI and SXI. These programs focus on the development of communication, cognitive, social-emotional, self-help and vocational skills and follow the modified Common Core Essential Elements curriculum standards.  Students also participate in community-based instruction and pre-vocational skills instruction.  Opportunities in general education settings are provided based on individual student needs/ per each student's IEP.

Adult Transition Program & Services:

The Ferndale Adult Transition program and services, located at Ferndale High School, provides services to students ages 18-25 who continue to be eligible for special education and require transition-related programs and services to develop vocational, independence, social/ behavioral, communication, functional academic and adaptive/ independence skills to achieve post-secondary goals as part of their IEP.  Instruction and supports focus on skills such as independent/ daily living skills and employability. Students participate in pre-vocational skill instruction and participate in work-based learning in several community job sites with the support of the Adult Transition teacher and job coaches.  Students also participate in community-based instruction to improve their ability to successfully navigate and participate in community settings and tasks.  The program teacher and support staff partner with community organizations such as Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC) and public and small businesses in the Ferndale community to provide job sites and to ensure positive educational and life outcomes for students. Paraeducator support, job coach services, and ancillary services such as school social work, speech/ language therapy, occupational therapy and/or physical therapy are provided as identified in each student’s IEP. Adult Transition programming and services are individualized based on each student’s needs and goals identified in the IEP. 


Ancillary/ Support Services

Special education ancillary/ support services are available and provided, per student IEPs, at all levels and at all school buildings in the district.

Speech and Language Services:

Speech and language pathologists work with students who have communication impairments, including: articulation, voice, fluency, or language.  The speech and language pathologists may work with students individually, in small groups, or in the student's classroom.  Speech and language pathologists are also responsible for diagnostic evaluations, and scheduling and facilitating IEP team meetings for students receiving only speech and language services.

School Social Work Services: 

The school social worker assists students whose social, emotional and/or behavioral problems significantly impact educational performance for self and/or others.  They consult with parents and students, as well as, teachers and administrators.  The school social worker is a member of the multidisciplinary evaluation team, and coordinates services between the school and community.  The school social worker also leads the building/ team behavior support processes such as the completion of Functional Behavioral Assessments and Positive Behavior Support Plans for students with a disability.

Teacher Consultant Services (ASD, CI, EI, SLD):

Teacher consultants provide a variety of direct and consultative services and supports for students eligible for special education who spend a majority of time in the general education setting and also provide consultative support to other special education teachers and teams. 

School Psychologist Services:

The primary function of the school psychologist is to provide a comprehensive psychological evaluation of students being considered for special education services.  All students receiving special education must have a re-evaluation every three years.  The psychological evaluation may include assessments of ability, achievement and behavior.

Occupational and Physical Therapy:

Occupational and/or physical therapy is provided when the IEP team determines these services are necessary in order for the student to benefit from their education program.  Physical therapy requires a physician's prescription to provide service. The therapist evaluates a student's needs, develops and implements therapy programs, and provides consultative services.  

Assistive Technology:

Each IEP team is required to consider the child’s need for assistive technology (AT).  Specific assistive technology services may include: an evaluation of the student’s need for assistive technology, training of the student on how to use AT, modifications of AT, and other supports for school personnel.  Examples of assistive technology include training staff or student to add new vocabulary to an augmentative communication device or to scan new materials into a software program that reads text.  


Paraeducators provide direct and indirect support (with learning, classroom accommodations and supports, assistance with personal care or medical needs, assistive with adaptive/ daily living skills, etc.) to students with special needs under the supervision of a certified teacher or special education other professional.  


Center-Based Programs Outside the District 

Some students with a very significant level of needs and/or low incidence disabilities will need programs and services not available within Ferndale Public Schools.  Additional center-based programs are available throughout the county and placement is determined by the Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT). 


Oakland Schools


The Oakland Intermediate School District (ISD) is a valuable resource to Ferndale Public Schools and parents, especially in the area of training, support services, and evaluation.  It serves 28 school districts and many public school academies of Oakland County.  As an ISD, Oakland Schools can provide clinical, consultative, and instructional services.  Additionally, its Educational Resource Center provides library, media, and film services to educators.  Pupil and support services include the following: 

  • Instructional Services
  • Curriculum management  
  • Center Program management  
  • Teacher consultants  
  • Speech and hearing clinic  
  • Technology and information services


Parent & Family Resources


District Resources


Oakland Schools Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) 

Ferndale Schools PAC Reps for the 2022-23 School Year:

Ms. Danita Darden

New PAC rep- To be announced soon!

PAC Mission Statement

To ensure a full continuum of services and options to all special education students that maintains excellence and equity and that is ever respectful in providing for the unique needs of each child.

Background Information

The Oakland Schools Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) represents each Local Education Agency (LEA)/ Public School Academy (PSA) within Oakland County. Parent/ family representatives have a child/ children with a disability attending school in the local district and are appointed by the local district and Oakland County School Boards to serve a 3 year term. Local districts that provide special education services for more than 100 students may have 2 PAC representatives. PAC representatives attend monthly meetings held at Oakland Schools Intermediate School District and work closely and collaboratively with the district Special Education Department to address special education needs and priorities.  

PAC representatives fulfill several important functions, including:

  • Sharing information and ideas with the local school district community and others; 
  • Cooperating in the development and review of the Oakland County Special Education Plan; 
  • Providing families opportunities to be informed of special education information and processes; 
  • Facilitating ways to mentor and support parents and families involved in special education; 
  • Encouraging strong partnerships between families and the school district; 
  • Working collaboratively with the Special Education Director and department to prioritize and address parent needs and concerns; and 
  • Disseminating information about the PAC group and current issues in special education to the school community
  • FPS Special Education Handbook for Parent (see link in the top section of this page)

Ferndale Schools Process for Determining a Specific learning disability

FPS Process for Determining a Specific Learning Disability


Ferndale MTSS Framework and Student Achievement Team

Learn more here- Slides


Helpful Websites

Michigan Alliance for Families 



Section 504

Annual Notification

The School District is required, by law, to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities, including children with disabilities attending private schools located within the School District, as well as homeless children. The process of locating, identifying, and evaluating children with disabilities is known as child find.

Child find extends both to children who may be eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and those who may be eligible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).

If you believe your child may qualify under either the IDEA or Section 504, please contact the FPS Special Education Director/ 504 Coordinator at (248) 586-8693.

Stefanie Hayes

Director of Special Education

Tamara Foster

Administrative Assistant
Phone: 248-586-8659