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In an effort to identify best practices for student learning in the midst of changing needs and regulations in special education, the superintendents of the Kent Intermediate Superintendents Association (KISA) asked Kent ISD to arrange for an independent review of Grand Rapids Public Schools operated special education center programs.

Soon after, Kent ISD’s School Board hired a consultant to conduct this independent review. This national consultant is Beth A. Steenwyk, who has extensive experience in special education in Michigan and other states.

The consultant’s work began in June 2018, with preliminary listening sessions in the form of interviews with key stakeholders, including parents, staff and administrators. These early sessions helped her learn the main issues for the study. More extensive outreach to parents and educators, including focus groups, happen as the study gets underway in July. 

Updates on the review process, timelines, meetings and more will be posted here as the study takes shape.

Basic Timeline


April 2018

  • KISA requests review of Grand Rapids Public Schools operated Special Ed Center Programs
  • Kent ISD searches for consultant to conduct a review

May 2018

  • Kent ISD School Board approves hiring consultant Beth A. Steenwyk

Phase 1 – June 1-31, 2018

Preliminary investigation and understanding of current situation

  • Interviews with key stakeholders to help determine priorities
  • Concludes with a brief report shared with all stakeholders
  • Phase One report will include
    • the interview summaries
    • key findings
    • recommendations for Phase Two

Phase 2 – July 1 – Dec 31, 2018

Deeper dive into issues and development of recommendations

  • “town hall meetings” with key stakeholder groups
  • focus groups based on specific concerns to gain a deeper understanding of issues
  • extensive observations in GRPS operated Center-based Programs
  • concludes with a report to superintendents with
    • summaries of all stakeholder meetings and focus groups
    • program observation findings
    • a comprehensive analysis of critical areas of concern
    • opportunities for growth and improvement
    • recommendations for implementation and change strategies

Phase 3 – Jan 1-Dec 31, 2019

Consultant addresses and supports the large-scale implementation challenges related to recommendations for improvement.

Submit questions and comments through Let's Talk

To share your thoughts or ask questions about the Center-based Programs or this Review, click the blue “Let’s Talk” button above, or the tab on the right side of this screen, fill in the fields and click “Send.” Opt to remain annonymous or include your contact information to receive a response.

Important Dates

Important Dates
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Meetings, updates and other important dates related to the Review will be posted to this calendar as they are scheduled.

Review Updates - Archives

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October 16, 2018
Program Visit Schedule

As part of the review process, Beth Steenwyk and select Kent ISD Special Education staff will visit each center program to conduct observations. See what's involved in each visit and the visit schedule.

October 15, 2018
Phase 2 Updates - September 2018

Following several town hall style meetings and focus groups with parents and staff, Beth Steenwyk presented updates to the area's Special Education administrators in September 2018.

September 4, 2018
Focus Groups Scheduled for mid-September

Several focus groups are scheduled for September 18, 19 and 20, to allow Center Program parents, staff and local special education directors to share their perspectives around several important topic areas already identified during the review process. See the full schedule and topics.

August 8, 2018
Phase 1 Report Addendum

As a result of the GRPS Board's decision to transfer center-based special education programming operation to Kent ISD, there are additional considerations to be made in relation to the ongoing review process.

August 7, 2018
GRPS Board Votes to Transfer Special Education Center Programs to Kent ISD

At the August 6, 2018 meeting, the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board voted to transfer operation of special education center-based programs to Kent ISD as of July 1, 2019. See the full news story and note from Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal