News & Events

WISD News & Events

April, 2019

WISD Hosts Largest Annual Prom for Over 200 Students with Disabilities

A sea of shimmering dresses and suits danced the night away at Weber’s Restaurant on Ann Arbor’s west side on Thursday, April 18, 2019, for an extraordinary Prom unlike any other in Washtenaw County.


Over 200 Young Adults and alumni gathered for Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s 42nd annual Prom, a record number of students and alumni for the event.


“Prom is the biggest night of the year and holds a special place in the hearts of our current and former students,” said Becky Ralls, Special Education Supervisor for WISD’s Young Adult Services, the Young Adult Project, Local Based Programs, and Visually Impaired Services. “It’s a night out for our students to let loose, have fun, and celebrate the end of the school year just like our local high school students.”


Prom started at WISD’s High Point School just a few short years after the building opened in 1975. When Prom outgrew the High Point cafeteria, it moved to the now closed Nectarine Ballroom before finally settling on its current location at Weber’s Restaurant.




WISD’s Young Adult Program serves over 125 special education students ages 18-26 years old at nine community-based sites across Washtenaw County. In Michigan, students with disabilities are eligible for special education services and programs through age 26. WISD’s Young Adult Program strives to assist individuals to be successful in their adult roles by teaching Young Adults how to earn and maintain a job, set and achieve personal goals, plan for and lead healthy lives, engage in self-directed lifelong learning, contribute to their communities by volunteering, and other skills necessary to live as independently as possible like cooking, grocery shopping, and using the public transportation system.



For more information on WISD’s Young Adult Program.

November, 2018

WISD Named Michigan's 4th MOVE Model Site for Students with Disabilities

On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, Washtenaw Intermediate School District’s High Point School hosted a dedication ceremony for its new MOVE Model Site, making it the fourth certified site in the state of Michigan and the 27th certified site in the United States.


“We’re excited and honored to provide MOVE, and to continue expanding opportunities for our students,” said Jennifer Parrelly, Principal of High Point School. “MOVE is life-changing for students and their families.”


MOVE, which stands for “Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience,” is an activity-based program developed to specifically meet the needs of students with severe disabilities and is designed to improve mobility skills such as sitting, standing, and walking.


“It typically takes eight to twelve years for a site to become fully certified from when it starts MOVE training to full certification,” explained Julie Sues-Delaney, MOVE International Program Manager, who formally dedicated High Point’s site. “We’re incredibly impressed with High Point and WISD staff because they only started on this journey about six years ago, and their commitment to implementing MOVE for their students is evident.”


MOVE Model Sites earn their designation from MOVE International for “their exceptional implementation of the program and their high goals for all individuals,” as outlined by MOVE International. All staff at MOVE Model Sites are trained as MOVE Basic Providers and key concepts, and techniques are led by a certified MOVE International Trainer. WISD has three certified trainers on staff.


“Because of MOVE and the staff at High Point, our daughter is now able to walk, which is something we never imagined would happen,” said Andi Spengler, mother of Emma Spengler, 11. “We’ve even been able to go to Disney World with her because of MOVE.”


4 staff celebrating the success of being MI's 4th MOVE model sit


3 student's with staff at the MOVE celebration


 Student and staff at MOVE celebration


High Point School serves students with disabilities from ages 3 through 26 and is operated by Washtenaw Intermediate School District. High Point offers programming for students with severe cognitive disabilities and multiple impairments, and who reside in one of Washtenaw County’s public school districts. For more information on High Point School.

June, 2018

WISD Board Passes Educational Equity Policy

During the June 12, 2018 meeting of the WISD Board of Education, the board adopted an Educational Equity Policy. The policy reinforces their commitment and accountability to the continuous improvement of achievement for every student in Washtenaw County and to putting students first.

The purpose of the WISD educational equity policy is to make explicit the ways in which the organization will address the challenges of systemic educational, racial, and other inequities that negatively impact the opportunity for children within our service area.

It is the expectation of the board of education that all decisions related to resource allocation and policy development are viewed through an educational equity lens using the following guiding questions:

  1. What is the policy/decision under consideration? What are the desired results and outcomes?
  2. What is the data and what does it tell us?
  3. How have stakeholders, partners, and communities been engaged? Are there opportunities to expand engagement?
  4. Who will benefit or be burdened? What are strategies for advancing racial equity or mitigating unintended consequences?
  5. What is the implementation plan?
  6. How will you ensure accountability, community and evaluate results?

To download our Educational Equity Policy.

February, 2018

Sheriff's Special Citation Award

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office awarded a Special Citation Award to WISD for work in developing educational programming and systems in the jail.  Washtenaw ISD, working with jail personnel, is developing a system for identifying young people in residence at the jail, at the point of entry,  to determine whether they need to complete further education (i.e., high school completion) or if another education path might be more appropriate, as well as determining special education eligibility.  Dr. Scott Menzel, Dr. Holly Heaviland, and Sarah Hierman accepted the award on behalf of the agency.

  • Holly Heaviland, Sarah Hierman and Scott Menzel receiving award
WISD, law enforcement, community mental health launch Handle With Care

Conduct change. It can happen when a child has experienced a trauma at home or in the community that elicits emotional responses that may alter their behavior at school. Washtenaw County law enforcement, Community Mental Health, and local public and private schools, have teamed up to help school professionals be on the alert to events that may impact student behavior in school. The launch of the online communication tool, Handle With Care, is February 1, 2018.


Handle with Care is designed to close the communication gap between PK-12 schools and law enforcement. This is how the program works:

  • Law enforcement officers gather information about children at the scene of an incident
  • Using a special web portal managed by Washtenaw Intermediate School District, they send an email notice to designated individuals at each school district
  • The alert informs the school that the child was involved in an incident that police responded to the previous night, and that the student may have academic or behavioral difficulties in the coming days
  • No details of the incident are given to the schools


Washtenaw ISD Superintendent, Scott Menzel, said this is a powerful partnership that helps students who have experienced trauma.


“The local educational community and law enforcement have a very positive, cooperative relationship and have partnered on multiple initiatives related to the welfare of our students and staff,” Menzel said. “The Handle With Care program is a logical step to maintaining helpful communications between police and school officials when a student has experienced a traumatic occurrence during non-school hours. When educators are aware of adverse experiences endured by students, they can add another layer of support.”


Washtenaw County Sheriff, Jerry Clayton, says this program aligns with their mission to serve the community and protect the innocent.

“Every day our deputies are seeing children who have been affected by trauma and toxic stress,” Clayton said. “That’s why law enforcement is excited about the notification initiative. Handle With Care bridges the communication gap between schools and law enforcement to better support the children who need it most.”

Two community forums will take place to provide information about Handle With Care. Dates and locations are:

  • Friday, February 23, 9-10:00 a.m. at Washtenaw County LRC, 4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor
  • Tuesday, February 27, 4-5:00 p.m. at Washtenaw ISD, 1819 S. Wagner Road, Ann Arbor

For more information about the Handle With Care initiative, contact Dr. Holly Heaviland, or view the video modules at

January, 2018

School Research Finance Collaborative

A column written about the School Research Finance Collaborative findings.

June, 2017

Graduation 2017

Washtenaw ISD held commencement exercises Wednesday, June 7 to recognize 24 graduates, plus one In Memoriam. We are so proud of these young men and women, congratulations!

  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation
  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation - proud student awaiting graduation
  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation - student walking up to accept diploma
  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation - two students
  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation - student accepting diploma
  • Washtenaw ISD 2017 Graduation - student waves to audience

May, 2017

Touch-a-Truck 2017

The annual Touch-a-Truck event, presented by Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative and sponsored by the Ann Arbor Rotary Club, was May 13, 2017.  Vehicles, from fire engines to dump trucks, delighted over 1,000 children and adults.

  • Man with little girl upon his shoulders
  • Child with balloon driving one of the display trucks
  • Child creating a craft
  • Smiling staff
  • Superintendent and another staff member showcasing the Mobile One-Stop
  • Staff enjoying the day of sunshine and supporting Touch-A-Truck
  • Child on a tractor
  • Two children in front of a DTE truck

April, 2017

WISD receives Rising Star Award

April 12, 2017, a group of WISD staff attended the annual Washtenaw United Way Recognition event to receive the “Rising Star” award. The United Way recognition is an indication of WISD's steady increase in giving to United Way.

  • WISD staff receiving Rising Star Award

March, 2017

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Family Reading Night

The DHH Family Reading Night, held at the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, was a big success with over 100 people in attendance. Families were treated to dinner, a storytime, and a special visit from The Cat in the Hat! All students received a free book at the conclusion of the event.

  • DHH Staff
  • DHH student attending reading night
  • Adult and child listening to DHH reading night
  • families enjoying DHH reading night
  • story time at DHH reading night
  • Socializing at DHH Family Reading
  • Adult and child smiling together during DHH reading night
Dr. Menzel recognized at EMU Excellence Convocation

Dr. Scott Menzel, Washtenaw ISD Superintendent, was recognized at the March 30, 2017 Eastern Michigan University Excellence Convocation. Dr. Menzel is shown with EMU President, Dr. James Smith.

  • Dr. Menzel and Dr. Smith

February, 2017

Black History Month Reflection
WISD Affirms ALL students

Read the statement supported by the Board of Education and WISD Administration.