Background & Experience


Michelle A. Powers has thirty years’ experience in the field of Special Education, directly participating in education, administration, and regulatory oversight & compliance functions at both the State and Federal levels.

Outside of direct education, Michelle has served as a locally elected School Board member, as well as a lobbyist representing associations, her employer, and private organizations.





Michelle A. Powers

Consultant: Special education and other education issues.
1610 17th Ave S., Brookings, SD 57006 | | (605) 690-3666


Education –

University of South Dakota – currently in progress, Ed.D., Educational Leadership, ABD, anticipated graduation May, 2018

University of South Dakota – Ed.S., Educational Administration Prek-12 Principalship, graduated December, 2013

University of South Dakota – M.A., Special Education. Graduated July, 1999

University of South Dakota – B.S., Elementary Education and Special Education. Graduated December, 1987


Specialized Training –

Lobbyist, South Dakota Legislature, South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education, SASD – 2014 to current

CASE Leadership Seminar – Washington DC, summers, 2006, 2008 and 2014

Charlotte Danielson Framework – trained and certified in Danielson Framework evaluation model, Brookings School district, spring, 2012

Balanced Leadership graduate – MCCREL, East Central Educational Cooperative, spring, 2011

South Dakota Behavior Institute – Diana Browning Wright, Spearfish, fall, 2010

Instructional Leadership trainer – trained with Dr. Ed Porthan to deliver Instructional Leadership trainings, June, 2010

Instructional Leadership graduate – Brookings, 2005

Bureau of Personnel – Supervisory Series, fall, 2003 to 2005 – topics include interviewing, ADA, legal issues in employment, orientation of the new employee

Complaint Investigation – trained in investigation techniques for special education complaints, Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center, Denver, CO, June, 2000.

Total Quality Management – trained in TQM theories and techniques, 10 week course, spring 1995

Educational Mediator – trained and certified as mediator for educational disputes, Justice Center of Atlanta, November, 1993


Professional Associations –

School Administrators of South Dakota (SASD)

Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)

South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education (SDCASE)

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)


Service –

Vice-president, South Dakota Council for Exceptional Children – 2017 to present

Member, South Dakota Applied Behavior Analyst workgroup, July, 2015 to February, 2016

Member, CEEDAR State Leadership Team, 2014 to 2015

Member of South Dakota School Administrators of South Dakota Legislative Committee, 2007-present

Delegate for South Dakota School Administrators of South Dakota Delegate Assembly, 2007-2012

Past President, South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education, 2010-2013

President, South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education, 2008-2010

Vice-President, South Dakota Council of Administrators of Special Education, 2007-2008

Member, AdvancEd district wide leadership committee, 2009-current

Member, Exemption Review Board, Department of Education, 2010-2013

Member, joint SDCASE and SDSPLHA speech licensure committee, 2011

Executive Board Member, South Dakota School Administrators of South Dakota Executive Board, 2008 to 2010

Member, Dyslexia Handbook workgroup – 2009

Member, NCATE review team, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD 2005

Extraordinary Cost Fund Board, SD Department of Education, Ex officio member – 2003-2005

Executive Board member, National Association of State Directors of Special Education Board of Directors, member at large, elected October, 2004

South Dakota Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, also member of Community Awareness subcommittee, 1998-2005

South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities, 1998-2005

South Dakota Mental Health Planning and Coordination Advisory Council, also Children’s Mental Health sub-committee, 1998-2005

South Dakota Assistive Technology Advisory Council, 1998-2005


Honors/Community Activity-

South Dakota Outstanding Special Education Administrator of the Year, SD Council of Administrators of Special Education, 2013-2014

Volunteer and Catechist, St. Thomas More Parish, 2012 to present

Leader and co-chair, Parents for Autism Insurance Reform, Political Action Committee, 2014 to present


Professional Experience


Current   Associate Professor, Special Education – Augustana University, Sioux Falls, SD

  • Instructor for special education coursework at the graduate and undergraduate level
  • Assisting in the implementation of the Masters of Arts special education program
  • Active research agenda in the areas of metacognitive instruction and self-efficacy
  • Service to the University


7/05 to 6/17   Director of Special Education – Brookings School District, Brookings, SD

  • Directly responsible for the administration of special education and related services to all eligible students in the district
  • Supervise and evaluate all professional staff, related services staff and teaching assistants related to the special education program, with approximately 90 staff currently under my direct supervision
  • Management of the budget and expenditures of $4.1 million for the special education programs in the district.
  • Development and implementation of professional development plan for staff


7/03 to 7/05   State Director of Special Education– Special Education Programs, South Dakota Department of Education

  • Oversee application for and administration of the federal grant for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in addition to discretionary Part D- State Improvement Grant and Section 619-Preschool Grants programs.
  • Administration of federal administrative, discretionary and flow-through funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Responsible for the development and implementation of the state strategic plan and data collection for state performance plan addressing special education services throughout the state of South Dakota
  • Administer and deliver programs to ensure compliance with federal/state regulations and to seek improved outcomes for students with disabilities ages birth through twenty-one
  • Oversee and administer interagency agreements with partnering state agencies, including Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Departments of Corrections, Labor, Human Services and Social Services
  • Participate in state placement and CHINS committee regarding placement of students in custody of state
  • Supervisory responsibilities for education program staff and contracted individuals and entities


4/98 to 7/03   State Assistant Director of Special Education – Office of Special Education, South Dakota Department of Education

  • Administration of federal administrative, discretionary and flow-through funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Oversee contracts, grants and projects specific to the provision of special education across the state of South Dakota
  • Responsible for assisting in the development of the state plan for special education and all accompanying federal documents and data collections.
  • Administration of hearings and complaints process pertaining to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Coordination of the South Dakota Advisory Panel for Special Education.
  • Primarily responsible for the development of web-based special education management system.
  • Direct activities of program personnel in Office of Special Education
  • Technical assistance in all forms, compliance monitoring of special education programs throughout the state, complaint investigations, case law research and other duties as assigned
  • Assumption of duties for the director of the Office of Special Education in their absence.


4/93 to 4/98   Education Program Representative – Office of Special Education, South Dakota Department Education

  • Responsible for statewide staff development and training (CSPD) including development of conferences and coursework on a statewide level.
  • Special Education training via DDN system statewide.
  • Provided training/technical assistance to local education agencies.
  • Program development specific to special education issues.
  • Administration of discretionary money specific to the Preschool Grants Program.
  • Technical assistance in all forms, compliance monitoring of special education programs throughout the state, complaint investigations, case law research and other duties as assigned


8/89 to 8/91  Special Education Teacher – Elk Point Public Schools, Elk Point South Dakota. (grades 7-12)

  • Taught grades 7-12 special education in multi-categorical resource room setting


1/89 to 8/89  Special Education Teacher – Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk, NE.  (Grades 9-12)

  • Taught grades 9-12 special education in multi-categorical resource room setting


1/88 to 12/88 Special Education Teacher – Peterson Health Care, Rhinelander, WI.

  • Taught adults with developmental disabilities basic health and living skills in a private health care facility


Presentations, Professional Documents, and Conferences

Conference Presentations

  • Breakout facilitator, Autism Speaks 2015 Autism Law Summit, November, 2015
  • “SEARCH”ing for a post-high school program, Statewide Special Education Conference, spring, 2014 and South Dakota Joint SASD/ASBSD Conference, August, 2014
  • NCLB update and other state/national trends, Council for Exceptional Children- Brookings, January, 2012
  • How to recognize and work with children with attention deficit disorders, Boys and Girls Club – Brookings, November, 2011
  • Instructional Leadership training– Pierre, September 2010
  • Seclusion and Restraint – ASBSD/SASD Joint conference, Sioux Falls, August 2010
  • Seclusion and Restraint – Wild West Leadership, Spearfish, June 2010
  • Identifying disabilities and the hidden potential of students – Brookings faculty, Brookings, October 2009
  • Getting through your first year as a special education director – ASBSD/SASD Joint Conference, August, 2008
  • Differentiated Instruction- University of Sioux Falls, Brookings, August, 2006
  • Differentiated Instruction – multiple presentations, General Educators Academy, Spring 2006
  • Referral to Placement – New Teachers Academy, Brookings, October 2005 and 2006
  • IDEA Reauthorization presentations – statewide, Spring 2005
  • Technical Assistance from South Dakota’s Perspective – National Technical Assistance and Dissemination Conference, Washington DC, June, 2004
  • Aligning Student IEPs to Content Standards – multiple DDN presentations, January/February 2004
  • No Child Left Behind and It’s Impact on Special Education– multiple Department of Education presentation, Statewide, Spring 2003
  • South Dakota IEP Online – Statewide Special Education Conference, Pierre, November, 2002 and TIE Conference, Rapid City, March, 2003
  • ESY- It’s Not Summer School – Council for Exceptional Children Statewide Conference, Pierre, SD, November, 2000, also DDN presentations, April 2001
  • Referral to Placement – Cornbelt Educational Cooperative Training, Parker, SD, September, 2000
  • IDEA Regulations Overview – Statewide, October, 1999
  • 13th Annual Summer Institute – Content Standards: What do They Mean to Special Education?, Spearfish, SD 1999
  • 12th Annual Summer Institute – IDEA’97 What Educators Need to Know, Pierre, SD 1998
  • International Early Childhood Conference on Children with Special Needs – poster session presentation on early childhood inclusion project, Phoenix, AZ, December, 1996
  • Project TEEM Outreach Symposium – transitioning of preschool aged children into kindergarten and other regular education settings, Pierre, August, 1996
  • Summer Institute – Preschool evaluation issues, Early Childhood Assessment and Evaluation Strand, Sioux Falls, July 1995
  • Sharing Information Conference – for early childhood service providers and families of children ages birth to 5, Pierre, November, 1994 and 1995
  • SDAEYC Statewide Conference – Special Education preschool programs update, Pierre, October, 1995
  • Head Start Mid-Winter Conference – Disability Coordinator pre-conference session, February, Sioux Falls, 1995 and Pierre, 1996
  • Office of Special Education Statewide Conference – surrogate parent presentation, Pierre, November, 1994


Professional Documents

  • Referral to Placement – A primer for new teachers – Fall, 2005, updated 2013
  • The Dyslexia Handbook for Teachers and Parents in South Dakota – March, 2009
  • South Dakota’s response to AYP and students in need of special education – August, 2003
  • Online Special Education Program Manual – April, 2003
  • Complaint Investigation Procedures – August, 2000
  • Parental Rights Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – May, 1998
  • Determining Eligibility for Special Education in South Dakota – August, 1996
  • Making Connections, A Guide for Parents and Providers on the Transitions from Birth to 3 Connections – April, 1996
  • Individual Education Plan, A Technical Assistance Guide – updated current manual, July 1995
  • Administrative Guide, An Overview of the Compliance Monitoring Process – March, 1995
  • Surrogate Parent Manual – August, 1994
  • A Guide to Special Education in South Dakota – updated current manual, October, 1993


Conference Development    

  • 12th Annual Summer Institute, July 6-11th, 1998, Pierre, SD
  • Statewide Special Education Conference, October 9-11th, 1997, Sioux Falls, SD
  • 11th Annual Summer Institute, July 13-18th, 1997, Sioux Falls, SD
  • EDLAW’s Fifth Great Plains Institute on Special Education Law & Practice, April 20-22, 1997, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Statewide CEC/Office of Special Education Fall Conference, October 27-29th, 1996, Pierre, SD


Related Experiences

  • Invited interviewee for upcoming book entitled, How Autism is Reshaping Special Education: The Unbundling of IDEA by John M. McLaughlin, May, 2016
  • Invited interviewee with Dr. Rod Berger, MindRocket Media Group, November, 2016