Category Archives: Special Populations

Charter Commission advances virtual school proposal, schedules public hearing

A public virtual charter school opened earlier this year is serving nearly 300 students from 86 school districts and an application for another online charter hoping to open next year has now moved forward

AUGUSTA – A second public virtual charter school being proposed in Maine was unanimously advanced to the next round of review by the state’s Charter Commission today.

At a meeting this morning in Augusta, Maine Charter School Commission  members working in small review teams presented their recommendations on three applications, with the Commission then voting to advance the application for the online Maine Virtual Academy. Meanwhile, the Commission unanimously agreed applications for Acadia Academy, proposed for Lewiston-Auburn, and Inspire ME Academy, proposed for the Sanford area, should not move forward. Continue reading

Notice of proposed rule changes: Chapter 101, Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Birth to Age Twenty

The Maine DOE is proposing changes this fall to the rules regarding the provision of child find, early intervention services, and special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities age birth to 20.

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Superintendents surveyed on use of instructional coaches

The following Priority Notice requesting participation in a survey on the use of instructional coaches was distributed to all Maine superintendents on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Dear Superintendents,

As you know, the Maine DOE is committed to ensuring that every learner has the opportunity to be successful. Part of that is ensuring our schools have the resources they need to best support all of their students, including those who are economically disadvantaged.   Continue reading

Longtime Skowhegan special educator Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year

In a surprise all-school assembly Thursday at Skowhegan Area Middle School, longtime MSAD 54 special educator Jennifer Dorman was named the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year. She is the second special education teacher ever honored with Maine’s top award for educator excellence. Pictured here: Skowhegan Area Middle School Principal Zachary Longyear, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier, 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year Jennifer Dorman and MSAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry.

Longtime MSAD 54 special educator Jennifer Dorman is the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year, the second special education teacher ever to receive this honor. Pictured here: Skowhegan Area Middle School Principal Zachary Longyear, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier, 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year Jennifer Dorman and MSAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry.

In a surprise all-school assembly today, Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Skowhegan Area Middle School’s Jennifer Dorman was selected from nearly 400 nominees as Maine’s top teacher

SKOWHEGAN – A 20-year veteran special educator in Somerset County schools committed to supporting her students succeed despite their challenges has been selected as the 2015 Teacher of the Year.

In a surprise assembly at MSAD 54’s Skowhegan Area Middle School (SAMS) on Thursday, Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Jennifer Dorman had been chosen from a field of 376 nominees as Maine’s top teacher. Continue reading

All students, all standards but different demonstrations of proficiency

As Maine moves toward a proficiency-based education system that will ensure students graduate from our high schools having mastered State learning standards, I am often asked what this expectation means for our nearly 30,000 students with disabilities.

A free appropriate public education must include support to allow students with disabilities to achieve the same high standards as other students.

I – like all of my colleagues at the Department and so many of you – believe that Maine students with disabilities deserve to graduate knowing that they have the knowledge and skills needed for future success. And I am confident that they can, even if their path toward proficiency sometimes looks different than that of their classmates. After all, in the true learner-centered system envisioned in Maine’s Education Evolving strategic plan, all students are active participants in and directors of their own learning, taking a meaningful role in planning learning activities and being allowed to choose the manner by which they display proficiency, whether it be a final exam, paper, project or other demonstration.

Maine law states that a diploma may be awarded to a child with a disability if that child achieves proficiency in the same standards as required of other children “as specified by the goals and objectives of the child’s individualized education plan.” The Department has always interpreted that language to mean that an IEP team may modify the means by which a student with a disability demonstrates proficiency in the standards and reflect that on the student’s IEP but they may not modify the standards themselves, which are codified in Department rule.

The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) and the U.S. Department of Education recently affirmed that, issuing a letter to the State of Louisiana in which they expressed significant concern about that state’s recently enacted law permitting IEP teams to change and lower the expectations for students with disabilities. The position set forth in their letter supports our Department’s own: to qualify for a diploma a student with disabilities must meet the same level of proficiency in the same standards as students without disabilities; however, the manner in which they demonstrate their eligibility for a diploma may differ.

Our Department means it when we say “all standards, all students.” And we are backing up that commitment by providing resources to support your local efforts including free coaching and tools.

For more information or technical assistance in supporting all students, please contact Maine DOE’s Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 624-6713. For more information about the proficiency-based diploma requirement and related resources, visit Getting to Proficiency: Graduating Every Student Prepared.

Reminders about events that trigger duty to provide parents with procedural safeguards

The Department is reminding school administrative units (SAUs) that, in addition to the requirement that they provide parents of children receiving special education (or adult students receiving special education) a copy of the procedural safeguards once each year, the following events also trigger a duty to provide the procedural safeguards:

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Report of Services to Students with Disabilities (EF-S-05 Part 1 & 2) due Oct. 31

School administrative units (SAUs) should begin preparing data for the EF-S-05, which includes Part 1: Special Education Child Count as well as Part 2: Special Education Personnel Employed, Contracted, and Needed.

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Department provides guidance on learning disability eligibility determinations

The Maine DOE is committed to ensuring the effective and timely identification of learners with special needs. When Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams are considering eligibility of a student under the disability category “Specific Learning Disability,” they may find that some students present with cultural, linguistic or physical characteristics that place them outside the cohort on which standardized measures are normed.

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Proficiency standard applies to special education students

The following Priority Notice was sent to Maine Superintendents and Directors of Special Education by Commissioner Jim Rier and Maine DOE Director of Special Services on Sept. 17.

Dear Superintendents and Directors of Special Education,

As Maine moves towards a proficiency-based system that will ensure that all students graduate from our high schools having met rigorous learning standards, some have asked about the impact of this new expectation on students with disabilities.  Continue reading

Maine partnership receives national honor for serving military-connected children

A new military identifier implemented by the Maine Department of Education this fall will help local and State officials know which students are in military families so supports can be provided

AUGUSTA – A local partnership enhanced by the statewide efforts of Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage and the Maine Department of Education has been nationally recognized for serving students whose parents are in the military.

In a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C., ongoing collaboration between the Maine DOE, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the Kittery School Department, the Rotary Club of Kittery and the Maine Military Interstate Compact Council (MIC3) was honored with the Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award from the Military Child Education Coalition. Continue reading