ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 74
POLICY CODE: CH
Recently, questions have arisen about the financial responsibility for students who are receiving services from the Maine Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Governor Baxter School for the Deaf (MECDHH/GBSD). While looking into the financial questions, Department of Education staff became aware that there were a number of issues surrounding the application of law and regulation to students attending MECDHH/GBSD that needed clarification.
This letter sets forth the Department’s interpretation of the relevant statutes and regulations, and establishes the Department’s expectations for both the school administrative units/CDS regional sites and MECDHH/GBSD with respect to the provision of early intervention services or a free appropriate public education to infants, toddlers, and children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Pursuant to 20-A M.R.S.A. 7405(1), a deaf or hard-of-hearing student may be enrolled at MECDHH/GBSD by the superintendent of the school administrative unit in which the student resides, with the consent of that student’s parent or legal guardian. In order to ensure clarity and transparency in the decision making process, the Superintendent must make the request to enroll the student in writing, and MECDHH/GBSD must respond in writing with its enrollment decision, which must be based upon the criteria established by the school board pursuant to 20-A M.R.S.A. 7407(14).
The decision to seek to enroll a student at MECDHH/GBSD is made by the superintendent, not by the student’s IEP Team, although the superintendent may seek input or information from the student’s IEP Team in making his or her decision. While the transfer of a student from their school administrative unit of residence to MECDHH/GBSD is not perfectly aligned with any transfer described in statute or regulation, the Department believes that the best analogy is to treat the transfer in a manner that is similar to a transfer from one school administrative unit to another, and not as an out-of-district placement by the school administrative unit of residence.
Upon a student’s enrollment, it becomes the responsibility of MECDHH/GBSD to develop an IEP and to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). MECDHH/GBSD is responsible for compliance with all of IDEA’s procedural requirements with respect to enrolled students, including written notices. Upon enrollment, the student’s records should be transferred to MECDHH/GBSD. The Department will be looking to MECDHH/GBSD during program review for evidence of maintenance of their students’ educational records.
Financial responsibility for all services contained in the IEPs of students enrolled at MECDHH/GBSD, including transportation, is the responsibility MECDHH/GBSD, per 20-A M.R.S.A. 7404(1) and 20-A M.R.S.A. 7405(1); 20-A M.R.S.A. 7407(16). In the cases where MECDHH/GBSD has identified a school administrative unit as the payor for one or more services on a student’s current IEP, MECDHH/GBSD must contact that school administrative unit to determine whether that unit remains willing to continue paying for the service(s), in whole or in part, for the current fiscal year, and amend the IEP accordingly. No school administrative unit shall be listed as the payor for any service on a GBSD/MECDHH student’s IEP after July 1, 2012.
Statewide Educational Services or Outreach
MECDHH/GBSD is also responsible for the provision of statewide educational services or outreach as defined by 20-A M.R.S.A. 7402(7). Services to the birth-5 population must be coordinated with the early intervention and special education services provided by the CDS regional sites. Services to school-age children must be coordinated with the special education and related services provided by the school administrative units. Funding for these services, including the infant, toddler, and preschool programs provided at the school, must be provided by MECDHH/GBSD and may not be billed to school administrative units or CDS regional sites. 20-A M.R.S.A. 7404(1).
The Department recognizes that in some cases, this administrative letter requires a change is practice. In order to ensure the least disruption for the students for whom we are all responsible, the Department expects all of the processes outlined above to be in place no later than July 1, 2012. After that date, the Department intends to conduct a review of some or all of the files of students served by MECDHH/GBSD in order to ensure compliance.
Questions may directed to the Office of Special Services at 207-624-6650.