Updated: Reminder about special education students placed in non-approved programs

Updated Oct. 1

Since the release of this dispatch, the Maine DOE has become aware of a need for further clarification. A parent has the right at any time to place his or her child receiving special education in a private school, including a non-approved private school. As stated in MUSER §IV.4.G(3)(a),  the residential district in this situation is not required to pay for the cost of the child’s education in the private school. The Department has become aware that some districts, nevertheless, are paying some or all of the educational costs for such children placed in non-approved private schools. Districts should not be making such payments unless the procedures described below (convening the IEP Team, developing an offer of FAPE, explaining to the parent the ramifications of a decision to place the child in a non-approved program and the right to revoke consent for continued provision of special education services) are followed and the parent revokes consent in writing. Under no circumstances should special education funds be used for such payments.

School administrative units (SAUs) sometimes become aware that a student identified as needing special education services has been placed in a program that has not been approved for special education by the Maine DOE. Placement of such a student by the SAU is prohibited by MUSER §XII.1.F(1)(c), but the student may have been placed directly by parents or a State agency.

When the SAU learns of the student’s placement, the school should promptly convene an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meeting to review the student’s program and make an offer of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) at a placement appropriate for delivery of the student’s IEP.

If the student’s parents cannot be located to attend the IEP team meeting, a surrogate parent must be assigned. The parent (or surrogate) should be presented with the offer of FAPE, with an explanation that the non-approved placement is not an option as it cannot deliver the required services. If the parent (or surrogate) wants the student to continue in the non-approved placement, the parent should notify the SAU that he or she no longer wants special education services for the student. The SAU should further discuss the ramifications of such a decision, including the loss of procedural safeguards.

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