On April 6, 2016 the Maine Department of Education received a letter from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education which reflected the impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B application. ESSA reactivated an IDEA statutory provision which requires that special education teachers be fully certified. The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is requiring that Maine amend the Chapter 115 regulations by June 30, 2017 to come into compliance with the reactivated IDEA statutory provision. As Department staff began to address the OSEP concerns it became evident that there were components of Chapter 115 that need to be revised for all educators. The State Board of Education voted unanimously at its Oct. 12 meeting to initiate the joint rulemaking process with the Department.
As a result the Department has begun modifying Chapter 115 in the following manner:
- Align with state statute
- Streamline certifications to make them more easily understood by the field and more efficient to process on the state level
- Delete unnecessary or duplicative sections of Chapter 115 regulations
- Enhance the ability to use a streamlined Alternate Pathway by having an approved mentoring/coaching course to be completed during employment in a district, as well as pre-approved courses for the field to choose from in order to move through the Alternate Pathway process
Sampling of the specifics
- Reduce the Targeted Need, Transitional and Provisional Certifications to just Conditional Certification and Professional Certification; Conditional Certifications will identify those persons needing additional steps to meet Professional Certification
- Conditional Certifications will be for three years without yearly check-ins to the Certification Office
- Renewals of Professional Certifications shall occur at five years from the date of initial approval, so renewals will occur throughout the year, rather than only in the summer
- Refine the renewal of Administrative Certificates and allow for interstate reciprocity with Administrative Certificates
- Delete the section on Substitute Personnel to allow school administrative units to address their local substitute needs
- Examine all current certifications and endorsements with the goal of decreasing the number and complexity, and consolidate the certifications and endorsements to allow more flexibility at the SAU level
The proposed rule has been filed with the Secretary of State. The comment period begins October 19, 2016 with the legal advertisement posting in the newspaper. A public hearing is scheduled on November 8, 2016 from 2-4 PM in Room 500 of the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street in Augusta. Written comments can be provided to Jaci Holmes, Maine DOE’s Federal State Legislative Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org.