The Maine Department of Education has concluded that terminating eligibility to a free, appropriate public education at the end of the school year in which a student turns 20 pursuant to 20-A M.R.S. § 5201(1) years is inconsistent with the IDEA as interpreted by the First Circuit in K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education, 907 F.3d 639 (2018). It is certain that the First Circuit would draw the same conclusions if Maine’s statutes were challenged.
In 2018, The First Circuit Court in K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education concluded that students are entitled to FAPE until age 22. The decision requires ongoing eligibility for entitlements created by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for special education students who have not yet been conferred a diploma and have not yet obtained the age of 22 years old. According to this decision, special education and related services under the IDEA must remain available until the student’s 22nd birthday.
Effective immediately, Maine will implement the “federal standard” and provide FAPE to eligible students until their 22nd birthday. The Administrative Letter for this directive can be viewed, here.
All school administrative units must notify adult students who would have previously “aged out” of special education on June 30, 2021 of their right to receive a free, appropriate, public education until either they receive a regular high school diploma or their 22nd birthday, whichever comes first.
The Department will be providing technical assistance around FAPE beyond age 20. For more information, contact Erin Frazier, State Director of Special Education Birth to 22, at firstname.lastname@example.org.