Administrative Letter: 28
Policy Code: IHBEA
To: School Administrative Unit (SAU) Administrators, Special Purpose Private School Administrators and Public Regional Program Administrators
From: Pender Makin, Commissioner
Date: November 24, 2021
Subject: IEP Requirements for Out-of-Unit Placements
In Maine, before an IEP Team decides to place a student with a disability in an out-of-unit placement, it shall initiate and convene an IEP meeting to develop an Individualized Education Program for the student. The IEP developed will reflect the Team’s program design to meet the student’s needs and will include goals for the student’s growth in the areas of concern. The IEP Team shall discuss and document the program components of a placement that will support the IEP developed at this meeting (MUSER IX.3.H). The sending SAU has the administrative responsibility for the education of a student with a disability who has been placed in an out-of-unit placement. Special Purpose Private Schools (SPPS) and other out-of-unit entities must ensure compliance with IDEA, utilizing the IEP team process and maintaining “stay put” in the event of a dispute (34 CFR §300.518).
The Department is concerned that some School Administrative Districts, SPPS, and Public Regional Programs believe that the language of MUSER XI.3.I allows a receiving out-of-unit placement to remove a student with a disability from school for any reason, without utilizing the IEP Team process, and without maintaining ‘stay put” in the event of a dispute. MUSER IX.3.I requires a receiving placement to ensure compliance with “these rules and the Individuals with Disabilities Act.” While the Department views this language to cover the requirements for a change of placement, and for stay put, it is clear that some School Administrative Districts, SPPS, and Public Regional Programs have not operated with this understanding.
After consulting with counsel, the Department has determined that SPPS and other out-of-unit placements are not in compliance with IDEA when they terminate a student’ s placement without going through the IEP process. Maine will enforce the federal standard of using the IEP process in the change of placement. Effective immediately, All SAUs must notify the SPPS and out-of-unit placements that in order to continue these placements, they must abide by the federal standard and provide FAPE to eligible students who are placed at SPPS and other out-of-unit placements. The MUSER reference can be found here:
MUSER IX.3.I Revision of Out-of-Unit Placements
For more information, contact Erin Frazier, State Director of Special Education Birth to 22, at email@example.com.