ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: Change in the Ending Age for Special Education Eligibility – Effective Immediately

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER

Administrative Letter: 1
Policy Code: IHBEA
To: Public School Administrators
From: Pender Makin, Commissioner
Date:  January 21,2021
Subject: Change in the Ending Age for Special Education Eligibility – Effective Immediately

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to provide “[a] free, appropriate public education . . . to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21 inclusive[.]”  20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(1)(A).  IDEA permits an exception to this general age range: “[t]he obligation to make a free, appropriate public education available to all children with a disabilities does not apply with respect to children . . . [aged] 18 through 21 in a State to the extent that its application to those children would be inconsistent with State law or practice, or the order of any court, respecting the provision of public education to [such] children[.]”  20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(1)(B)(i).

Maine’s generally applicable age-eligibility statute states that students are eligible for a pK-12 public education until the end of the school year in which they turn 20 years old. 20-A M.R.S. § 5201(1). As a result, Maine has historically terminated a student with a disability’s eligibility for a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) at the end of the school year in which they turn 20.

In 2018, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that students are entitled to FAPE until age 22 (the so-called “federal standard”) where the state provides public education in the form of adult education to students who are under age 22 but older than the state “age out” for pK-12 education.  K.L. v. Rhode Island Board of Education, 907 F.3d 639 (2018).  The First Circuit concluded that for purposes of the IDEA, “public education” contains three basic attributes: (1) “a significant level of state or local government funding, [] (2) the public administration or oversight of the educational services” and (3) the education of students “up to the level of academic proficiency associated with the completion of secondary school.” Id. at 642, 644.

Maine’s adult education system meets the First Circuit’s definition of “public education” as it receives significant state and local government funding, is administered by the Department of Education and local public entities (primarily school administrative units either alone or in collaboration), and provides coursework that allows students to complete and receive their high school diplomas.  As such, there is little question that the same result would be reached by the First Circuit if Maine’s statutes were challenged.

After consulting with counsel, the Department 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).

Effective immediately, Maine will implement the “federal standard” and provide FAPE to eligible students until their 22nd birthday.

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, 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 the provision of FAPE beyond age 20.  For more information, contact Erin Frazier, State Director of Special Education Birth to 22, at erin.frazier@maine.gov.

Special education counts and costs for students over 20 will be counted under Title 20 A §15681-A.2. Students 5-22 are now part of your child count and SAUs will receive state subsidy based on this count.

 

Lewiston Adult Education Computer Training Prepares Students For Future Careers

Computer Support Specialist student Santo Panzo took a moment during November mock interviews for a photo outside the Adult Learning Center at the Longley Multipurpose Center.
Computer Support Specialist student Santo Panzo took a moment during November mock interviews for a photo outside the Adult Learning Center at the Longley Multipurpose Center.

Lewiston Adult Education students have completed the first part of Computer Support Specialist training for technology sector jobs. The combination of in-person and distance learning lessons in the fall focused on digital literacy, English skills and work readiness. Successful completion of the program results in a level one Computer Specialist microbadge that can be accepted for college credit and is recognized by employers around the state.

“The students were very motivated and showed a great work ethic. All of them work full time yet were able to participate in and successfully complete this intense program,” English teacher Irina Petranek said.

Student Santo Panzo thanked computer teacher Greg Yates in an email.

“We are more than proud of the opportunity Lewiston Adult Education provided to us,” Panzo said.

On Nov. 20, Panzo and his classmates participated in mock interviews with staff and community members as another preparation for the workforce. Local partners in the interviews included Carbonite, Bates College and RoundTable Technology. Some of the interviews were remote while others were in person with social distancing and mask-wearing.

Computer Support Specialist student Ester Bassa sat for an outdoor photo during November mock interviews at the Adult Learning Center at the Longley Multipurpose Center.
Computer Support Specialist student Ester Bassa sat for an outdoor photo during November mock interviews at the Adult Learning Center at the Longley Multipurpose Center.

“Lewiston Adult Education is proud to have pioneered in this innovative work. The opportunity to invest in training that results in badges that are recognized for college credit and by local employers is of tremendous benefit to our adult learners,” Lewiston Adult Education Assistant Director Jen Tiner said. “We admire the initiative and persistence that our students demonstrated throughout this program.”

The students’ next step will be taking the National Retail Federation Customer Service and Sales program in collaboration with RSU 16 Adult Education. It will include English classes with a focus on technical writing and speaking skills.

“This class of students reminds us all of the importance of embracing the new ‘global language’ – Information Technology.  A diverse set of students in age, background and origin, they were eager to master the skills of today’s explosion in computer technology,” Yates said.

The Computer Support Specialist Program is funded by the Lumina Foundation and developed in partnership with the University of Maine System, the Maine Department of Labor and the Maine Department of Education.

This story was provided by Lewiston Adult Education Center as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Everyone Has a Story: Lewiston Mom Finds a New Passion and Career Through Local Adult Education Program

A podcast called “We All Have a Story” features standup comedian Dawn Hartill, who got her start by taking a Lewiston Adult Education class called “Standup Comedy Workshop.” Check out her story and how she got stated on We All Have a Story – A podcast about people @WAHASpodcast. Here is a link to where you can listen to her story (She mentions adult education at 4:13 during her interview).

Now teaching the standup class at Lewiston Adult Education, Dawn’s story exemplifies how important education can be at any age, and how trying something new through a wonderful local resource can change your life in so many positive ways.

To learn more about the Lewiston Adult Education Program, check out their website, or you can contact your local school system to learn more about the Adult Education classes available near you.

Maine Career Development Association Hosts Art & Poetry Contest for Maine Students

In celebration of National Career Development Month in November, the Maine Career Development Association is sponsoring a statewide Poetry & Art contest, that is open to students and adults state-wide.

The Contest is held annually on a national level in celebration of the importance of life-long career development and the personal empowerment of all people. Events and activities in celebration of National Career Month help examine lives, careers, and the alternatives available to increase everyone’s personal success and happiness.

Contest Eligibility

Adults and students enrolled in public, private schools in Maine, and students who are homeschooled in Maine are eligible to participate.

Contest division areas include:

  • Primary Grades: K – 2
  • Intermediate Grades 3 – 5
  • Middle Grades 6 – 8
  • Senior Grades 9 – 12
  • Adult Student 18 and older enrolled in school
  • Open Adult 18 and older (teachers, parents, professionals, etc.)

Each entry should celebrate and inspire career development with a positive tone while emphasizing the national theme.

For further information on how to participate in the contest including eligibility requirements for both poetry and art submissions and how make submissions, please view the Maine Career Development Association’s Art & Poetry Contest Flyer and Entry Form.

Winners in each category will be posted to the MCDA website (https://www.mainecda.org/) as well as included in the MCDA newsletter! Winners will then be sent on to the NCDA to be judged nationally. National winning entries will be recognized on the NCDA website, as well as on display at the annual conference in Atlanta in 2021. The school coordinator of each state winner will receive a free year’s membership to the Maine Career Development Association!

DEADLINE: All submissions must include the official entry form, be postmarked by November 23rd, and mailed to Tara Kierstead, MCDA K-12 Representative, at the address on the entry form.

Please email Tara Kierstead at tkierstead@kidsrsu.org with any questions.

 

RSU 16 Gets Creative to Offer In-Person Adult Ed Graduation

Maine Adult Education programs are working hard through the COVID-19 Pandemic to help students meet their goals. That’s why RSU 16 planned an end of summer graduation ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of their Adult Education students. In a short, in-person, socially distanced graduation on August 6th the program was able to honor 8 out of 13 of their graduates.

While a group picture is not necessarily easy to accomplish, the staff at RSU 16 made a picture collage to memorialize the event for years to come.

This story was submitted by Jenny Rose, RSU 16 Adult Education Director and McKinney Vento Homeless Liaison as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea please email Rachel rachel.paling@maine.gov.