Notice of proposed rule change to Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination

The Maine Department of Education is proposing to repeal Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination.  Current motor vehicle laws provide substantial protections for public safety.  The repeal supports local school districts in the selection and hiring of school bus drivers.  This repeal affects bus drivers hired by public schools.

Written comments should be mailed to:  Maine Department of Education, Attn:  Jaci Holmes, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0023, or emailed to jaci.holmes@maine.gov .  The comment deadline is March 16, 2018.

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE partnering in national study to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying law in Maine

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine Center for Disease Control are taking part in a study to evaluate the efficacy and implementation of anti-bullying laws in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and with Columbia University, the University of Iowa and Temple University.

The study will evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying laws passed in the United States since 1999. In addition, researchers will study how the anti-bullying law is being implemented in the state of Maine to inform anti-bullying legislation that could affect educators, state and local agencies, legislators and students and families.

“This valuable partnership will help to ensure that Maine’s anti-bullying law is effective in promoting the safety of Maine’s students,” said Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D., Maine DOE Commissioner

In 2013, Maine passed a comprehensive anti-bullying law with new requirements for schools, including the implementation of a bullying incident-reporting system. Maine is one of only four states that require the state DOE to provide a model policy to schools. To maximize the effectiveness of this provision, Maine’s DOE will grant researchers a unique opportunity to conduct surveys with school administrators and school counselors across the state to learn how schools are adopting the state’s model policies and whether these implementation factors affect youth violence outcomes.

To understand both the challenges and the successes in bullying prevention, researchers want to hear the viewpoints of all types of school districts and staff with various levels of experience. Six schools representing rural and urban communities in Maine have been selected to participate in this opportunity. Confidential interviews will take place with a superintendent, principal and school counselor in charge of anti-bullying activities at each school (a total of 18 interviews). The information that the selected school leaders and staff share in the study will help identify supports needed for all schools.

The study group will use the results of the conversations, which will be kept confidential, to form an online survey that will be administered to all Maine schools in the spring of 2018 and the spring of 2019. Results will also be summarized in a research report that will be available to the public.

For more information contact Rachel Paling, Maine DOE Director of Communications at Rachel.paling@maine.gov or (207) 624-6747.

 

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed changes for Certification and PEPG Rules; Hearings on Dec. 27

As part of the Maine Department of Education’s efforts to streamline certification processes for Maine educators; align certification rules with current statute; and ensure that new and conditionally certified teachers have access to high quality peer support, the Department is proposing revisions to Rule Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, revisions Rule Chapter 115: Certification Authorization and Approval of Educational Personnel; and repeal of Chapter 118: Purposes, Standards and Procedures for Educational Personnel Support Systems.

Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapters 115, 118, and 180 on the Maine DOE Website. Provided below are hearing dates, details about the comment period and highlights about the proposed changes.

Hearing for Rule Chapters 115 and 118:
December 27, 2017 from 12:00 – 2:00 PM.
Room 103 A and B in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
Comment periods:
Chapter 115 Proposed Section 14: November 17, 2017 – December 18, 2017
Full revisions for Chapter 115 and Rule Chapter 118: December 6, 2017 – January 18, 2018

Hearing for Rule Chapter 180:
December 27, 2017 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM.
Room 103 A and B in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
Comment period:
Rule Chapter 180: December 6, 2017 – January 18, 2018.

Comments can be submitted to Jaci Holmes at jaci.holmes@maine.gov

Highlights:

Chapter 180
Some of the more significant changes are contained in a new Section (11): Peer Support and Feedback, and accomplish the following:

  1. Retain a peer level of peer support and feedback for all teachers and principals.
  2. Establish a mentor/coach component for all newly hired and conditionally certified teachers.
  3. Differentiate peer support requirements to provide greater support for new and conditionally certified teachers.
  4. Provide greater, more structured support for conditionally certified special education teachers.
  5. Provide the SAU with flexibility in establishing mentor and coach qualifications as well as assigning mentors and coaches to better target educator needs.
  6. Sharpen the line between peer support components and evaluation components

Chapter 115
The Department has updated the rules consistent with recent statutory changes and removed redundancy and unnecessary language. The format is being refined to be clear and concise. In brief, the following are some of the more significant changes:

  • Consolidates the number of credentials available to three: a clearance, a certificate, and a conditional certificate.
  • Eliminates Rule Chapter 118: Education Personnel Support System. Rather than having two different support systems under two different rules, there will just be one under Rule Chapter 180. Also, some aspects of Rule Chapter 118 will be merged into Rule Chapter 115.
  • Creates a pathway to become a teacher based on work experience. A person will be able to use work experience to address knowledge areas that are required for an endorsement.
  • Refines and reformats the rule to be more logical and sequential. There has been confusion about sections of the rule and this should help to make it more clear and efficient.
  • Part I will be repealed and replaced, Part II will be revised in legislative format

Chapter 115 (Regarding Administrative Hold)
This rule creates a category within Section 14 of Chapter 115, Part I for Administrative Hold. The agency proposed rule would require all credential holders to provide the Department with an address at which the Department may contact them with respect to their credential. An administrative hold will be used in cases where information about certified individuals comes to the attention of the Department and the Department contacts the credential holder at the address on file and receives no response.  In those situations, the Department will place the credential on administrative hold until such time as the holder responds. Emergency Rulemaking for Chapter 115 (Regarding Administrative Hold) went into effect November 20, 2017.

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Protocol for school cancelations due to recent storm

School Administrative Units (SAU) that canceled school days due to circumstances surrounding the recent storm should treat those cancelations the same as any other weather related school cancelation.

The state of emergency issued by the State of Maine was expressly to provide utility work crews relief from federal highway regulations in order to restore power to those who have been impacted – it does not result in an automatic excusal of missed school days.

As part of the standard procedure for meeting requirements for instructional days, written requests for waivers for storm days may be submitted by the district school board in the Spring when districts have a better sense of storm days used.

Resources:

Maine DOE legislative summary available

Maine DOE has prepared a summary of major laws related to education enacted by the First Regular Session of the 128th Maine Legislature. This information may prove helpful to educators when planning for the 2017-8 school year.

For each relevant bill, the summary lists the provisions, effective date, action required by the bill and primary contact person at the Department, the State Board of Education, the Maine Charter School Commission and/or other organizations.

A law indicated as an “emergency” is a law that was passed by a two-thirds vote of the Maine Legislature; emergency legislation can take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.  For non-emergency laws passed during the First Regular Session, the general effective date is November 1, 2017 unless otherwise noted.

The summary can be found at www.maine.gov/doe/rule/index.html.

Please contact Debra Plowman, Director of Policy, at debra.plowman@maine.gov with questions.

Update about revisions to Rule Chapter 232, expansion of CTE to middle school

Public Law Chapter 171, “An Act To Enable Earlier Introduction of Career and Technical Education in Maine Schools,” was enacted in June to expand career and technical education opportunities by requiring Maine schools to provide access to developmentally-appropriate career and technical education for middle school students (grades 6-8). The expansion of Career and Technical Education (CTE) to middle school builds on a long history of providing high-quality and industry-relevant CTE to students in high school grades 9-12.

Revision of Department of Education Rule Chapter 232, currently underway in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) process, will provide a framework to develop and implement middle school career and technical education.

CTE centers and regions will collaborate with all schools serving students in grades 6-8 to provide CTE experiences and will be active partners in how these programs are structured and offered in the best interests of middle school students.

The Department is developing a funding plan for 2018-19 to present to the Legislature designed to ensure adequate resources for this expansion.

Once the proposed rules are adopted and the Legislature has taken action on funding, a timeline for implementation, including program approval and funding, will be made available. Schools will not be required to offer CTE for middle school students in the 2017-2018 school year but they are free to do so if they choose.

Questions may be directed to Margaret Harvey, State Director of Career and Technical Education, at 624-6739 or at Margaret.harvey@maine.gov.

Repeal and replacement of Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine

The enacted new regulations that replaced Chapter 81: Uniform School Bus Standards for Pupil Transportation in Maine and became effective on 9/16/17 can be found on the following link: http://maine.gov/doe/transportation/laws/index.html

In order to provide increased clarity and durability to its regulations relating to student transportation, the Department broke the existing Chapter 81 into six shorter regulations, Chapters 81-86. Most of the language of the former Chapter 81, with the exception of specifications, remains; however, minor changes to existing regulatory language were made in order to modernize the regulations with technical, language, and process updates to make it easier for all to understand and use.  The enacted new rules include the following updates:

  • Chapter 81 School Transportation Safety identifies uniform safety requirements that include student riding safety practices training, school bus driver entry-level training, transportation employee in-service safety training, prohibitions, school bus daily inspections, contracts, year-end transportation reports, and records retention.
  • Chapter 82 School Bus Driver Fitness Determination retains the requirement of an annual physical and adapts to federal changes by moving to use of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Medical Examination Report Form and National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Please note annual physical renewal date will remain the same.
  • Chapter 83 School Transportation Operations Program establishes requirements for access to transportation operations software made available by the Department at no cost to public schools, including public charter schools, and private schools approved for the receipt of public funds.
  • Chapter 84 School Bus Refurbishment Program contains requirements derived from the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and the Maine Military Authority for participation in the School Bus Refurbishment Program.
  • Chapter 85 School Bus Purchase Program retains most of the language while modernizing the regulation with technical, language, and process updates.
  • Chapter 86 Maine Uniform School Bus Specifications updates school bus specifications to align with both state and federal standards by adopting, with exceptions, the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures 2015 as enacted by the National Congress on School Transportation.

Questions should be directed to Pat Hinckley, Transportation and Facilities Administration, at 624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov .