Filing of Chapter 101: Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Emergency Rulemaking

The Maine Department of Education has identified a barrier to its obligation pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Maine Unified Special Education Regulation (MUSER) to ensure the provision of a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to all eligible students, including the availability of a continuum of educational placements. The current funding structure outlined in Section XVIII.3.C(2) of MUSER for private schools that serve exclusively students with disabilities (referred to throughout as “special purpose private schools”) is causing those schools to limit or cease operations, leaving some of Maine’s most significantly impacted children without the educational placements they are entitled to by law. Further breakdown of this critical component of the continuum of educational placements will leave the State unable to maintain compliance with IDEA and MUSER. 

The Department has determined that a rule change is necessary on an emergency basis in order to protect the public health, safety and general welfare by ensuring that there is a continuum of placements available for all students with individualized education programs (IEPs) in accordance with federal and state law as follows: 

  • Change #1: Section XVIII.3.C(2) is amended to change the required number of instructional days to the “sum of the days on which instruction was provided in accordance with the school’s calendarrather than the actual days of student attendance for the year.  Rationale:  The current funding formula penalizes the private school when a student is unable to attend, even if the lack of attendance is due to a disability-related reason, despite the obligation of the private school to have staff and supports available for the student every day of the school year. 
  • Change #2: adds a section (2A) to allow the Department to “recalculate the number of student days for the remainder of the fiscal year 2023 and the entirety of fiscal year 2024 using the number of days on which instruction was provided in accordance with the school’s fiscal year 2022 calendar and recalculate each school’s allowable expenditures and 2023 tuition rate using the revised number of student days.  The Department shall notify each special purpose private school of its revised tuition rate, which shall be effective immediately and applies to the remainder of fiscal year 2023 and the entirety of fiscal year 2024.”  Rationale:  The current funding formula operates on a one-year delay – this change ensures that additional monies will flow to the impacted schools now, to prevent closures or cutbacks.    
  • Change #3: adds a section (4A) which provides that nothing in subparagraph (4) shall limit any increase in the tuition rate resulting from the change in calculating the number of student days in subparagraph (2) from the actual days of student attendance to the days on which instruction was provided in accordance with the school’s calendar.”  Rationale:  This change ensures that any increase in tuition resulting from the change in 2023 does not get reduced by the cap on the percentage of increase from year to year. 

A period of public comment opens today, March 24, 2023. Due to the need to prevent imminent harm to the students who depend on these educational placements and the emergency status of this rule change, the public comment period has been reduced to 10 days.  

Written comments may be submitted to DOE Legislative Team member Laura Cyr, State House Station #23, Augusta, Maine 04333; 207-446-8791 or until 5:00 p.m. on April 3, 2023. 

In addition, a public hearing for the proposed new rule will be suspended due to the emergency nature of this change. As an emergency filing, the proposed changes become active upon filing and are in effect for a period of one year from the filing date.  

Timeline for Rulemaking for Chapter 101 – Emergency, Major Substantive  

Comment Period Begins: March 24, 2023 

Comment Period Ends: April 3, 2023 

Anticipated Date of Adoption: April 10, 2023 

The proposed amendment to Chapter 101 can be found here:   




Resources and Guidance for Ensuring a High-Quality Education for Highly Mobile Children

The following message is from the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: 

The letter below and the list of resources provides guidance and describes several important principles that states, school districts, school staff, parents, families, and others may find helpful in ensuring that highly mobile children with disabilities receive required special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs in a timely manner.

Ensuring a high-quality education for highly mobile children is a critical responsibility for all of us. Highly mobile children include children and youth experiencing frequent moves into new school districts, such as military-connected children, migratory children, children who are homeless, and children in the foster care system. While these children often possess remarkable resilience, they also experience formidable challenges as they cope with frequent educational transitions.

  • Identify ways to make State and district policies and procedures consistent with guidelines and rules set forth under the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) Compact;
  • Honor and respect the previous academic standing and accomplishments of highly mobile children in their new districts;
  • Involve district and school leaders, teachers, school counselors, social workers, coaches, school nurses, and administrators at all levels in efforts to better address the needs of highly mobile children; and
  • Provide professional development opportunities to educators, related service providers, and staff on how to recognize and respond to the needs of highly mobile children.

Issue #1: Highly mobile children should have timely and expedited evaluations and eligibility determinations.

Issue #2: Comparable services include services during the summer, such as Extended School Year (ESY) services.

Read more and access the letter.

We ask you to share this information with your local school staff to help ensure highly mobile children with disabilities receive the appropriate special education and related services in a timely manner. Thank you for your continued interest in improving results for children with disabilities.

The Maine Department of Education is available to support SAUs with these requirements. For professional development requests on this topic, please contact Amelia Lyons Rukema, Maine DOE McKinney Vento Specialist at or 207-557-1787 and/or Colette Sullivan, Maine DOE Federal Programs Coordinator at


Webinar Special Topics Series – Leveraging Student Strengths: Neurodiversity and Mathematics

The Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education at the Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce our next speaker in our Special Topics Series – Dr. Rachel Lambert!

Leveraging Student Strengths: Neurodiversity and Mathematics

Dr. Rachel Lambert
January 31, 2023
3:30-4:30 pm

Audience: General & Special Educators, Administrators, Parents, Caregivers and Community Members Interested in Literacy, Dyslexia & Reading Disabilities and Interventions

Cost: FREE Register for Zoom Link Here

This presentation from Dr. Rachel Lambert will focus on giving neurodiverse students equal access to meaningful mathematics, by transforming how we understand neurodiversity and disability. In this session we will explore neurodiversity in relationship to mathematics teaching and learning. Dr. Lambert will discuss her research on dyslexia and mathematics, conducted with dyslexic mathematicians, as a springboard to discuss strategies to leverage the strengths of neurodiverse students in math class.

About the Presenter:

Dr. Rachel Lambert taught for over 10 years as a math educator, special educator, and inclusive educator and is now an Associate Professor at University of California Santa Barbara in both Mathematics Education and Special Education. She has her MA in Learning dis/Abilities from Teachers College and her PhD in Urban Education (focus on Mathematics, Science and Technology). Dr. Lambert is also a Disability Studies in Education Scholar. Her scholarly work investigates the intersections between disability studies in education and mathematics education. She has conducted longitudinal studies of how learners with and without disabilities construct identities as mathematics learners, and how mathematical pedagogy shapes disability. Her vast collection of resources and research can be found on her websites and

UDL Math Design Elements

Maine DOE Special Services Team Changes Name to Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education

With the support of Maine Department of Education, the Office of Special Services has changed its name to the (OSSIE). The Maine DOE continues its commitment to providing high-quality instruction to students with disabilities with a focus on inclusive classroom instructional practices and settings.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that each public agency (SAU) must ensure that

  • to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and
  • special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. §300.114

Over 20 years of research studies have consistently demonstrated that the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms results in favorable academic and social outcomes. This includes positive benefits for typical peers in classrooms who benefit from involvement and relationships with students who have disabilities in inclusive settings.

Effectively including students with disabilities in the general education classroom requires teachers and school administrators to further develop an understanding of the individual strengths and needs of each student, not just those students with disabilities. Toward this end, the Maine DOE and the OSSIE Team will partner with SAUs and other stakeholders to provide technical assistance and professional development designed to increase educational opportunities for all students.

For additional information about the office name change or to learn more about inclusionary practices, please contact Special Projects & Educator Supports Coordinator, Tracy Whitlock, at

UMaine, Maine DOE inclusive education collaboration changing name, expanding focus

A project that has served individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families for nearly a decade at the University of Maine is getting a new name and taking on a broader mission.

The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research will now be Maine Access to Inclusive Education Resources (MAIER).

Established in 2014 with financial support from the Maine Department of Education, MAIER has sought to improve outcomes for individuals with autism in Maine throughout the spectrum and lifecycle by building statewide capacity for leadership, training, professional development, technical assistance, collaborative consultation, technology and research.

That work will continue as MAIER’s mission expands. The project will now serve as an information and resource clearinghouse that will assist professionals and families in accessing and navigating programs and services related to inclusive education of all students with disabilities. It will aim to ensure that educators and other service providers, as well as families and individuals with disabilities, receive information about practices to promote inclusion that are grounded in research.

Maine DOE’s Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education is providing MAIER with grant funding of nearly $632,000 over the next three years to carry out this mission.

“We’re excited that our partnership with Maine DOE will continue, and that MAIER will be able to touch the lives of more people in Maine by improving inclusive education and services throughout the state,” says Sarah Howorth, MAIER director and assistant professor of special education at the UMaine College of Education and Human Development.

“MAIER is one of many programs in our college that support positive inclusive outcomes for schools and students across Maine,” Howorth adds. “As part of the flagship university in the University of Maine System, we are continually looking to maximize the impact of our research, collaborations and engagement with educators, families and other service providers.”

Howorth says MAIER’s service to the state will be guided by four aspects of high-leverage practices to promote inclusion and equity in education for people with disabilities: collaboration, assessment, social/emotional/behavioral, and instruction. Future MAIER training and professional development topics will include improving access to inclusive post-school opportunities and employment for individuals with disabilities, inclusive teaching practices, and multi-tiered behavioral supports to serve those who are at-risk or have identified disabilities.

“Inclusion is vital to the development of all students from preschool through high school and beyond,” says Tracy Whitlock, special projects coordinator with the Maine Department of Education Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education. “We are proud to collaborate with the University of Maine on this work that will lead to stronger Maine communities.”

Among MAIER’s accomplishments during its first eight years was the establishment of an Early Start Maine program that provided early intervention services to nearly 400 toddlers and preschoolers with autism throughout the state. Based on the Early Start Denver Model, MAIER staff also trained 34 early intervention providers with Maine Child Development Services, which assumed oversight of the program in 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, MAIER saw an increase in the number of educators and other professionals utilizing its professional development offerings. In 2019–20, there were 354 total participants in MAIER’s online training modules. That number went up to more than 1,000 participants from around the country in 202–21.

“As both a parent and an educator, I have been fortunate enough to utilize many of MAIER’s program offerings,” says Angela Lundy, a special education teacher at Mary Snow School in Bangor. “From professional development to PEERS social skills training with my son, MAIER is an invaluable resource for Maine families.”

In addition to the name change, MAIER recently transitioned to new leadership. Howorth took over as director after Deborah Rooks-Ellis, who started the project and led it for eight years, accepted a position at Coastal Carolina University. Longtime MAIER research associate Donna Doherty retired last year as well. Anica Miller-Rushing is MAIER’s new research associate and family partnership director. Miller-Rushing, who earned her Ph.D. in STEM Education from UMaine in 2022, will lead collaborations, manage programming and professional development, and support MAIER’s research agenda.

More information about MAIER can be found on the project website,