Maine Continues to Align Special Education Programming with Federal Standards; No Extra Technical Assistance Required

The results of an annual review by the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has yielded that Maine does not currently require any extra technical assistance from the federal government for its special education programming.

Maine’s Special Education Programing was highlighted recently for meeting federal requirements for serving the needs of children with disabilities. The newly released report is an extension of that review and further evaluates the work of Maine’s special education services and outcomes.

The annual review is based on data from the Maine Department of Education and local schools, in addition to an in-depth evaluation of state need. This is the first year that OSEP has not required that Maine receive specialized technical assistance, beyond what is offered to all states.

View the report (PDF)

The new federal status can be attributed to much of the work that has been underway for the past few years by education professionals around the state, including special education directors, teachers, education technicians, and school and district administrators, in addition to the work of the Maine Department of Education to identify areas of growth and provide additional support in those areas. Improvement can also be credited to the specialized technical assistance that has been provided by OSEP in previous years.

The Maine Department of Education would like to thank all of the education professionals in Maine, especially those who work in special education and have spent pain-staking amounts of time on the necessary paperwork, reports, meetings, and plans that help our state not only to meet these stringent requirements, but also for taking on the ever changing and important work of serving the special needs of children with disabilities. Your hard work and determination is vital to our education system and to our state.

Hampden Academy Recognized for their Dedication to Creating a Climate of Inclusion

Submitted by Cindy Carlisle, Student Data Specialist for Regional School Unit  22.

Hampden Academy in RSU 22 was named on ESPN Honor Roll for 2019 — a list of top 34 schools from across the country — as part of its Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools National Recognition Program.

A “Unified Champion School” is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence developed by a panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The aim of Unified Champion Schools is to incorporate Special Olympics sports, leadership and related activities that empower the youth to be the agents of change in their communities. shifting the focus from the events to that of a whole school movement for inclusion. Special education and general education students — along with educators and administrators — are encouraged to work together to create supportive classrooms, schoolwide activities and opportunities for growth and success for all.

See the full list here

PRIORITY NOTICE: Mandatory Annual Notification of Eligibility for Schoolwide Programs

Updated annual notification of eligibility for schoolwide programs 

Schools that receive federal Title I funds, have poverty rates of at least 40 percent and have approved Title IA Schoolwide Plans are eligible to use their Title I funds – and funds from other sources – to develop “schoolwide programs.”

Schoolwide programs are comprehensive reform strategies, aimed at raising the achievement levels of all students.

To facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities in schoolwide programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal regulations at 34 CFR §300.206(a) allow school administrative units to use a portion of the funds they receive under Part B of IDEA for any fiscal year to fund such schoolwide programs.

SAUs can use those funds, as long as students with disabilities receive the services to which they are entitled under their Individualized Education Programs and that are guaranteed under IDEA.

The amount of Part B funds a school expends for schoolwide programs cannot exceed the amount the SAU has received for that fiscal year, divided by the number of children with disabilities in that unit, multiplied by the number of children with disabilities participating in the schoolwide program.

For more information, contact Maine DOE’s Title I Coordinator Monique Sullivan at monique.sullivan@maine.gov, or Acting Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov.

 

Maine Care Billing, What We Know

A number of schools have contacted us to ask for an update on the requirement that IEPs list Maine Care paid, medically necessary services for children with disabilities. Because the requirements for billing for Maine Care exceed what is required and typically included on the IEP, we will need to work with DHHS to find a mutually acceptable solution.  Please see our website (bottom right of page- recently changed forms) for our updated IEP form.  We are in contact with DHHS and the Maine Care School Liaison to assist in providing details to our colleagues in the field. At this time, we do not anticipate any further clarification or decisions until October, when we will be pursuing a discussion with federal contacts at the annual National Alliance for Medicaid and Education conference. We are advocating for a simplification of the process and documentation, and a narrowing of requirements.

We will keep you informed as we pursue information and answers, appreciate your patience, and welcome your feedback. For more information, please contact Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov.

Reminder Regarding Conditionally Certified Special Education Teachers

As districts are finishing their hiring for the year, please remember that new, conditionally certified special education teachers who are beginning their first year of teaching with this status are required to contact Valerie Smith Valerie.smith@maine.edu (207) 581-2419 to participate in Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program. MACM offers intensive, structured mentoring and coursework for new conditionally certified special educators. The program helps these teachers to work toward their professional certification and to become fully certified special educators. For more information on MACM please visit https://umaine.edu/edhd/research-outreach/macm/