Administrative Letter: Important changes in documenting medical services in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Administrative Letter: 13
Policy Code: BGB
To: Public School Administrators and Special Education Directors
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed. D. Commissioner
Date: April 14, 2018
Subject: Important changes in documenting medical services in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

The Maine Department of Education has instituted new requirements for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) beginning May 1, 2018. This guidance is offered in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of this change is to clarify the documentation of educationally and medically necessary services on the IEP aligning to Section 65 and Section 28 of the MaineCare Benefits Manual.  These changes will ensure compliance with documentation required for access to MaineCare benefits.

When an IEP Team determines that the nature and severity of a child’s educational needs are significant enough that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (MUSER X.2.B. page 120), the least restrictive environment (LRE) statement must reflect the fact that certain services will be necessary in order for the child to access the curriculum.

Beginning May 1, 2018, the Department requires that newly developed or amended IEPs contain justification for medically and educationally necessary services such as day treatment services, rehabilitation services, nursing services, or other medical services that a child needs in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Other educationally and medically necessary services such as speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work services, and transportation are already listed in the service grid. The justification will be stated in the least restrictive environment section (LRE) of the IEP (Section 9).

The LRE statement must include information that would justify MaineCare paid educationally necessary medical services. An example of such a statement is the following: “Due to the child’s complex medical needs, the child requires a highly-structured setting with a predictable routine, clear and consistent consequences and integrated therapy for social and emotional needs in a significantly more restrictive day treatment setting”.  Please note that an LRE statement might include additional explanation and that the above example is not intended to necessarily model a complete LRE statement.

Beginning May 1, 2018, schools are requested to write an LRE statement similar to the above example depending on the specific needs of the child.  When the revised IEP form goes into effect on August 1, 2018, it will still be important to develop an appropriate LRE statement but the documentation for MaineCare purposes will be in section 8, “Additional Medical Services for FAPE”.

A draft copy of the revised IEP form can be accessed at the following site:  http://maine.gov/doe/specialed/forms/index.htmlPlease note: this form is only a draft and the revised IEP form will change before implementation on August 1, 2018. 

Further guidance will be included in a revision of the procedural manual available on the Special Services webpage sometime before the August 1 date.  For more information, contact the Department of Education – Office of Special Services at (207) 624 -6713.

Maine Education Assessments (MEA) Student Test Status Extended 3/16/18

The Department is extending the period to identify a student’s test type as “alternate” or “general” until March 16 in order to allow districts sufficient time to complete their updates.

All students participating in the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) for mathematics and ELA/Literacy or the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP) for science must be identified in the Synergy Student Information System by March 16.

Students that are not identified in the Special Education Student Services module of Synergy will participate in the grade 3 – 8 mathematics and ELA/Literacy eMPowerME test, or the or the high school mathematics and ELA/Literacy SAT test.

For further information regarding alternate assessment testing contact Sue Nay at sue.nay@maine.gov or 624-6774. For technical assistance with Synergy contact the Helpdesk at MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 624-6896.

Comments sought on Maine’s IDEA Part B application

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking comments from the public on its annual application for federal funds under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which covers services to children with disabilities, ages 3-20.

The application, which covers Maine fiscal year 2019 (starting July 1, 2018) is posted on the Maine DOE’s webpage at http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea. The Part B budget is projected on the basis of Maine’s award for the current State fiscal year (2018), pending the State’s receipt of the finalized federal award for the coming year. Both documents will be posted from March 8th, 2018 through May 8th, 2018.

Written comments will be accepted from March 9th, 2018 until 4 p.m. on Friday, April 6th, 2018. Please send comments to Janice Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME. 04333.

Early Start Maine Earns National Recognition for Infant and Early Childhood Intervention

Early Start Maine, a program funded by federal grants for special education administered through the Maine Department of Education, has received the national 2018 Exemplary Program Award for Infant and Early Childhood Intervention services by the American Council on Rural Special Education, the national organization devoted entirely to special education in rural America.

Early Start Maine is housed at the University of Maine and works throughout the state to support young children with autism and their families. In collaboration with Child Development Services (CDS), Early Start Maine provides training, professional development, and technical assistance to early intervention service providers working with toddlers with autism. The program’s comprehensive early intervention system has positively affected services provided to children with autism and their families.

This national award is granted annually for programs that demonstrate exemplary programs providing service to rural communities, involving the community, and having a significant impact on rural special education.

For more information about this award, see https://umaine.edu/autisminstitute/2018/02/20/maier-early-start-maine-program-receives-national-recognition/

Seeking special education mentors for MACM Program

Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring (MACM) Program is seeking up to 50 practicing or recently retired special educators interested in mentoring conditionally certified first-year teachers for 2018-2019. Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring program is a collaboration between Maine DOE and the UMaine System.

The mentorship position requires the following:

Current or recently expired certification and endorsements in 282, 286, 290, or 291 and at least 5 years of experience supporting students with disabilities. Special education directors and recently retired educators are also encouraged to apply. Must be available to attend training in late June 2018.

For more information and to apply – view the online application.

About Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program

For conditionally certified special educators, Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program offers intensive, ongoing support and mentoring for up to three years from an experienced special educator in the same area of practice. Find out more information about the MACM Program.