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.

Changes in Joint Rule Chapters 126/261: Immunization Requirements for School Children

This notice is to inform you of the recent changes to the joint rule (Chapter 126/261), Immunization Requirements for School Children, (statutory authority, Title 20-A §6352). The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education have revised the Maine School Immunization Requirements rule to now include meningococcal meningitis disease. These changes further align Maine’s immunization rules with current national recommendations to better protect the health of all Maine people. Meningococcal disease is a rare, but dangerous disease that strikes healthy young people without warning. It can affect all ages, but teens and young adults are at highest risk of getting the disease.

The following changes are effective for the 2018-2019 school year for all students attending a public or private school in the State of Maine:

  • One dose of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 (serogroups A, C, W, and Y) is required for all students entering 7th grade.
  • Two doses of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 are required for students entering 12th grade, with a minimum interval of 8 weeks between dose one and dose two. If the first dose of meningococcal vaccine was administered on or after the 16th birthday, a second dose is not required.

For your convenience, the Department has prepared a sample notification letter that your school may use to inform parents/guardians of the above changes to the immunization rule.

Additionally, the DHHS  has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions attached with more information. As a reminder, no student is permitted to be enrolled in or attend a public or private school in Maine without providing either a certificate of immunization or a written medical, religious or philosophical exemption for each required school entry vaccine.

Please ensure all 7th and 12th grade student records are updated by the first day of the 2018-2019 school year for this new meningococcal meningitis requirement. If you have questions regarding this new meningococcal meningitis vaccine requirement, record keeping or immunization history reviews please contact Emily Poland, School Nurse Consultant at (207) 624-6688 or by email at Emily.Poland@maine.gov.

If you have immunization specific questions regarding vaccine schedules or validity of any doses given to a student, please contact the Maine Immunization Program at (207) 287-3746 or (800) 867-4775 or by email at ImmunizeME.DHHS@maine.gov.

Maine students among top scorers in national cyber security program

Maine students recently took part in the GirlsGoCyberStart program, a national opportunity that features fun, technical challenges and games to inspire the next generation of cyber security professionals.

Promoted by Governor Paul R. LePage, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Office of Information Technology, the program took place February 20th through the 25th of 2018 with students from all over Maine participating.

GirlsGoCyberStart was available to the first 10,000 girls who registered with teams of 1-4 students. 18 states participated and 5 of Maine’s 60 plus teams that participated, ranked in the top 100 scorers. Participants on the top three Maine teams were awarded prizes.

Maine’s top five scoring teams were from the following high schools (in order of scoring):

  1. Bangor High School, Penobscot County
  2. Thornton Academy, York County
  3. Portland High School, Cumberland County
  4. Falmouth High School, Cumberland County
  5. Maine Connections Academy, Cumberland County

More details about the scoring can be found on the GirlsGoCyberStart website and more details about Maine team’s scores can be found on the Maine scores page of the GirlsGoCyberStart website.

Districts are encouraged to celebrate April as the Month of the Military Child

The Maine Department of Education is encouraging local school districts and the greater education community to celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April this year by participating in any of the following ways.

In coordination with the National MIC3 Council, on April 9th the Department encourages students to create posters either thanking military children and their parents for their service, or if a student has parents in the military, they can create a poster that reflects their experience as military child.

In addition to having students create posters, the Department is also encouraging education communities and students to “Purple Up” for military children on April 9th (or another day that makes sense for each individual community). Purple Up refers to wearing the color purple for the day to recognize and celebrate the Month of the Military Child. With the permission of participants, we encourage local schools to take a group picture and post it on social media. When posting pictures, if you tag Maine DOE’s official Facebook  and/or Twitter page and we will share your picture with our social media audiences.

In addition, this month on April 17th, military children will be Legislative Pages for both Maine State Senate and House Chambers. For those that work, visit and plan on being present at the Maine State House building on April 17th, please Purple Up to show your support. We also encourage all Maine DOE staff and legislators to Purple Up in support of military children on this day.

For further questions and information on how to participate in the Month of the Military child please contact Maine DOE Military Family Education Liaison, Tyler Backus at Tyler.Backus@maine.gov.

Maine DOE offers new resource to help local districts monitor student growth in reading

The Maine Department of Education (Department) will begin using a universal reading metric called The Lexile® Framework for Reading to help Maine school districts monitor student growth and progress.

The Lexile Framework, which aligns with Maine’s State eMPowerME Assessments administered to grades 3 through 8 (among many other nationally used assessments), will allow districts to benchmark reading growth and assist with a comparison of data across commercial assessments.

“The framework will provide all schools in Maine with an additional resource to enhance classroom instruction,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. “It will also help schools in their efforts to support families working at home with their children.”

The Lexile Framework was created by MetaMetrics® and provides a scientific approach to measuring growth and matching students to ability-appropriate learning materials. The Lexile Framework involves a scale for measuring both the reading ability of an individual and the text complexity of materials he or she encounters.

Content specialists at the Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with MetaMetrics, are beginning to prepare professional development opportunities that align with Lexile Framework data to help districts make instruction improvements based on student need.

The new resource is available through funds from Title I grant money from the U.S. Department of Education and administered by Maine’s Department staff, with ongoing professional learning opportunities to support statewide implementation.

Set to become available late spring/early summer, districts will be able to start using the new resource to monitor growth beginning in the 2018/19 school year, both within a single school year and from year-to-year going forward.

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