Teams advance to Farm to School Cook-off Finals Competition

 

The Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition office kicked off their 4th annual Farm to School Cook-off last month. Cook-off teams representing nine school districts from across Maine participated in the event. The teams, consisting of a student and school nutrition staff member, served up tasty and nutritious breakfast and lunch meals within a specific time frame that showcased Maine grown ingredients. Apples donated from Ricker Hill Orchards and dried black beans donated from Fairwinds Farm were used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition. The regional cook-off’s were hosted by the culinary arts programs at the Lake Region Vocational Center, Bath Regional Career and Technical Center and Eastern Maine Community College.

South Portland, RSU 12, and Cherryfield will be advancing to the Farm to School Cook-off finals competition on April 23rd from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kennebec Valley Community College- Alfond Campus in Clinton. A panel of judges including a student, chef and school nutrition director, will score the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity, and feasibility to be used in a school breakfast or lunch program. Other criteria will include food safety and time management.

The winning team will be awarded a plaque and have the opportunity to be spokespeople and participate on the judging panel for the cook off in School Year 2020.  Recipes used in the cook-off will later be shared with all schools in a Maine farm to school cook-book.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the final cook-off but need to confirm prior to the day of the event.

For more information about the event, please contact Stephanie Stambach at stephanie.stambach@maine.gov, or to confirm media coverage, contact: Kelli Deveaux at kelli.deveaux@maine.gov or 207-624-6747.

New Homeschool Portal and SAU Superintendent Office Online Entry Underway

The Department is pleased to announce the opening of the new Online NEO Homeschool Portal for school year 2019-2020, and the more efficient Notice of Intent to Homeschool form. The new portal brings some changes to the Homeschool Notice process, including an enhanced role for superintendents and/or SAU homeschool administrative designees who will now share responsibility for entering information into the new portal.

Summary of changes:

  • Parents submitting a Notice for 2019-2020 no longer need to submit the information in two places or use certified mail to ensure the delivery of the form. They may use one of the three methods described below.
  • The portal will be the point of entry for parents. Superintendents or SAU and DOE homeschool administrative designees who enter information on behalf of resident parents who choose option 2 or 3 below will also utilize the portal for data entry.
  • The new Notice of Intent to Homeschool combines and replaces the previous Notice of Intent and Subsequent Year forms.

The new portal will allow parents to submit the Notice of Intent and Subsequent Year Letter and assessments once in one of three ways:

  1. Enter information directly on the new NEO online homeschool portal, and upload prior year required assessment information;
  2. Complete the form by hand and take it, with prior year required assessments, to the resident Superintendent’s Office for upload and entry into the system; OR
  3. Complete the new paper form and mail it with prior year required assessments to the Department of Education or to the Superintendent’s Office, where it will be entered into the new system.

Submission using one of the below methods will result in the automatic generation of an acknowledgement to the parent/guardian via email; please ensure that a valid and correct email address has been provided.

Superintendents and/or designees will utilize the new online homeschool portal in NEO in 2019-2020 to:

  • Enter paper forms received from parents. The Department will also be entering paper forms, so a duplicate check must be performed prior to entry.
  • Assist resident parents in completing the online homeschool process.
  • View a list of all the resident homeschool students in the Superintendent’s SAU.
  • Comply with homeschool roster requirements in Maine DOE Rule Chapter 125, sec.12.02 Roster of Resident, Tuition, and Transfer Students
  1. A) The superintendent of each school administrative unit shall maintain a roster of all resident and tuition students attending schools operated by the unit.
  2. B) The superintendent of each school administrative unit shall maintain a roster of all students eligible to attend school within the unit who are receiving equivalent instruction in an approved or non-approved private school, or in an approved equivalent instruction program.

Parents may read Maine’s statute related to homeschooling, including information about required assessments using this link: Title 20-A, Section 5001-A, Sub-section 3(A)(4).

Please note that online Homeschool Portal functionality works for the 2019-2020 school year forward; it may not be used for 2018-2019 school year homeschool students.

Please direct any questions or concerns to our Pamela Ford-Taylor at pamela.ford-taylor@maine.gov or 207-624-6617.

New Visual Tool Available to Help Communicate Purpose of the MEAs

With the upcoming MEA testing window opening soon, the Maine Department of Education has created a visual tool to help schools and districts when communicating with families and communities about the Maine Educational Assessments (MEAs). The tool outlines why Maine administers a state assessment to students, what scores are used for, and why participation in the MEAs is important.

The tool is available as a graphic visual and as a text-only accessible version:

Why Participation Matters (Graphic Visual – PDF)

Why Participation Matters (Text Version – PDF)

For further questions, please visit Maine DOE Maine Comprehensive Assessment System Website.

 

Administrative Letter: Clarification on Requirement to Ensure Parents’ Meaningful Access to IEP Information

Administrative Letter: #23
Policy Code:  BGE
To: Public School Administrators, Special Ed. Directors, EL Coordinators/Directors, and ESOL Teachers
From: Pender Makin, Commissioner
Date:  March 12, 2019
Subject: Clarification on Requirement to Ensure Parents’ Meaningful Access to IEP Information

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees parents’ right to receive communication from their children’s schools in a language they can understand. The US Department of Education has provided guidance (PDF) clarifying that, “State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have flexibility in determining what mix of oral and written translation services may be necessary and reasonable for communicating the required information to parents with limited English proficiency.”

For parents of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), LEAs must ensure that parents are able to understand the proceedings of the IEP meeting and access the IEP document as needed.

In a 2007 letter (PDF) to Conway Public Schools in Arkansas, the Office of Special Education (OSEP) indicated that, “while providing written translations of IEP documents is not required under IDEA, we believe in some circumstances it may help to show that a parent has been fully informed of the services his or her child will be receiving.”

A 2016 Dear Colleague Letter (PDF) from OSEP states that, “Under Title VI, all vital documents, including a student’s IEP, must be accessible to Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents, but that does not necessarily mean that all vital documents must be translated for every language in the district. For example, a timely and complete oral interpretation or translated summary of a vital document might suffice in some circumstances. A district must, however, be prepared to provide timely and complete translated IEPs to provide meaningful access to the IEP and the parental rights that attach to it. This is because a parent needs meaningful access to the IEP not just during the IEP meeting, but also across school years to monitor the child’s progress and ensure that IEP services are provided.”

This notice does not serve as legal advice, and LEAs should consult legal staff and/or the Office for Civil Rights for guidance pertaining to their specific contexts.

The Maine Department of Education would like to acknowledge and thank Maine’s special education directors, administrators, and educators for ensuring federal and state regulations for educating students with special needs are met, and for their ongoing dedication to the students and families that these processes serve.

For further information about translation/interpretation please contact April Perkins, Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III at (207) 624-6627 or april.perkins@maine.gov. For further information about supporting students with an IEP, please contact Maine DOE’s Office of Special Services at (207) 624-6713.

Press Release: Nominations Now Open for Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor Awards

Volunteers are the heartbeat of Maine and it is volunteer recognition season.  Nominations are currently being accepted for the Governor’s Service Awards, Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor and Young Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor.

Since 1987, the Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism have celebrated and recognized the role of citizen volunteers in the success and vitality of Maine communities.  At the same time, the awards seek to inspire others to be active in civic life and follow in the footsteps of those recognized.

Teachers and coaches are encouraged to submit nominations for student groups if each member of the group meets the 50-hour minimum requirement. Please note that any hours of volunteer time completed for graduation can also be counted towards the minimum obligation for this award program.

Awardees will be honored at the statewide Roll of Honor Recognition Ceremony that will be held at the Messalonskee High School in the J. Duke Albanese Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 14, 2019.

Nomination submissions must be sent electronically by or before the deadline date of Friday, March 15, 2019.  For information on how to submit nominations, visit the Volunteer Maine website.

This program is administered by the Maine Commission for Community Service, which strives to build capacity and sustainability in Maine’s volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy. For more information about the Maine Commission for Community Service, visit their website.