Phil Bartlett, Maine State Senate District Six  
 
 

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Senators Bartlett and Bromley Fear that Proposed Special Ed Rules Could Leave Children Behind

January 11, 2007

Senators Philip Bartlett II, D-Cumberland County , and Lynn Bromley, D-Cumberland County , have formally commented against the imposition of new state rules governing special education. The proposal would mandate that pre-schoolers receiving services through Child Development Services (CDS) obtain those services in public schools, and calls for changing eligibility criteria in ways that could result in fewer children receiving services.

“I am deeply concerned that the proposed rules, as written, could negatively impact some of Maine ’s most vulnerable children,” said Senator Bartlett. “Specifically, I have reservations about placing all pre-schoolers in schools to receive services. Is this an appropriate setting for such young children, and if it is, will the schools be reimbursed for the additional space and personnel required? Further, the proposed modifications to the eligibility criteria could prevent children from receiving services at a critical point in their development, services they need to be successful.”

“I am very disappointed with this rule change,” Senator Bromley stated. “It appears as though children will only qualify for services, or in fact can be dropped from services, unless there is PROOF of “an adverse effect on academics.” Further, and most disturbing, the rules require that the disability’s impact on academics be pervasive over a six month period. This means that parents would have to watch their child “fail academically” for six months – two thirds of a school year – before special education supports services could be made available. We can do better.”

Bartlett also expressed concern about the timing of the proposed rule changes. “There is a major task force (the Subcommittee to Study Early Childhood Special Education) looking at the same rules and it will be issuing its report soon,” said Bartlett . “It seems foolish to change these rules prior to considering the recommendations of this task force, recommendations that could well necessitate further rule changes.”

Information concerning the rule change is located at this Web site.

Written comments on the rule change are due by 5:00 pm January 22, 2007 and may be submitted by:

  • Delivering them to the receptionist on the 5th Floor of the Burton M. Cross State Office Building in Augusta ;
  • Mailing them to Joanne C. Holmes, Federal Liaison, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0023;
  • Faxing them to Joanne C. Holmes at 207-624-6601; or,
  • Emailing them to jaci.holmes@maine.gov.

Senator Bartlett of Gorham is the Senate Chair of the Utilities & Energy Committee, and also serves on the Natural Resources Committee. Senator Bromley lives in South Portland and is Senate Chair of the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee. For more information, contact Senator Bartlett or Senator Bromley at (207) 287-1515.