Maine Unified Special Education Regulations, Chapter 101, governs the provision of equal educational opportunities for all Maine students with disabilities between the ages of 5 and 20 enrolled in public schools. Each school unit must ensure that students with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education (F.A.P.E.) in the least restrictive educational environment, per state regulations, as well as the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
The special education process for which school units are responsible has several components. In brief, the process includes a child find process to determine which students may have disabilities that would require referral to a Individualized Education Program Team (I.E.P. Team). A second phase includes more individualized evaluations of each referred student and a discussion of the evaluative and other data by the I.E.P. team composed of school staff and parents. Other persons who have knowledge of the student may be invited to attend the I.E.P. team meeting at which it is determined:
A. Whether the student is a student with a disability in need of special educational services; AND:
B. What special education and supportive services are appropriate for the student's educational needs.
Once these determinations are made, the I.E.P. team will write an Individualized Education Program (I.E.P.) for the student.
The provision of a free appropriate public education and the placement of the student will be made according to the provisions of the I.E.P. The I.E.P. will be developed and placement will be made in accordance with the principle of the "least restrictive environment".
The special education process affords special rights to students with disabilities and their parents through "due process" protections. A parent must be involved in the evaluation, identification, development of the student's Individualized Education Program and the placement of the student in a special education placement. If the parent does not agree with the proposed or refused evaluation, identification, program or placement, the parent may request mediation, file a complaint or request a due process hearing.