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April 3rd 2012 L.D. 765 Update

The linked memo indicates that Maine’s DOE intends to solve its special ed. Compliance problem by reallocating funds from vocational rehabilitation and independent living services for blind adults. As you know, if this effort succeeds, it would have a devastating impact on vocational rehabilitation services for transition-age students and adults as well as independent living services due to the loss of federal matching funds that will result along with penalties for failure to meet the federal maintenance of effort requirements.

It is necessary either to strike the proposed change to the DBVI enabling act now included in L.D. 765 as amended, or to revert to the language proposed by Representative Paul Davis at the L.C.R.E.D. work session on February 10th which would have included the (so called) “children first” language in the Memorandum Of Understanding (“MOU”) between DOE and DBVI. There is no problem including the children first language in the Memorandum Of Understanding as Representative Paul Davis proposed. In fact, the language Representative Davis proposed was carefully crafted by DOL staff with input from DOE in advance of the February 10th work
session.

For Maine’s DOE to work behind the scenes to change this carefully crafted language after the February 10th work session shows a reckless disregard by Maine’s Commissioner of Education for the loss of federal matching funds which would have a disastrous impact on vocational rehabilitation and independent living services for blind and visually impaired adults and transition-age students. Furthermore, this behind the scenes change in the language of L.D. 765 has resulted in a potential change to the DBVI enabling act without the benefit of any public hearing or public discussion at a work session. This is not the way Maine’s law making process is supposed to work and it is not designed to work this way because it leads to bad public policy.

It is more important than ever to let members of the Appropriations Committee know that:

  • The proposed change to the DBVI enabling act needs to be
    stricken from L.D. 765; and
  • New money must be found for the funding initiatives in L.D. 765.

We are working with consumer groups and the SRC to DBVI in an effort to encourage people to contact members of the Appropriations Committee with this message. Your help spreading the word to your colleagues including DBVI staff and retired professionals who may continue to have an
interest in services is particularly important. Thanks for all your efforts to get the message out to folks who can call or write to members of the Appropriations Committee.

Read the memo

As always, if you or others have questions, please let me know!
–Jim

 
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