Special Programs

Identification of English Language Learners (ELL) Coordinator

Vanessa Valley
English Teacher and ELL
vvalley@mainevirtual.org
Maine Virtual Academy
c/o Ballard Center
6 E Chestnut Street, Suite 230
Augusta, ME 04330
207.613.8900

Identification of Section 504 Coordinator

Danielle Pouzol
Special Education Coordinator
dpouzol@mainevirtual.org
Maine Virtual Academy
c/o Ballard Center
6 E Chestnut Street, Suite 230
Augusta, ME 04330
207.613.8900

Identification of Homeless Liaison

Dr. Melinda Browne
Head of School
mbrowne@mainevirtual.org
Maine Virtual Academy
c/o Ballard Center
6 E Chestnut Street, Suite 230
Augusta, ME 04330
207.613.8900

Identification of Foster Care Coordinator

Danielle Pouzol
Special Education Coordinator
dpouzol@mainevirtual.org
Maine Virtual Academy
c/o Ballard Center
6 E Chestnut Street, Suite 230
Augusta, ME 04330
207.613.8900

Identification of American with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance Act Coordinator/Special Programs Manager

Danielle Pouzol
Special Education Coordinator
dpouzol@mainevirtual.org
Maine Virtual Academy
c/o Ballard Center
6 E Chestnut Street, Suite 230
Augusta, ME 04330
207.613.8900

Request for Parent/Guardian Interpreter Services or Disability Accommodations

Professional interpreter services and or disability accommodations may be requested at any time for parents/guardians of by contacting the HOS, Dr. Melinda Browne at mbrowne@mainevirtual.org.

Additionally, if any parent/guardian has a disability or other limitation that would impact their ability to participate fully in their child’s educational planning process, MEVA would be happy to discuss accommodations that may be available in order to maximize the parent/guardian’s participation. Individuals seeking to discuss accommodations for this reason may contact Dr. Melinda Browne at mbrowne@mainevirtual.org.

Procedural Safeguards

In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirement that all educational agencies provide parents of students with disabilities notice containing a full explanation of the procedural safeguards available under the IDEA and U.S. Department of Education regulations, please click https://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/laws/proceduralsafeguards/index.html to review the Procedural Safeguards Notice.

Annual Public Notice of Special Services & Programs

In accordance with federal and state regulations, Maine Virtual Academy will provide an annual public notice to families informing them of MEVAs child find responsibilities, procedures involved in the identification of educational disabilities and determination of students’ service and support needs.

Families are encouraged to review the following information that describes these regulations. Information regarding Maine Virtual Academy's internal practices to comply with these will be available in the Maine Virtual Academy Special Programs Manuals and Handbooks.

Child Find

Maine Virtual Academy seeks to ensure that all students within its school are identified, located and evaluated who are school-age (5 through the school year in which they turn 20) and who are in need of special education and supportive assistance - including homeless children, state wards, state agency clients, students who have been suspended or expelled, students receiving home instruction, children incarcerated in county jails, children who have the equivalent of 10 full days of unexcused absences or 7 consecutive school days of unexcused absences during the school year, highly mobile children (including migrant or homeless), and children who are suspected of being disabled and in need of special education and supportive assistance even though they are advancing from grade to grade.

MEVA’s child find responsibility shall be accomplished through a school-wide process which, while not a definitive or final judgment of a student’s capabilities or disability, is a possible indicator of special education needs. Final identification of students with disabilities and programming for such students occurs only after an appropriate evaluation and a determination by the IEP Team.

The child find process shall include obtaining data on each child through multiple measures, direct assessment and parent information regarding the child’s academic and functional performance, gross and fine motor skills, receptive and expressive language skills, vision, hearing and cognitive skills.

Parent/Guardian permission and involvement is a vital piece in the process. Once a student has been identified as having a "suspected disability" or identified as having a disability, Maine Virtual Academy will ask the student or the student’s Parent/Guardian for information about the child such as:

  • How has the suspected disability or identified disability hindered the student’s learning?
  • What has been done, educationally, to intervene and correct the student’s emerging learning deficits?
  • What educational or medical information relative to the suspected disability or identified disability is available to be shared with the school?

If the child find process indicates that a student may require special education and supportive services in order to benefit from regular education, the student shall be referred to the IEP Team to determine the student’s eligibility for special education services. School staff, parents or agency representatives or other individuals with knowledge of the child may refer children to the IEP team if they believe that the student, because of a disability, may be in need of special education and supportive services in order to benefit from regular education. Such a referral should follow the school’s pre-referral and referral policy.

Statutory Reference: 34 CFR § 300.111 (2066)

Ch. 101, IV (2) (2007 (Me. Dept. of Educ. Regulations)

Consent

Maine Virtual Academy cannot proceed with an evaluation, or with the initial provision of special education and related services, without the written consent of a student’s parents/legal guardians. For additional information related to consent, please refer to the Procedural Safeguards Notice which can be found at the Maine Department of Education website https://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/laws/proceduralsafeguards/. Once written parental/guardian consent is obtained, Maine Virtual Academy will proceed with the evaluation process. If the parent disagrees with the evaluation results, the parent can request an independent education evaluation at public expense.

Special Education (IEP) or Service Agreements (504 Plans)

Once the evaluation process is completed, a team of qualified school personnel, parents/guardians, and other relevant service providers hold an evaluation determination meeting to come to agreement on whether the student meets eligibility for one of the disability categories under IDEA (Click https://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea/ for information related to eligibility criteria associated with the disability categories defined under IDEA).  If the student is eligible and requires specially designed instruction, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be coordinated; during which the IEP team will review and finalize the proposed details of an appropriate educational program to meet the student’s documented needs.

For students confirmed to present with special education needs, once the IEP team agrees on the IEP and the student’s educational placement, a Prior Written Notice (PWN) will sent to the parent/guardian for signature. This must be signed and returned to Maine Virtual Academy. MEVA can only proceed with implementing the student’s IEP (or 504 Plan) upon receipt of the signed PWN. Some students are found to present with one or more disability, but do not meet the eligibility criteria outlined under IDEA (special education); however their disability may still require Maine Virtual Academy to develop a 504 Service Agreement (504 Plan) to outline the special provisions a student may require for adaptations and/or accommodations in school-based instruction, facilities, and/or activities.

Students may be eligible to certain accommodations or services if they have a mental or physical disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the school program and otherwise qualify under the applicable laws. Maine Virtual Academy will ensure that qualified students with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in the school program and activities to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, Maine Virtual Academy will provide students with disabilities the necessary educational services and supports they require to access and benefit from their educational program. This is to be done without discrimination or out of pocket cost to the student or family for the essential supplementary aids, services or accommodations determined to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the student's abilities and to the extent required by the laws. Click  https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html for more information related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Active of 1973.

Parents/Guardians have the right to revoke consent for services after initial placement. Please note, a revocation of consent removes the student from ALL special services and supports outlined on the IEP or 504 Plan. Parents who request that their child be taken out of special education must provide the request in writing and will be provided a summary of their student’s current academic and functional performance. The case manager will complete the revocation process with the parent/guardian, which requires a signature. The completed paperwork, i.e., the signed revocation form and the summary of performance paperwork will be completed and filed in the student’s physical file.

Privacy and Confidentiality

To maintain privacy of students’ special education records, both within its central office and across school systems and databases, Maine Virtual Academy follows protocols consistent with the federal regulations associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Click https://meva.k12.com/privacy-policy.html for additional information about the privacy and security guidelines for your child’s educational records.

Accommodations:

Notice of these rights is available, upon request, on audiotape, in Braille, and in

languages other than English. Should you need further assistance or information regarding any of these accommodations, please contact Dr. Melinda Browne, Head of School at mbrowne@mainevirtual.org for guidance.

Translation Needs:

Click here https://translate.google.com/ to translate text to a language other than English.

Special Education Grievances or Disputes

Maine Virtual Academy recognizes that despite best intentions of all parties, disagreements or miscommunications may arise between the school-based team and MEVA families or students. Should this situation occur, the MEVA special education case manager will initiate an IEP team discussion where the specific details contributing to any educational concern are fully discussed and addressed as the entire team determines would consider most appropriate for the student. Collaboration is a primary focus for this type of meeting, and the MEVA Special Education Team seeks to establish and maintain the confidence of its families to always serve its students in order to maximize their educational success.

Dispute Resolution Options

Disputes that are resolved at the local level may preserve and even strengthen the relationship between the school and the parent. While the parent always has the right to request Mediation or a Due Process Hearing and should always be informed of this right, many times issues can be resolved at a less intense level as system personnel and parents seek mutual understanding and agreement. The following four (4) step process may be used to resolve problems before they grow to the level requiring Mediation or a Due Process Hearing:

Step One: Contact the assigned Special Education Teacher or Special Education Manager via  email and/or by phone.

Step Two: Hold an IEP team meeting to discuss concerns of the IEP team members.

Step Three: If ‘Step Two’ is unsuccessful, contact the MEVA Head of School via email and/or by phone.

Step Four: If ‘Step Three’ is unsuccessful, contact the MEVA Governing Board Chair via email and/or phone.

Although the goal should always be to resolve disputes at the local level, sometimes situations require the assistance of persons not directly involved with the issues at hand.

  • IEP Facilitation – IEP facilitation is a voluntary process that can be utilized when all parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and the successful drafting of the student’s IEP. This process is not necessary for most IEP meetings. Rather, it is most often utilized when there is a sense from any of the participants that the issues at the IEP meeting are creating an impasse or acrimonious climate.
  • Mediation – A voluntary process in which both parties seek to resolve the issues involved in the concern with an unbiased, third party mediator from the Maine Department of Education. The mediator who will write up the details of the agreement that the parties come to through the mediation conference, the agreement is signed by both parties, and thus what the document states is mandated to be implemented; This process is overall less time-consuming, less stressful, and less expensive to complete than a due process hearing

Families are NOT obligated to pursue the above alternatives to due process should they feel their concerns can only be resolved through a formal due process hearing.  If a family believes  a formal complaint against Maine Virtual Academy is  necessary the complaint may be submitted to the  Maine Department Of Education at https://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/support/dispute/procedures/complaintinvestigation.html