Pandemic, staff shortages take toll on education services for students with disabilities – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel

by | Nov 13, 2022 | Education

Maine schools are failing to provide legally required services to students with disabilities at record-high rates as districts struggle with staffing shortages made worse by the pandemic, according to complaint data and interviews with advocates and educators.
The number of complaints about schools not providing disability services more than doubled in the past two years and is on pace to rise again this year. The number of complaints is small compared with the total number of students receiving disability services, but advocates say the complaints to state and federal agencies represent a very small percentage of the students not receiving legally required services.
Between July 2019 and June 2020, the year the pandemic hit, 39 complaints of disability service violations were filed with the Maine Department of Education. During the first full year of pandemic learning, that number jumped to 72, and in the second year, it rose to 83. Between July 1 and late October, the department received 36 parent complaints, and with eight months left of the school year it is on track to far surpass the number of complaints filed last year. Between 2008 and 2020, around 60% of complaints filed in Maine resulted in findings of noncompliance.

Federal and state laws require that …

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