Student Disability Advisor — Maine

Students with disabilities may face obstacles along their journey toward an education. Like other pupils, they will encounter academic challenges, social and peer pressures, and the prerequisites for graduating with a diploma or degree. Although students with disabilities may have different forms of adversity to overcome than others, that doesn't mean they're alone in their pursuits. According to one study, one in five students enrolled in higher education programs nationwide live with an emotional, mental, or physical disability. Fortunately, state and federal laws afford disabled students reasonable accommodations for qualifying conditions at any level of education, including post-graduate programs. However, schools in Maine sometimes fail in their obligations, putting students with disabilities at risk of falling behind in their education. If your primary or secondary school, college or university, or other educational program fails to recognize your disability or provide reasonable accommodations, contact national education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento. He and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team are prepared to fight for your disability rights and make sure you have access to an equal education.

Disabled Student Rights in Maine

Disability Accommodations in Maine

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights contends that K-12 school students are guaranteed a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) until they graduate with a diploma or turn 21. For students with qualifying disabilities, institutions must provide reasonable accommodations to fulfill FAPE requirements. Moreover, primary and secondary schools must instruct students in the "least restrictive environment," which means that disabled students must not be excluded from majority in-school populations. The leading federal law providing and protecting access to disability accommodations is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The act requires schools to identify student disabilities for the purposes of assisting them toward graduation. School officials will manage a student's education with an individualized education plan (IEP), which may be revisited for adjustment once a year. Similarly, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act directs Maine's institutions of higher education to deliver academic, facility, and scheduling accommodations to students that have qualifying disabilities. Such accommodations may include devices, equipment, or software to augment a student's senses or mobility, classroom conversions, schedule alterations, substitute testing methods, and others.

ADA Issues and Lawsuits in Maine

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also states that colleges and universities must accommodate qualifying disabilities under federal law. The ADA covers a multitude of physical disabilities, diseases, and disorders, like matters dealing with the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems. But intellectual and emotional disabilities like anxiety diagnoses, learning incapacities, and psychiatric disorders that require medication or therapy are also protected under the ADA. The U.S. government will enforce ADA disability rights through formal lawsuits or civil actions. For example, the Department of Justice determined that Lewiston Public Schools engaged in "systemic and discriminatory practices" with students with disabilities and students who are learning English as a second language.

Maine State Disability Laws

Maine's state disability laws typically run parallel with federal laws. But while Maine Revised Statutes (M.R.S.) Title 20-A §7001 states that school children under the age of 20 will be evaluated in accordance with IDEA, the federal act ensures they will receive special education support services until they turn 21. If a student's parent or guardian wishes to challenge the determinations found in a student's IEP, M.R.S. Title 20-A §7207-B explains that a due process hearing can be pursued.

Disability as a Mitigating Factor in Maine

Disabilities Affecting Academic Progression Issues in Maine

While FAPE provides equal access to any academic program for students with disabilities, they must still adhere to the same academic progression policies found in any school or educational program. Maine schools will have a satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy, which is generally comprised of quantitative goals each student must meet per semester and through their time enrolled. Some individual SAP requirements are certain grade point averages, course credits attempted, course credits passed, and a maximum number of semesters for graduation. However, Maine's schools may reject altering its academic standards for disabled students. If such a situation arises, a student's disability rights can be the foundation for a defense to fight back against unfair treatment and academic rule violations. National education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento can fight for you to achieve the education of your choice.

Disabilities Affecting Misconduct Discipline in Maine

Disabilities may also affect how a student handles disciplinary procedures if they are alleged to have committed misconduct while in school. Any disability—emotional, mental, or physical—can hinder a student's capacity to represent and defend themselves in the grievance process's investigative, hearing, and sanctioning phases. To combat this, state and federal disability laws require schools to provide accommodations for students with ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others that impact a student's attitude and behavior. But some of Maine's schools may disregard the matters when investigating alleged misconduct or levying sanctions. In the end, school administrative officials may misconstrue a student's actions for misconduct, putting an end to their academic career. Regardless, whenever a K-12 school student is involved in the disciplinary process, IDEA and Section 504 laws require special education officials to conduct a manifestation determination review (MDR). If a student's IEP must be adjusted, the MDR will determine what changes must be made. It will also verify if the student is better situated in a Maine alternative education program. The Lento Law Firm has proven experience in education law and can assist students in defending themselves against misconduct allegations.

School Disability Attorney-Advisor Available in Maine

Irrespective of grade, degree, or program concentration, Maine's schools must follow federal disability laws beyond any narrower state laws or regulations. As a student with a disability, you have the right to pursue any education or access any program afforded to other students in a particular school. National education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento has represented students in Maine and other states in dealing with disability accommodations, disciplinary procedures, and other school-related matters. Call 888-535-3686 today or visit the confidential online consultation form to retain attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team.