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Politics

Maine's Early Childhood Special Education System Could Undergo A Comprehensive Review

The legislature's Education Committee Wednesday approved a tentative contract for an outside group to review the state's early childhood special education system. 

If finalized, the comprehensive review would look at how Maine's system compares to other states, and at the impacts of a proposal introduced earlier this year to transform the system. The proposed bill would eliminate Child Development Services, the agency that currently provides special education for children up to age-5. The state would still service children under 3, but local school districts would take responsibility for older kids.

Some advocates have supported the proposal, pointing to waitlists and staff turnover in the current system. But critics are concerned about impacts on funding, student transportation and a lack of qualified staff.

In approving the study, Democratic State Sen. Rebecca Millett said it's important for the state to address the system's long-standing issues.

“I'll just say, personally, that I think we have witnessed enough years of doing nothing, that I'm committed to making sure that some action is taken as a member of this committee."

The state and outside contractor must still formally agree to changes in the contract before the terms of the review are finalized.