Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help












TO:                 Superintendents of Schools


FROM:           Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:            December 9, 2003


RE:                 Services to Language Minority Children in Maine Schools



            This letter serves to replace Administrative Letter No. 5 (August 19, 1996) and address issues and policies appropriate to the provision of services to students for whom English is a new or second language (ESL).  A growing number of children enrolled in Maine schools were born into or were adopted from a home where English is/was not their first language.  Many such children are limited English proficient (LEP); that is, they are significantly challenged with acquiring English while simultaneously pursuing achievement of Maine’s Learning Results.


            All LEP students are entitled to full participation in all programs offered in Maine schools. Support services for English language acquisition and achievement of the Learning Results should include: English language communication skills (usually English as a second language and/or bilingual education [BE]) and content area academic skills to prepare them to benefit from an education conducted in all-English classrooms.  Inadequate language and academic skills development instruction, as well as premature exiting from specially designed language support programs, may result in academic failure for those students not ready for English-only content studies.


            All schools must have a must have a current Lau Plan that describes how those students are equitably:  (1) identified as being from a non-English language background; (2) assessed to determine their English language proficiency level [i.e., beginning, emerging, developing, expanding, or advancing]; (3) provided language support services to meet their ESL or BE acquisition needs and Learning Results knowledge and skills; (4) reclassified or exited from the language support services when they are ready to benefit from an all-English Learning Results aligned curriculum; and (5) provided program evaluation wherein the school district considers the effectiveness and appropriateness of the language support program for LEP students. The Lau Plan will also describe how the school will access LEP parents via interpreters/translators.

            Since limited English proficiency is not a disability covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Act or Maine’s Department of Education Regulations under Chapter 101 governing special education, LEP students should not be placed in any special education program unless exceptionality is well documented, evaluated and appropriate procedures for special services have been followed. While services supported under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) may not supplant language support services, LEP students may not be excluded from them if they meet eligibility requirements under NCLBA titles.


            Certified teachers providing ESL and BE services must be working toward or in possession of the Maine endorsement in those areas.  In low-density LEP student populations, supplemental support may be provided by an educational technician who is supervised by a teacher working toward or in possession of an ESL or BE endorsement. A state subsidy helps defray local costs for those personnel.


            Schools which enroll limited English proficient students may request assistance from Dr. Barney Bérubé of the Office of English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education, Department of Education, #23 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0023.  Phone (207) 624-6772  FAX (207) 624-6789 or e-mail:




























Several federal and state legal documents delineate the responsibilities of schools enrolling language minority children.  The federal documents include:  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. 1703; Lau v. Nichols, 94 S. CT. 786 (1974); Castaneda v. Pickard, 648 F2d 989 (5th Cir. 1981); Cintron v. Brentwood Union Free School, 455 F. Supp. 57 (D.C.N.Y. 1978); OCR’s May 25 Memorandum; and the “OCR Policy Update on Schools’ Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students with Limited English Proficiency” (1991).