PRESS RELEASE: Disability Rights Maine Announces Lauren Wille as New Legal Director

CONTACT: Julia FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUGUSTA – Disability Rights Maine is pleased to announce Lauren Wille as its new Legal Director. Atlee Reilly, who has been serving as Legal Director since 2021, will resume his role as Managing Attorney of DRM’s Educational Advocacy program, and continue his life’s work advocating for the rights of children with disabilities. “Lauren is a remarkable leader and I am excited for her to bring her strategic vision to the helm of DRM’s legal practice. I am also deeply thankful to Atlee for his exceptional leadership over the past several years, and even more ...Read More

PRESS RELEASE: Maine Supreme Court Reverses Parental Rights Termination, Faults State for Violating Disability Rights

MEDIA CONTACTS: Julia Endicott Communications Director, Disability Rights Maine | 800-452-1948, ext. 212 Samuel Crankshaw Communications Director, ACLU of Maine | 859-595-8158 (call/text)  Maine Supreme Court Reverses Parental Rights Termination, Faults State for Violating Disability Rights Maine’s highest court reversed a decision that punished a family for the state’s own failure to provide nursing services for a child and accommodate his mother. PORTLAND – Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court yesterday overturned a lower court order that terminated a mother-child relationship after the state failed to provide nursing services to the child who was legally entitled to them. The Law ...Read More


PRESS RELEASE: Maine’s Legal Aid Organizations Announce Free Civil Legal Support for Those Impacted by Lewiston Shootings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDecember 21, 2023 CONTACT: Julia Endicott207.626.2774 MAINE’S LEGAL AID ORGANIZATIONS ANNOUNCE FREE CIVIL LEGAL SUPPORT FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY LEWISTON SHOOTINGSOrganizations urge victims and families to seek trusted, professional legal advice AUGUSTA - In a joint statement, Disability Rights Maine, the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, and Legal Services for the Elderly announced their ongoing partnership to address the civil legal needs of those impacted by the Lewiston shootings. “Victims, families, and our communities have been profoundly impacted by the violence and trauma of this event,” said Kim Moody, Executive Director of Disability Rights Maine ...Read More

Resources in Response to Tragedy in Lewiston

Following the horrific events in Lewiston last week, Disability Rights Maine (DRM), Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA), and the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project (VLP) are working together to address the legal needs of families impacted by this terrible tragedy. Our organizations are also working to coordinate with other legal aid providers to ensure all needs are met. We know that victims, families, and our community have been profoundly impacted by the violence and trauma of this event. We also know that legal needs will emerge for those most directly impacted, including needs for assistance with matters related to estate and probate ...Read More

Disabled & Deaf Trans People's Survey led by the Disability Project at the Transgender Law Center

The Disability Project wants to hear from disabled and Deaf trans people—particularly Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), low income and rural community members. Intentionally collecting stories, needs, and priorities from community is a tool to fight systemic oppression and advocate for ourselves. This survey is about building community power. We know a lot is going on and things are rough out there—yet our experiences matter! If you can, please take the time to share your perspectives and truths in this groundbreaking survey. Visit You can take the survey in English, Spanish or ASL with closed captions. You can ...Read More

COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations and Changes as of November 28, 2023

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidance and recommendations, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Summary of recent changesCDC recommends the 2023–2024 updated COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax, to protect against serious illness from COVID-19.Everyone 5 years or older should get 1 dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against serious illness from COVID-19.Children 6 months to 4 years need multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be up to date, including at least 1 dose of updated COVID-19 vaccine.People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated COVID-19 vaccine. ...Read More

DRM Recognized for Work to End Sexual Violence

Disability Rights Maine was recently honored by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) for our work to address sexual violence for people with disabilities. We are humbled and honored to receive MECASA's 2023 Make A Difference Award and NSVRC's 2023 Visionary Voice Award. On April 25th, we gathered at Maple Hill Conference Center to celebrate! ...Read More

Maine Board of Bar Examiners Makes Historic Changes to Maine Bar Application

From: Aiello Law167 Water Street, Hallowell, ME 04347Kristin@AielloLawMaine.com207-248-6055207-458-9703 – cellKristin L. Aiellowww.aiellolawmaine.comFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"Effective April 20, 2023, the Maine Board of Bar Examiners (MBBE) has made historic changes to Maine’s Bar Application by permanently removing questions asking applicants about their history, diagnoses, or treatment of mental health or substance use disorders. Instead, the MBBE will use questions that focus on conduct or behavior when evaluating an applicant’s ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner. These changes come as the result of a disability discrimination complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission."Read the complete press release about ...Read More

Disability Rights Maine Statement on Violence and Mental Illness

On a nearly daily basis, we witness situations of mass violence across our country. The Gun Violence archive reports that there have been 131 mass shootings in the first three months of 2023. It is unfathomable. As people search for answers to why this keeps happening, the blame quickly lands on individuals with labels of mental illness. We must confront this stigmatizing narrative. People with psychiatric labels are not the cause of violence in our country. Across the world, more than 790 million people live with a diagnosed mental health disorder. Yet, we only see this pervasive violence occur in ...Read More


Update on the Deaf-Blind Equipment Program

The Deaf-Blind Equipment Program, or iCanConnect as it’s also known, is alive and well, and under new management for the State of Maine as of 12/1/2022. If you are a currently enrolled in the program and need additional assistance, please contact Laura Vaughan, at Perkins School for the Blind. She can be reached via email at, or by phone at 617.972.7619. If you would like to apply to the program for equipment and services as a new client, you can download an application from the web site or contact Brenda Baroncelli at, or via Videophone at 516.340.1014 ...Read More

PRESS RELEASE: Advocates respond to DOJ investigation finding significant failures in Maine’s children’s behavioral health system

The investigation adds to years of evidence that Maine is institutionalizing children with disabilities, instead of providing necessary supports in the communityPORTLAND — An investigation into Maine’s children’s behavioral health system by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) finds statewide failures that create a significant risk of segregating and institutionalizing children with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice issued its findings on the 23rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C., which found that unnecessarily segregating people with disabilities into institutional settings violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet ...Read More

Justice Department Finds Maine in Violation of ADA For Over-Institutionalization of Children with Disabilities

On the 23rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., the Department of Justice announced today that it has concluded that Maine  unnecessarily segregates children with mental health and/or developmental disabilities, in psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and a state-operated juvenile detention facility. The Olmstead decision held that people with disabilities have a right to live and receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs — typically in their homes and communities instead of in institutions. To read the DOJ's full press release, click the link at the bottom of this page. Click ...Read More

New Resource for Locating Services and Supports for Families in Maine

In an effort to increase knowledge of the existing services and supports for individuals and families in Maine, the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) worked closely with other state agency partners to develop a Family Services Resource Guide, also known as Access Maine. This online tool ( launched in April 2022 and includes an inventory of state-level programs that will connect OCFS staff, service providers, individuals, and families to resources that can support everyone in Maine to be safe, happy, healthy, and successful. This tool complements the existing 211 Maine program ( where individuals can call, text ...Read More

New Report Details How Schools are Illegally Removing Students with Disabilities

From NDRN: For Immediate Release 01/25/2022 Contact: David Card 202.408.9514 x122 Washington, DC – Schools across the country remove students with disabilities from the classroom using illegal practices known as “informal removals. These off the books dismissals are described in detail in a new report released today by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) called Out from the Shadows: Informal Removal of Children with Disabilities from Public Schools. The report provides examples of children missing entire semesters of instruction after being removed from school because of behaviors related to their disabilities. The practice, coined by NDRN as “informal removal,” ...Read More


MDOE confirms that students with disabilities outside of their school districts retain all of their rights under the IDEA, including stay put protections

MDOE confirms that students with disabilities outside of their school districts retain all of their rights under the IDEA, including stay put protections On November 24, 2021, the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) issued Administrative Letter # 28 clarifying the obligations of Maine schools who receive students with disabilities from a home/sending school district through the IEP process. DRM has heard from families with students who are left with little to no education when a receiving school decides that they will no longer serve the student – leaving the sending district and the family scrambling. While the sending district maintains ...Read More

Maine’s ABLE Program is now live!

From the Bangor Savings Bank Website: "Living with a disability is often associated with significant amounts of extra costs. That’s why individuals and families can now contribute to ABLE accounts — tax-advantaged accounts that can fund disability expenses without impacting means-tested benefits eligibility. What are ABLE Accounts? ABLE accounts are tax-advantaged accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families. ABLE Programs were created as a result of the passage of the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, better known as the ABLE Act. The beneficiary of the account is the account owner, and income earned ...Read More

Investigations in 18 States Find Serious Abuse at For-profit Youth Facilities

"A disturbing new report by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) reveals widespread abuse and neglect at for-profit youth residential treatment facilities. The report, Desperation without Dignity, provides a comprehensive review of investigations by the nation’s Protection and Advocacy agencies and others in 18 states. It examines the history of the for-profit residential treatment industry, the private funding structure that fuels it, and discusses alternatives to residential placement that are both nurturing and provide the treatment that children and youth need. “Our investigators, along with other powerful advocates, have been inside these facilities,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “In ...Read More

PRESS RELEASE: U.S. Department of Justice Reaches Settlement with Lewiston Public Schools to End Discriminatory Use of Shortened School Days

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMay 28, 2021 U.S. Department of Justice Reaches Settlement with Lewiston Public Schools to End Discriminatory Use of Shortened School Days Complaint filed by Maine civil rights organizations initiated the DOJ investigation Augusta, Maine – Lewiston Public Schools (LPS) will have to end the district’s systemic and discriminatory practice of excluding students from full-day school because of behavior related to their disabilities, according to the terms of a settlement with the United States Department of Justice. The settlement, which was announced late on Thursday, will also require LPS to provide equal educational opportunities to its English learner students ...Read More

DRM Thanks AG Frey for Supporting Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA)

Maine AG Aaron Frey was one of 17 Attorneys General to sign onto a letter in support of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would ban the use of seclusion and restrict the use of restraints in the nation's schools.  Specifically, "KASSA would make it illegal for any school receiving federal funds to seclude children and would ban mechanical, chemical and supine restraint as well as practices that restrict breathing, including prone restraint."  Read the letter to Congressional Leadership (PDF) In an April 1, 2021 letter to AG Frey, DRM thanked him for his support of KASSA, noting that ...Read More

Advocates Respond to MSBA Statement

Parent and Student Advocatesi Respond to MSBA Statement Regarding LD 552 LD 552 ‐ An Act to Strengthen the Individualized Education Program Process was designed to provide parents of students with disabilities with an equal voice during the development and revision of their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Specifically, LD 552 would require parental consent before a previously agreed upon IEP could be changed. The Maine Legislature’s Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs recently voted to pass the bill and send it to the entire legislature. But groups representing school administrators are working against the bill and using incomplete and at ...Read More

COVID-19 Vaccine Information Page

Disability Rights Maine is working to ensure that all Mainers, including people with disabilities, are able to receive COVID-19 vaccines.  This page contains information about the vaccines (Moderna & Pfizer), the latest news from the Governor and Maine CDC, and a listing of vaccine clinics across the state.   COVID-19 Vaccine Considerations and Changes as of November 28, 2023 Additionally, the Federal Government ended the Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 on May 11, 2023. Learn more about what this means for you by reviewing the Fact Sheet from February 2023. You can also stay up to date on the impact through the Office ...Read More

Our View: Oxford County town’s anti-mask resolution misuses Americans with Disabilities Act

Selectmen in the town of Paris are among those making a mockery of rights won by people with disabilities. By The Editorial Board Thirty-one years ago next month, a group of protesters with disabilities ditched their wheelchairs and crutches and began moving – slowly – up the 78 steps of the U.S. Capitol’s West Front, demanding their rights. Known as the Capitol Crawl, it was the culmination of a decades-long and ultimately successful effort to get Congress to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. It took one protester, an 8-year-old with cerebral palsy, almost an hour to get to ...Read More

Website: Vision for an Equitable Maine

As Maine rebuilds from the pandemic, our "new normal" should be more equitable. This moment is an opportunity to help people regain lost ground, and to build a more resilient future where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. Click the link below to visit the website and learn more about the Vision for an Equitable Maine. ...Read More

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: Change in the Ending Age for Special Education Eligibility

Administrative Letter: 1 Policy Code: IHBEA To: Public School Administrators From: Pender Makin, Commissioner Date: January 21,2021 Subject: Change in the Ending Age for Special Education Eligibility – Effective Immediately The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to provide “[a] free, appropriate public education . . . to all children with disabilities residing in the State between the ages of 3 and 21 inclusive[.]” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(a)(1)(A). IDEA permits an exception to this general age range: “[t]he obligation to make a free, appropriate public education available to all children with a disabilities does not apply with ...Read More


PRESS RELEASE: Interim Agreement Reached in Merrill v. Dunlap

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOctober 1, 2020 Interim Agreement Reached and Accessible Absentee Voting for People with Print Disabilities Will Be Implemented in Maine for the November 3, 2020 Election Augusta, Maine – An interim agreement has been reached between the Maine Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) and named municipalities and Plaintiffs Lynn Merrill, Nicholas Giudice, Pauline Lamontagne, Cheryl Peabody, and Disability Rights Maine that provides Maine voters an accessible absentee ballot system for the upcoming November 3, 2020 general election. Following a lawsuit filed on July 15, 2020 by the Plaintiffs, the SOS agreed to develop and implement an accessible ...Read More

DRM Statement on Portland Press Herald Article That Misinforms Voters with Disabilities

In its September 24, 2020 article “Some voters fear being ‘purged’ at the polls. Should you?” the Portland Press Herald mistakenly reports that “A clerk must remove you from the voting list if they are given notice that you have been placed under guardianship due to mental illness.” This is wrong. Any attempts to enforce this provision are unconstitutional and discriminatory. In its article, the Press Herald incorrectly relied on obsolete language from Maine’s Constitution, language that was invalidated by a federal judge nearly 20 years ago in Doe v. Rowe, 156 F. Supp. 35 (D. Me. 2001), a case ...Read More

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020

AUGUSTA – Disability Rights Maine (DRM) joins its partners in the National Disability Rights Network in applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. We are heartened by the nationwide groundswell of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota just over a month ago. Maine, one of the two whitest states in the country, is in the throes of grappling with racial justice and police brutality. As we strive to make our state truly accessible to all, we ...Read More

DRM Statement in Solidarity

Disability Rights Maine is in solidarity with all who condemn the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police and all ongoing systemic violence against black men and women, African Americans, and all communities of color. Disability Rights Maine rejects white supremacy and rejects racism. We value equality, inclusion, racial and disability justice, civil rights and human rights, for all. Disability Rights Maine recognizes that we must each continually examine our own privilege and our role in and power to create change. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of ...Read More

COVID-19 Resources for People with Disabilities

Dear Clients, Friends and Allies; I am reaching out again from Disability Rights Maine (DRM) to remind you that we are still here! DRM staff are still working to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are upheld. Advocates and attorneys are still working on their cases, but doing so remotely. In addition to the normal work, we are calling providers with a survey related to COVID-19 issues, we are conducting virtual training, we are doing a systematic monitoring project to check on our clients, we are calling current and previous clients and of course, our intake is fully ...Read More


Maine Juvenile Justice System Assessment & Reinvestment Task Force

Taken from We AreChaired by Rep. Michael Brennan (D-Portland), Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty and Jill Ward of the Maine Center for Juvenile Policy and Law, the Task Force is comprised of government leaders from multiple agencies, legislators, members of the Judiciary, practitioners and individuals from impacted communities. Task Force members will work with national experts to assess the efficacy of the current system and develop recommendations to improve outcomes for system-involved youth. To lead the assessment, the state Juvenile Justice Advisory Group has contracted with the Center for Children's Law and Policy (CCLP) to work in collaboration ...Read More

Restraint in Schools: How This Practice is Used on Maine Students & What Methods May Work Better

Guests:Ross Greene, founder, Lives in the Balance; clinical child psychologist and author of the books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings; developed the model of intervention called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions Ben Jones, attorney, Disability Rights Maine, and author of the May 2019 report "Restraint and Seclusion in Maine Schools" Pender Makin, Commissioner, Maine Department of Education Patty Chamard & Jennifer Johnson - Two mothers with children who've been subjected to restraint and seclusion ...Read More