Disability Rights Maine Announces Atlee Reilly as New Legal Director
Posted on September 30, 2021
Augusta, Maine - Disability Rights Maine (DRM) is pleased to announce Atlee Reilly (he/him) as its new Legal Director, effective October 1, 2021. Peter Rice, current Legal Director, has been appointed General Counsel.
“I think this is a great move for Disability Rights Maine,” said Kim Moody, the Executive Director. “I look forward to the many new directions toward which I know Atlee is uniquely qualified to help us move. This is an exciting time. And I thank Peter Rice both for being an excellent Legal Director for 22 years and for being willing to stay on after his ‘retirement’.”
Since joining Disability Rights Maine in March of 2012, Atlee has managed the legal work of DRM’s Kids Team. During that time, the Kids Team at DRM has represented more than 1,500 youth with disabilities and their families on a wide range of issues. In addition to individual representation, the DRM Kids Team has engaged in systemic advocacy to impact youth with disabilities and their families. Recent systemic efforts have resulted in: a settlement between the Department of Justice and Lewiston Public Schools as the result of a complaint filed by DRM and other partners, which will hopefully mark the beginning of the end of the use of abbreviated school days for Maine students; a systemic complaint filed with Maine DOE resulting in the extension of the age of eligibility for Special Education services, allowing students to receive a free and appropriate public education until they either graduate with a regular high school diploma or reach their 22nd birthday; systemic complaints related to the provision of compensatory education as a result of pandemic-related disruptions to learning, as well as systemic failures to provide appropriate early intervention services, and much more.
Atlee has extensive experience providing training to families, attorneys and other professionals, regarding the rights of students with disabilities. He is also engaged in juvenile justice reform efforts in Maine and currently serves as a member of the Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.
Prior to joining DRM, Atlee worked in private practice in Minnesota, where he represented students in administrative hearings and federal court on education related issues. Upon graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2007, Atlee was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to expand the education law practice at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Atlee was an elementary school and special education teacher prior to attending law school.
“I look forward to working with the amazing team of attorneys, advocates, and support staff at DRM to continue our work to protect and advance the rights of Mainers with disabilities,” said Atlee Reilly. “In addition, I plan to strengthen our ties with other advocacy organizations and the private bar to leverage all available resources and work together for systemic and lasting change.”
Peter Rice, DRM’s Legal Director since 1999, will stay on as the agency’s General Counsel. During Peter’s tenure as Legal Director, DRM served over 12,000 individuals and handled over 20,000 cases. In addition to always handling a caseload and providing excellent support for all staff attorneys, Peter was counsel in many systemic cases over the years, including: Risinger v. Concannon, which resulted in an agreement to provide adequate home and community based services to Maine youth with disabilities; and Van Meter v. Mayhew, which resulted in the creation of a home and community based program that allowed individuals with CP and other related conditions to get the services they needed in the community instead of nursing facilities. In Roy v. Mayhew, Peter required that DHHS develop a process for making accommodations to departmental rules so that individuals could continue to receive services in their homes and not be placed in institutions. Recently, Peter worked with the Department to revise its policy so that individuals receiving nursing services can now access the community with their nurses, reversing a decades old policy that meant individuals who received nursing services were isolated in their homes.
And it is solely due to Peter Rice that DRM was granted statutory standing to enforce the public accommodations access provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act.
Through its operation of multiple federal, state and privately-funded programs, DRM advocates for individuals with disabilities whose rights have been violated, who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or who have faced discrimination on the basis of their disability. DRM seeks redress where rights concerns arise related to housing, education, physical access, rehabilitation, health care, community supports, and employment. Additionally, DRM works toward public policy reform through training, outreach and systemic advocacy.