• Phone :
    • (207) 874-8100
    • Address :
    • 353 Cumberland AvePortland, Maine 04101
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About Student Support Services

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Through a joyful and comprehensive experience, 

all learners with exceptionalities will be prepared and empowered

to choose a meaningful and relevant post-secondary path,

with the skills necessary to participate in

college and career, continuing education, meaningful employment,

and independent living. 




The Student Support Services department is responsible for ensuring that all learners with exceptionalities are held to high expectations. Through a continuum of service, students have access to the general education curriculum, are receiving individualized supports, evidence-based practices and instruction, and accommodations required to meet their unique needs.  We build partnerships with schools, families, and with our community to ensure that the educational and civil rights of learners with exceptionalities are protected. We ensure compliance with state and federal statutes as they govern the delivery of services to students with disabilities.

  In the early part of the 20th century, parents formed advocacy groups to bring the educational needs of children with disabilities to the public’s attention.  However, during the early 1970’s, only a relatively small number of children with disabilities were being educated in public schools.  In 1975, two federal laws were enacted which changed this:  The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) establishes a right to public education for all children regardless of disability and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide individualized or special education for children with qualifying disabilities. Common special needs include learning disabilities, communication disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and developmental disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability, and requires that public schools provide access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with identified disabilities. .

Primary Focus:  Student Support Services’ primary focus is supporting Portland students with exceptionalities.  

Special Education Role: Student Support Services ensures that the Portland Public Schools are in compliance with the above federal mandates.  The department’s role is to identify and educate students with special needs in a way that addresses each child’s individual differences and needs and meets those needs in the least restrictive setting.  Student Support Services is responsible for ensuring that teams develop Individual Educational Plans for students identified as needing special education services in order to successfully progress through the general curriculum. Special Education is highly regulated by the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (Chapter 101).  Compliance with Special Education regulations involves an extensive amount of documentation, reporting, and strict timeframes. Student Support Services provides support in the regular education classroom and resource support as well as several self-contained and day treatment programs. Student Support Services also ensures that teams address, document and meet students’ occupational, physical and speech therapy, social work and other related needs. Supplies and the latest technology are purchased to meet students’ needs. Student Support Services provides support, supplies and professional development for all special education staff. 

Other Department Roles: Student Support Services also has a myriad of other key roles and responsibilities surrounding support for our students.  Accommodations for students under Section 504, School Health Services, Gifted/Talented and oversight of 3 day treatment programs are a few examples. This department is also instrumental in acquiring reimbursement for allowable medical expenses through Mainecare which benefits the entire school district and our taxpayers.

Student Support Services collaborates with regular education and community programs such as Learning Works, Portland Recreation and Title 1A to bring an array of summer services to Portland students.  A partnership with Child Development Services allows for a smooth transition from preschool services to Kindergarten services. Increased collaboration with Multilingual enhances services for ELL students with disabilities.

In summary, the department’s title STUDENT SUPPORT says it all.