Houlton area special education director resigns to take temporary state job

3 weeks ago

HOULTON, Maine – The RSU 29 Director of Special Education Services resigned this month and will be heading to a temporary position at the Maine Department of Education.

Julia Sandy Flacke, who has been employed with the Houlton and Hodgdon school districts for nearly a decade, has been named the Deputy Director of Special Education Services, Birth to 22, at the Office of Special Service and Inclusive Education. Her job will be to support the department’s special education team, according to the DOE.

“I am looking forward to joining the Department of Education in this temporary role to support special education services statewide,” Flacke said this week. “I have served as a special education director in Maine school districts for 8 1/2 years and I am excited to bring that experience to the Department of Education.”

Flacke is taking on a temporary role to fill an immediate need while a limited-period position is approved by the Bureau of Human Resources, according to the DOE. Once approved, the position will be posted publicly, and the department will interview all appropriate candidates in line with State of Maine hiring practices, DOE spokesman Marcus Mrowka said 

“Dr. Flacke would have the opportunity to apply for the position along with any other candidates,” Mrowka said.  

As the full-time director of Special Education Services for the Houlton School District, Flacke’s salary was $114,352. Her DOE salary has not yet been determined, according to Mrowka. 

During her tenure in both Aroostook County school districts, there were seven complaints against special education practices dating from 2020 to 2024. Mwroka said the number of complaints was not out of the ordinary and that this is common in all of Maine’s school districts. 

In the complaints investigated while Flacke was in charge of the delivery of special education services, investigators ruled that in six of the cases services were not in compliance with regulations related to individualized education programs, parental notification, delivery of services and that certain students were denied their right to freedom of access to public education. 

In a 2021 systemic complaint against the Hodgdon district under Flacke, investigators found that for 13 students there was noncompliance with special education regulations that denied them access to education. 

Systemic complaints allege that a school district has a policy, practice, or procedure that has resulted in a violation of the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations, according to the DOE.

Mrowka said that district special education directors are named in all complaints because they oversee special education services, even when the complaints are related to other district staff. And they are responsible for implementing any corrective actions that result from the investigation, he said. 

“Dr. Flacke represented her districts in due process complaints as a regular part of her role and worked with district staff to implement any necessary actions as a result of these hearings, the same as any special education director in the state.” he said.

As part of her new role Flacke will be helping assure that all students are included and have free access to the state’s special education services. 

Renae Folley, a long time RSU 29 special education teacher and Instructional strategist, will replace Flacke temporarily. Folley has been appointed Interim Director of Special Education Services starting Feb. 26 through the end of June, said Houlton School District Superintendent Joe Fagnant. 

“The process of finding a new director will take place later this school year with the goal of having a director in place by July 1 for the 2024-2025 school year,” he said.