Regional School Unit 2, which includes Hall-Dale High School, is under investigation by the federal Department of Education for alleged discrimination against a student with disabilities. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — Regional School Unit 2 is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for allegedly failing to meet the needs of a disabled student.  

The federal agency is looking into “whether the district failed to consider the complainant’s request” for an unspecified accommodation, according to a letter sent to the district and obtained by the Kennebec Journal through a public records request. The letter includes several instances where specific information has been blacked-out with redactions in order to protect the privacy of the disabled student. 

“On (redacted) it was determined that there was enough evidence to grant (redacted) a 504 plan. The victim has a (redacted) from a physician to (redacted). The school did not accommodate this,” the letter states. 

A 504 plan lays out a blueprint for supporting students with any disability, including anxiety or ADHD, that might impact their learning and require accommodations. It differs from an IEP, or individualized education plan, that sets up special education services for a narrower set of students who have at least one of 13 specific disabilities, including autism and dyslexia.

Officials from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights said they would not comment further on the case because it is “an active investigation.”  

If they find the Hallowell-based district discriminated against the student, the district would have to sign a written agreement outlining how it will address the concerns through providing additional services, changing policies, training staff and other measures. If the district does not comply, its federal funding could be revoked.


The findings could also open the door for the student’s family to file a lawsuit.  

Four other schools in Maine have a civil rights complaint pending with the Department of Education for disability discrimination. Two are public K-12 schools — Buxton-based MSAD 6 and Waterboro-based RSU 57 — and the other two are universities: Unity College and South Portland-based Southern Maine Community College. Several other Maine schools have pending complaints for age, race and sex discrimination. 

The Department of Education notified the Hallowell-based district and former Superintendent Matt Gilbert about the complaint on June 3, 2022. Gilbert resigned a month later and did not bring up the letter publicly with the school board. Rick Amero started in October 2022 and is the current superintendent of RSU 2. 

Asked for comment on the case, Amero said he was not aware of it and had “heard nothing.”

School board Chair Donna Seppy, who has been on the board since July 2020, did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the most recent data for the 2021 to 2022 school year from the Maine Department of Education, 20.3% of RSU 2 students were enrolled in special services, equaling 377 students out of the district’s 1,862. 

The copy of the letter the newspaper received indicated the complaint was filed by a sibling of the disabled student. 

RSU 2 currently serves the communities of Hallowell, Farmingdale, Dresden and Monmouth. Richmond was part of the district when the complaint was filed but withdrew to form its own school system several months later.  

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