New law to level playing field for Baxter School takes effect Friday

Posted: July 25, 2016 | Senator Breen

A new law that allows the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MECDHH) and the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf to raise private donations from alumni, foundations and others who want to support the school’s mission of education deaf and hard of hearing students will take effect on Friday, July 29.

“MECDHH was at a disadvantage because of a needless government regulation,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth. “Because of this new law, the school will be able now to fundraise in the same manner as every other school in Maine.”

Since its founding in the 1960s, the school has provided necessary, effective, and cutting-edge education programs to Maine students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The school’s main campus is located on Mackworth Island in Falmouth, an enduring gift to the state from Gov. Percival Baxter.

Today, the school serves students not only at its Mackworth Island campus, but in local school districts all over the state. Like many educational programs, this school has evolved, grown and adapted to the ever-changing needs of the community it serves. Not every need and challenge is met with public dollars, but when the school sought recently to embark on a fundraising campaign, it learned that state law prohibited it from accepting donations.

“When I heard of their situation, I pledged to fix it and help the school succeed,” said Sen. Breen. “This law is not only a victory for Maine’s deaf and hard of hearing community, but for basic fairness.”

As non-emergency legislation, the law’s effective date was set at 90 days after the Legislature adjourned.