United States District Court, D. Maine
JOHN M. MILLAY, Plaintiff,
STATE OF MAINE, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, BUREAU OF REHABILITATION DIVISION FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED, Defendant
For JOHN M MILLAY, Plaintiff: BRETT D. BABER, LANHAM BLACKWELL, P.A., BANGOR, ME.
For STATE OF MAINE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Bureau of Rehabilitation Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Defendant: ELIZABETH J. WYMAN, MAINE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, AUGUSTA, ME; SUSAN P. HERMAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, AUGUSTA, ME.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S APPEAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
Nancy Torresen, United States District Judge.
John Millay, a young man of Ethiopian descent who lives with his adopted family in Surry, Maine, petitioned Maine's Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (the " DBVI" ) to pay for the expenses incurred by his adopted mother in driving him back and forth fro Surry to Bangor, Maine during the course of a culinary arts program Millay completed as a client of the DBVI's federally funded vocational rehabilitation services program. After a state Administrative Hearing Officer (" AHO" ) declined to overturn the DBVI's denial of Millay's request, Millay brought this action under Section 102(c)(5)(J) of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973--codified at 29 U.S.C. § 722(c)(5)(J)--seeking judicial review of that determination. For the reasons that follow, the AHO's decision is REVERSED.
A. Millay's Background and Disability
John Millay, a resident of Surry, Maine, is a blind, disabled client of the DBVI. Millay was born in Ethiopia in 1988. Though the chronology of Millay's early childhood is not entirely clear from the record, it appears Millay's birth mother died when he was three or four years old,
and, after a brief stay in his aunt's care, Millay moved into an orphanage. At around the age of five, Millay was kidnapped by an unidentified man who pierced Millay's eyes with a pin, intentionally blinding him. He then forced Millay to beg on the street and, at the end of each day, turn over the money he collected. If Millay's kidnapper was unsatisfied with his daily haul, the man would beat Millay, leaving scars on his back that remain to this day. Millay endured this treatment for two years, until he was rescued by police and taken back to the orphanage.
In June 2000, when Millay was either eleven or twelve years old, he was adopted by Joanne Millay, a resident of Surry, Maine. Millay attended high school in Maine and received a scholarship to attend the University of Maine at Presque Isle (" UMPI" ). Millay enrolled there, living alone in a residential dorm, but he struggled academically and dropped out after one semester. Millay testified that he was unable to sleep in the dorm, because the " dorm was wild" and he did not feel safe ...