Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Attendance at
a private school satisfies the compulsory attendance requirement if the
private school is approved for attendance purposes or is recognized by
the Department of Education as providing equivalent instruction. Me. Rev.
Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A.
A private school may operate as an approved private school for attendance
purposes (basic school approval) if it meets hygiene, health, and safety
standards and is either currently accredited by the New England Association
of Colleges and Secondary Schools or meets applicable state requirements.
The state requirements mandate compliance with: 1) immunization provisions;
2) English as the language of instruction; 3) courses required by law;
4) instruction in the basic curriculum established by the Commissioner;
5) certified teachers, and additional approval requirements adopted by
the State Board and the Commissioner. In addition, private secondary schools
applying for approval for attendance purposes must meet requirements of
a minimum school year, sufficient school day length, student-teacher ratio
of not more than 30 to one, not less than 2 consecutive grades, and adequate
maintenance of safely protected records. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2902.
The Commissioner may remove basic approval pursuant to a hearing for failure
to meet applicable approval requirements. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2904.
Schools choosing the accreditation method of approval for attendance purposes
must make accreditation reports to the Commissioner on a timely basis and
notify the Commissioner of any determination that the school is not accredited
or is on probation. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2906.
A private school which has chosen not to seek approval by the Department
of Education may voluntarily provide information on an annual basis to
the Commissioner and/or Superintendent to establish students enrolled are
receiving equivalent instruction in compliance with the compulsory school
attendance law. The information should be provided in an annual letter
signed by the chief administrator of the private school and include an
affirmation that the school provides the basic curriculum by competent
teachers for a minimum of 175 days or 875 hours; complies with fire, health,
and safety laws; provides academic assessment and progress reports for
parents; and, attendance notification to the local Superintendent. "Guideline
for Equivalent Instruction in Non-Approved Private Schools, Department
A nonprofit institution may operate as an approved nontraditional limited
purpose school if it demonstrates a commitment to the educational process
and to the State's youth by possessing: 1) a governing board composed of
a cross section of the community; 2) an established educational plan; 3)
a written curriculum with appropriate goals, objectives and instructional
strategies; 4) specific instructional time commensurate with the educational
activities planned; 5) facilities that comply with state health, safety
and fire codes; 6) an instructional staff certified by the Department of
Education where appropriate and endorsement by professional boards in areas
where the State does not have certification standards or professional standards
agreed upon by the department and the respective institution; 7) school
health services that include a registered nurse in residence when students
are in attendance or the appointment of a school or consulting physician;
8) established written emergency and safety procedures including periodic
fire drills whenever appropriate; 9) unique up-to-date equipment necessary
to the services provided; 10) a demonstrated commitment to work cooperatively
with state public schools in an effort to meet the specific aspiration
needs of Maine students; and, 11) scholarship assistance to the State's
youth. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2907.1. Code Me. R. § 250.
Recordkeeping/Reports: By April 15th and October 15th
of each year, the principal of each private school must report to the Commissioner
the number of students attending his/her school. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit.
20-A, § 6004.
A student is credited with attendance at a private school only if a certificate
showing the name, residence and attendance of the person at the school,
signed by the school administrator, has been filed with the school officials
of the local administrative unit. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A.3.A.(2).
Chief administrative officers shall keep uniform records of the immunization
status of each student. The records shall be part of the student's permanent
records. By December 15th of each year, each chief administrative officer
shall submit to the Director of the Bureau of Health on a form provided
a summary report of the immunization status of the students entering school.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6353.5.
A private secondary school receiving state funds, directly or indirectly,
and a private school approved for tuition and attendance purposes must
report annually, on or before July 15th, information required by the Commissioner.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2952. An annual audit must be furnished
to the State Auditor on or before September 1st of each year. Me. Rev.
Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2953.
See Special Education.
Length of School Year/Day: A private secondary school
approved for the purposes of attendance must have at least 175 instructional
days. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 4801.1
Instruction in English: English is the basic language
of instruction in all schools except, subject to the Commissioner's approval,
schools may provide transitional instruction using bilingual techniques
for students of limited proficiency in English and providing proficiency
in English and a second language. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 4701.
Discrimination: Private schools approved for tuition
purposes are prohibited from unlawful educational discrimination on the
basis of sex, physical or mental disability or national origin or race.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, §§ 4553, 4602, 4604.
Health and remedial services, instructional materials and equipment provided
with appropriated public funds, and the admission to recipient nonpublic
schools must be provided without distinction as to race, creed, color,
or the national origin of the pupil and of their teachers. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 30-A, § 5724.9.
Teacher Certification: Teachers must be certified by
the commissioner to teach in any private school receiving basic approval,
except those schools currently accredited by the New England Association
of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, §§ 2901,
A private school approved for tuition purposes may not employ a provisional
teacher unless it has an approved, locally designed, support system or
has received specific authorization from the Commissioner. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 13015.
Curriculum: Private elementary schools approved for
attendance purposes by the department must provide instruction in reading,
writing, spelling and grammar; library instruction; mathematics; science;
music, art and drama; American History and government; social studies;
Maine Studies, including the history, geography, culture and natural and
industrial resources of the State; health, hygiene and safety; physical
education; and physiology and hygiene with special reference to the effects
of substance abuse, including alcohol, tobacco and narcotics upon the human
system. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, §§ 2902.3, 4706, 4711.
Private secondary schools approved for attendance purposes by the department
must provide instruction in English, Social Studies and history including
American History and Maine studies, mathematics, science, fine arts, health
and physical education, and computer instruction. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit.
20-A, §§ 2902.3, 4706, 4722, 4723, 4724.
Private schools approved for attendance purposes must provide instruction
in the basic curriculum established by rule by the Commissioner, including
minimum time requirements and performance standards. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann.
tit. 20-A, §§ 2902.4, 4704.
Private schools approved for attendance purposes may participate in the
State Assessment of Student Performance program with the approval of the
Commissioner and upon payment of the actual cost of the assessment. Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6207.
Private schools approved for tuition purposes, whose enrollment includes
at least 60% publicly-funded students, must participate in the Statewide
Assessment Program. The assessment program measures the academic achievement
of students in grades 4, 8, and 11 in basic subjects, i.e. reading,
writing and mathematics, and potentially science and social studies on
a sampling basis in alternate years. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6202.
Only driver education teachers certified by the Commissioner may be employed
by an approved private secondary school to teach driver education. If a
certified instructor is unavailable and the private school requests, the
Commissioner may grant a temporary certificate to any person who holds
a Class A license. Approved private secondary schools may contract with
a commercial driver education school to provide driver education as part
of the secondary school curriculum. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 8703.
Special Education: The Commissioner
may require that special education programs in approved private schools
comply with rules regulating the public schools. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit.
20-A, § 7501. It is the duty of the Commissioner to define allowable
special education services and the qualifications of individuals who provide
special education services by regulation. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 7252-B.
All special education programs offered by approved private schools must
be: 1) under the supervision of the school administrative unit responsible
for the education of the enrolled exceptional student; 2) described in
a master contractual agreement between the private school and the Commissioner;
and 3) approved in advance of the enrollment of any exceptional student.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 7252-A.
Approved private schools providing special education services must submit
reports as required by the Commissioner. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 7252-B.
The Commissioner regulates tuition rates for private special education
programs publicly funded by the state. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 7302.
The Commissioner will investigate written complaints against private schools
serving exceptional students according to adopted procedures. Me. Rev.
Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 7206.
Health: No chief administrative officer may permit any
student to be enrolled or attend school without evidence of required immunization
or immunity unless the parent/student provides a written statement that
immunization may be medically inadvisable or a written statement that immunization
is contrary to a sincere religious belief or opposed for moral, philosophical
or other personal reasons. Upon notice from a public health official that
a student's presence presents a clear danger to the health of others, a
chief administrative officer shall cause the student to be excluded from
school during the period of danger or until the student is immunized. Private
schools may adopt more stringent immunization requirements. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6353.3, 4, 6.
The Department of Education offers technical assistance to approved private
schools to aid in the establishment of school-based substance abuse programs
and health education curricula. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6605.
Medication may not be administered by unlicensed personnel at private
schools, except as provided by the written prescription of a physician
or dentist or by written permission of the parent/guardian. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 254.
Safety: A state liquor store or an agency liquor store
may not be established within 300 feet of any K-12 private school. Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 28-A, § 351.
It is a civil offense to disturb a private school during or out of school
hours while a teacher or student is present and is punishable by a fine
not less than $2 nor more than $20. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6804.
Transportation: Municipalities may appropriate money
to provide transportation of school children to and from nonprofit schools
other than public schools. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 30-A § 5724.5.
Home Schooling: Individual families who are planning
to instruct their own children shall provide information to the Commissioner
and to the Superintendent of the public school administrative unit where
the family resides. This information will enable the Commissioner to determine
if the children are receiving equivalent instruction for the purposes of
compliance with the compulsory attendance law. Chap. 130, Rules for Equivalent
Instruction Through Home Instruction.
By way of the Application for Equivalent Instruction Through Home Instruction,
parents agree to provide competent instructor, defined as either a tutor
holding or eligible to hold a Maine teaching certificate or a tutor who
will be assisted by a satisfactory support system. The support system is
provided by a Maine certified teacher, a public or private school in Maine,
another family conducting a home instruction program for at least one year,
or other support system such as a local home school support group.
The instructional day will be of adequate length of time to accomplish
the proposed educational program. The instructional year will meet at least
Instruction will be provided in English Language arts, math, science,
social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine
arts, and, in at least one grade between grades 6 and 12, Maine studies.
Additionally, at one grade level between grades 7-12, the student will
demonstrate proficiency in the use of computers.
Instructional materials and textbooks must be available and adequate.
A plan of assessment must measure the student?s academic abilities and
progress at least four times each year. Records must be kept and they must
be made available to the Commissioner upon request. There will be an annual
assessment of the student?s progress. Results of the assessment are sent
to the local school superintendent and the state department of education.
Students in grades 4,8, and 11 must participate in the Maine Educational
Assessment at the local school.
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The
Maine Constitution states that it is the Legislature's "duty to encourage
and suitably endow academies, colleges, and seminaries of learning within
the state," provided that the Legislature has the right to grant any further
powers to "limit or restrain any of the powers vested in, any such literary
institution, as shall be judged necessary to promote the best interests
thereof." Maine Const. art. 8, Sec. 1.
Municipalities may appropriate money to purchase approved secular textbooks
and loan them to pupils or parents of pupils attending nonpublic elementary
and secondary schools upon request. The requests for texts submitted by
nonpublic school pupils or parents will be forwarded to the nonpublic school
for administrative convenience. The nonpublic school will prepare a collective
summary of the individual requests and submit the summary to the school
committee or board of directors. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 30-A, § 5724.6.
Municipalities may appropriate money to provide physician, nursing, dental
and optometric services to pupils attending nonpublic elementary and secondary
schools if available to pupils attending public schools. Services may be
provided to nonpublic school students in the nonpublic school attended.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 30-A, § 5724.7.
Municipalities may appropriate money to provide standardized tests and
scoring services in use in the public schools to pupils attending nonpublic
elementary and secondary schools. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 30-A, § 5724.8.
A school district may contract with a private school approved for tuition
purposes for all or part of its secondary school pupils. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, §§1258, 2702-4.
A private secondary school may be approved for the receipt of public funds
for tuition purposes if it: 1) meets the requirements for basic school
approval; 2) is a nonsectarian school; 3) is incorporated under the laws
of Maine or the United States; 4) complies with reporting and auditing
requirements; and 5) if the school enrolls 60% or more publicly-funded
students, participates in the Statewide Assessment Program. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2951.
Tuition payments to private schools approved for tuition purposes must
be paid within 30 days of the billing date. If the tuition is not paid
accordingly, the principal of the private school must inform the Commissioner.
The Commissioner will pay the tuition due and deduct that amount from the
state school subsidy to the school administrative unit owing tuition. Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5810.
Tuition rates charged to school administrative units for publicly placed
students in private elementary and secondary schools are regulated. Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, §§ 5804-5806.
Private schools may adjust their tuition rates for the cost of removing
architectural barriers to comply with the Vocational Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 with prior approval of the Commissioner. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit.
20-A, § 5807.
A municipality may not provide services, materials or equipment for use
in religious courses, devotional exercises, religious training or any other
religious activity. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 30-A, § 5724.9.
The state is authorized to administer programs under the Child Nutrition
Act benefiting private school students provided the State is not required
to appropriate state funds for meals served in private schools. Me. Rev.
Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 6602.
Sales to schools; sales of meals served by private schools, student organizations
and parent-teacher associations to the students or teachers of a school;
and, the sale of automobiles used in driver education programs are exempt
from sales tax. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 36, § 1760.
Private schools approved for tuition purposes are eligible for innovative
education grants to promote creative improvement in the schools of the
state. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 17101.
The Department of Education may award subgrants to private schools out
of federal grant funds when permitted by the terms of the funding statute.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 15401.
The Commissioner may contract with a private school for applied technology
courses that meet the public secondary school standards. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 3002.
Approved nontraditional limited purpose schools are ineligible for state
subsidy. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 2907.4.
Private schools approved for tuition purposes whose school enrollment
is at least 60% publicly funded students may purchase surplus property
through the Bureau of Purchases. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, § 1813-A.
Miscellaneous: The Maine Constitution provides "all
religious societies in this State, whether incorporate or unincorporate,
shall at all times have the exclusive right of electing their public teachers,
and contracting with them for their support and maintenance." Maine Const.
art. 1. Sec. 3.
The chief administrator employed by a private school approved for attendance
purposes is required to hold a principal's certificate. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 13019-B.
Under the Blaine House Scholars Program, loan recipients for post-secondary
education may cancel the total amount of the loan by performing return
services in private schools approved for tuition purposes in the state.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, §§ 12507, 12508.
The Commissioner's advisory council on truancy, dropouts, and alternative
education has by statute, representation from the administrators of private
schools involved in alternative education. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5152.
The Commissioner employs at least one consultant to provide technical assistance
on alternative programs to school administrative units and private schools
approved for tuition purposes. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5151.
The use of animals in public and private schools is regulated by statute.
Vivisection of animals in K-12 schools is prohibited. Dissection of dead
animals must be confined to the classroom and the students engaged in the
study and must not be for exhibition. Experiments on live vertebrate, except
eggs, are restricted. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 7, § 3971.
Private schools are exempt from the state's criminal law prohibiting dissemination
of obscene material to minors if exhibited for purely educational purposes.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2911.2.
The Commissioner will periodically review all private schools that receive
public funds to determine their compliance with the applicable provisions
of the education code. The Commissioner may, as a condition of approval,
inspect any private school that applies for approval status. Me. Rev. Stat.
Ann. tit. 20-A, § 258-A.