Law Summary of Maine Homeschool Options
Below is a summary of the two legal options available to homeschoolers in Maine that satisfy the compulsory school attendance requirement. Homeschoolers can either qualify under the homeschool statute, which is described in Option One or as a recognized private school as described in Option Two. Review both options carefully to determine which will better suit your family. If you are a member of HSLDA, please check out their Resources for Maine Members page for more good information.
After reading the summary below, you will want to read the full Maine Homeschool Statute at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/20-A/title20-Asec5001-A.html, as well as information about the Homeschool Access Law and Special Education Services so that you are fully informed, and are able to make the best choice for your family..
The following legal summaries are copyrighted properties of Home School Legal Defense Association, reprint permission is required.
Maine Revised Statute
Compulsory Attendance Ages: 7 years of age and under 17, or graduated, or 15 with parent and school board permission, or full-time attendance at accredited college with commissioner approval, MRSA tit. 20-A, § 5001-A sub-§§1 and 2.
Required Days of Instruction: Notice of intent must provide assurance of 175 days.
Option 1: English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical and health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine studies (in one grade between grades 6 and 12), and computer proficiency (in one grade between grades 7 and 12). Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A(3)(A)(4)(a)(iv).
Option 2: English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), math, science, American history, Maine history and geography, and government (including the privilege and responsibility of citizenship), health education and fine arts.
Option 1: Homeschool Statute: Maine Revised Statutes Annotated ( MRSA ) title (tit.) 20-A, §5001-A, sub-§3A.(4). A person is excused from attending school if instructed in a home instruction program meeting the following statutory requirements.
Within 10 days of starting home instruction for a student, file a one-time notice of intent with both your local superintendent* and commissioner of education containing:
a. name, signature, and address of the parent or guardian,
b. the name and age of the student,
c. the date home instruction will or did begin,
d. a statement of assurance that instruction will be provided for at least 175 days annually and will cover the subjects listed above, and
e. a statement of assurance that the parents will submit a year-end assessment.
Each year thereafter by September 1, submit a subsequent letter to both your local superintendent and state commissioner of education enclosing your year-end assessment (see “Standardized Tests” below) and stating whether you intend to continue the student’s home instruction. MRSA tit. 20-A, § 5001-A, sub-§3.A.(4)(b).Parents must keep copies of items submitted under 1 and 2 above until the home school program concludes. They must be made available to the commissioner upon request. The confidentiality of all records is protected. MRSA tit. 20-A, § 5001-A, sub-§3.A.(4)(c).
Teacher Qualifications: Option 1—none.
Standardized Tests: Option 1, students must annually submit the results of an assessment from among the following options:
(a) a Maine certified teacher, or
(b) a homeschool support group that includes for this purpose a Maine certified teacher or administrator who has reviewed a portfolio of the student’s work, or
(c) a local advisory board appointed by the superintendent composed of two homeschool teachers and one school official (must be arranged with school system before school year starts).
- results of a standardized achievement test, or
- results of a test developed by local school officials, or
- review and acceptance of progress by:
*Contact your town office to request the correct mailing address for your local superintendent. You can also find your local superintendent's name and address at this website: http://www.msmaweb.com/unit-list.html
Option 2: Recognized Private School: A private school must include no fewer than two unrelated students. A private school “recognized” by the Maine Dept. of Education is an alternative to public school attendance. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A(3)(A)(1)(b). Recognition is automatic upon the Commissioner of Education receiving the annual letter described below, per section 2 of the “Guidelines for Private Schools Recognized by the Department as Providing Equivalent Instruction”. Under the Guidelines, the school should:
1. Annually by Oct. 1 file a letter (written by the school’s chief administrative official) with the Commissioner stating that the school:
a. Complies with applicable state and local safety fire and health laws; will report the names, addresses, and grade levels of all students to the local superintendent and update the report as necessary;
b. Operates at least 175 days or 875 hours;
c. Provides instruction appropriate to the grade level in: English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), math, science, American history, Maine history and geography, government (including the privilege and responsibility of citizenship), health and fine arts;
d. Has examined and approved all teachers for competence;
e. Will furnish parents with at least 4 academic progress reports annually;
f. Will inform parents of methods of assessment, grade level of assessments, and results;
2. Submit the attendance report described in 1.a above to the local school superintendent within two weeks after the school opens, or by October 1, whichever is earlier.
3. Annually notify parents in writing of the school’s commitment to follow these guidelines, stating the essence of each guideline.
Attendance at a private school that the Dept. of Education has neither recognized nor approved does not satisfy the compulsory attendance law. However, in Bangor Baptist Church v. Maine, 576 F. Supp. 1299 (D. Me. 1983), the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine held that the Commissioner has no authority to shut down a private school. The Guidelines were initially established by agreement between the Commissioner and the private school community after the Bangor decision.
** Click HERE to read the complete State of Maine Department of Education, Guidelines for Private Schools Recognized by the Department of Education for Providing Equivalent Instruction. To receive a resource booklet or for more information regarding the operation of a home-based recognized private school in Maine (Option Two), please contact the HOME Office.
Teacher Qualifications: Option 1—none. Option 2, the private school administrator must approve its teachers’ competence.
Standardized Tests: Option 2—none. Under Option 1, annually submit to both the local superintendent and Commissioner the results from among the following options:
1. Official results of any national standardized achievement test; or
2. Results of a test developed by local school officials; or
3. Review and acceptance of progress by: (a) a Maine certified teacher; (b) a homeschool support group that includes for this purpose a Maine certified teacher or administrator who has reviewed a portfolio of the student’s work; or (c) an advisory board the superintendent appoints composed of two homeschool teachers and one school official (must be arranged before school year starts).
Note: The Summaries of Maine Homeschooling Options are reproduced by permission from Home School Legal Defense Association, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129. THE ANALYSIS OF BOTH OPTIONS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE GIVING LEGAL ADVICE.
Please contact HOME for more information, questions, and to aid in your understanding of the homeschool options in this state. All services are provided free of charge.