Maine Law & School Choice
Generally, Maine students attending public school enroll in the district where their parents live. However, State law lays out the following exceptions, which are generally handled at the local district level:
- Paying tuition to attend school in another administrative unit. A student can attend public school in any school administrative unit (SAU) as long as the student secures the consent of the receiving unit's school board. Under this arrangement, the student's parents must pay the cost of tuition and transportation.
- Transferring as a result of a superintendents' agreement. Two superintendents can approve the transfer of a student from one SAU to another if the superintendents agree the transfer is in the student's best interest, and if the student's parent approves. Under this arrangement, no tuition is exchanged among school units. Instead, the transferred student is considered a resident of the receiving school district for purposes of calculating state subsidy. Learn more about superintendents' agreements.
- Attending school at home. Parents can choose to educate their children at home. They must file a Notice of Intent with the Maine Department of Education and the local superintendent of schools and offer assurances that they'll provide their children an adequate education. More on home instruction.
- Attending school when the home school district doesn't operate its own. A student whose parents live in a school unit that doesn't operate a school for the student's grade level can choose to attend any public or private school that will accept him or her. The home school district pays the cost of transportation and tuition, up to the State-determined, average per-student cost.
- Attending school in a nearby unit due to distance. A student whose parents live far from the normally designated, local public school can seek the consent of the local school board to attend school in an adjoining SAU whose facilities might be closer. For this arrangement to take effect, the adjoining SAU must agree to accept tuition students. The sending SAU pays the cost of tuition and transportation.
- Living within an SAU of 10 or fewer students. A student whose parents live in a school unit of 10 or fewer students are eligible to attend school in a nearby district if the school boards of both units agree. The home school district pays the cost of tuition and transportation.
- Attending school in another district for academic reasons. If a student's home high school doesn't offer two approved foreign language courses, the student may attend another secondary school that accepts him or her as long as the student notifies the home school of his or her intentions by April 1 of the preceding school year.
- Attending the Maine School of Science and Mathematics. A student who applies and is accepted to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics can attend this residential magnet school in Limestone, Maine. Students from Maine may attend the school free of tuition charges, however the student or the student's parent or guardian must pay the cost of room and board for the school year. More on the Maine School of Science and Mathematics.
- Attending a public charter school. Maine's first public charter schools opened in the 2012-13 school year. A student may attend any charter school that serves his or her grade level as long as the school has sufficient space. Learn more about charter schools, or visit the Maine Charter School Commission website.
- Expanding school choice in Maine. Governor Paul R. LePage has proposed legislation to expand Maine families' school choice options so students can find the educational settings that work best for them.
- This Legislature created a group charged with developing a model that will allow for public school choice. More on the School Choice Work Group.
Where do you start?
- See Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, Chapter 213 to read the laws governing where students attend school.
- Most of these school choice options are handled at the local level. Contact your local school district's central office to find out what school choice options are available.
- Need more information?
- School Approval Services
- School Approval Services