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TO:                      Maine School Superintendents


FROM:                 Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:                 June 11, 2003


SUBJECT:           Unsafe School Choice Option Policy



One of the requirements of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) is for states to adopt an Unsafe School Choice Option Policy that would offer students who attend “persistently dangerous schools,” or who have been victims while at school of a “violent criminal offense,” the option to transfer to a safe school within the district.  Over the past several months, Maine Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) personnel in the Maine Department of Education and in the Office of Substance Abuse have been working with representatives of Local Educational Agencies, Law Enforcement, and the Attorney General’s Office to draft an Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO) Policy and identify those acts that would be considered violent criminal offenses.  For your information, a copy of the draft policy is attached. 


To remain in compliance with the NCLBA, Maine must identify any persistently dangerous schools by July 1, 2003.  Though the State’s USCO policy is still in draft form, this memorandum is being forwarded to request your assistance with data collection covering the past three years.  Ultimately, all the required data will become available electronically via either the Maine Education Data Management System (MEDMS) or the SDFSCA, but for this initial year of reporting, we are relying on your assistance in completing, signing, and returning the attached two-item questionnaire to Roger Richards, the Department’s Contact for Title IV-A, either by fax at 624-6651 or regular mail to:  Maine Department of Education, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME  04333.


By June 20, 2003, please respond even if your district has not experienced any Gun-Free Schools (GFS) violations or violent criminal offenses.  The remaining information for the Department’s submission to the United States Department of Education (USDE) is being obtained from the SDFSCA and the “Incidence of Prohibited Behaviors” reports, but it is imperative that we obtain your district’s report of any Violent Criminal Offenses for the past three years and any GFS violations for the current school year.  


Thank you for your assistance with this matter, and if you have any questions, please contact Roger Richards at 624-6683.




Attachments:    Draft Policy