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TO:                 Superintendents of Schools, Private School Chief Administrators, School Board Chairs


FROM:           Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:            July 9, 2004


RE:                 Private School Approval Rule Development Process


As you may know, a meeting with private school administrators was held in Augusta on May 6, 2003. Acting on the discussion that took place at the May 6th meeting, a plan has been formulated for involving stakeholders in the development of certain sections of the private school approval rules. Since most areas pertaining to private school approval must align directly with the statute, the Department will develop proposed language for these provisions. However, there are certain areas of private school approval that I believe are appropriate for the consensus-based rulemaking process as outlined in Title 5 M.R.S.A. Section 8051 et seq. These include the following areas:


a.       Expulsion and due process rights for students whose private school tuition and other costs are paid with public funds;

b.      Certified administrators required for approved private schools;

c.       The protocol/ procedures by which private schools that enroll publicly funded students will demonstrate to the Department that they will abide by all State and federal constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions related to admission, provision of education, accommodation, special education, discipline, or issuance of a high school diploma (if approved to issue a high school diploma).


The consensus-based rule development process will take place on August 17-18, 2004 at the Maple Hill Farm Conference Center in Hallowell, Maine. I will be sending invitations on July 12, 2004, to stakeholder groups asking them to identify two representatives to attend the sessions. The expected outcome will be the development of rule language pertaining to the aforementioned areas.

The proposed rules developed by the Department and the consensus-based rulemaking process will be made public in accordance with the Maine Administrative Procedure Act. This will include a public hearing and a written comment period. The plan is to have the rules adopted in time to provide public and private schools ample opportunity to implement the rules for the 2005-06 school year.


The stakeholder groups being invited to participate include: the Maine Superintendents Association, the Maine School Boards Association, the Maine Principals Association, Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities, the Maine Parent Federation, the Maine Parent Teacher Association, the Disability Rights Center, the 60% private schools, the private special purpose schools, the religious and non-religious approved private schools, and private school parents. Staff from the Department of Education will also be in attendance to assist with record keeping, meeting management and other needs.


Please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Edwin N. Kastuck, School Approval Services, at 624-6776 or if you have any questions.


Thank you in advance for your support and participation in this very important rule development process.