The Purpose of Elementary and Secondary School Enrollment and Operations is laid out in Maine statute, in M.R.S.A. Title 20-A, Section 5001-A: “Compulsory education is essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people and the continued prosperity of our society and our nation.” The Maine Department of Education is committed to ensuring the rights of all Maine learners to access educational opportunities, including appropriate alternatives to regular day-school curricula.
The resources on this School Enrollment and Operations page links individuals to relevant school enrollment opportunities, resources, and processes, including information about Maine public schools, private schools and home instruction. State oversight of the activities of public and private elementary and secondary schools primarily focuses on public and private school approval/recognition, home instruction reporting coordination, and Superintendent Transfer denial appeals.
The School Enrollment Specialist works closely with the Department’s Office of School & Student Supports, and the Office of Data & Reporting.
For information on what the Carson v Makin Supreme Court decision means for Maine schools, click here.
Maine Law & School Options
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.
Attending school at home. Parents can choose to educate their children at home. They must file a Notice of Intent with the local superintendent of schools and offer assurances that they'll provide their children an adequate education.
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 or contract with 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 a course in 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 or the Maine Ocean School. Students from Maine may attend a magnet 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.
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 at the Maine Charter School Commission website.
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 options are handled at the local level. Contact your local school district's central office to find out what school options are available.