There are many private schools in Maine. The law uses the term “private schools recognized by the Department as providing equivalent instruction” (20-A M.R.S.§5001-A(3)(A)(1)(b)to refer to private schools that choose not to seek Department approval.
Equivalent instruction private schools are also distinct from home instruction. In home instruction, the parent submits a Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction and takes full responsibility for the child while the child is being provided home instruction—they legally direct the child's education by choosing the curriculum, facilitating the process and determining academic needs, even if they engage other persons or programs to provide instruction or complete the required annual assessment. A home instruction high school student may be eligible to participate in Early College Opportunities in Maine.
In an equivalent instruction school, the school provides the teachers, curriculum, assessment, safety measures, attendance and other structural processes that ensure that a student is being afforded equivalent instruction within the meaning of 20-A, M.R.S.A. §5001. The school, rather than the parent, is required to notify a superintendent about any resident student that attends the private school, as outlined in 20-A M.R.S.§5001-A(3)(A)(2): “A student is credited with attendance at a private school only if a certificate showing the name, residence and attendance of the person at the school, signed by the person or persons in charge of the school, has been filed with the school officials of the administrative unit in which the student resides.” A high school student in an equivalent instruction school is not eligible to participate in Early College Opportunities in Maine.
Schools seeking to be recognized as providing equivalent instruction in Maine may provide an annual letter to the Maine Commissioner of Education prior to October 1 stating the intent to operate as such, according to the Guidelines for Private Schools Recognized by the Department as Providing Equivalent Instruction. A school year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. The Department will provide an acknowledgement of the annual letter, a copy of which will be provided to any member of the public upon request, along with an explanatory statement about Recognized schools in Maine.