Private School Approval

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) requires approved private schools to be approved annually per 20-A M.R.S. Chapter 117.

Directories of Maine schools can be found here.

For a list of private schools approved for public funds (tuition purposes), click here.

NEO Maine Schools Update and School Approval for Private Schools 

Private schools seeking approved status have historically started the annual process by verifying required organization and updating staff* information in the Maine Department of Education's NEO information system. New in 2022-2023, the annual approval report is included as part of the same online NEO process with the Maine Schools Update organizational information. Detailed data entry instructions may be found at Maine Schools and School Approval - NEO Module. Schools may reach out to our Help Desk (MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 624-6896) to resolve any technical questions or issues with the submission process.

Private schools that were approved prior to June 30 and that are seeking renewed approval for the upcoming school year must access and submit the NEO Maine Schools Update and School Approval form by the announced deadlines. Schools that were not approved private schools at the end of the school year may contact  Pamela.Ford-Taylor@maine.gov to start the process, and request access to the NEO Maine Schools and School Approval for Private Schools, and NEO Staff modules.** A new school may set up and access the required NEO forms as early as July 1, with completion no later than September 1. Please reach out early to our Help Desk (624-6896) to resolve any NEO technical questions or issues. 

NEO Staff 

All private schools, new or continuing, seeking approval status must provide updated 2022-2023 staff information in the NEO staff module by September 1, 2022. Required certification and criminal history record checks must be current for all staff, teachers, and administrators by this date. The Department will commence the final step of certification checking at this time, and will not approve schools with personnel whose NEO public portal record reflects current noncompliance. The Department urges private schools to review instructions well in advance, at https://www.maine.gov/doe/data-reporting/collection/helpdesk/resources/staff-dataentry-guides, and contact the Help Desk with questions regarding the proper way to enter staff information in the NEO information system. The private school certification violations list (https://www.mymainecertification.com/SSO_PROD/Default.aspx) should be reviewed by authorized school administrators early in the summer to resolve violations and prepare for the September staff certification check.

*For security and privacy purposes, staff information must be entered in the NEO Staff module in order for approval to be completed.

**After initial consultation, new schools will be requested to send specific preliminary organization information to Pamela Ford-Taylor, which will be used to set up an organization record. Once this step is complete, in order to access the record for verification and completion of annual reporting requirements, the superintendent or chief administrator of the school must first be entered into the NEO Staff Module. Access to NEO staff can be obtained by submitting a NEO access request form to the MDOE Data Helpdesk, where schools who are new to the process or in any stage of the Maine Schools NEO report completion can get technical assistance. For School Approval, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor.

Tuition

Any request for approval for the receipt of public funds for tuition purposes will be contingent upon basic school approval and the receipt of the Private School Approval to Receive Public Tuition Funds form (also called Form EF-M 240) by September 1. This financial report, previously requested as a separate document, will now be submitted using embedded functionality within the NEO system. For schools that have indicated in their annual report that they are receiving publicly funded students, access to the Private School Approval to Receive Public Tuition Funds form will be provided after DOE review of the initial basic school approval submission. Following submission of the EF-M-240 form and validation of the staff check, and upon full approval, schools approved for tuition purposes will appear on this Approved List and Tuition Rates Website. However, because of the annual budget process, tuition rates for the school year will not be calculated until December. Until that time, estimated tuition will be used. Please contact Paula.B.Gravelle@maine.gov with additional questions regarding tuition calculations.

Summary of Private School Approval Deadlines

  • September 1: NEO Maine Schools and annual report submission due for continuing schools
  • July 1 – Sept 1: NEO Maine Schools and annual report submission for new schools
  • September 1: NEO Staff update and certification/background updates deadline for all schools
  • September 1: EF-M-240 due for tuition-receiving schools

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