General Residency Rule for Enrollment in Public Schools
Chapter 20-A, �5202
A person is eligible to attend schools in the school administrative unit:
- Where the person’s parent resides; or
- Where the person resides when they reach age 18; or
- Where the person resides if they become an emancipated minor.
In general, a student attends school in the school administrative unit where they live.
The “Superintendents’ Agreement” Exception
Under this exception, two superintendents may approve the transfer of a student from one school administrative unit to another school administrative unit (public unit to public unit only). Two conditions must first exist before such an approval can be arranged:
- Both superintendents find that a transfer is in a student’s best interest; and
- The student’s parent/guardian must approve, except where the student is considered majority age (age 18 or emancipated minor).
Please note that Superintendents’ Agreements:
- Can only occur between a student’s resident school administrative unit and the receiving school administrative unit that the student will be attending.
- Cannot be used by a school administrative unit to transfer a student that is not a resident of their unit.
Both the superintendent of the school administrative unit where the student resides and the superintendent of the school administrative unit where the student wishes to attend school must agree to the transfer. The transfer cannot take place if one or both of the superintendents involved denies the request.
However, the parent/guardian (or the student if age 18 or emancipated minor) has the right to petition the Commissioner of the Department of Education to review a denied transfer, except in cases where the receiving unit does not operate a public school at the student’s grade level. The Commissioner’s decision in turn may be appealed to the Maine Board of Education.
School administrative units are responsible to have on file a letter of agreement between the superintendent releasing a student or students and the superintendent accepting the student or students (please see Sample Forms section below). If either of the superintendents decides not to approve the transfer, that superintendent shall provide to the parent/guardian of the student requesting transfer under this paragraph a written description of the basis of that superintendent’s determination. A copy of the denial communications to the parent/guardian should be forwarded to the Commissioner’s office. Approved transfers should be entered in the student information system (please see the following detailed instructions under Student Information System Reporting Procedures).
Details Regarding Residency, Tuition and State Education Subsidy
No tuition may be charged under a Superintendents’ Agreement transfer.
The term “student” in this document means “subsidizable pupil”. "Subsidizable pupils" means all school level pupils who reside in a school administrative unit and who are educated at public expense at a public school or at a private school approved for tuition purposes. (20-A, MRSA, � 15672, Sub- � 32)
This transfer student provision effectively transfers the residency of a student from the student’s resident school administrative unit to the receiving school administrative unit where the student will be attending school, so that the receiving unit essentially “takes ownership” of the student.
Under a Superintendents’ Agreement, the receiving unit when the student actually attends school counts the student for state subsidy. The resident unit can no longer count the student for subsidy.
- Student resides in School Administrative Unit A
- Student wants to attend school in School Administrative Unit B
- School administrative units A and B create a Superintendents’ Agreement to transfer this student from school administrative unit A to school administrative unit B.
- When the agreement takes effect:
- school administrative unit B now receives the subsidy count for this student; and
- school administrative unit A no longer receives the subsidy count for this student.
Student Information System Reporting Procedures:
Based on the above example transfer approvals should be reported as follows:
- Resident Town - student is reported as a resident of municipality they live in – in school administrative unit A.
- Resident SAU - student is reported as a resident of school administrative unit A.
- Attending SAU - student is reported as attending in school administrative unit B.
- School - student is reported in the school that he or she is attending in school administrative unit B.
Fiscal Responsibility - set to Superintendent Agreement
Frequently Asked Questions and Sample Forms
Q. How does the Superintendent Agreement and Commissioner Review process work?
A. Superintendent Transfer Agreements are designed to facilitate a student transfer from one school administrative unit (SAU) to another for the student’s best interest. Per Title 20-A MRSA Section 5205(6): Two superintendents may approve the transfer of a student from one school administrative unit to another if: (1) They find that a transfer is in the student’s best interest; and (2) The student’s parent/guardian approves. The superintendents shall notify the commissioner of any transfer approved under this paragraph through the appropriate coding in the student information system.
Q: When is a Superintendent Agreement subject to Commissioner Review?
A. A Superintendent Transfer Agreement denial may be appealed to the Commissioner, and then ultimately to the Maine Board of Education, except in the case where there is no public school in the receiving unit at the student’s grade level. This includes pre-kindergarten.
Q. Where does the student attend school while an appeal is in process?
A. The possibility of appeal should always be anticipated, and the student should remain at the place of instruction where they were in attendance at the time the transfer was requested by the parent(s) or guardian(s). Awaiting a decision on a superintendent agreement or appeal is not an excusable reason for absence.
Q. What is the suggested timeline for responding to a request for transfer?
A. Parents/guardians should receive decisions within a reasonable time – no more than a few weeks.
Q. What should the parent/guardian submit when requesting a Superintendent Agreement?
A. SAUs often use a form to collect transfer request information. The Department has created sample forms which may be adopted as part of the Superintendent transfer agreement process (optional):
- Sample Parent/guardian Request for Superintendent Transfer Agreement form (new 5-17-22)
- Sample Superintendent Transfer Request Determination form (new 5-17-22)
Please feel free to use the forms as templates. These forms model the type of information that should be requested and generated as Superintendents and parent/guardians work through the details of a transfer.
Q. May a Superintendent Agreement be rescinded or reversed?
A. Superintendent Agreements are annual contracts that provide subsidy for the student to the receiving district and the student becomes a “resident” of the district. If the transfer is agreed to by both sending and receiving superintendents, the student becomes a ”resident” of the receiving SAU for one school year. Other than transportation, these students must be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as students who reside in the SAU. The agreement should not include contingency language, as agreements may not be subject to revocation, rescission, or contingencies. An agreement can and should make clear that it is subject to an annual approval process. If, during the school year, a parent and both superintendents agree that reversing the agreement is in the best interest of the student, then it may be reversed, however the funding will remain with the formally agreed upon district.
Q. Who has fiscal responsibility for a Superintendent Transfer student?
A. The receiving unit, by accepting the student as a “resident” of the receiving unit, is accepting full fiscal responsibility for the student, just as with any other resident of the SAU, including fiscal responsibility for special education services. Special education services must be provided to transfer students by the receiving SAU at no cost to the parent/guardian and the cost of these services may not be billed to the sending SAU. For students who have been in ongoing attendance, and where tuition has been paid by the parent/guardian, tuition adjustments will be effective as of the date of parent/guardian request is submitted to the Superintendent.
Q. Who must respond to the parent/guardian when one or both Superintendents deny a Superintendent Agreement?
A. If both Superintendents deny a request for a waiver, then both Superintendents are responsible for sending a letter of denial to the parent/guardian, as these letters will be reviewed in the case of an appeal.
Q. What should a Superintendent consider when making a Superintendent Agreement decision?
A. Above all else, one should weigh what is in the child’s best interest. Other considerations may include:
- Availability of space or programming.
- If there is home insecurity or a sudden or unexpected change in housing.If so, the department recommends that superintendents consult the SAU’s McKinney Vento Liaison to determine whether the student should be considered homeless, and therefore has enrollment options that would preclude the need for a Superintendent Transfer Agreement. Mobile or home insecure families may benefit from the consistency of school during this time.
- Impact of the change. For example, consistency may be in the best interest of students in the latter part of their high school career, as graduation requirements and curriculum alignment or progressions may vary school to school, making the impact of a transition more significant.
Request for Commissioner Review of a Denied Superintendent Agreement
If a Superintendent agreement request is denied and the parent/guardian elects to ask for a Commissioner review, the checklist items listed below must be submitted here: Request for Commissioner Review of a Denied Superintendent Agreement. The Commissioner will consider the decision of both Superintendents, and the information provided, in the review.
- Name of Parents or Legal Guardians
- Student’s full name, date of birth and grade level
- Parents or Legal Guardian Address, Telephone Number and Email
- Applicable school year for the transfer
- Name of the resident school administrative unit
- Name of the school administrative unit that the student would be transferred to.
- Copy of the Superintendent’s letter to the parent/guardian denying the transfer (if both superintendents deny, include both letters)
- Copy of the parent’s/guardian's requests to both superintendents for the transfer and any accompanying documentation
- If one of the two superintendents’ approves the transfer; include a copy of that superintendent’s approval letter or communication
- Letter to the Commissioner including:
- Description of why it is in the best interest of your child to attend the other school administrative unit (SAU) instead of the resident SAU, including copies of any supporting documentation. The reasons why it is in the best interest of the child should be specific to this child and their situation.
- Parent/guardian address the issues that the denying superintendent raised in the written description of the basis of that his/her determination that they provided to the parent/guardian.
School Enrollment Specialist
Maine Department of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023