Superintendent Agreements and Review by Commissioner

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 50
POLICY CODE: JF

Maine law (Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. Section 5205, sub 6) states that two superintendents may approve the transfer of a student from one school administrative unit to another if they find that a transfer is in the best interest of the student and the student’s parent approves.

As superintendents grapple with these sometimes challenging decisions, They should be reminded of two key considerations:

  • Transfer decisions must be guided by considering the student’s best interest (funding and other considerations do not play a role); and
  • Maine law specifically empowers superintendents to approve student transfers. The final decision should rest with the superintendents, not school boards or others.

The law also provides for Commissioner review of transfers, upon the request of the parent of a student requesting transfer under this section of the law.  Commissioner reviews are on a case-by-case basis, again guided by consideration of a student’s best interest.

Protocol

Superintendents:

  1. Decisions are to be considered on  an individual basis and be guided by the student’s best interest;
  2. When a request is made of either superintendent, consultation between the two needs to take place before a decision is made. A transfer request should be initiated with the superintendent of the school administrative unit of residence;
  3. In any correspondence to the parent/guardian, there should be a reminder that an approval is subject to an annual review by the superintendents;
  4. Reasons for decisions should be included in the correspondence to the parent/guardian;
  5. The receiving superintendent should not enroll the student while a review by the Commissioner is pending.

Department of Education:

  1. If a parent appeals a superintendent transfer decision to the Commissioner, the Department will conduct a review including, but not be limited to, notifying and conferring with both superintendents and the parent/guardian;
  2. Appeals will be completed in a timely fashion;
  3. Superintendents and the parent/guardian will be notified of all transfer appeal decisions in writing as soon as possible;
  4. In deciding on renewal of a superintendent agreement, a review of the best interest of the child will include consideration of the need for consistency in a student’s educational progress;
  5. If a parent/guardian elects to enroll a child in a public school outside the school administrative unit of residence or in a private school, pending the outcome of a review by the Commissioner, the parent/guardian must do so at his/her own expense.

Please feel free to contact Edwin N. Kastuck, Ph.D., at 207-624-6776, or by email (edwin.kastuck@maine.gov) if you have any questions.

7 thoughts on “Superintendent Agreements and Review by Commissioner

  1. Dick

    Thanks for your reply. Note that I am a retired college teacher with a background in cost accounting and therefore I am not a Supt. Note that the local AOS 96 board has no jurisdiction over Supt. Agreements since each of the 11 towns have their own governance. The AOS 96 operates like the old School Union format whereby the AOS Board only approves joint Supt. office costs shared by all 11 towns.

    Note that parents sending their children to another town school within the AOS pay no property taxes to the receiving town which offers enhanced educational offerings.

    Note the number of Supt. agreements within AOS 96. If the number of incoming and outgoing Supt. Agreements for each town was near the same, there would not exist as much of an equity issue.

    Richard

  2. Richard, I am in no way discussing the benefits of school choice to either the student or the District. I may well have not made myself clear on that, sorry.
    My only point from the start was that the Commissioner said “Maine law specifically empowers superintendents to approve student transfers. The final decision should rest with the superintendents, not school boards or others”. And I replied that if one followed the Law, once the Super Approved the transfer, per Title 20A sec 1001 par 8, it is the School Board/Board of Directors that “shall determine which students shall attend each school, classify them and transfer them from school to school where more than one school is maintained at the same time”.
    One might argue that there is a conflict in the law?
    Then when you replied, I decided to look at your Founding Document (Plan) which was Approved by DOE to see how your AOS was set up to work.
    When I found that you were established with the statement “MBASS, established pursuant to this Interlocal Agreement shall be governed by an AOS school board comprised of representatives of each Member School Unit”, it sounded to me as if your AOS was to be governed by the AOS School Board!
    That was the only area I was addressing, not the benefits or disadvantages of anything being done or not done concerning the transfer of a student, which I consider to be a completely different area.
    In closing, I must say that I do not believe it to be the intent of the law that a Super must make an agreement with himself! If you are Super of two schools involved with moving a student within an AOS, it might be reasonably assumed that as the setting Super of both schools, you already have the authority to do that without any additional paperwork and the additional need to notify DOE that you had transferred one of your own students?
    Just my two sense..
    Thanks for the discussion Richard, I have enjoyed it, and will plan to say Hello to you at the MSMA Conference in October.

  3. School Choice for all is better than the current Supt. Agreements

    Note that excessive Supt. Agreements provide parents and students school choice which should be available for all students. At the same time many who advocate Supt. Agreements are against school choice. If school choice was available for all, Supt. agreements would not be needed.

  4. Thanks for your reply.

    Note that each of the 11 towns in AOS 96 have their own respective School Boards. Not all of the 11 towns operate their own K-8 school. The AOS agreement states that towns that operate their own K-8 school, should send all their students to that school. However, in actuality this is not true in that some parents, via Supt. agreements, send their children to another school in AOS 96 without paying tuition,. Towns that do not have their own k-8 school pay tuition to another school in AOS 96. Note that the receiving school of students receiving tuition agreements do not receive tuition (only state subsidy and had count). However, the headcount reduces the cost per student and the tuition rate received for tuition students.

    Richard Larson

  5. Richard, I am not much up on AOS’s, but in reading your Submitted Plan to DOE to form your AOS, it states “MBASS established pursuant to this Interlocal Agreement shall be governed by an AOS school board comprised of representatives of each Member School Unit”.
    I am certainly NOT a Lawyer, but again if I read Title 20A, Sect. 1001, par 8, it states “They (School Boards) shall either operate programs in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12 or otherwise provide for students to participate in those grades as authorized elsewhere in this Title. They shall determine which students shall attend each school, classify them and transfer them from school to school where more than one school is maintained at the same time”. “They” in this case is the AOS School Board as stated above and in your Formation Plan, and it would seem to not be a “Superintendents Agreement situation” to move students between two of your own schools by a single Superintendent?
    Your Plan states, as mentioned above, that your AOS is “governed” by the AOS Board!
    It might appear that transferring students between two AOS 96 schools falls more under the Duties assigned to School Boards in Title 20A as quoted above, and not “between one Superintendent”?
    Thanks for replying to my comment.

  6. Note that the majority of the Supt. Agreements in AOS 96 are with only one Supt. since the same Supt. has jurisdiction over all the 11 towns where students seek to attend another town school without paying tuition. Note Supt. agreements reduce the tuition rate since Supt. Agreements count in the head count to determine tuition rate.

    Richard Larson

  7. Commissioner Bowen,
    While I certainly agree with your note concerning transferring students from one Administrative District to another, there could be a minor exception or twist to your second bullet stated above that hit me as I read it. While it is true that the Super can transfer the student, per Title 20A sec 1001 par 8, it is the School Board/Board of Directors that “shall determine which students shall attend each school, classify them and transfer them from school to school where more than one school is maintained at the same time”.
    I am NOT saying this to cause a war between Supers and Boards/BOD’s, but to say that I felt your wording sort of said “never mind the Board, do as you want”, when in actuality I believe it MUCH better if we cooperate and work together when dealing with both students and our problems as they may arise within our Districts.
    If I were a Super and you had said to School Boards that State Law says Boards determine which school students attend, so the final decision should rest with the School Board, not Superintendent’s or others, I would have been posting the same basic comments, but in reverse! It is a cooperative and joint effort from/by both!
    I thank you for all you are doing and for taking time to read comments like mine!

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