ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: 4
POLICY CODE: JF
This letter: clarifies the conditions for approving a superintendents agreement; notes limits on this transfer authority; outlines local protocol, and the procedure for appeals to the Commissioner; and provides an overview of the newly-approved provision in law to allow for school districts to adopt inter-district enrollment policies.
Maine law (Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §5205(6)) states that:
A. 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 student’s best interest; and
- The student’s parent approves.
As superintendents grapple with these sometimes challenging decisions, they must remember two important considerations:
- Transfer decisions must be based entirely on the student’s best interest (funding and other considerations do not play a role); and
- Maine law specifically empowers superintendents (not school boards or others) to approve student transfers; the decision making authority in this area rests entirely with the superintendent.
It is also important to note the limits on this transfer authority. First, the law provides for transfers from one school administrative unit to another – not to a specific school building. The right to assign students to particular school rests with the school board of the receiving school administrative unit. Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §1001(8). Second, in a similar vein, the transfer provisions do not apply to requests for reassignment to a different school within a single school administrative unit. Third, transfer agreements must be between two school administrative units, not a school administrative unit and a private school approved for the receipt of public funds.
All transfers must be reviewed annually. Title 20-A, M.R.S.A §5205(6)(C).
The law requires that the Commissioner review requests for transfer at the request of the parent of a student requesting transfer. Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §5205(6)(B). The Commissioner’s review is done on a case-by-case basis, again guided solely by consideration of a student’s best interest.
In order to ensure adherence to the law, while minimizing delay and concern on the part of the student seeking transfer and his/her family, superintendents should adhere to the following protocol:
- A transfer request should be initiated with the superintendent of the school administrative unit where the student resides;
- When a superintendent receives a transfer request, consultation with the superintendent in the desired school administrative unit should occur before a decision is made.
- Both superintendents must concur for the transfer request to be approved. One, or both, of the superintendents can deny the request;
- Reasons for the decision should be included in the correspondence to the parent, and correspondence to the parent should be copied to the other superintendent;
- Correspondence to the parent granting a transfer should include the reminder that a transfer is subject to an annual review by the superintendents;
- Correspondence to the parent denying a transfer should include notice that the parent may seek review of the transfer by the Commissioner; and
- The receiving superintendent should not enroll the student while a review by the Commissioner is pending.
When a request for review is received by the Commissioner, the following will occur:
- The Commissioner or his designee will conduct a review including, but not limited to, notifying and conferring with both superintendents and the parent;
- Appeals will be completed in a timely fashion; and
- The two superintendents and the parent will be notified of transfer decisions in writing.
If a parent elects to enroll a child in a public school outside their 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 their own expense.
Inter-district Enrollment Policies
During the last legislative session, Section 5205 was amended to add specific authority for the school boards of two or more school administrative unites to adopt mutual policies allowing for the transfer of students, with parental approval, among the participating units. Each school board adopting such a policy is required to file a copy of the policy with the Department prior to the effective date of the policy, as well as provide timely notice of the policy to residents of the school administrative unit. Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §5205(6-A).
Please feel free to contact Greg Scott, at 207-624-6614, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions with respect to transfers or inter-district enrollment policies.