Clarification of Commissioner’s Review of Superintendent Agreements

The following priority notice was sent on Tuesday, August 16

Dear Superintendents,

As a result of recently received requests for review of denied superintendent agreements, I am clarifying the Commissioner’s role regarding superintendent agreement transfers pursuant to 20-A MRS §5205(6)(B). The Commissioner’s role is to review the superintendents’ determinations. As a result, it is crucial for the Commissioner to have the superintendent’s written description of the basis for the determination for the student.

6. Transfer Students. The following provisions apply to transfers of students from one school administrative unit to another.

A. 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 approves.
The superintendents shall notify the commissioner of any transfer approved under this paragraph. If either of the superintendents decides not to approve the transfer, that superintendent shall provide to the parent of the student requesting transfer under this paragraph a written description of the basis of that superintendent’s determination.

B. On the request of the parent of a student requesting transfer under paragraph A, the commissioner shall review the transfer. The commissioner shall review the superintendents’ determinations and communicate with the superintendents and with the parent of the student prior to making a decision. The commissioner may approve or disapprove the transfer and shall provide to the parent of the student and to the superintendents a written decision describing the basis of the commissioner’s determination.

Current statute, 20-A MRS §5205(6)(A), requires that superintendents provide the basis of their determination in their communication to the parent(s). If a denial, a superintendent must inform parents of the rationale denying a transfer request on the grounds of the student’s “best interest.”

At this time, the Department has received a large number of requests from parent(s) for the Commissioner to review superintendent agreements that have been denied and we have found that many of the letters or forms that superintendents have provided to parent(s) are either:

  • Missing the superintendent’s determination why a transfer is or is not in the best interest of this student; or
  • the superintendent’s written description of the basis for their determination is not in compliance with the statute as it lacks an explanation why a transfer is not in the best interest of this student.

As a result of this lack of information, I am unable to review many of these determinations as required by 20-A MRS §5205(6)(B) or I must make a determination of what’s in “the student’s best interest” based largely on the parents position.

For the recently received requests for review that are either missing the superintendent’s determination or the determination is not specific to the student and the student’s situation, Department staff may be contacting you to indicate that you must provide to the parent (and the Department) the detailed written description of the basis of your determination that is specific to their child and their child’s situation. This written description should address any concerns or issues that the parent(s) raised in the request to you for the transfer.

In these communications with parents, please remind them that these transfers must be requested annually and that the annual request to you should provide detailed information each year as to their reason to why it is in the best interest of their child to transfer to another school administrative unit.

In regards to parent(s)’ requests to the Commissioner for review, included here are instructions for parents on how to request that review.

Finally, above all else, the law and this process are focused on what is in the child’s best interest.

Sincerely,

Bill Beardsley, Deputy Commissioner
Maine Department of Education