Administrative Letter: Guidance for Expulsion, Suspension, and Modified Schedules in Public Preschool Programs

Administrative Letter: #2
Policy Code: JKE, JKD
To: Public School Administrators
Date: December 14, 2022
Subject: Guidance regarding suspension, expulsion and modified schedules in public preschool programs

This guidance is offered by the Maine Department of Education to clarify suspension, expulsion, and modified schedules as they apply to students attending public preschool programs. While the provision of public preschool programs is not mandated in Maine, public preschool is strongly encouraged. When offered, public preschool is intended to serve all eligible children, to the extent possible, including learners with a variety of needs. Children who attend high quality preschool programs have an opportunity to build social emotional skills, strengthen executive functioning skills and have a stronger start to school (Zinsser, et al, 2022). To realize these benefits, children must remain in school.  Once enrolled in public preschool programs, in accordance with 20-A M.R.S. §1001(8-A), children may not be unenrolled or expelled. Additionally, if a school administrative unit (SAU) is unable to serve all 4-year-olds who wish to enroll in public preschool, protocols to determine enrollment decisions which result in preschool populations with demographics that reflect the SAU’s K-12 demographics are strongly encouraged.

Suspension and Modified Schedules in General Education 

Suspension of 4-year-olds attending public preschool programs is permitted only in accordance with 20-A M.R.S. § 1001(9) which specifies that a school board may not authorize a principal to issue an out-of-school suspension to a student who is enrolled in grade 5 or below except as provided under subsection 9-A (federal Gun Free Schools Act) or unless the principal determines that there is an imminent danger of serious physical injury to the student or others and less restrictive interventions would be ineffective. An out-of-school suspension for a student who is enrolled in grade 5 or below may not exceed 3 days. Additionally, SAUs cannot unilaterally determine that a child attend public preschool on a modified schedule (e.g., reduced school day, reduced school week).  Parents/caregivers must understand the reason(s) for consideration of a modified schedule, and they must be involved in the decision-making process and agree to the modified schedule before it is implemented. Consider a modified schedule as an interim intervention in a multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) plan only in situations where multiple accommodations and interventions have been implemented, but safety remains a concern.

Suspension and Expulsion for Children with Disabilities 

In accordance with Federal and State law, a child may not be excluded from enrollment in a public preschool program based solely on the presence of a disability.  Enrolled children who are referred to Child Development Services (CDS) based on program concerns regarding the child’s development or behavior must be considered a child with a disability and afforded the same rights as their K-12 peers, until the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team makes its determinations.

The Maine Department of Education recognizes that to support challenging behaviors and maintain safe environments for all students and staff, educators need training and resources.  Please refer to the list below for helpful contacts and resources.

Please contact Nicole Madore, Early Childhood Specialist at 446-3967 and, or Dr. Roberta Lucas, State Director of Child Development Services/619 Coordinator at 207-624-6621 and, with questions or comments about this guidance.


United States Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings

Maine DOE’s Early Learning Office Hours for Public Preschool

Maine’s Child Development Services System (Part B 619)

Maine Department of Education’s Office of School and Student Supports

Maine Early Childhood Consultation Partnership 

Maine DOE’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations