SY 2023-24 Private School Approval Information 

In accordance with 20-A M.R.S. Chapter 117, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) requires all private schools seeking approval for attendance and/or tuition purposes to be approved annually. What follows are updated instructions and reminders of the annual requirements to attain and maintain approval by the Maine DOE. More detailed information can be found on the DOE private school approval webpage. Detailed data entry instructions for the NEO Maine Schools and School Approval submission process may be found here. Schools may reach out to the Help Desk ( or 624-6896) to resolve any technical questions or issues with the submission process. Please review the directions below carefully as missed deadlines will impact private school approval and any associated tuition payments.  

Schools new to private school approval (and reminder for continuing schools) 

Private school approval requirements are determined for each specific school according to: 

  • Type of private school: Private school; Special purpose private school; Nontraditional limited purpose private school 
  • Enrollment of publicly funded students (percentage of students tuitioned from a school administrative unit): No publicly funded students; <60% publicly funded students; 60-<85% publicly funded students; 85%+ publicly funded students 
  • Accreditation: NEASC-accredited; not NEASC accredited  

Schools considered “new” are those that were not approved private schools on June 30th of the year of application. The first step for new schools considering application for approval for the upcoming school year is to become familiar with the deadlines and to schedule a conversation with DOE’s school approval consultant, Pamela Ford-Taylor ( or 207-624-6617). Once the school has met with the Ms. Ford-Taylor and details are clear about the type, enrollment population, and accreditation status of the school, the following steps will occur: 

  • As early as May/June, the applicant will email the DOE school approval consultant to formally indicate their intent to apply and request access to the State’s information system, NEO.  
  • DOE Helpdesk, data personnel, and the consultant will work together with the school to establish an organization record and access to the NEO Maine Schools and School Approval module, the NEO Staff module, and the Maine Educator Information System (MEIS). Ongoing training for NEO and MEIS is available by the Helpdesk. A new school may be set up and have access as early as July 1.  
  • On or after July 1, but no later than the September 1 deadline, the private school will access their new record in NEO Maine Schools and School Approval, and after verification/correction of the organization section, will complete the school approval annual report affirmation checkboxes and submit. 
  • DOE will review the submission and respond with any corrections needed. Once the record is complete and correct, DOE will send an acceptance email to confirm next steps (please see summary chart below). At that point the school may enroll students and begin operation on its normal schedule while completing the next steps.  
  • Once the school’s initial NEO submission is accepted, the private school has access to new functionality on the same form: the staff affirmation checkbox and the tuition-receiving form (EF-M-240) required for all schools with an enrollment status other than “No publicly funded students.” At this point, schools that are public tuition receivers should complete the EF-M-240 section, and all schools should review staff certifications in the Maine Educator Information System (MEIS) to ensure there are no violations, and then check the staff affirmation check box to indicate that they have completed the violations check (even if they are still addressing violations).  
  • DOE will continue to communicate and assist with any issues related to school approval, and conduct a final staff check by September 15. A certificate of approval will be issued upon completion of any outstanding items, including but not limited to resolving staff certification violations and the tuition-receiving form (EF-M-240) due by September 1. Full approval means that schools approved for tuition purposes are then placed on the list of tuition receiving private schools which school administrative units use to authorize tuition payments.   

Continuing approved private schools 

Continuing approved private schools are schools that were approved for attendance or tuition purposes on June 30th of the year of application. NEO Maine Schools Update and School Approval for private schools will launch on May 10, 2023, for continuing schools. Private schools seeking 2023-2024 approval that are currently approved must access and submit the Maine Schools Update and School Approval form by July 15, 2022.  

  • Reminder: The NEO School Approval for private schools was combined last year with NEO Maine Schools Update. Likewise, the EF-M-240 form (available and required for those indicating the receipt of publicly-funded students) is included as part of the same online NEO form. The NEO Staff module, a separate NEO module where schools report all staff and which the DOE uses to check staff credentialing, remains unchanged. 

Summary Chart of Private School Approval Steps and Due Dates 

Important Notes 

  • The DOE does not require upload of supplemental documentation during the approval process. Supplemental documentation will be requested if needed.   
  • The private school staff certification list should be reviewed by authorized school administrators early in the summer in order to resolve violations and prepare for the DOE’s September staff certification check. All private schools, new or continuing, seeking approval status must provide updated 2023-2024 staff information in the NEO staff module by September 1. Required certification and criminal history record checks must be current for all staff, teachers, and administrators by this date. The Department will commence the final step of certification checking at this time, and will not approve schools whose NEO public portal record reflects current violations for teaching or non-teaching staff. The Department urges private schools to review instructions well in advance and contact the Help Desk with questions regarding the proper way to enter staff information in the NEO information system.  
  • Any request for approval for the receipt of public funds for tuition purposes will be contingent upon the receipt and acceptance of basic school approval reporting by July 15 (or September 1 for new schools), and the Private School Approval to Receive Public Tuition Funds (also called Form EF-M 240) by September 1. This financial report is available via embedded functionality within the NEO Maine Updates and School Approval form. Access to the EF-M-240 form will be provided after DOE initial review and acceptance of the basic school approval submission for applicable schools. Following submission of the EF-M-240 and validation of the staff check, and upon full approval, schools approved for tuition purposes will appear on the Approved List and Tuition Rates website. Because of the annual State budget process, tuition rates for the school year will not be calculated until December. Until that time, estimated tuition will be used. Please contact with additional questions regarding tuition calculations. 
  • Private schools receiving public tuition funds are required to complete a variety of annual student and staff reports.  These reports include semi-annual enrollment, quarterly daily attendance/behavior/truancy, graduation, and other. Schools can find the Maine DOE reporting calendar and all pertinent reporting instructions at Yearly ongoing reporting requirements. Please reach out to the Helpdesk for more information or additional assistance. 

Summary of Private School Approval Deadlines 

  • May 10 – July 15: NEO Maine Schools and annual report submission for continuing schools. 
  • July 1 – Sept 1: NEO Maine Schools and annual report submission for new schools. 
  • September 1: NEO Staff update and certification/background updates deadline for all schools. 
  • September 1: EF-M-240 due for schools requesting to be approved to receive publicly funded tuition.