ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: Approval for Receipt of Public Funds by Private Schools Located Outside the State of Maine

Administrative Letter: # 9
Policy Code: DDA
TO: Public School Superintendents, Private School Administrators Outside the State of Maine
FROM: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D., Commissioner
DATE: June 23, 2017
SUBJECT: Approval for Receipt of Public Funds by Private Schools Located Outside the State of Maine

Pursuant to 20-A M.R.S. § 2951, a private school may be approved for the receipt of public funds for tuition purposes only if it:

  1. Basic Approval. Meets the requirements for basic school approval under subchapter 1 (§§ 2901-2904);
  2. Nonsectarian. Is a nonsectarian school in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;
  3. Incorporated. Is incorporated under the laws of the State of Maine or of the United States;
  4. Reports and audits. (repealed)
  5. Additional requirements. Complies with the reporting and auditing requirements in sections 2952 and 2953 and the requirements adopted pursuant to section 2954;
  6. Student assessment. Any school that enrolls 60% or more publicly funded students, as determined by the previous year’s October and April average enrollment, shall participate in the statewide assessment program to measure and evaluate the academic achievements of students; and
  7. Release of student records. Upon request of a school unit, release copies of all student records for students transferring from the private school to the school unit.

A review of the current procedures for the approval of private schools outside the State of Maine to receive public tuition funds revealed that these private schools were not being evaluated to determine whether they were meeting the requirements for basic school approval pursuant to section 2951(1). As a result of this finding, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, all private schools seeking approval to receive public tuition funds, both in and outside the State of Maine, will be required to meet the statutory requirements for basic school approval.  In order to ensure continuity of educational programming for students who have already made schooling arrangements for the 2017-2018 school year, the Department will allow those private schools outside of Maine that received approval in FY 17 and are on the approved list on the DOE website, to remain approved one year before they must adhere to the requirements noted above.  However, after the 2017-18 school year, they too must meet all the requirements of Title 20-A, §2951.  In addition, please remember that all private schools will still need to complete the Year-End Report of Private Schools (EF-M-240) for the 2017-18 school year to be eligible for approval to receive public tuition funds.

For information regarding the Private School Approval process, please go to, or contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, School Enrollment Specialist, at 207-624-6617 or

For information regarding the approval process for private schools to receive public tuition funds, please go to, or contact Paula Gravelle, School Finance Manager, at 207-624-6792 or

Administrative Letter: New School Approval Process, Maine Schools Update due June 15, 2017

Administrative Letter: #8
Policy Code: KLL
TO: Private School Administrators
FROM: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed. D. Commissioner
DATE: May 15, 2017
SUBJECT: New School Approval Process, Maine Schools Update due June 15, 2017

In accordance with 20-A M.R.S.A Chapter 117, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) requires private schools seeking approval status to be approved annually. Private schools, until and including 2017-18, have undergone a manual approval process, working with the School Enrollment Specialist.

Currently the Department is working toward moving the private school approval process to the NEO education information system by 2019. Our goal is to streamline and facilitate the entry and transfer of important and sensitive information critical to the school approval process.

Effective immediately, private schools seeking approval/renewal are required to enter their organization data (the NEO Maine Schools Update) on the same schedule as the public schools,* and complete staff data in the NEO Staff module prior to submitting the annual application/report. Please see this linked notice posted on April 12, 2017. The remainder of the Private School Approval process currently remains a manual process.

New Maine DOE School Approval web pages have been set up to fully outline the process, and link to instructions and guides for completing the required information in the NEO Maine Schools and Staff modules. The Private School Approval  web page will be the source for required private school approval annual applications/reports and checklists, and will also provide links to other Department resources related to school approval, such as certification, helpdesk, and private school approval for receipt of public funds.

Please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, Maine DOE School Enrollment Specialist at 207-624-6617 or with questions or comments about the new requirements, the new web pages, or the school approval process.

*NEO Maine Schools must be completed by June 15 of this year. As a preliminary step, in order for an organization to be updated in Maine Schools, the superintendent or chief administrator of the school must be verified in the NEO Staff Module by contacting the Helpdesk staff, 624-6896 at the Department of Education, who can also assist schools who are new to the process or in any stage of the Maine Schools NEO report completion. For School Approval, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor.

Administrative Letter: Superintendent Transfer Agreements

Administrative Letter: #7
Policy Code: CBC
To: Superintendents, School Board Chairs, and Private School Head Administrators
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D., Acting Commissioner
Date: March 15, 2017
Re: Superintendent Transfer Agreements

Last year, the Maine Department of Education sent out a letter to Superintendents entitled Clarification of Commissioner’s Review of Superintendent Agreements. As we move closer to the 2017-2018 school year and we begin to see more Superintendent Transfer Agreement requests, it may be helpful to review the letter again carefully. I also want to provide some additional guidance to address questions and clarify issues about the Superintendent Transfer request process at the local level.
Specifically, Superintendent Transfer Agreements are designed to facilitate a student transfer from one school administrative unit (SAU) to another for the student’s best interest. Per Title 20-A MRSA Section 5205(6):

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. [2013, c. 456, §1 (AMD).

SAUs often use a form to collect transfer request information, and to deliver decisions. The Department has created sample forms which may be adopted as part of the Superintendent transfer agreement process (optional):

Please feel free to use the forms as templates. These forms model the type of information that should be requested and generated as Superintendents and parents work through the details of a transfer.

When communicating with parents about required documentation for transfer request submission to the Superintendent, SAUs may advise parents to write a letter supporting their request and to include supporting documentation and compelling reasons for the request. Parents should be advised not to submit anything that they would not want shared with the Department or the State Board of Education, should the request be denied and subsequently appealed.

When responding to requests, it is important to communicate the basis for the Superintendent’s decision, based on the student’s best interest.

If the transfer is agreed to by both sending and receiving Superintendents, the student becomes a resident of the receiving SAU for one school year. Please note that agreements may not be subject to revocation, rescission, or contingencies for the school year. These students must be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as students who reside in the SAU.

Under a transfer, the receiving unit, by accepting the student as a resident of the receiving unit, is accepting full fiscal responsibility for the student just as with any other resident of the SAU, including fiscal responsibility for special education services. Special education services must be provided to transfer students by the receiving SAU at no cost to the parent and the cost of these services may not be billed to the sending SAU.

When possible, requests should be made and decisions rendered in an expedient manner, and preferably prior to the start of the school year.  In order to properly account for SAU fiscal responsibilities, it is recommended that the transfer be in effect for the October 1st student count. For students who have been in ongoing attendance and where tuition has been paid by the parent, tuition adjustments will be effective as of the date of parent request to the Superintendent.

Thank you for rendering informed and thoughtful Superintendent Transfer Agreement guidance and decisions that are in the best interest of Maine students.

For more information regarding this letter, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor at or (207) 624-6617.

Administrative Letter: Rescheduling and Requesting Waivers for Storm Days

Administrative Letter: #6
Policy Code: ID
To: Superintendents, School Board Chairs, and Private School Head Administrators
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D., Acting Commissioner
Date: March 6, 2017
Re: Rescheduling and Requesting Waivers for Storm Days

As many of you are well aware, this winter has resulted in above normal snowfall amounts and many school administrative units have had to exceed the number of storm days that were originally planned for in the school calendar. This has resulted in concerns about meeting the regulations pertaining to the length of the school year. Below we have provided a link to the regulations pertaining to rescheduling and requesting waivers for storm days, along with a brief summary that we hope will help administrative leaders as they make decisions about how to make up the lost days. In Chapter 125: Basic Approval Standards: Public Schools and School Administrative Units Section 6.01, subsections C (1) and (2), regulations state that the Commissioner may waive the minimum school year requirements upon submission of a written request from the school board to the Commissioner, and that waivers will be granted only after school officials have exhausted all reasonable avenues for making up lost school days, and only in extraordinary circumstances. As a reminder, the requirement is 175 days for students in grades K-11, and 170 days for high school seniors. Acceptable efforts to reschedule classes include the following:

  • Rescheduling or shortening scheduled vacation
  • Postponing the scheduled school closing date
  • Conducting classes on weekends
  • In addition, districts sometimes choose to revert a scheduled teacher in-service day to a student instructional day

Please note, under Chapter 125 Section 6.02, subsection C, school administrative units may, with the permission of the Commissioner, schedule a one hour extension of the school day for up to 25 days in a school year; 5 one hour extensions may be counted as an additional school day. Please see the Waivers for Snow Days Frequently Asked Questions provided on Maine DOE’s website for more details, including defining/calculating an instructional day. Waivers should be submitted in writing from the school board or its designee to the Commissioner’s Office at the Maine Department of Education [per Chapter 125 Section 6.01 subsection C (2)]. In addition, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor, School Approval Services, by email or by phone 624-6617, of the intent to file a waiver request as soon as possible. We all realize how valuable instructional time is for our students. Thank you for your efforts to ensure that your students have the opportunity to learn for the intended full school calendar year.

Admin Letter: Special Purpose Private School Tuition Rates

Administrative Letter Number: 5
Policy Code: BG/CH
To: Superintendents of Schools, Business Managers/Bookkeepers
From: William H. Beardsley, Deputy Commissioner
Date: October 24, 2016
Re: Special Purpose Private School Tuition Rates

Pursuant to 20-A M.R.S. §7302, the Maine Department of Education Special Services team has established rates for the 2017 state fiscal year.

Special purpose private schools shall only bill for education costs for those days when a child is in attendance.

These rates are retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year. Rates were determined by analyzing expenditure report budgets submitted for the previous year for all special purpose private schools and represent the maximum amount each special purpose private school may charge per day.  Please click here to view a PDF version of the current complete rate chart. If there are further questions or concerns regarding this matter, please contact:  Edward Fournier, Coordinator of Finance and Data – Special Services, at or 624-6845 or  Jonathan Braff, Coordinator for State Agency Clients, at or 624-6671.