Maine compulsory school attendance age
Beginning when your child turns 7, you must start complying with Maine’s compulsory school law for that child.
Once your child reaches his or her 17th birthday, he or she is no longer required to obey the school laws. Additionally, there are three ways your child can be excused from following the school laws before turning 17: he or she can graduate from high school, attend an accredited college full-time with the approval of the Commissioner of Education, or, after turning 15, his or her parents and the local school board may agree to release him or her from further school attendance.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Maine law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Maine available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with Maine’s homeschool law
Maine has two options you can use to homeschool your children: home instruction and private schooling.
Option 1: Homeschooling under Maine’s home instruction option:
If you choose to provide your child with home instruction, you’ll need to follow these requirements:
1. File a one-time notice.
You must send a one-time written notice to your local school superintendent and to the state commissioner of education. This notice needs to be sent within 10 days of you starting to homeschool your student.
Your notice must include the following information:
- name, address, and signature of the parent or guardian,
- student’s name and age
- the date that home instruction began (or will begin),
- a statement that you will provide instruction to your student for at least 175 days a year,
- a statement that you will cover the required subjects, and
- a statement that you will submit a year-end assessment for your student.
Maine law says that you must keep a copy of this notice for your records. If the commissioner of education asks to see the notice, you must provide it to him or her.
2. Send an annual letter.
Each year thereafter, by September 1, you need to send a letter to the local school superintendent and to the state commissioner of education.
This letter needs to include the following:
- your student’s year-end assessment, and
- a statement that you intend to continue your student’s home education.
Maine law says that you must keep a copy of each annual letter, and a copy of each year-end assessment, for your records. If the commissioner of education asks to see the letter or the year-end assessment, you must provide it.
3. Teach the required subjects.
You must all of the following subjects:
- English and language arts,
- social studies,
- physical and health education,
- library skills,
- fine arts,
- Maine studies (in one grade between grades 6 and 12), and
- computer proficiency (in one grade between grades 7 and 12).
4. Submit a year-end assessment.
For your child’s year-end assessment, you can:
- Submit the official results of a national standardized achievement test.
- Submit the results of a test developed by local school officials (homeschoolers do not commonly use this type of assessment).
- Submit a letter stating that your child’s progress has been reviewed and is acceptable. This letter can be from a Maine certified teacher, a support group that has a Maine certified teacher helping to conduct your child’s review, or an advisory board that includes two homeschool teachers and one school official and that you arrange with your school district before the school year begins. The advisory board option is not commonly used.
Keep a copy of the assessment you submit for your records.
Option 2: Homeschooling as a student of a private school:
Maine law allows homeschooling parents to join together and function as a “recognized as equivalent private school” (REPS). The requirements a private school must follow to be “recognized as equivalent” are listed in HSLDA’s analysis of Maine state law. You can satisfy Maine’s school attendance laws by enrolling your child in one of these schools.
One of the requirements for obtaining recognition is that the school must provide instruction in these subjects:
- English (reading, writing, spelling, and grammar),
- American history,
- Maine history and geography,
- government (including the privilege and responsibility of citizenship),
- health education, and
- fine arts.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find Maine’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.