RAPPS Summary

Option 2, Recognized Private Schools


Required Subjects:


English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), math, science, American history, Maine history and geography, and government (including the privilege and responsibility of citizenship), health education and fine arts.


Summary of Guidelines:


A private school must include no fewer than two unrelated students. A private school “recognized” by the Maine Dept. of Education is an alternative to public school attendance. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A(3)(A)(1)(b). Recognition is automatic upon the Commissioner of Education receiving the annual letter described below, per section 2 of the “Guidelines for Private Schools Recognized by the Department as Providing Equivalent Instruction”. Under the Guidelines, the school should:


1. Annually by Oct. 1 file a letter (written by the school’s chief administrative official) with the Commissioner stating that the school:


a. Complies with applicable state and local safety fire and health laws; will report the names, addresses, and grade levels of all students to the local superintendent and update the report as necessary;

b. Operates at least 175 days or 875 hours;

c. Provides instruction appropriate to the grade level in: English (reading, writing, spelling, grammar), math, science, American history, Maine history and geography, government (including the privilege and responsibility of citizenship), health and fine arts;

d. Has examined and approved all teachers for competence;

e. Will furnish parents with at least 4 academic progress reports annually;

f. Will inform parents of methods of assessment, grade level of assessments, and results;


2. Submit the attendance report described in 1.a above to the local school superintendent within two weeks after the school opens, or by October 1, whichever is earlier.


3. Annually notify parents in writing of the school’s commitment to follow these guidelines, stating the essence of each guideline.


Attendance at a private school that the Dept. of Education has neither recognized nor approved does not satisfy the compulsory attendance law. However, in Bangor Baptist Church v. Maine, 576 F. Supp. 1299 (D. Me. 1983), the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine held that the Commissioner has no authority to shut down a private school. The Guidelines were initially established by agreement between the Commissioner and the private school community after the Bangor decision.


Teacher Qualifications: Option 2, the private school administrator must approve its teachers’ competence.

Standardized Tests: Option 2—none. 


The legal summary above is copyrighted property of Home School Legal Defense Association. Reprint permission is required.


Recognized for Attendance Purpose Private Schools (RAPPS) and Public School Access


If your children are enrolled in a home-based RAPPS ), then they are considered private school students according to the law. Maine law gives students in recognized private schools the ability to request access to public school co-curricular, extracurricular, and interscholastic activities. Public school principals cannot arbitrarily turn down access requests from students enrolled in recognized private schools. The principal has authority to deny access only if the public school does not have the capacity for the student to participate.


Review the full Equivalent Instruction Access Law.


Special Education Services


Those filing letters of intent to homeschool have little chance of receiving special education services through the public school. However, there is a readily available alternate route for access to special education services!


A family can switch to aRAPPS. Private school students have access to special education services. Many such schools are set up so that the private school instruction is delivered by the parents in their respective homes. All the best things about homeschooling continue.


If you are a homeschooler who needs access to special education services, consider enrolling in a recognized private school that is friendly toward parent-delivered instruction. Families using Option 2 are still eligible for membership in HSLDA. In fact, HSLDA membership is highly recommended! 

* The handbook below provides RAPPS Administrators and those interested in RAPPS with valuable background on the option, useful information and support.  

Recognized Private Schools Booklet 2013.
Adobe Acrobat Document 425.7 KB

** Click HERE to read the complete State of Maine Department of Education, Guidelines for Private Schools Recognized by the Department of Education for Providing Equivalent Instruction

EquivalentInstructionGuidelines (8).pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 64.5 KB