They have been given many names over the years, such as Non-approved Private Schools (NAPS) or Recognized for Attendance Purposes Private Schools (RAPPS). Currently, the Maine Department of Education calls them Equivalent Instruction Private Schools. Maine law uses the term “private schools recognized by the Department as providing equivalent instruction” to refer to these private schools that choose not to seek DOE approval.
Understanding the history of these types of private schools is important. In the early 1980s, the Maine DOE began to take note of the many small, private church schools meeting throughout the state. The Department decided that these schools needed to be regulated and approved by the State. They wanted each school to have an approved curriculum and certified teachers.
Since the private schools did not agree with the State, the Bangor Baptist Church v. Maine court case ensued. In the end, the court decided that the State did not have the authority to penalize private schools that did not seek state approval. The court also told the State to develop a set of voluntary guidelines that these private schools could operate under that would satisfy the compulsory attendance law.
These non-approved private school guidelines also met the needs of some groups of homeschoolers who wished to form home-based non-approved private schools (called NAPS at that time) for the purpose of satisfying the compulsory attendance law. Some homeschoolers began using this option at that time and it is still used today.
however, students enrolled in Equivalent Instruction Private Schools are not homeschoolers. By law, they are completely separate and distinct.
Here are some things to consider about Equivalent Instruction Private Schools: