Equivalent Instruction Private Schools

What is an Equivalent Instruction Private School?

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:



  • Since this is not homeschooling, no individual filing of a homeschool notice of intent is necessary. Notification is the responsibility of the administrator of the private school.
  • No filing of homeschool annual assessment results with officials is necessary since this would be the responsibility of the private school. 


  • Private schools generally charge fees (which vary).
  • Legally, you are not a homeschooler. Children enrolled in these schools are private school students.
  • Schools, including Equivalent Instruction Private Schools, are subject to all vaccination laws and requirements.
  • Equivalent Instruction Private Schools come and go (sometimes without much warning!).
  • You are dependent on the private school administrator to file the paperwork. If they don’t, if mistakes are made or if it is sent late, you risk truancy charges.
  • Equivalent Instruction Private Schools are governed by a set of “voluntary guidelines” rather than laws and APA rules. Guidelines can be changed by the DOE at any time without necessarily having a public hearing. 
  • Technically, you are not in charge of your child’s educational program, the private school is. 

Find more at the DOE website.