By Ed Green, President and Founder of HOME
In May 2003, Governor John Baldacci signed into law a complete overhaul of Maine's homeschool law. Since then, the law has provided great relief to homeschooling families throughout Maine. The process has been so easy that many of you have been wondering if you were neglecting something! Here is an outline of what is required.
Under the law, those wishing to begin homeschooling a child for the first time in Maine (who has reached his or her 7th birthday or who has not yet reached his or her 17th birthday) must file a written notice of intent within the period of 10 days before and 10 days after the beginning of the child's home instruction program. This applies to a child removed from school at any point during the school year to be homeschooled, or to a child who moved into Maine at any point during the school year. If the child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, it is advisable (though not required) to file the notice of intent—or at least give the school informal notice—before the child is withdrawn.
The notice of intent must be filed, simultaneously, with the local school superintendent of your school administrative unit (you can find this address by contacting your town office) and with the Commissioner of Education at the Maine Department of Education in Augusta (find this address on the letter of intent forms). It must include: the full name, signature, and address of the parent or guardian, the full name and age of the student, the date home instruction will or did begin, a statement of assurance that instruction will be provided for at least 175 days annually and will cover the following subjects: English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine studies (in at least one grade between grades 6 and 12); and that the student(s) will demonstrate proficiency in the use of the computer (in one grade between grades 7 and 12). a statement of assurance that the parents will submit a year-end assessment.
Each subsequent year by September 1, the family must file a "subsequent year" letter with the commissioner and the school administrative unit. The letter must state whether the student's home instruction program will continue. It should be signed by the parent or guardian, and include the parent or guardian's full name and address, and, of course, the child's full name. The family must enclose a copy of the previous year's annual assessment results for the child.
Both the one-time notice of intent and the letter each subsequent year should be clear and legible, or you may be inconvenienced by an official contacting you for clarification. The law requires you to keep copies of all items that must be submitted until the homeschool program concludes. (It is advisable to keep them longer). They must be made available to the commissioner upon request.
When mailing documents to the school administrative unit or commissioner, we strongly recommend using certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can prove that you sent the required documents, if that ever becomes necessary. Carefully file the green postal receipts. (Please note: The State Postal Center in Augusta is the mail service center for State agencies including the Department of Education. Your DOE mail receipt will come from this address, which is 88 State House Station, and will not be signed. This is not the DOE mailing address, however. Please use the DOE mailing address when sending your documents.)
The process is as simple as that! We thank God for the homeschool freedoms gained in 2003.
Pray that He will continue to preserve homeschool freedoms in Maine for all those presently homeschooling and for all homeschoolers in the generations to come.