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Maine Compulsory Education Laws

Formal education is a requirement for children of a certain age in all states, whether it's public school, private school, home school, or other types of instruction. Compulsory education laws were enacted in the U.S. around 1900 in order to protect child welfare. By 1918, every state had some form of a compulsory attendance law on the books.

Maine's compulsory education laws require children between the ages of seven (7) and 17 to attend school unless he or she has graduated.

Exceptions to the Compulsory Education Law

There are some exceptions to the compulsory education laws. For example, a child 15 or older can be legally exempt from attending school if he is she is either has parental permission and school board approval or is attending school full-time at an accredited university with commissioner approval.

Penalties for Truancy

When a child doesn't attend school as required by law he or she is considered "truant." That's when the law gets involved. You may be summoned to appear in District Court if:

  • Your child is "under your control" (i.e., lives with you),
  • You received written notice from the school about your child's truancy and the plan that was developed to correct it,
  • Your child has missed enough days in the school year to be truant.

Why? This is because you are responsible for making sure your child attends school. You will not be charged with a crime, but you can be found to have committed a civil violation.

The main provisions of Maine's compulsory education laws, and penalties for noncompliance, are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Compulsory Education and Types of Schools sections to learn more.

Code Section(s) Title 20-A, §5001-A
Age at Which School Attendance is Required Between 7 and 17
Exceptions to Attendance Requirements

A person who has:

  1. Reached the age of 15 years or completed the 9th grade;
  2. Permission to leave school from that person's parent;
  3. Been approved by the principal for a suitable program of work and study or training;
  4. Permission to leave school from the school board;
  5. Agreed in writing with that person's parent and the school board or its designee to meet annually until that person's 17th birthday to review that person's educational needs.
Home School Provisions Attendance in a qualified home school or private school is legal in Maine.
Penalties on Parents for Noncompliance
  • fined up to $250
  • ordered to take action that will make your child go to school
  • ordered to go to a parent training class
  • ordered to go to school with your child
  • ordered to follow the school's intervention plan
  • ordered to perform community service at school
  • ordered to go to counseling or other services

Note: State laws surrounding the issues of privacy and patients' rights are constantly changing. You may wish to contact a Maine education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching. Most attorneys offer free consultations.

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Maine Compulsory Education Laws: Related Resources

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