An Act To Expand Educational Opportunities for Maine Students
Sec. A-1. 20-A MRSA §2701, as amended by PL 1985, c. 797, §17, is further amended to read:
§ 2701. Authority to contract for school privileges
The legislative body of a school administrative unit other than a school administrative district , which that does not maintain any of the grades from kindergarten to grade 12 , may authorize its school board to contract with another school for school privileges for all or a part of its resident students in those grades for a term of 2 to 10 years. A contract entered into under this chapter on or after August 1, 2012 may not prohibit a student residing in the sending school administrative unit from enrolling in an open enrollment school under section 5207.
Sec. A-2. 20-A MRSA §5205, sub-§9 is enacted to read:
Sec. A-3. 20-A MRSA §5207 is enacted to read:
§ 5207. Maine Open Enrollment Program
(1) The limits, if any, on the grades or programs in which students will be offered enrollment opportunities;
(2) Whether it will provide or arrange for transportation for open enrollment students;
(3) The policy on enrollment of students who are expelled from their sending school units;
(4) The process by which the school or the governing body will determine how many openings are available, age eligibility for the openings, when the number of openings will be determined and how it will provide public notice of the openings; and
(5) The selection process, which must be random, that will be used pursuant to subsection 8 to determine enrollment if the number of students seeking enrollment exceeds the number of openings available in a grade or program.
Sec. B-1. 20-A MRSA §5205, sub-§6, ¶A-1 is enacted to read:
Sec. B-2. 20-A MRSA §5205, sub-§6, ¶B, as enacted by PL 1981, c. 693, §§5 and 8, is amended to read:
Sec. B-3. 20-A MRSA §5205, sub-§6, ¶B-1 is enacted to read:
(1) The school to which the student seeks to transfer has space to accept the student; and
(2) The commissioner:
(a) Disagrees with the superintendent's determination of the student's best interest; or
(b) Determines that the superintendent's decision was based on a policy to deny all such requests.
This bill creates a school open enrollment program under which a student may attend a school other than the school to which that student is assigned based on the street address of the student's family.
The bill provides that the governing bodies of public schools and private schools approved for the receipt of public funds may elect to open their schools to enrollment by students who are not otherwise entitled to attend those schools. Opening the school to enrollment is voluntary, but the school may not select which students to enroll under the program. The student is not required to obtain permission from the superintendent of the school administrative unit of which the student is a resident in order to enroll in the open enrollment school. The governing bodies of open enrollment schools are required to set forth a process to determine how many openings will be made available to students and in which grades or programs the openings will be offered. Contracts for school privileges may not prevent students from participating in the open enrollment program.
A student who transfers from a public school in one school administrative unit to a public school in another unit under the program is considered to be a resident of the unit to which the student transfers. The student is counted as a student in the new unit, as a student is under an agreement between superintendents to transfer a student, but the change in residence is included in the funding formula earlier than it would be under an agreement between superintendents. The school administrative unit in which a student actually resides is required to pay tuition if that student enrolls under the program in a private school approved for the receipt of public funds.
The bill also amends current law under which superintendents of 2 school administrative units may grant a parent's request to have a student's residency transferred from one school unit to another. If one or both superintendents deny the transfer request, the parent may appeal to the Commissioner of Education. The bill requires that superintendents provide written reasons for any denial, and specifies the grounds on which the commissioner may overturn a denial.