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JEA - Compulsory School Attendance

Regular student attendance is necessary to achieve our mission, fulfill our beliefs and practices, and realize our student learning outcomes.

The trust between parent and school is one of great importance and parental judgement will be respected in requests for planned absences.  If there is a pattern of absences, any request will be examined more closely due to the potential harm to the student.

Compulsory Attendance Ages 
Under state law, full-time attendance at school is required of every child 6 years of age or older and under age 17, unless they have received a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Although not required to enroll in school, if a child who is 5 years of age is voluntarily enrolled in a public school and has not formally withdrawn, that child is required to attend school when it is in session.

Excusable Absences from School
A student’s absence from school is excused when the absence is for one of the following reasons:

  1. Personal illness;

  2. An appointment with a health professional that must be made during the regular school day;

  3. Observance of a recognized religious holiday when the observance is required during the regular school day;

  4. Visits to programs or colleges for the purpose of post-secondary planning; 

  5. A family emergency; 

  6. A planned absence for a personal or educational purpose which has been approved; or

  7. Education disruption resulting from homelessness, unplanned psychiatric hospitalization, unplanned hospitalization for a medical emergency, foster care placement, youth development center placement or some other out-of-district placement that is not otherwise authorized by an IEP or other education plan or Superintendents’ agreement.

Adult Responsibility for School Attendance
Parents or other adults having control of a child of compulsory attendance age are responsible for ensuring that child attends school as required by law. The Board expects school administrators and staff to work with families in an effort to ensure compliance.

Exceptions to the Compulsory Attendance Requirement
A student may be excused from compulsory attendance at school under one of the following conditions:

  1. The student graduates from high school before their 17th birthday.

  2. The student has:

    • Reached the age of 15 years or completed the 9th grade;

    • Received permission to leave school from their parent;

    • Been approved by the principal for a suitable program of work and study or training;

    • Received permission to leave school from the Board or its designee; and

    • Agreed in writing with that student’s parent and the Board or its designee to meet annually until that student’s 17th birthday to review that student’s educational needs.

If a request to be excused from school is denied pursuant to this section, the student’s parent may appeal to the Commissioner of Education.

  1. The student has matriculated and is attending an accredited, post-secondary, degree-granting institution as a full-time student. An exception to the compulsory attendance law under this paragraph must be approved by the Commissioner of Education.

  2. The student is enrolled in an online learning program or course.

Alternatives to Attendance in Public School
A student age 6 or older and under age 17 shall be excused from attending a public day school if they obtain equivalent instruction as allowed by law.  A child under age 6 is not required to comply with this section.

Equivalent instruction alternatives are as follows:

  1. A private school approved for attendance purposes pursuant to state law and regulations;

  2. A private school recognized by the Department of Education as providing equivalent instruction;

  3. A home instruction program that complies with state law and regulations;

  4. Any other manner arranged by the Board and approved by the Commissioner of Education; 

  5. Pursuant to 20-A M.R.S.A. Sections 5014-A and 8605 (approved alternative programs or adult education programs)

A student shall be credited with attendance at a private school under Paragraphs A or B only if the legally required certificate from the private school is filed with the student’s school unit.


Legal Reference:
20-A MRSA §§ 5001-A et seq.; 5051 et seq.; 2901; 5104-A;

8605 Chapters 125 and 127 (Maine Department of Education Rules)


Cross Reference:
JFC –Student Withdrawal From School (Dropout Prevention Committee)

JHB – Habitual Truancy 

IHBG – Home Instruction Program


Adopted: May 18, 2009

Revised: January 13, 2020