In Maine, your child must go to school until he or she is 17 years old. There is a myth that teens can drop out when they are 15 or 16. This is not true. Children must go to school in Maine from the time they are 7 years old until they turn 17 years old.
There is one exception. If your child has:
- passed 9th grade or is 15 years old
- your permission to leave school
- approval from the principal for a "suitable" work or study program
- permission from the school board, and
- a written agreement that you and a school staff person will meet every year until your child turns 17 to review your child's educational needs
Your child cannot drop out of school unless every one of these 5 conditions are met.
If the principal or school board deny your request to allow your child to leave public school and enroll in a different work or study program, you have a right to appeal to the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.
What can you do?
If your child is younger than 17 but has finished 6th grade, he will be truant if he misses:
- 7 school days in a row, or
- 10 total days in a school year without an excuse
You should work with the school to develop a truancy prevention plan. Talk to your child about why he isn't going to school and what he wants his school day to be like. Request a meeting with the principal and attendance coordinator at your child's school. They may schedule a meeting with your school's "student assistance team." Ask your child to go to that meeting with you. At that meeting, develop a plan that your child will agree to. This plan may be a change in classes, vocational programming, alternative education, tutoring, mentoring, a modified day, or something else.
You are responsible for making sure your child goes to school. There is the possibility that the school district will bring a court case against you if your child is truant. Get more information on Truancy.
The best thing you can do is to work with the school and your child to develop an alternative school plan.
Updated May 2013