Private School Approval

The Maine Department of Education requires approved private schools to be approved annually per 20-A M.R.S. Chapter 117.

Directories of Maine schools can be found here.

For a list of private schools approved for public funds (tuition purposes), click here.

NEO Organization. Private schools seeking approved status start by submitting required organization and staff* information into the Maine Department of Education's NEO information system. Private schools that were approved prior to June 30 and that are seeking renewed approval for the upcoming school year must access and submit the NEO Maine Schools Update form by the announced deadlines. Schools that were not approved private schools at the end of the school year should contact before July 1 to start the process, and request access to NEO Maine Schools and NEO Staff modules.** A new school may set up and access the NEO Maine Schools Update form as early as July 1 and must complete it no later than September 1. Please reach out early to our Help Desk (624-6896) in order to resolve any NEO technical questions or issues. 

NEO Staff. All private schools seeking continued or new approval status must provide current, updated staff information in the NEO staff module by September 1. Any required certification and all criminal history record checks must be current for all staff, teachers, and administrators by this date. The Department will commence the final step of certification checking at this time, and will not approve schools with personnel whose NEO public portal record reflects current noncompliance. The Department urges private schools to review instructions well in advance, at, and contact the Help Desk with questions regarding the proper way to enter staff information in the NEO information system. 

*For security and privacy purposes, staff information must be entered in the NEO Staff module in order for approval to be completed.

**After initial consultation, new schools will be requested to send specific preliminary organization information to Pamela Ford-Taylor, which will be used to set up an organization record. Once this step is complete, in order to access the record for verification and annual Update, the superintendent or chief administrator of the school must first be entered into the NEO Staff Module. Access to NEO staff can be obtained by submitting a NEO access request form to the MDOE Data Helpdesk, where schools who are new to the process or in any stage of the Maine Schools NEO report completion can get technical assistance. For School Approval, please contact Pamela Ford-Taylor.

Annual Report. (UPDATE 3/28/2022: PLEASE LOOK FOR UPDATED APPROVAL PROCESS INFORMATION FOR SCHOOL YEAR 2022-2023 COMING SOON! THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION REMAINS FOR HISTORICAL REFERENCE ONLY). Continuing schools, or new schools that have established an accepted organization record in the NEO information system, may submit the annual report and supporting documentation to the School Enrollment/Approval Specialist in a separate electronic process using the Private School Annual Report link. All basic school approval documentation must be submitted by July 1 for continuing schools, or by September 1 for new schools. Below are checklist documents to help the school prepare for upload of the required documentation during this process. Specific documentation requirements are determined by the type of private school approval sought, and by whether the private school intends to serve publicly-funded students. 

  • Private School - Checklist
  • Special Purpose Private School - Checklist
  • Non-Traditional Limited Purpose Private School - Checklist

Tuition. Any request for approval  for the receipt of public funds for tuition purposes will be contingent upon the receipt and acceptance of all basic school approval documentation by July 1 (or September 1 for new schools) and concurrent receipt of the Year-End Report of Private Schools  (Form EF-M 240). This form, previously submitted directly to the DOE finance office, is now submitted as part of the annual school approval report. Upon full approval, schools approved for tuition purposes will appear on this Approved List and Tuition Rates Website. Please note, because of the annual budget process, tuition rates are not calculated until December. Until that time, estimated tuition will be used. Please contact with additional questions regarding the EF-M 240 form. 

Deadlines. Summary of Private School Approval Deadlines 

  • May 15 – July 1: NEO Maine Schools and annual report for continuing schools 
  • July 1 – Sept 1: NEO Maine Schools and annual report for new schools 
  • September 1: NEO Staff update and certification for all schools

Related resources can be found at the following links: