Kids Legal

Protecting the Rights and Improving the Lives of Maine's Children

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Education Rights

If your child is being bullied at school, there are policies the school must have and follow. Learn more here.
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In Maine, all children who are at least 7 years old until their 17th birthday must be in a school program. Children in this age range who are enrolled in public school are truant when they have a certain number of unexcused absences in a school year. Schools should take specific steps to work with parents and students who are truant. The school can also start a court case against a parent or responsible adult.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law the protects students with disabilities from being discriminated against. It applies to any school that receives federal financial assistance. Under 504, your child has a right to a "reasonable accommodation or modification." Learn more here.
There are extra protections for students with disabilities if the school wants to suspend them for more than 10 school days in a school year.
Sometimes a parent (or adult student) and the school may disagree. If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can request mediation and/or a due process hearing through the Maine Department of Education (DOE). Parents, adult students, or "interested persons" can also file a complaint against a child's school district.
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There are state and federal laws that protect students from being discriminated against or harassed because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin or disability. These laws are in addition to Maine's anti-bullying and anti-hazing laws. Learn more here.
When you enter the world of special education, you may feel like people are speaking another language. You'll hear teachers using acronyms like "IEP Team" and "IDEA." We've written this page to help you learn what these terms mean for school age children. This way you can begin to understand and speak the language, too. The terms are listed alphabetically.
Learn about the different timelines a school must follow under IDEA.

Note: This document is intended to serve as a guide for parents navigating the special education system, in order to know what to expect.  However, it is not the same as specific legal advice, and may not cover every individual situat

Under Maine law, your child must be in an educational program from the age of 7 until his or her 17th birthday. There are some exceptions. If an exception does not apply, and your child drops out of school before turning 17, your child is truant. You are ultimately responsible for making sure your child goes to a school program if your child lives with you. Learn more here.