What do I need to know if my child wants to drop out of school?

  • 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.
  • The best thing you can do is to work with the school and your child to develop an alternative school plan.

Required school age

In Maine, your child must go to school from the time they are 7 years old until they are 17 years old.

If all of the below 5 conditions are met, your child may be able to drop out of school before age 17:

  1. Passed 9th grade or is 15 years old
  2. Your permission to leave school
  3. Approval from the principal for a "suitable" work or study program
  4. Permission from the school board, and
  5. 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

If the principal or school board denies 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.

When is my child at risk of being truant?

If your child is younger than 17 but has finished 6th grade, they will be truant if they miss:

  • 7 school days in a row, or
  • 10 total days in a school year without an excuse

What can I do?

  • You should work with the school to develop a truancy prevention plan. 
  • Talk to your child about why they aren't going to school and what they want their 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.