Private School Regulation

District of Columbia

To award credit for compliance with the District's compulsory school attendance law, independent, private and parochial schools must submit satisfactory evidence to the Superintendent of Schools that the amount of instruction, character of instruction, qualifications of staff and other conditions, such as class size, facilities, counseling services, and attendance recordkeeping, are acceptable to the Board of Education. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.2.

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: The District of Columbia Board of Education is responsible for establishing requirements to govern acceptable credit for studies at independent or private schools. D.C. Code Ann. 31-402(d). Schools must provide satisfactory evidence to the Superintendent of Schools that the amount of instruction, character of instruction, qualifications of staff and other conditions, such as class size, facilities, counseling services, and attendance record-keeping are acceptable to the Board. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.2. Institutions that submit proof of accreditation or that they are undergoing the process of accreditation by an accrediting body approved by the Board will be deemed to have presented satisfactory evidence. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.3. The parochial nature of an educational institution or sectarian nature of instruction cannot be a factor for the Board's determination. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.5.

School approval for attendance purpose is contingent on the maintenance and submission of attendance records to the D.C. Board of Education. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.6.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Independent, private or parochial school teachers must keep an accurate daily record of attendance of all enrolled students legally required to attend school. These records must be open for inspection at all times by persons authorized to enforce the District's compulsory school attendance law. Principals have a duty to report to the District of Columbia Board of Education a student's absence for more than 2 full-day sessions or 4 half-day sessions in any school month and the reasons for the absence. D.C. Code Ann. 31-403. Principals must report to the Board of Education the name, address, sex, and date of birth of each minor who resides permanently or temporarily in the District who transfers between schools or who enrolls in or withdraws from his or her school. D.C. Code Ann. 31-405. Anyone who willfully neglects or refuses to provide this information, i.e., attendance, absence, and enrollment records, or knowingly makes any false statement, is guilty of a misdemeanor. D.C. Code Ann. 31-406.

Elementary and secondary private schools must maintain health files for each student. Each file must contain all health-related documents, including the certificates of health and dental-health. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2407. See Health. Private schools, and their employees are neither civilly or criminally liable for failing to recognize or communicate the need for medical treatment based on the information contained in the student's health file. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2409.

Length of School Year/Day: The Board of Education is charged with issuing rules to govern acceptable credit for studies completed at independent or private schools. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-402(d). Schools must provide satisfactory evidence to the Superintendent of Schools that the amount of instruction, i.e. the number of hours per day, days per week, and weeks per year, is acceptable to the Board. The instruction need not be given at the same time as the equivalent D.C. Public School program. D.C. Regulations 2100.2.

Teacher Certification: The Board of Education is charged with issuing rules to govern acceptable credit for studies completed at independent or private schools. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-402(d). Schools must provide satisfactory evidence to the Superintendent of Schools that the qualifications of staff, i.e. the training and educational requirements for teaching and supervisory staff, are acceptable to the Board. A District of Columbia teaching certificate is not required. D.C. Regulations 2100.2.

Curriculum: The Board of Education is charged with issuing rules to govern acceptable credit for studies completed at independent or private schools. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-402(d). Schools must provide satisfactory evidence to the Superintendent of Schools that the character of instruction includes acceptable subject matter and time devoted to the subjects. D.C. Municipal Regulations 2100.2.

Health: Private school students are required to submit certificates of health at the pre-kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grades. The certificates of health must be signed by a physician or nurse practitioner upon examination not more than 150 calendar days before the first day of school. In addition, the Mayor establishes requirements for periodic dental examinations and the submission of certificates of dental health. No student will be excluded from school for failure to submit a certificate. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2404. The Mayor is responsible for developing and providing the standard forms for certificates of health and dental health. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2402. If physical or dental examinations violate the established tenets and practices of a parent's/guardian's or student's church or religious denomination, then certificates of health shall not be required of the student upon receipt of a written notarized statement to that effect. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2403.

Safety: The District's criminal code gives a mandatory sentence of 1 - 10 years for any male over 21 serving as a superintendent, tutor, or teacher at a private school who engages in sexual intercourse with consent with a female student who is under 21 years old. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3002.

Transportation: The Mayor may enter into agreements with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to provide transportation at reduced fares for students traveling to private and parochial schools and related educational activities in the District. D.C. Code Ann. § 44-216. The reduced fare is one-third of the peak bus/rail fare. D.C. Code Ann. § 44-217.

Miscellaneous: The District's Family and Medical Leave laws apply equally to public school employees and private school employees. Special provisions are made for individuals employed in instructional capacities. Private school policies and practices control restoration of employment determinations. D.C. Code Ann. § 36-1305(d)(2).

"Religious societies" maintaining private schools for religious purposes are subject to the incorporation statutes set out at D.C. Code Ann. §§ 29-901-911 and 29-901-912.

Although not legally mandated, the District of Columbia maintains an advisory Council of the State Office for Census and Nonpublic Education.



Source: U.S. Department of Education, 1999 - This information is presented for research use only and should not be construed as legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for further information.