Private School Regulation


Recordkeeping/Reports: Parochial, denominational, and private schools must keep a register of student enrollment and daily attendance in a manner prescribed by the state and open for inspection by the local superintendent or attendance assistant. Fla. Stat. Ch. 232.021. The register may be used as evidence in a court procedure for the enforcement of the Florida compulsory education statute. Fla. Stat. Ch. 233.19(5).

Prior to admission to pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, a private school principal must require that the child provide evidence of age such as a transcript of the child?s birth record or certificate of baptism. Fla. Stat. Ch. 232.03.

Nonpublic schools which become defunct must arrange for the transfer of student records to the local public school superintendent, or if a member, the principal office of a nonpublic school system or association. Notice of transfer must be given to the Department of Education. Fla. Stat. Ch. 228.092.

Nonpublic schools serving K-12 students must file a database survey form with the Florida Department of Education indicating the name of the institution, address, telephone number, type, administrative officers, enrollment by grade or special group, number of graduates, number of instructional and administrative personnel, number of school days, and other data as needed under ?228.092 and 232.021. Fla. Stat. ch. 229.808 (1),(2),(3),(4)-(7).

Length of School Year/Days: Attendance at a nonpublic school satisfies the compulsory school attendance law if the child maintains regular attendance during the school term of either 180 actual school days or a minimum of 170 actual school days and the hourly equivalent of 180 actual school days, (i.e. K, 540 net instructional hours; Grade 1 through 3, 720 net instructional hours; and, Grades 4 through 12, 900 net instructional hours). Fla. Admin. Code Ann. R. 6A-1.09512.

Curriculum: Florida regulates biological experiments performed on living subjects conducted in grades K-12. For example, no dissection may be performed on any living mammalian vertebrate or bird. Students can be excused upon written request by parent/guardian from dissection of nonliving mammals or birds. Nonpublic schools keeping live animals on the premises must house in a humane and safe manner. Nonpublic schoolteachers failing to comply with these provisions may be disciplined by the school authorities. Fla. Stat. ch. 233.0674(2)(a)(h) and (4).

Special Education: Diagnostic and resource centers are authorized to provide testing and evaluation services to nonpublic school students. Fla. Stat. ch. 229.834. The local district school boards may provide instruction for exceptional students through contractual arrangements with approved nonpublic schools at a cost determined by the board. Fla. Stat. ch. 230.23 (m)2. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. R. 6A-6.0361.

Health: Nonpublic schools must require each student, upon his initial entrance into school, to present a certification of school-entry health examination performed within one year of enrollment. Students are exempt if parents/guardians object on religious grounds in a written statement. Fla. Stat. ch. 232.0315.

Prior to admittance to a nonpublic school, children must submit a certification of immunization for the prevention of communicable diseases as required by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, including immunizations for poliomyelitis, diphtheria, rubeola, rubella, pertussis, mumps, tetanus. Nonpublic schools must also provide appropriate screening for its pupils for scoliosis at the proper age. Students are exempt if their parents/guardians object in writing based on a conflict with religious tenets or practices. Fla. Stat. ch. 232.032.

Private schools that prepare food intended for individual portion service must comply with the minimum sanitation standards promulgated by the Department of Health. Fla. Stat. ch. 381.0072 (b).

Safety: Chief administrative officers of nonpublic schools must file a complete set of fingerprints for state processing and checking for criminal background. The cost must be borne by the applicant or nonpublic school. Persons convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude are prohibited from owning or operating a nonpublic school. The chief administrative officer may also require school employees to file a complete set of fingerprints. Fla. Stat. ch. 229.808(3).

Instructional personnel required to hold a teaching certificate in nonpublic schools must file a complete set of fingerprints for state and federal processing for a criminal background check. Fla. Stat. Ch. 231.17.

Private School teachers, officials, and other personnel, who know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused or neglected must report the information to the Department of Children and Families' central abuse registry and tracking system. Fla. Stat. Ch. 29.201.

Transportation: Nonpublic schools operating school buses with a seating capacity of 24 or more pupils must comply with state requirements outlined in Ch. 234 Fla. Stat. Ch 316.615(1)(a). Nonpublic schools operating school buses seating less than 24 students must comply with state requirements regarding inspections, equipment, liability insurance, and drive physical examination requirements.

District school boards may make available by contract bus driver training programs to nonpublic school bus drivers. Fla. Stat. Ch. 234.101(3).

Florida nonpublic schools with racially nondiscriminatory student admission policies may purchase school buses through the state pool purchase program. Fla. Stat. ch. 234.301.

School crossing guard training programs administered by local government entities may provide training to nonpublic schools by contract. Fla. Stat. Ch. 316.75.

Home Schooling: The parent or legal guardian must notify the superintendent of schools of the county in which the parent or guardian resides of his or her intent to establish a home education program. The notice must be in writing, signed by the parent or guardian, and must include the names, addresses, and birth dates of the children being home schooled. The parent or guardian is not required to hold a valid regular Florida certificate to teach. Fla. Stat. 228.041.

The parent or guardian must maintain a portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio must consist of the following: a log of educational activities that induces the title of any reading materials used; a sample of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student. The portfolio must be kept for two years. Fla. Stat. 232.0201.

The parent or guardian must provide for an annual educational evaluation to document pupil academic progress at a level commensurate with his or her ability. The parent or guardian selects the method of evaluation and files a copy annually with the superintendent?s office in the resident county. If the pupil does not demonstrate adequate progress, the superintendent shall notify the parents in writing. The parent or guardian will have one year to provide remedial instruction to the pupil. Continuation in the home education program is contingent on the pupil demonstrating education progress at the end of the probationary period. Fla. Stat. 232.0201.

The requirements of the school day in s. 228.041 do not apply to home education programs.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Florida Department of Education is authorized to sell at cost educational materials and products developed by or under its direction to nonpublic schools and the general public. Fla. Stat. Ch. 233.255(2).

Educational institutions, including parochial church or private schools and their property are exempt from taxation. Fla. Stat. Ch. 196.198, 196.012(5).

Educational institutions, including church and nonprofit private schools meeting certain requirements are also exempt from tax on the sale and use of tangible personal property, annual and nonrecurring tax on intangible personal property and local occupational license tax. Fla. Stat. Ch. 212.08, 199.183, 205.22.

Motor fuel taxes paid by nonpublic schools for operating school buses will be returned to the schools to be used for transportation related purposes. Fla. Stat. Ch. 212.67(1)(d)1,2.

Nonpublic school teachers and administrators may participate in inservice teacher education programs on comprehensive health education and substance abuse prevention, provided they assume the prorated share of the cost. Fla. Stat. Ch. 2433.067(9).

Nonpublic school students are eligible to participate in Florida?s Bright Future Scholarship Program established to reward Florida high school graduates who merit recognition of high academic achievement. Fla. Stat. Ch. 240.40201.

Miscellaneous: An organization of nonpublic schools meeting specific state requirements may develop a master plan for inservice educational training which may be used for extension of a certificate or a new endorsement. The plan must be submitted to the Commissioner for approval. Any costs associated with approval of the plan are borne by the organization. Fla. Stat. Ch. 236.0811(2)(a)2, (2)(c).

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.