Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: By definition, "nonpublic
school" means any school not directly supported by taxation that is accredited
or which uses licensed practitioners as instructors. Iowa Code § 280.2.
The Iowa Board of Education has established rules and procedures for accrediting
all nonpublic schools offering instruction in levels K-12. Iowa Code § 256.11.
Iowa Admin. Code r. 281-12.1 through 12.5; 12.8.
The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that "The state has a clear right to
set minimum educational standards [including instruction by a certified
teacher] for all its children and a corresponding responsibility to see
to it that those standards are honored." Johnson v. Charles City Community
Schools, 368 N.W.2d 74 (1975).
Recordkeeping/Reports: The principal of an accredited nonpublic
school must furnish, when requested by the secretary of the local public
school district, a report of the names, ages, number of days in attendance,
and course of study of each pupil at the school. The School District provides
the necessary forms. The general request may be made once during each school
year and at any time for individual cases. Iowa Code § 299.3.
The governing authorities of nonpublic schools must submit the names,
addresses, and dates of birth of currently enrolled students who have attained
age 18 or will be 18 within six months to the County Commissioner of Elections.
The list must be submitted on September 30 and March 30 of each year. The
Commissioner may use this list to send voter registration forms to the
student. Iowa Code § 280.9A.2.
Length of School Year/Days: Nonpublic schools must prescribe an
attendance policy which requires student attendance for at least 148 days, i.e. at
least 37 days each school quarter. Iowa Code § 280.3.
Teacher Certification: By definition, nonpublic schools must be
accredited or employ licensed practitioners as instructors. Iowa Code § 280.2.
Accredited nonpublic schools must employ certified teachers. Iowa Admin.
Code r. 281-12.4(8).
Instruction in English: The medium of instruction in all secular
subjects taught in nonpublic schools must be the English language except
when a foreign language is deemed appropriate or when the student is non-English-speaking.
A nonpublic school must provide special instruction for non English-speaking
students until the child demonstrates a functional ability to speak, write,
read and understand the English language. Nonpublic school students may
attend transitional bilingual or other special instruction programs supported
by state funds that are offered at public schools. Iowa Code § 280.4.
Curriculum: Iowa State Board of Education rules require that a
multicultural, nonsexist approach be used by state accredited nonpublic
schools and that global perspectives be incorporated into all levels of
the educational program. Iowa Code § 256.11.
State accredited nonpublic schools must prescribe a minimum educational
program as defined under § 256.11 unless otherwise provided by law
or granted an exemption by the Iowa Board of Education. The section outlines
a comprehensive curriculum for grades K-6, 7-8 and 9-12 from traditional
course offerings to instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Iowa Code §§ 256.11, 280.3.
As a condition of graduation, state accredited nonpublic schools must
require private school students (grades 9-12) to complete one unit of U.S.
History and one-half unit of U.S. government which shall include a study
of the constitution, and relevant voting statutes and procedures. Iowa
Code § 256.11(5b).
Nonpublic schools must incorporate career education into the curricular
and co-curricular education experience from grades PK-12. The essential
elements of career education must include: 1) awareness of self in relation
to others and the needs of society; 2) exploration of employment opportunities
and experience in personal decision making; and 3) experiences which will
help students to integrate work values and work skills into their lives.
Iowa Code § 280.9.
Nonpublic schools serving grades 9-12 must provide 5 units of occupational
education subjects e.g. business/office occupations, trade and industrial
occupations, consumer and family sciences or home economics occupations,
agriculture occupations, marketing and health occupations. Instruction
must be competency-based, articulated with postsecondary programs of study,
and may include field, laboratory, or on-the-job training. Iowa Code § 256.11b.
Every public school district makes available an approved driver education
course to all resident students, including students attending nonpublic
schools. The courses may be offered at the public school or at the nonpublic
school facilities. Iowa Code § 321.178.
Private schools may participate in Iowa's Community-based Workplace Learning
Program (Workstart). Workstart is a voluntary collaborative program between
business and Iowa's secondary and postsecondary education system designed
to provide high school students the academic and job-specific skills needed
to enter the workforce. Iowa Code § 258.17.
Eligible students attending Iowa's accredited private schools may enroll
in postsecondary institutions for courses not offered at the private school
or at the public school district in which the private school is located
and receive credit towards their high school diploma. The nonpublic school
determines the number of high school credits to be granted upon successful
completion of the course. Iowa Code § 261C.3-5.
Health: Nonpublic schools cannot require non-administrative personnel
to perform any special health services or intrusive non-emergency medical
services for students unless the personnel are licensed or otherwise qualified
and have consented to perform the services. Iowa Code § 280.23.
It is a misdemeanor to possess or consume alcoholic liquors, wine, or
beer while attending a private school-related function. Iowa Code § 123.46.
Safety: Nonpublic schools must prescribe procedures for handling
child abuse reports alleged against an employee or agent of the school
in accordance with state guidelines. Iowa Code § 280.17. Private schools
must cooperate with investigations of child abuse conducted by the Department
of Human Services. The school must provide confidential access to the child
alleged to be abused and to other children to obtain relevant information.
The investigator may observe the child but a witness must be present. Any
child age 10 or older can terminate contact with the investigator by stating
his desire to do so. Iowa Code § 232.71.6.
Nonpublic schools must provide eye and ear-protective devices for students
and teachers participating in shop or laboratory courses that pose a potential
hazard. Iowa Code § 280.10, 11.
Private schools must conduct two fire drills and two tornado drills between
July 1 and December 31 of each year and again between January 1 and June
30 of each year. Doors and exits of all rooms and buildings must be unlocked
when occupied. Fire/tornado warning systems must be installed and first-aid
fire extinguishers available. Private schools are inspected by the state
fire marshall's office or the local city fire department at least once
every two years to assess compliance with the fire safety standards and
to identify potential fire hazards. Iowa Code § 100.31.
Transportation: Iowa students attending accredited nonpublic schools
are entitled to transportation on the same basis as provided public school
students. Parents may be reimbursed for some transportation costs. Iowa
Code § 285.1-3, 10.1, 16.
School bus drivers must meet statutory qualifications, e.g. 18
years of age, physically and mentally competent. Nonpublic schools may
immediately suspend a driver, pending a hearing, for the use of nonprescription
controlled substances or alcoholic beverages during work hours. (See statute
for other grounds for immediate dismissal.) Iowa Code § 321.375.
Private school buses are registered without charge upon application to
the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Department issues a registration
certificate and plates which are imprinted "Private School Bus" to be attached
to the front and rear of each bus. Iowa Code § 321.18.
Home Schooling: A parent or legal guardian must file a report
with the resident district by the first day of school or within 14 days
of beginning home schooling if begun mid-school year. The report must include
name and address of parent or guardian; name and birth date of the child;
number of days of instruction (minimum of 148); name and address of the
person providing the instruction and an indication of whether or not the
instructor holds a valid Iowa practitioner license or teaching certificate
appropriate to the age and grade level of the child; outline of the courses
of study; texts to be used; evidence of immunization; indication of whether
dual enrollment is being sought; whether or not the child is currently
identified as a child needing special education; and an indication of which
form of annual assessment is being administered. Iowa Code § 281.
A parent or legal guardian desiring dual enrollment must notify the district
of residence not later than September 15. A child under dual enrollment
may participate in academic or instructional programs or any extra-curricular
activities in the district on the same basis as any regularly enrolled
student. Iowa Code § 281.31.5
When a parent or legal guardian provides private instruction without the
assistance or supervision of a validly licensed Iowa practitioner, the
child is subject to initial baseline testing and an annual evaluation.
Standardized testing or portfolio assessment may be chosen. Dual enrolled
students may be tested as part of the public school testing program. Iowa
Code § 281.31.7 Evaluations must be reported to the school district
of residence and the department of education on later than June 30. Iowa
Code § 299A.3 If the results of the evaluations indicate that the
student has failed to make adequate progress, the parent or legal guardian
must enroll the child in an accredited public or nonpublic school at the
beginning of the next school year and shall continue attendance at an accredited
public or nonpublic school until adequate progress is achieved. Iowa Code § 299A.6
When a child has been identified as currently requiring special education,
the child is eligible to receive home instruction with the written approval
of the director of special education of the area education agency of the
child?s district of residence. Iowa Code § 281.31.9.
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: School
Districts may make textbooks available to pupils attending accredited nonpublic
schools upon request of the pupil or the pupil's parent. Availability is
comparable as to public schools, limited only to the extent funds are appropriated
by the general assembly. (The Iowa General Assembly allocated $616,000
for this purpose in 1994-95 and set a limit of $20 per pupil.) Iowa Code § 301.1,
Private school students may enroll in public schools for courses not offered
at the private school. Private schools may comply with state standards
for required courses in this manner. Iowa Code § 256.12.1. Iowa Admin.
Code r. 281-14.
School districts and area education agency boards may provide public school
services, e.g. health services; special education services; diagnostic
services for speech, hearing and psychological purposes; remedial education
programs; guidance services; and school testing to children attending nonpublic
schools in the same manner and to the same extent provided to public school
students. Iowa Code § 256.12.2.
State accredited private school students may be served with media and
educational services through Iowa's area 15 education agencies. Iowa Code §§ 273.2,
Nonpublic schools may operate school lunch programs with appropriated
state funds but are not required. Meals served under the program must be
nutritionally adequate. Iowa Code § 283A.10. Iowa Admin. Code r. 281-58.1
Accredited or approved nonpublic schools are included in Iowa's Board
of Education plans for the use of telecommunications as an instructional
tool. Representatives of nonpublic schools serve on an advisory committee
to make recommendations to the state board. Iowa Code § 256.7.9.
The County Auditor will make voting machines or sample ballots used within
the county available for instruction in the schools. Iowa Code § 256.11.5.b.
Miscellaneous: By statute, Iowa has established a nonpublic school
advisory committee to advise the Iowa Board of Education on matters affecting
nonpublic schools including standards for teacher certification and approval
of nonpublic schools. Iowa Code § 256.15.
Iowa serves pupils enrolled in public and nonpublic schools through its
new computer initiative launched by the Educational Technology Consortium.
The consortium develops plans for computer hardware and software, ensures
equal access to educational technology, and makes recommendations for school
and home use. Iowa Code § 301A.1 et seq.
Nonpublic schools may adopt policies regarding valid reasons for excused
absences from school. Iowa Code § 299.1. The authorities in charge
of an accredited nonpublic school must prescribe reasonable rules for the
punishment of truants. Iowa Code § 299.9.
As part of Iowa's uniform school requirements, nonpublic schools must
appoint an advisory committee to develop goals and plans to meet the major
educational needs of their students and to evaluate and report on the school's
progress annually. Iowa Code § 280.12.
A nonpublic school superintendent may serve as an elementary school principal
in that school provided that the Superintendent holds the proper licensure/certification
but cannot also serve as a high school principal in that school. Iowa Admin.
Code r. 281-12.4(4).
Nonpublic schools must maintain a suitable flagstaff and raise the United
States flag and the Iowa state banner on all school days when weather conditions
permit. Iowa Code § 280.5.
Nonpublic schools may obtain licenses to conduct games of skill, games
of chance, bingo and raffles at bona fide school functions, such as carnivals,
fall festivals, bazaars and similar events. Iowa Code ? 99B.7. One or more
game nights can be held using play money for student participation without
a license if the accredited nonpublic school approves. Iowa Code § 99B.8.