Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approves any private elementary, secondary, or proprietary school upon application, if such school meets and maintains a sustained curriculum or specialized course of study of quality at least equal to that prescribed for similar public schools. La. Const. Art. VIII, § 4. After initial approval the board will annually determine whether the private school is maintaining such quality, and if not, shall discontinue approval of the school. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:11.

Recordkeeping/Reports: The Superintendent of Education annually reimburses approved nonpublic schools for the actual cost incurred for providing school services, maintaining records and completing and filing mandatory reports e.g. forms, reports or records relative to school approval or evaluation, public attendance, pupil health and pupil health testing, transportation of pupils, federally-funded educational programs including school lunch and breakfast programs, school textbooks and supplies, library books, pupil appraisal, pupil progress, transfer of pupils, teacher certification, teacher continuing education programs, unemployment, annual school data. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:361. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has ruled that this provision is constitutional on its face, but unconstitutional as applied by the Louisiana Department of Education. Helms v. Cody, No. 85-5533, 1994 U.S. Dist. Lexis 8206 (E.D. La. June 10, 1994).

Private schools that receive local, state, or federal funds, directly or indirectly, or whose students or their parents are recipients or beneficiaries of any local, state, or federal education program or assistance must cooperate with visiting teachers or supervisors of child welfare and attendance. Principals must report in writing to the visiting teacher/supervisor of child welfare and attendance the name, birth date, race, parents, and residence of each pupil in attendance at their schools within 30 days after the beginning of the school term and make other reports as required. Attendance must be taken daily and at the beginning of each class period, verified by the teacher keeping the record, and open to inspection. All schools must immediately report unexplained, unexcused, or illegal absence, or habitual tardiness. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 17:232.A, B, C. Private schools that do not receive local, state, or federal funds, directly or indirectly, and neither students or parents are recipients or beneficiaries, are required to report to the Louisiana Department of Education their total attendance as of the 30th day of their school term. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17.232.C. All schools in Louisiana must respond to the request of a city or parish public school system as to whether an individual student is enrolled in the school and fulfilling the compulsory attendance requirements. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17.232.D.

Upon entering a private school for the first time, all children must present a copy of their official birth record to the school principal. Children born in Louisiana will be given a 15 day grace period to secure a copy of their birth record. Children born out of this state will be given a 30 day grace period in which to produce a copy of their birth record. If birth certificates and/or birth verification cannot be obtained, the school principal may accept whatever positive proof of age, race, and parentage is available. It is left to the discretion of the parish or city superintendent of schools, subject to the authority of the school board, as to whether or not a child shall continue in school upon failure to comply. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:167, 222.

Length of School Year/Day: To be classified as a school under the General School Law provisions, the institution must operate a minimum session of 180 days. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:236.

Discrimination: Private schools that are racially segregated are ineligible for state assistance of any kind, including textbooks, materials and transportation. Brumfield v. Dodd, 405 F. Supp. 338 (E.D. La. 1977).

Teacher Certification: To be classified as a school under the General School Law provisions, the instructional staff of a nonpublic school receiving local, state, or federal funds or support, directly or indirectly, must be qualified in accordance with the rules established by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. If the school does not receive public aid, directly or indirectly, the instructional staff must meet such requirements as may be prescribed by the school or the church. La. Rev. Stat. Ann.  17:236. Board standards for teacher qualifications are set out in "Bulletins 746 & 1882 Certification Standards & Regulations and Administrative Leadership Academy Guidelines."

Curriculum: State approval of a nonpublic school is dependent on whether the school meets and maintains a sustained curriculum or specialized course of study of quality at least equal to that prescribed for similar public schools. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:11.

Special Education: Louisiana at times places exceptional students in nonpublic schools. Local education agencies must apply to the state education agency for the authority to place children with disabilities in programs other than public schools. The Office of Special Education ensures that private schools serving exceptional children and receiving funds establish uniform accounting and reporting procedures and meet minimum requirements established by the Department of Education. Funds may be withheld from nonpublic schools that do not comply with the intent of the law following a due process hearing. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:1944(12), (16),(17)(19);1949.

Louisiana provides special education services to nonpublic school students. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:1941-1956. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has ruled that this statute, which allowed state-paid special education teachers to teach on the premises of pervasively sectarian institutions, is unconstitutional as applied. Helms v. Cody, No. 85-5533, 1994 U.S. Dist. Lexis 8206 (E.D. La. June 10, 1994).

Health: Persons entering any school within Louisiana for the first time must present satisfactory evidence of immunization or an immunization program in progress according to the schedule approved by the Office of Public Health. If the student/parent submits either a written statement from a physician that the procedure is contraindicated for medical reasons or a written dissent, the student is not required to be immunized. Administrators of all elementary and secondary schools are responsible for checking students' records to see that these provisions are enforced. In the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease at the school, the administrators are empowered to exclude unimmunized students until the appropriate disease incubation period has expired or the unimmunized person presents evidence of immunization. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:170.

It is the duty of the state health officer to prepare and promulgate rules and regulations relative to public and private schools. Plans and specifications for such public and private building structures and facilities must be submitted to the state health officer for review and approval. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:4.

Safety: Under the Missing Children Identification Act, parents have the opportunity to have a child identification card created by the local sheriff in cooperation with the elementary schools. The identification card includes the child's photograph and fingerprints and other identifying information. The card becomes the property of the child's parent but is kept in the care and custody of the principal of the elementary school that the child attends. The principal of each elementary school must request parent notification forms from the local sheriff for entering students and anticipated transfer students. The principal must deliver the forms to the parents for their consent no less than two weeks prior to the scheduled identification process. The principal retains all returned parent notification forms, whether granting or denying consent. No cause of action lies against any principal for failure to comply. The sheriff will send an identification officer to the elementary school at a time mutually agreed upon between the sheriff and the principal. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:2514-17.

Transportation: Parish and City school boards must provide free transportation for nonpublic school students attending approved schools, providing the school does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. If a parish or city school board determines transportation by bus is impractical, not available, or unwarranted, the board may utilize common carriers. If transportation is not provided by the parish or city school by reason of economically justifiable reasons approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Education will reimburse the parent of any student who resides more than one mile from the school as funds are appropriated by the legislature, but not more than $125 per student or $375 per family. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:158.

Contract drivers of all privately owned school buses transporting private school students qualify for a refund of one-half of the gasoline tax and the special fuels tax. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:715.1.

The Secretary of the Department of Revenue and Taxation will make refunds of gasoline taxes on gasoline used for operating any boat to transport children to or from parochial schools.

Home Schooling: A home study plan is a program in which an approved curriculum can be implemented under the direction and control of a parent or a tutor. Any child eligible to attend an elementary or secondary school in Louisiana is eligible to participate in a home study plan. Home study regulations are found at R.S. 17:236 and 17:236.1.

An initial application must be made within 15 days of beginning a program of home instruction. A renewal application must be made by the first of October of the school year or within 12 months of the approval of the initial application, whichever is later. A renewal application is accepted upon presentation of satisfactory evidence that the program offered a sustained curriculum of a quality at least equal to that of the public schools at the same grade level. The sustained curriculum can be substantiated in several ways, including presentation of test results on which the student scored at or above his/her grade level or description and substantiating documents detailing the contents of the instructional program.

Completion of a home study program does not entitle the student to a regular high school diploma. Home study students may take the GED examination.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: According to the Louisiana Constitution, the legislature shall appropriate funds to supply free school books and other materials of instruction prescribed by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to the children of the state. La. Const. Art. VIII, § 13.

See Recordkeeping and Reports.

Approved nonpublic schools may voluntarily pool their bids with city and parish school boards for purchases of school buses and related equipment. The Department of Education prepares bid forms and specifications, obtains quotations of prices, and makes such forms and information available to school boards and any participating nonpublic schools in order to facilitate this service. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.3.

Property owned by nonprofit corporations, organized and operated exclusively for religious or educational purposes and exempt from federal and state income tax, are exempt from ad valorem taxation. La. Const. Art. VII, § 21.

City and parish school boards which disburse school library books, textbooks, and other materials of instruction to nonpublic school students may submit to the Superintendent of Education documentation to verify administrative costs and receive reimbursement from the state. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:353.

Full-time classroom teachers employed by approved nonpublic schools may attend college and university courses tuition-free under Louisiana's classroom teacher enrollment program. Teachers may receive up to six credit hours per semester. They are obligated to practice their profession in the elementary or secondary schools of Louisiana for at least the subsequent school year. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:3129.3.

In 1970, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional Louisiana's Secular Educational Services Law, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:1322-1324, that would have allowed the Superintendent of Public Education to purchase secular educational services from nonpublic school teachers to be performed at nonpublic schools with public funds. Seegers v. Parker, 241 So.2d 213 (1970).

Miscellaneous: All certificates and diplomas issued by an approved private school shall carry the same privileges as one issued by a state public school. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:11.

The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education must appoint an advisory committee of private and proprietary school representatives to advise and counsel the board relative to standards and guidelines affecting these schools. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:11.

School boards of the several parishes are prohibited from running any public school in combination with any private or parochial school. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:153.

Approved nonpublic schools may receive upon request and without cost progress profiles of their students at Louisiana colleges and universities. The performance data includes a standard designation of students by age or by high school graduation date and the program they completed in high school. The report includes information on the number of students from each high school in each system requiring remedial training and the subject matter of such training. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3912.C.(3).

Private schools may request the Department of Transportation and Development to place directional signs to identify the location of their school. The Department will erect and maintain each sign. The cost of the sign must be paid for in advance by the requestor. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 32:238.

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.