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
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
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.