Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Certificates of approval are required in Maryland to operate "noncollegiate educational institutions," which include private Nursery Schools for students 2-4 years of age, Kindergartens, and Grade 1-12 schools. A Certificate of Approval is issued based on the adequacy and appropriateness of the facilities, conditions of entrance and scholarship, educational qualifications and standards for the purpose of the institution, its program, and certificates or diplomas issued. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §2-206(e).

Regulations promulgated pursuant to Education Article §2-206 for approval of nonpublic schools include COMAR 13A.09.09, Education Programs in Nonpublic Schools and Child Care Centers and COMAR 13A.09.10, Educational Programs in Nonpublic Schools and Child Care and Treatment Facilities.

Institutions operated by bona fide church organizations are exempt from the requirement to hold a Certificate of Approval from the Maryland State Board of Education. The head of the bona fide church organization must, however, submit to the State Department of Education acceptable evidence of the bona fide church organization legal authority status and certification of the legal authority?s assumption of responsibility for governing and operating the nonpublic school.

Requirements described below pertain to nonpublic general education programs that do not receive public funds and are approved under COMAR 13A.09.09.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Approved nonpublic schools must maintain a cumulative record of each student enrolled including the following: approved nonpublic school name, school address, student?s first, middle, and last names; student?s birth date; student?s home address; month and year student entered; nursery school level or grade upon enrollment; month and year student withdrew; student?s performance information in each curricular area; code for the meaning of performance information; and number of days in attendance. Each school annually certifies its compliance with the approval regulations by completing and submitting an Annual Report form provided by the Maryland Department of Education. COMAR 13A.09.09.08.

Approved nonpublic high schools must be prepared to present a transcript of the secondary school record of each student for each year enrolled that contains specified components: student?s first, middle, and last names; student?s date of birth; student?s home address; credits and grades earned in each subject area; code for the meaning of the grading system; transfer credits accepted by the secondary school; month and year the student initially entered; month and year the student withdrew or graduated; and number of days of attendance. COMAR 13A.09.09.09C.

If a private school ends operations in Maryland, the institution must file with the State Superintendent of Schools the original or a legible copy of all essential records of the academic achievement of each former student in grades 9 through 12. The records will become a permanent file maintained by the State Superintendent to provide an academic record as required by postsecondary educational institutions for admission. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-304.

The State Board of Education requires each private school to report annually, on or before August 31, the school's enrollment and courses of study on forms provided by the Board. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-205(n).

An approved nonpublic school must provide complete information about the operation of its school and certify compliance with the approval regulations annually on forms provided by the Department. COMAR 13A.09.09.04B.

The principal/head teacher of a private school is required to report immediately a student's absence or irregular attendance without lawful excuse, or evidence of maladjustment to the county superintendent, supervisor of pupil personnel, or his designee, in order to resolve the situation. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §7-302.

Length of School Year: An approved nonpublic school must provide for at least 170 days for implementation of the school program. COMAR 13A.09.09.10C.

Discrimination: An approved nonpublic school must certify to the Department of Education that it does not practice discrimination based upon race, color, or national origin. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, 2-206(e)(3) and COMAR 13A.09.09.10E

Teacher Certification: Teachers at approved nonpublic schools must have a bachelor's degree or 120 semester hour equivalence. Exception to this requirement is permitted teachers of secondary school courses other than English language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science with other exceptional qualifications. Teachers in a Montessori school must also have a Montessori diploma for the level of assignment. COMAR 13A.09.09.06.

Curriculum: The State Board of Education establishes minimum requirements for issuing certificates or diplomas by private noncollegiate educational institutions that include private K-12 schools. Md. Education Code Ann. §2-206(d). An approved nonpublic school must have an educational program in English-language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies which is appropriate for students enrolled. COMAR 13A. 09.09.07A(2).

An approved nonpublic school must require at a minimum the following credits for secondary school graduation: four credits in English-language arts; two credits in social studies to include at least one credit in U.S. History; four credits in science and mathematics (at least one credit in each); and eight additional credits in accordance with the school's written requirements. COMAR 13A 09.09.09.

Special Education: Children who need special educational services that are not provided in a public program will be placed in an appropriate nonpublic educational program that offers these services at public expense. Md. Education Code Ann. §8-406.

The State Board of Education is responsible for adopting guidelines for the approval of public placement of handicapped children in nonpublic schools if the local school system can not provide an appropriate placement. Standards for the education of handicapped children enrolled in programs operated by agencies other than a county board must be as high as the standards for county board programs. The standards for the education of students with disabilities are found in the Code of Maryland Regulations 13A.09.10.

County boards of education must provide/arrange for the transportation of handicapped students publicly placed in nonpublic schools. Md. Education Code Ann. §8-410.

Health: For initial issuance of a certificate of approval, a nonpublic school must verify that it is in compliance with applicable health, fire safety, and zoning regulations. COMAR 13A.09.09.11 §09.09.11.

An individual who has tuberculosis in a communicable stage may not work in any capacity in a private or parochial school. Certification and tests may be required as regulated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §7-406.

County health departments must provide and fund hearing and vision screening for all students in approved nonpublic schools and approved nonpublic special education facilities. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §7-404.

An approved nonpublic school, in conjunction with the local health department, must provide scoliosis screening tests for all students at least once in grades 6 through 8. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §7-405 and COMAR 13A.09.09.11.C.

Safety: All nonpublic school employees and employers who have frequent contact with, or access to, students enrolled at a school are required to apply for and undergo a criminal background check. The applicants are responsible for fees assessed unless the employer agrees to pay the costs. Family Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 5, Part VI.

Any adult who has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, must notify the appropriate authorities and the head of the school. Family Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §5-704.

Transportation: School buses used to transport students to nonpublic schools must be equipped with seat back crash pads that meet the standards established by the Motor Vehicle Administration. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §22-417.

School buses, owned by private schools that are exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, are not subject to excise taxes upon issuance of a certificate of title. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §13-810.

Home Schooling: Parents/legal guardians can assume responsibility for the education of their children. Such parents/legal guardians must provide regular, thorough instruction in the subjects that are taught in the public schools. Parents/legal guardians may unilaterally select the curriculum and instructional materials and equipment they wish to use. COMAR 13A.10.01

Parents/legal guardians must select an entity to supervise the home instruction they provide. That entity may be the local school system or a nonpublic entity that is approved by the Maryland State Department of Education or a nonpublic entity that is registered with the Department. The nonpublic entities registered with that Department include: 1) nonpublic schools operated by a bona fide church organization that have chosen not to hold a Certificate of Approval from the Maryland State Board of Education; 2) the education ministries of bona fide church organizations; and 3) approved nonpublic schools. COMAR 13A.10.01.

Public Aid to Private Schools/Private School Students: Property, used exclusively for a charitable or educational purpose to promote the general welfare of the people of Maryland and owned by a nonprofit educational organization, is exempt from property tax. The limit on exemptions for real property is 100 acres. Md. Tax-Property Code Ann. §7-202(b), (c).

The Archaeology Office, Department of Housing and Community Development, makes exhibits available to private schools and assists in the instruction of the life of the early settlers and natives of the State. Md. Natural Resources Code Ann. §2-303(7).

The State Archivist provides without charge a copy of each new Maryland Manual to each private educational institution. Md. State Government Code Ann. §9-1027.

County Boards may allow private and parochial schools to connect to a closed-circuit educational television system maintained for public schools at the discretion of the public school system. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §7-107.

Miscellaneous: Maryland law provides for representation of nonpublic schools on the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board. Two administrative or supervisory staff of approved Maryland nonpublic schools are chosen to serve on the 25 member board from nominees provided by the Association of Independent Schools. Education Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §6-703.

A school board's refusal to permit a student at a sectarian high school to participate in county extra-curricular activity did not violate student's rights under the Maryland constitution. Thomas v. Allegany County Bd. of Education, 443 A.2d 622 (1982).

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.