Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Nonpublic schools may request that the State Board of Education approve the institution. The State Board may not adopt more stringent standards for approval of nonpublic schools than the accreditation standards applied to public schools. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-17-7. State accreditation is mandatory for nonpublic schools receiving state funds. Standards for accreditation are set out in the policy document, "Nonpublic School Accreditation Requirements of the State Board of Education, Third Edition, December 1998".

Nonpublic schools may be accredited by independent nonpublic school accrediting agencies. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-17-9.

Recordkeeping/Reports: All compulsory-school-aged children must be enrolled in a public school, private school, or home school program. The parent/guardians of a compulsory-school-age or the nonpublic school official must complete a certificate of enrollment for each such student. The certificate, provided by the State Board of Education, asks the following basic information: 1) name, address and date of birth of the student; 2) name and address of the parent/guardian; 3) a simple description of the type of education provided; 4) name and address of the nonpublic school; and 5) parent/guardian and school official signatures and date signed. The certificate must be returned to the school attendance officer for the youth or family court where the child resides on or before September 15 of each year. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91(3).

Private, parochial or denominational schools accepting free school textbooks on behalf of their students must file annual reports as required by the State Board of Education. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-43-51.

Length of School Year/Day: A nonpublic school term is the number of days that each school requires for promotion from grade to grade. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91(2)(e).

Teacher Certification: Teacher certification is required for those schools that choose to be approved by the State Board of Education. "Nonpublic School Accreditation Requirements of the State Board of Education, Third Edition, 1998."

Special Education: Mississippi provides financial assistance to exceptional children attending accredited private or parochial schools. Tuition reimbursement for applicants choosing to attend private/parochial schools is 100% for the first $600. If the local school district Individual Education Program Committee determines that the district cannot provide a free appropriate public education for a handicapped child, the state will reimburse the district for placement in an accredited private or parochial school up to a maximum of $3,000. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-23-61 et seq.

Health: Church-related and private schools are exempt from Mississippi's State Board of Health standards for preparation of food. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-3-15.

Safety: The circuit court clerk will notify the State Department of Education of any certificated personnel employed by a private elementary or secondary school that is convicted of a felony or of a sex offense. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-3-51.

The president or chancellor of a private school will be notified by the local law enforcement office if any enrolled student is arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-11-29.

The sale or distribution of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of the real property of a private school or 1500 feet of a private school building may be punished by an enhanced penalty, twice the authorized imprisonment or fine or both, for a first offense and three times the penalty for a subsequent offense. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-142.

Home Schooling: Home schools meet the definition of "nonpublic schools", which means an institution for the teaching of children, consisting of a physical plant, whether owned or leased, including a home, instructional staff members and students, and which is in session each school year. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, private, church, parochial, and home instruction programs. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91 (2) (I).

The parent/guardian of a child enrolled in a legitimate home school program is required to complete a "Certificate of Enrollment" and return it to the school attendance officer where such child resides on or before September 15 of each year. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91 (3)

Other than the Certificate of Enrollment, there are no current state laws concerning requirements for home schooling programs.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Mississippi's Constitution prohibits the appropriation of any state education funds for the support of sectarian schools or private schools. Miss. Const. Art. 8, Sec. 208.

Mississippi law provides free textbooks on loan to pupils in all elementary and secondary schools in the state. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-43-1 et seq. The loan of textbooks to qualified private schools does not violate Mississippi's constitutional prohibition against public support of sectarian schools or the control of educational funds by religious sects. Chance v. Mississippi State Textbook Rating & Purchasing Bd., 200 So. 706 (1941).

The income from transporting grade school students under contract with nonprofit private schools is exempt from Mississippi sales tax. Miss. Code Ann. § 27-65-107.

Agricultural high schools may be leased by private schools if there are no funds available to run the institution. Miss. Code Ann. § 37-27-31.

Miscellaneous: The Secretary of State will furnish without charge applications for voter registration by mail to private schools upon request. Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-47(4)a).

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.