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
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).