Private School Regulation
2d 794 (1986). Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Nonpublic
schools may be accredited by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in
the same manner as public schools upon request. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-7-102.
Recordkeeping/Reports: Attendance at a nonpublic school
exempts a student from public education if the nonpublic school maintains
records on pupil attendance and immunization and makes the records available
to the county superintendent on request. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-109(1).
Length of School Year/Day: Attendance at a nonpublic
school exempts a student from public education if the nonpublic school
provides 180 days of instruction or the equivalent. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-109(2).
Curriculum: Attendance at a nonpublic school exempts
a student from public education if the nonpublic school provides an organized
course of study that includes instruction in the subjects required of public
schools as a basic instructional program. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-109(4).
Discrimination: Montana prohibits discrimination by
a private elementary or secondary school based on race, creed, religion,
sex, marital status, color, age, physical disability or national origin
or because of mental disability, unless based on reasonable grounds. Mont.
Code Ann. § 49-2-101(6); 49-2-307.
Special Education: To the maximum extent possible, children
with disabilities in private institutions must be educated with children
who do not have disabilities. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-7-411.
Health: The governing authority of any school may not
allow any person to attend unless the person has been immunized, qualifies
for conditional attendance because he has begun the immunization process,
or files an exemption. If a student transfers to another school, the sending
school must forward the original immunization records to the new school.
Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-403. Students are exempt from immunization
requirements if they file a notarized affidavit claiming a religious exemption
or a written statement by a physician that immunization is unsafe on medical
grounds. The statements must be maintained in the student's immunization
records. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-405.
The Department of Health and Environmental Sciences is responsible for
making sanitary inspections of schoolhouses. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-1-203.
Safety: Attendance at a nonpublic school exempts a student
from public education if the nonpublic school is housed in a building that
complies with applicable local health and safety regulations. Mont. Code
Ann. § 20-5-109(3).
Private school buildings used for housing or instructing students may
not be built, enlarged, or remodeled until the plans have been approved
by the Department of Commerce or a municipality or county with a building
code. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-6-622.
Schools must conduct at least eight disaster drills each year. At least
four of the drill must be fire exit drills. Drills must be held at different
hours of the day or evening. A board of trustees shall identify local hazards
that exist within the boundaries of its school district and design drills
to address those hazards. The recall signal must be separate and distinct
from any other signal. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 20-10401; 20-10402;
The sale of dangerous drugs on or within 1,000 feet of a private elementary
or secondary school is a criminal offense under Montana's criminal code.
Mont. Code Ann. § 45-9-109.
Private schools may organize school safety patrols to direct pupils as
to when and where to cross highways. The school safety patrol is comprised
of students. Parent/guardians must give written consent for participation.
No liability attaches to the student because of an injury sustained by
a pupil. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-1-408.
Transportation: Nonpublic school students may ride a
public school bus if there is seating capacity available and the child
secures a permit from the local school district. The school district may
charge the child his proportionate share of the cost of operating the school
bus. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-10-123.
School children traveling to and from parochial schools may receive free
transportation or reduced rates from common carriers. Mont. Code Ann. § 69-11-208(1)(o).
Special education students are eligible for transportation when enrolled
under an approved tuition agreement in a private institution. Mont. Code
Ann. § 20-7-441(4).
Home Schooling: To qualify students for exemption from
compulsory enrollment requirements, a home school shall maintain records
on pupil attendance and disease immunization and make these records available
to the county superintendent of schools upon request; provide at least
180 days of pupil instruction; be housed in a building that complies with
health and safety standards; provide an organized course of study that
includes instruction in the subjects required of public schools for a basic
instructional program; notify the county superintendent of schools of the
county in which the home school is located, in each school year, of the
student?s attendance at the home school. Mont. Code Ann. § 20-5-109.
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The
Montana Constitution prohibits public aid to schools controlled in whole
or in part by any church, sect, or denomination. This provision does not
apply to federal sources of income for nonpublic education. Mont. Const.,
Art. X, § 6. In addition, the constitution prohibits appropriations
for educational purposes to private associations or corporations not under
control of the state. Mont. Const., Art. V, § 11.
The Montana Supreme Court has interpreted the state constitution to prohibit
school boards from employing teachers to teach secular subjects in parochial
schools. State ex rel. Chambers v. School District, 472 P.2d 1013
The Montana Constitution permits the legislature to exempt property used
exclusively for educational purposes from property taxes. Mont. Const.,
Art. 8, § 5(b).
Tuition for nonprofit private educational institutions is exempt from
Montana sales tax and use tax. 1993 Mt. Ch. 544 § 31.
Miscellaneous: The Montana Supreme Court has dismissed
a wrongful discharge complaint that alleged a religious school breached
an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by firing a teacher
without notice or a hearing because the tort claim would impermissibly
interfere with the free exercise of religion. Miller v. Catholic Diocese
of Great Falls, 728 P.