Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Private, denominational and parochial schools must comply with accreditation standards or approval requirements established by the State Board of Education, or parents may elect to comply with state requirements, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-601(2)-(6), when state accreditation and approval requirements violate sincerely held religious beliefs of parents/guardians. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-318(5)(c).

When parents elect to enroll their children in schools that do not meet state accreditation or approval requirements, parents/guardians must sign a statement that a) the accreditation and approval requirements "violate sincerely held religious beliefs of the parents or legal guardians" or such requirements "interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing their child's education." b) an authorized representative of parent/guardians will submit annually to the Commissioner of Education information to show the school meets minimum requirements relating to health, fire, and safety standards; report attendance records; maintain a sequential program of instruction in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health; and that parent/guardians are satisfied that individuals monitoring instruction are qualified and have demonstrated an alternative competency. The State Board may require visitation of these schools and regular achievement testing. Nothing in these requirements shall be construed to interfere with religious instruction. Schools that are not inspected by an area or diocesan representative holding a Nebraska Administrative and Supervisory Certificate or a Nebraska Professional Administrative and Supervisory Certificate must be inspected twice a year by local superintendents. Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-1601 (3).

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools must notify in writing persons enrolling new students that within 30 days they must provide a certified copy of the student's birth certificate or other reliable proof of the student's identity and age with an affidavit explaining why the birth certificate is inaccessible. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2007(2).

On the third day of classes, in private, denominational, and parochial schools, the teachers shall send to the superintendents or administrator of the school a list of the pupils enrolled in his or her school with the age, grade and address of each. Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-205.

Private, denominational, and parochial school teachers must keep a record of the name, age, and address of each child enrolled, the number and county of the school district, the number of days present and absent, and the cause of absence. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-205.

Chief executive officers of nonpublic schools serving grades 7-12 must report the number of students who dropped out, were suspended, or excluded from school to the Commissioner of Education annually. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-527.

Student records must be provided at no charge to any public or private school, upon request, when the student transfers. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-2,105

When notified that a student currently or previously enrolled is a missing person, private schools must flag the student's records and report immediately any request for the records or knowledge of the person's whereabouts to the local law enforcement agency. Schools must not forward a copy of the student's flagged record to a requesting school. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2007.

Length of School Year/Day: Under Nebraska's compulsory education statute, school must be in session not less than 1,032 instruction hours for elementary school and 1,080 instructional hours for high school. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-201. The state may impose reasonable regulations for the control and duration of basic education based on its responsibility for the education of its citizens. Douglas v. Faith Baptist Church, 301 N.W.2d 571 (1981).

Instruction in English: Instruction must be given in the English language in private, denominational and parochial schools. Neb. Const. Art. I, Sec. 27.

Teacher Certification: Private, denominational, and parochial school teachers in accredited and approved schools must hold a valid Nebraska certificate or permit issued by the Commissioner of Education. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-802.

Employees of schools electing not to be accredited or approved are not required to meet certification requirement but must take appropriate subject matter components of a nationally recognized teacher competency examination or offer evidence of competence through informal methods of evaluation developed by the State Board of Education. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-1601(5).

Curriculum: Private, denominational, and parochial schools, K-5, must devote at least one hour per week for stories of American history and American heroes, singing patriotic songs and memorization of the Star Spangled Banner and America and the development of reverence for the flag and proper conduct in its presentation. In 2 grades from grades 5-8, private, denominational, and parochial schools must devote at least 3 periods per week for American history from approved textbooks, taught to make the course interesting and attractive, and to develop a love of country. In at least 2 grades of every high school, 3 periods per week must be devoted to civics, including the constitutions of the United States and Nebraska, the benefits and advantages of our form of government, the dangers and fallacies of Nazism, communism, and similar ideologies, and the duties of citizenship. Appropriate patriotic exercises must be held for Lincoln's birthday, Washington's birthday, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran's Day. Nebraska requires that all of these history courses stress contributions of all ethnic groups in the growth of America, art music, education, medicine, literature, science, politics, government and war service. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-724

Private schools must provide regular periods of instruction on fire dangers and fire prevention. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-706.

Private schools may request materials for a comprehensive health education course prepared by the Commissioner of Education. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-713.

Private, parochial and denominational school teachers must give special emphasis in their instruction to common honesty, morality, courtesy, obedience to law, respect for the national flag, the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of Nebraska, respect for parents and the home, the dignity and necessity of honest labor, and other lessons which promote an upright and desirable citizenry. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-725.

Special Education: The Nebraska legislature may permit state and political subdivisions to contract with nonsectarian institutions for the education of disabled students. Neb. Const. Art. VII, Sec. 11.

See Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students.

Health: Private schools may request assistance, including vaccines, serums, services and guidance, from the Department of Health in establishing immunization clinics. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-218.

Safety: Private, denominational and parochial schools must provide monthly fire drills. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-706. Private schools must conduct regular fire drills in accordance with adopted regulations and keep all doors and exits unlocked during school hours. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-527. The second Friday of May is designated as State Fire Day to be observed by private and parochial schools to create awareness of fire damage. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-705.

Transportation: School boards providing transportation for children attending public schools must also provide transportation on school bus routes without cost for children attending nonprofit private schools approved for legal operation under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-318(5)(c). (See Registration.) Nonprofit private schools must certify to the public school district the names, addresses, days of school attendance and other useful information, on forms provided by the State Department of Education. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-601. This provision does not violate the constitution of Nebraska. State ex rel. Bouc v. School Dist. of City of Lincoln, 320 N.W.2d 472 (1982).

Companies providing bus service to private, denominational, or parochial schools must give instruction in safe riding practices and emergency evacuation drills at least twice during each school year. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-609.

School bus drivers must furnish to the governing authority of a nonpublic school a driving permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles before contracting to provide school bus services. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-608.

Nonpublic schools must have transportation vehicles inspected by a motor vehicle mechanic before school opens in the fall and every 80 days during the school year. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-602.

Home Schooling: A home school is considered an exempt private school in Nebraska. In order to fulfill compulsory education requirements, a parent or guardian must provide a Statement of Objections and Assurances for any child between the ages of 7 and 16. Parents may object to sending their child to an approved and accredited school because to do so would violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the parents or guardians or because doing so would interfere with the decisions of the parents or guardians in directing their child?s education.

A parent representative is designated for each exempt school. By August 1 of each year or prior to the date that the exempt school begins operation, the parent representative must submit to the Commissioner:

  • A calendar for the school year indicating a minimum instruction of 1,080 for secondary schools and 1,032 for elementary schools;
  • A list of the names of all instructional monitors in the exempt school, their contact information, and their qualifications; and
  • A chart of written summary showing the scope and sequence of the sequential program of instruction designed to lead to basic skills in the language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health, by grade level.

When the department deems necessary, officials can visit the exempt school at a mutually established time. Likewise, when the department deems it necessary to conduct regular achievement testing of students, it may be so at a mutually designated and established time. Neb Rev. Stat. Title 92, Chapter 12; Chapter 13.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The Nebraska Constitution prohibits state appropriations for schools not owned or exclusively controlled by the state or a political subdivision. Contracts with nonsectarian schools for the education of disabled students are an exception. The Constitution specifically allows for the distribution of federal funds in accordance with federal grants. Neb. Const. Art. VII, Sec. 11.

Boards of Education have a duty to loan textbooks, upon request, to children attending K-12 private schools approved for legal operation under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-318(5)(c) (see Registration), when funds are specifically appropriated by the state legislature. The textbooks must be designated for use in the public schools and loaned to students free of charge. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-734. The loan of textbooks under this provision is permissible under the Constitutions of Nebraska and the United States. Cunningham v. Lutjeharms, 437 N.W.2d 806 (1989).

Meals and food products sold for human consumption by private schools, student organizations, and parent-teacher associations are exempt from sales and use tax, including concession sales by elementary and secondary schools to the general public. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-2704.10.

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.