Private School Regulation

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Constitution ensures that religious societies have the right to elect their own teachers.

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Attendance at an approved private school fulfills the compulsory attendance requirements. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 193:1.

The approval of private schools as a substitute for public school attendance is a reasonable exercise of the state's power whereby it can be known by reasonable means that the required teaching is given. State v. Hoyt, 146 A. 170 (1929). N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 400, 406.6.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools are furnished copies of the school register and must make an annual statistical report to the Department of Education by September 1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 194:31.

All elementary and secondary educational institutions, upon request of a private school or a school district as authorized by a parent, student, or former student, must furnish a student record to any elementary or secondary educational institution. There shall be no charge for any record furnished pursuant to this section. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 194:31-a.

Length of School Year/Day: To comply with the compulsory attendance requirement, attendance at an approved private school must be 180 school days. N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 401.03.

Instruction in English: The English language must be used exclusively in private schools for instruction and general administration. Bilingual education programs are permitted with the approval of the State Board of Education and the local school district. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:19. Devotional exercises in private schools may be conducted in a language other than English. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:21.

Curriculum: Private schools must provide courses in the history, government and constitutions of the United States and New Hampshire, including the organization and operation of New Hampshire municipal, county and state government and of the federal government. The instruction must begin no later than eighth grade and continue in high school as an identifiable component of a year's course in the history and government of the United States and New Hampshire. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:11.

Private schools may contact the Department of Education to participate in the statewide assessment under the Statewide Education Improvement and Assessment Program. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 193-C:6.

Special Education: No state or federal funds may be paid to a nonpublic school for the education and training of disabled children which has not been approved by the State Board of Education. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 198:20-a.

The New Hampshire legislature has authorized the school board of any school district to provide nonpublic schools the following special education services: 1) health and welfare services including speech correction and remedial and diagnostic services; 2) programs for the deaf, blind, emotionally disturbed, children with disabilities; and 3) programs for the improvement of the educational studies of pupils with disabilities. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:49.

Health: No child shall be admitted or enrolled in any private school unless the child is immunized as required, partially immunized relative to the age of the child, or exempt from immunization. A child is exempt if a physician certifies that the immunization may be detrimental to the child's health or a parent/guardian signs a notarized statement that the child has not been immunized because of religious beliefs. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann §§ 141-c:20-a, c.

All children shall be examined prior to school entrance and periodically during the school years to detect the presence of tuberculosis. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 200:38.

Safety: School buildings where 100 or more children may be in attendance must have the main exit doors equipped with a safety device so the door may be opened easily toward the outside by pressure against the door from the inside. School buildings of 2 or more rooms or where 50 or more pupils may be in attendance must be equipped with at least one regularly used outside door with key locks that can be locked on the outside only but that can always be opened easily on the inside by turning the knob or pushing the release bar. Bolts, except to hold 1/2 of a double door, hooks, thumb knobs or other locking devices upon such outside doors is prohibited. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 199:23,24.

Persons illegally selling or possessing with the intent to sell any control drug on or within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary or secondary school may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment or fined, or both, up to twice otherwise authorized. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 318-B:26.

Nonpublic school students may participate in fingerprinting programs adopted by the local school districts. Participation is voluntary and may be authorized by a parent/guardian signature on a form developed by the principal of the nonpublic school. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:49-a.

No newly established state liquor store may be operated within 200 feet of any public or private school. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 177:1.

Transportation: Pupils attending approved private schools (K-12) are entitled to the same transportation privileges within any town or district as provided for pupils in public schools. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:9.

Home Schooling: Home schools are not considered non-public schools in New Hampshire. Home schools are considered a third type of school for attendance purposes. On or before the date a home education program will begin, and each year thereafter, a parent desiring to initiate a home education program must advise the participating agency with which the program will be established. Participating agencies can be the resident district superintendent, commissioner of education, or nonpublic school principal. N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 315.01; 315.03.

No later than 30 days after the establishment of a home education program, the parent must provide the following information to the participating agency: list of subjects to be taught in accordance with RSA 193-A; 4,1; the name of the correspondence school used, if any; the name of the commercial curriculum provider, if used; an outline of the scope and instructional sequence for each subject; and a list of textbooks or other instructional material to be used. N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 315.03.

The parent must keep a portfolio each year. N.H. Code Admin. R.Ed. 315.05. The parent shall provide for an annual evaluation for the child. The parent may choose a standardized test that may be a nationally recognized test, a state assessment instrument or a test used in the child?s resident district. The results must be reported to the participating agency. Composite results of the tests that meet or exceed the 40th percentile demonstrate educational progress. The parent may choose any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the participating agency providing it meets specified criteria. N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 315.06.

A home education advisory council will carry out duties assigned by the commissioner of education. The council will work with home educators and representatives of private and public education to encourage understanding of home education. N.H. Code Admin. R. Ed. 315.10.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The New Hampshire Constitution provides, "religious societies shall at all times have the right of electing their own teachers, and of contracting with them for their support or maintenance, or both. But no person shall ever be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools of any sect or denomination. And every person, denomination or sect shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect, denomination or persuasion to another shall ever be established." New Hampshire Const. Pt. 1, Art. 6

The New Hampshire Constitution also provides "No money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination." New Hampshire Const. Pt. 2, Art. 83.

The school board of any school district may provide the following child benefit services for pupils in nonpublic schools: 1)school physician, nurse, and health services; 2) school guidance and psychologist services; 3) educational testing services; 4) transportation; 5) textbooks and instructional materials; 6) health and welfare services including speech correction and remedial and diagnostic services; 7) driver education; 8) educational television services; 9) programs for the deaf, blind, emotionally disturbed, children with disabilities and audio-visual aids and programs for the improvement of the educational studies of pupils with disabilities; 10) physical education; and, 11) a hot lunch program. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:49.

Textbooks, physician, nurse and health services, and hot lunches are nonideological; there is no danger that they will be used to foster religion; they are furnished at the request of the student, not the school; and, there will be no need for continuing surveillance which would lead to excessive entanglement. Therefore, the aid is constitutionally permissible. Opinion of the Justices, 115 N.H. § 553 (1975)

Private and parochial and public schools that conduct courses in driver education approved by the State Department of Education are exempt from applicable license fees. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 263:44.

Under the Missing Child Education Program, nonpublic schools may receive, upon request, education materials and assistance to develop an educational program concerning missing children issues. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 193:32.

Miscellaneous: The Board of Education is charged with adopting rules relative to minimum standards for nonpublic school advisory councils and standards for the approval of nonpublic schools. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 21-N:9.

The governing board of a private school must supply a United States flag, not less than 5 feet in length, with a flagstaff and appliances for display. Failure to comply is a violation. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 189:17.

The Secretary of State will provide one copy of the state's annual legislative manual to every private secondary school library in the state without charge. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 20:5.

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.