Private School Regulation

New Jersey

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: New Jersey law places registration requirements on a limited category of private schools that are not operated by charitable institutions or religious denominations, i.e. for-profit nonsectarian private boarding schools established after 1920 and private schools charging tuition for certain vocational education. This limited category of schools must obtain a certificate of approval from the Commissioner of Education to legally operate within the state. N.J. Rev. Stat. 18A:69-1 et seq.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools must report statistics relating to the conduct of the institution as required by the Commissioner, annually on or before August 1. No private schools may be required to report expenses or finances; nor shall any such report prepared by the school be made public. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A-6-4.

Length of School Year/Day: New Jersey's Compulsory Education Law requires children between the ages of 6 and 16 years of age to attend school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the district. N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 18A:38-25; 18A:38-26.

Curriculum: The Compulsory Education Law requires attendance at a public school or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:38-25.

Private schools must provide regular courses of instruction in the constitution of the United States from the 7th grade and through high school. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-3.

Private schools must provide regular courses of instruction in accident and fire prevention. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-2.

Special Education: Local boards of education must provide for the identification of nonpublic school students, ages 5-21, who cannot be accommodated through the school facilities usually provided because of handicaps. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46-6. The examination and classification of nonpublic school children occurs in a location determined by the local board and approved by the Commissioner. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46-8 and 46-19.1.

New Jersey provides for the public placement of handicapped children in accredited nonpublic schools if a child study team determines: 1) that a suitable special education program cannot be provided otherwise; 2) the nonpublic school is the most appropriate placement for the child; 3) services are nonsectarian; 4) the school is not specifically approved for the education of handicapped pupils; and 5) the board of education places the child with the consent of the Commissioner, or by a court order. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46-14. N.J. Admin. Code tit. 6A: 14-6.5, 4.2. Tuition rates at private schools may not exceed the actual cost per pupil determined under rules prescribed by the Commissioner and approved by the State Board of Education. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46-21. N.J. Admin. Code tit. 6A: 14-7.8.

Nonpublic school students requiring the services of a certified speech-language specialist are entitled to receive services through the local board of education. Services require the consent of the parent/guardian and are provided in a location determined by the local school board, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the State Board. (Nonpublic schools are defined within this provision as schools offering K-12 education, fulfilling compulsory school attendance requirements, and complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) If student transportation is necessary to receive services, the local board of education will provide the transportation. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46-19.1 et seq.

Health: Private schools must insure compliance with the State Sanitary Code governing immunizations required for attending school. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 26:1A-9. A child is exempt from pertussis vaccine as a condition for admission to a private school if the child's physician states in writing that the vaccine is medically contraindicated. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 26:2N-4.

Private schools may close due to an epidemic. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 26:4-5.

The administrator of a nonpublic school must develop a policy governing the emergency administration epinephrine via an auto-injector to a pupil for life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. N.J. Rev. State. §§ 18A: 40-12.5 and 12.6.

Safety: Schools of two or more rooms, or of one room located on a second floor, must have at least 2 fire drills each month. If provided, fire escapes must be part of the drill. Teachers must keep all doors and exits of their rooms and buildings unlocked during the school hours. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:41-1.

Schools having furnace room, hallway, or stair-tower fire or smoke doors must keep them closed when the building is occupied. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:41-2.

Nonpublic schools may require applicants for positions involving regular contact with pupils to have a criminal history record check for information that would disqualify the individual for employment. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-4.13. Substitute employees rehired annually at nonpublic schools that require a criminal history record check need only undergo a record check upon initial employment. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-4.17.

Any private school personnel who in good faith reports a person in an attempt to help cure his dependency on a controlled substance will not be liable for civil damages. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2A:62A-4; § 18A:40A-14.

School bus drivers used by private schools for transportation to and from school must submit to a medical exam for the presence of alcohol, narcotics or habit-producing drugs. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:3-10.1a.

A municipality may authorize the chief executive officer to close any portion of a street within a block of a private school to resolve a safety problem for ingress and egress to the school or for the provision of recreational facilities for children attending the school. Closure must not exceed 1 hour between 7:30 and 10:00 A.M., 2 hours between 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. and 1 hour between 2:30 and 4:30 P.M. when school is in session. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 40:67-16.7.

Transportation: The New Jersey Constitution declares that the state legislature may, within reasonable limitations as to distance, provide student transportation (ages 5-18) to and from any school. New Jersey Const. Art. 8, 4, par. 3.

Pupils attending nonprofit nonpublic schools not more than 20 miles from their residence are entitled to transportation if the school district provides transportation for public school pupils. If the cost of the transportation exceeds a set amount ($675 in 1992-93), the allocation will be given to the parent/guardian toward the cost of the transportation. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:39-1.

The governing body of a nonpublic school may authorize personnel or parents to transport school children to related school activities in a private vehicle with a capacity of 8 or less. The transportation will be exempt from all the additional requirements imposed on the transportation of pupils by school bus. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:39-20.1.

Home Schooling: New Jersey does not have a code that addresses the area of home schooling. New Jersey?s compulsory education law states that every child between the ages of six and 16 must attend a public or private school, or receive "equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school". N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A: 38-25.

Responsibility for enforcing the compulsory education law rests with the local board of education. When a school board has reason to believe that a parent or guardian is not complying with the compulsory education law, the local board of education can initiate truancy proceedings in municipal court, requiring parents or legal guardians to document their activities in providing "equivalent instruction". N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 18A: 38-27 through 18A: 38-31.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: "Private school" is defined under New Jersey's education provisions as "a school, under college grade, which does not derive its support entirely or in part from public funds." N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:1-1.

The New Jersey Constitution provides that tax exemptions cannot be repealed for real and personal property owned by a corporation/association organized for religious, educational, or charitable purposes and used exclusively for those purposes. New Jersey Const. Art. 8,  1, par. 2.

Local school boards of education have a duty to loan textbooks without charge upon individual request to students attending K-12 nonpublic schools. (Nonpublic schools are defined within this provision as schools offering K-12 education, fulfilling compulsory school attendance requirements, and complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) School boards are not required to expend funds in excess of State aid provided. Loaned textbooks must be textbooks used in any public elementary or secondary school and approved by the board of education. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:58-37.1.

Local boards of education provide auxiliary services, i.e. compensatory education services for computation and communication skills, supportive services for limited English-speaking students, and home instruction, on an equal basis to pupils in both public and nonpublic schools. Children enrolled full-time in a nonpublic school between the ages of 5 and 20 are eligible. (Nonpublic schools are defined within this provision as schools offering K-12 education, fulfilling compulsory school attendance requirements, and complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) If student transportation is necessary to receive services, the local board of education will provide the transportation. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:46A-1.

The County Educational Audiovisual Commissions may contract with nonprofit private schools within the county to provide educational audiovisual aids to the private schools. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:51-6.

The Educational Services Commission may enter into contracts to provide educational services and programs to nonpublic schools. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-63.

To the extent permitted by law, the Educational Information and Resource Center provides support and services to nonprofit, nonpublic schools. The services provided by the center include: a lending library of educational and instructional materials; preparation of media and materials for informational and instructional purposes; an educational information storage and retrieval system; special topic seminars and conferences; and consultant advice, information and expertise. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-95.1.

Local boards of education provide nursing services for pupils enrolled full-time in nonpublic schools. The services include, but are not limited to, medical examinations, dental screening, hearing examinations, and maintenance of student health records. In addition, the emergency care provided public school pupils is extended to nonpublic school students who are injured or become ill at school or during athletic activities. Nonpublic schools may decline the nursing services by submitting written notification to the local board of education. Students are not compelled to receive services if their parent/guardian objects, except for a physical or medical examination to determine whether the pupil is ill or infected with a communicable disease. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:40-23 et seq. N.J. Admin. Code tit. 6§ 29-8(a).

The local boards of education have a duty to loan educational materials developed by the Commissioner of Education on the nature and effects of drugs, alcohol, anabolic steroids, tobacco and controlled dangerous substances to pupils attending nonpublic schools. N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 18A:40A-5; 40A-17.

By statute, the Commissioner of Education is directed to promote environmental education programs in nonprofit elementary and secondary schools and to assist in their development. Nonprofit schools may use the state's environmental education centers. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-91.1.

The New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education provides assistance and advice to private schools on the implementation of Holocaust education and awareness programs. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:4A-3.

Boards of Education may sell tracts of land no longer desirable for public school purposes to nonprofit private schools for the handicapped at the fair market price. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:20-9.2.

Nonprofit nonpublic schools participating in the National School Lunch Program will be reimbursed with Federal funds, and if insufficient for the cost, may be supplemented with state funds. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:58-7.1 et seq. (Nonpublic schools are defined within this provision as schools offering K-12 education, fulfilling compulsory school attendance requirements, and complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)

Corporations operated exclusively for educational purposes are exempt from sales tax if the earnings do not benefit any private individual, the organization's activities do not attempt to influence legislation, or intervene in any political campaign. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 54:32B-9.

Private or parochial schools conducting a course in driver education approved by the State Department of Education are not charged license fees. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:12-2.

By statute, local school boards are required to present each pupil upon graduation from any elementary school a bound copy of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the New Jersey Constitution. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:36-18.

Miscellaneous: It is illegal for a municipality or county to discriminate between public and private nonprofit day schools of elementary or high school grade accredited by the State Department of Education by zoning ordinances governing the use of land. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 40:55D-66.

The New Jersey Constitution makes games of chance legal for educational or religious organizations when the net proceeds are devoted to educational or religious uses. New Jersey Const. Art. 4, 7, par. 2A.

The Office of Financial Assistance prepares an annual report listing all sources of financial assistance available to New Jersey students attending any institution of higher education. The report is distributed to each private secondary school in the state. N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 18A:3-14.1; 3-14.2.

Private school officials must provide a voter registration form and related nonpartisan materials to each eligible high school pupil in conjunction with the voter registration drive. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:36-27.

Parents of any minor who injure any public or nonpublic school property are liable for damages for the amount of injury. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:37-3.

Employees of private schools are prohibited from inflicting corporal punishment upon a pupil attending school. However, employees may use reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance, threatening physical injury to others, to obtain weapons, for self-defense and for the protection of persons or property. N.J. Rev. Stat. §18A:6-1.

By statute, nonprofit, nonpublic schools are represented by two members on the board of directors governing the Educational Information and Resource Center. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 18A:6-97.

Private school educators are included in the steering committee for the Governor's Teaching Scholars Loan Program. N.J. Rev. Stat.§ 18A:71-82.

Private secondary school students are eligible to participate in the Legislative Internship Program operated in cooperation with the New Jersey Association of High School Councils.

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.