Private School Regulation

North Dakota

The approval of a private school by the County Superintendent and State Superintendent is mandatory in North Dakota to comply with the state's compulsory attendance statute. N. D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-03.

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Attendance at a parochial or private school excuses a child from public school attendance if the child is in attendance for the same length of time and if the school is approved by the County Superintendent of Schools and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. State approval requires 1) teacher certification; 2) curriculum offerings in accordance with state mandates; and, 3) compliance with all municipal and state health, fire, and safety laws. N.D. Cent. Code ' § 15-34.1-03. Government approval of private schools and the teacher certification requirement under this provision has been ruled constitutional. State v. Anderson, 427 NW 2d 316, cert. denied, 488 U.S. 965 (1988).

Private and parochial kindergartens complying with state requirements that govern teacher certification, curriculum, days of instruction, health, fire, and safety, and admission criteria may be approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. N.D. Cent. Code ' § 15-45-02.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction has the authority to adopt rules governing the accreditation of nonpublic schools. N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-02-09. Accredited high schools must comply with state course requirements and class period guidelines. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15-41-06.

Recordkeeping/Reports: The Superintendent of Public Instruction is required by law to include in his biennial report to the Governor and the Office of Management and Budget, the condition, educational and financial, of the private schools and academies of the state as far as it can be ascertained. N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-02-09.

Students enrolled in private or parochial schools must be registered in their legal surname and for all records maintained by the school and in all communications requiring the use of a surname. N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-19-01.

Length of School Year/Day: Attendance at a parochial or private school excuses a child from public school attendance if the child is in attendance for the same length of time. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-03. Public elementary and secondary schools must provide for a school calendar of at least 180 days, which include one hundred seventy-three full days of instruction, 3 holidays, 2 days for teacher education association meetings and 2 parent-teacher conference days. N.D cent. Code § 15-.1-06-04.

Teacher Licenses: To meet state approval requirements, parochial and private school teachers must be state licensed. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-03. High school teachers, except trade, industrial, technical and health teachers, must hold a major or minor in the field that they are teaching. N. D. Cent. Code § 15-41-25.

Curriculum: To meet state approval requirements, parochial and private schools must provide instruction in spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, language, English grammar, geography, United States history, civil government, nature study, and elements of agriculture. Physiology and hygiene must also be taught, including the nature and effect of alcohol and narcotics; the nature, treatment, and prevention of tuberculosis; and other contagious and infectious diseases. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 15-34.1-03; 15-38-07.

High schools, grades 9-12, must offer a minimum of 4 units of course work each year. Alternative high school senior curriculum plans may be adopted if approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. All unit courses must be taught a minimum of 40 minutes a day for at least 180 days, except that natural science courses must exceed 40 minutes as determined by the Superintendent. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-41-06. Course offerings must include the following units of study: English (4); Mathematics (3); Science (4); Social Studies (3 including world history and United States history with a strong geography component); Health and physical education (1); Music (1); and, any combination of business education, economics and the free enterprise system, foreign language, industrial arts, vocational education (6). N.D. Cent. Code § 15-41-24.

Regular courses of instruction in the Constitution of the United States must be taught in all public and private schools beginning in the 8th grade and continuing in high school. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-38-08.

Special Education: School districts must contract with accredited private nonsectarian nonprofit corporations within or without the state or out-of-state public schools for the education of students with disabilities that are unable to attend public schools in the district because of their disability if there are no public schools in the state with the necessary facilities which will accept such students. Transportation must also be furnished for these students. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-59-07.

Health: To meet state approval requirements, parochial and private schools must be in compliance with all municipal and state health laws. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-03.

Private school teachers, administrators, parents and guardians are prohibited from permitting children with significant contagious or infectious diseases to attend school until permitted to do so under the regulations of the local board of health. N.D. Cent. Code § 23-07-16.

Safety: To meet state approval requirements, parochial and private schools must be in compliance with all municipal and state fire and safety laws. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-03.

Plans and specifications for all new private school buildings and for additions and remodeling for existing school buildings must be submitted to the State Fire Marshall. N.D. Cent. Code § 18-12-03; § 18-12-05.

Private schools may organize and supervise school safety patrols to direct students when and where to cross highways, streets, and roads. N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-19-11.

Transportation: Nonpublic school students may receive transportation to school on public school buses running on public school routes if authorized by the local school board, passenger room is available, and no state funds are paid for mileage costs for any deviation from the established public routes. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.2-16.

Home Schooling: Home education means an educational program for a child, based in the child?s home and supervised by the child?s parent or parents. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-00.1. Any parent intending to supervise home education for the parent?s child shall file an annual statement with the superintendent of the public school district in which the child resides at least 14 days prior to the beginning of home education of within 14 days of establishing the child?s residency in the district. The statement must include the names and addresses of the parent who will supervise and the child who will receive home education; the date of birth and grade level of the child; the intention of the parent to supervise home education; the qualifications of the parent who will supervise home education; a list of courses in which the child intends to enroll and the public school district offering the courses; a list of extracurricular activities in which the child intends to participate and the public school district or approved nonpublic school offering the activities; proof of immunizations; and proof of identity. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-06 (4).

A parent is qualified to supervise a program of home education is the parent is licensed to teach in North Dakota; has a baccalaureate degree; or has met or exceeded the cutoff score of the national teacher exam given in North Dakota. A parent who has a high school diploma or GED certificate is qualified to supervise home education but must be monitored by a licensed teacher during the first two years the parent supervises home education or until the child being instructed completes the third grade, whichever is later. If the child being instructed receives a composite standardized achievement test score below the 50th percentile nationally, the required monitoring must continue. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-06 (2)

Home education must include instruction in those subjects required to be taught in the public schools. Instruction must be provided for at least four hours per day for a minimum of 175 days per year. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-06 (3).

Every parent supervising home education shall maintain an annual record of courses taken by the child and the child?s academic progress assessments, including any standardized test results. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-06 (4). Minimum indices of quality education are established in N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-07.

A high school diploma may be issued to a student by the student?s school district of resident, a state-approved nonpublic high school, or the North Dakota division of independent study if the student, through home education, has met the issuing entity?s requirements for high school graduation and the student?s parent or legal guardian provides the issuing entity with the required documentation. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-34.1-11.1.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Gross receipts from the sale of textbooks to private school students and the sale of textbooks, yearbooks, school supplies and food supplies to private nonprofit elementary and secondary schools are exempt from state sales tax. N.D. Cent. Code § 57-39.2-04.5, 20.

Miscellaneous: A private school classroom teacher is included by statute on North Dakota's nine-member Education Standards and Practices Board beginning January 1, 1995. N.D. Cent. Code § 15-38-17.

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.