Private School Regulation


Oregon's constitution prohibits state appropriations for the benefit of any religious institution.
Ore. Const. Art. 1, Sec. 5.
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Private K-12 schools may, but are not required to be, registered as a private school with the Department of Education. The application for registration must demonstrate: 1) the teachers are qualified, but not necessarily licensed; 2) the owner/principal and employees are qualified by education and experience to provide instruction; 3) the facility is adequate to protect the health and safety of the children; 4) the curriculum considers the goals of modern education and the requirements of a sound, comprehensive curriculum with particular emphasis on the highest practical standards and in secondary schools establishment of academic standards necessary to attend institutions of higher education. Courses should be taught for an equivalent period of time as required for public school students. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 345.525. Registration requirements are set out in detail at Or. Admin. R. 581-45-500 through 581-45-580. Representation by a private school that it is registered when it is not a registered private school is a misdemeanor. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 345.990(2). Registration is renewable annually on or before October 15. Or. Admin. R. 581-45-500.

Private schools offering residential programs for children must be licensed by the Children's Services Division. The standards for licensing encompass the physical health, care, and safety of the children. The Superintendent of Public Instruction will advise on the education program conducted by the residential school. No licensing fees are charged. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 418.327.

Private schools must be approved for the public placement of students for special education services. OAR 581-15-126.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private elementary and secondary schools must transfer student progress records within ten days when notified of the student's enrollment in another school. Or. Rev. Stat. § 326.575.

Length of School Year/Day: Students attending a private or parochial school for a period equivalent to that required of children attending public schools are exempt from public school attendance. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 339.030(1).

Instruction in English: Instruction in all subjects in private and parochial schools must be conducted primarily in English, except instruction in foreign languages and bilingual education for pupils whose native tongue is other than English. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 336.074.

Teacher Certification: Teachers at registered private schools may demonstrate their qualifications by: 1) possessing a current teaching license; 2) teaching at least half time in the subject field in which the bachelor's degree was obtained while actively working toward an Oregon teaching certificate; or 3) possess relevant verifiable experience consistent with the educational goals of the school and the Department of Education. Or. Admin. R. 581-45-530.

Curriculum: Students being taught the courses of study usually taught in grades 1 through 12 in the public schools at a private or parochial school are exempt from public school attendance. Or. Rev. Stat. § 339.030(1).

All private schools must provide courses of instruction in the Constitution and history of the United States from grade 8 through grade 12. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 336.057.

Private schools may offer courses in driver instruction. State reimbursement for costs however is provided for private school students only if they complete the course in a public school or other facility. Or. Rev. Stat.§§ 343.720; 343.730.

See Safety, Fire and Earthquake Instruction.

Special Education: School districts must make available special education designed to meet the needs of resident handicapped children in private schools. Such special education must not be provided in the private school. School districts must provide such children with genuine opportunities for equitable participation in special education consistent with the number of children and their needs. Or. Admin. R. 581-15-166 (1978).

Private educational agencies furnishing special education to handicapped children pursuant to a contract with a public agency must have on file with the Oregon Department of Education a plan approved for the special education programs. The plan must 1) describe the population to be served and the instructional services to be provided; 2) include a staff roster indicating name, instructional qualification, and assignment of all special education personnel employed by the private educational agency; 3) describe facilities, equipment and materials to be furnished and utilized; 4) document compliance with state and local health, fire and safety standards; and 4) meet additional minimum standards set out by regulation. Or. Admin. R. 581-15-126 (1978).

Health: Oregon recognizes immunization as a parental responsibility. Prior to admission to school, students must provide evidence of immunization as required by the Health Division or a statement that they are being reared as an adherent to a religion opposed to immunization. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 433.240; 433.267.

Private schools may adopt more stringent requirements for measles immunization if medical and religious exemptions are included and the requirements comply with the United States Public Health Service Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 433.284.

Private schools may not permit persons under 18 to possess tobacco products while present on school grounds unless lawfully prescribed. The school must have written policies prohibiting possession and written plans to implement the policies. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 339.865.

School administrators may exclude from school a child or employee suspected to be exposed to a "restrictable disease" as defined by the Health Division. Or. Rev. Stat.§§ 433.235; 433.260.

Safety: Private and parochial schools having an average daily attendance of 50 or more must provide instruction in exiting the building in an emergency and seeking shelter in case of an earthquake. Drills must be held at least once a month. Exit doors must be maintained so they can open from the inside without a key during school hours. Children in grades 1 through 8 must be instructed in fire and earthquake dangers and drills for 30 minutes in each school month. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 336.072.

Any private official school employee having reasonable cause to believe that a person with whom the official comes in contact in an official capacity has suffered abuse or has abused a child shall make a report immediately to the Children's Services Division or to a law enforcement agency within the county. Or. Rev. Stat.§§ 418.740, 750, 755.

All painting or finish applied to interior combustible surfaces except floors and trim of private school buildings, must be of a fire-retardant material meeting flame spread regulations established by the State Fire Marshall. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 479.140.

It is illegal in Oregon to operate a methadone clinic within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary, vocational, or secondary school. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 430.590.

Unless authorized by law, it is illegal to manufacture or deliver controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary, vocational, or secondary school attended by minors. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 475.999.

Oregon assists and regulates traffic patrols appointed by private or parochial schools to protect pupils crossing highways on their way to school. Members must be 18 or older or have parental consent, display a "traffic patrol badge", and may display a directional sign or signal. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 336.450; 470.480.

It is a criminal offense to possess a firearm in a private school building with some exceptions. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 166.360; 166.370.

Private or parochial schools through secondary level with a capacity greater than 250 individuals are subject to additional building code regulations for structures vulnerable to earthquakes. Or. Rev. Stat. § 455.447.

Transportation: All children attending private or parochial schools under the compulsory school attendance laws are entitled to transportation along or near the designated routes when the district provides transportation for public school students. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 332.415.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Oregon's constitution prohibits any state approval for the benefit of any religious institution. Ore. Const. Art. 1, Sec. 5. An early free textbook statute was struck down based on this provision in 1961. Dickman v. School District 62C, 366 P.2d 533, cert. denied, Carlson v. Dickman, 371 U.S. 823 (1962).

Miscellaneous: Church-operated parochial schools are exempt from unemployment compensation taxes. Emp. Div. v. Archdiocese of Portland, 600 P.2d. 926 (1979), but see, Salem College & Academy, Inc. v. Employment Division, 695 P.2d 25 (1985).

By statute, Oregon has a Private Elementary and Secondary School Advisory Committee to advise the State Board of Education on minimum criteria for private schools and private school registration. Six members are selected by the State Board from nominees of private school organizations and one member is a lay person not associated with private schools. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 345.575.

Representatives of private and parochial schools serve on the Health Division Advisory Committee to advise on regulations to promote disease control in schools. Or. Rev. Stat.§ 433.245

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.