Private School Regulation

South Carolina

South Carolina defines "private school" as a school primarily supported by other than public funds and operated by other than publicly elected or appointed officials. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-1-110.

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Attendance at a nonsectarian private school satisfies South Carolina's compulsory school attendance statute if the school has been approved by the State Board of Education or is a member school of the South Carolina Independent School Association or a similar organization. Attendance at parochial, denominational, and church-related schools also satisfies this requirement. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-10(A). The Attorney General has determined that the State Board of Education has authority to establish minimum standards for private school approval under the Compulsory School Attendance Act. 1967-68 Ops. Att'y Gen., No. 2585, p. 291.



Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools must report annually to the local superintendent of education the following information: 1) the number of students receiving instruction; 2) the number of students in regular attendance; 3) the number of teachers employed; and 4) such other facts demonstrating the grade and amount of educational work actually done in the private school. A private school failing to file the information within two weeks after the close of the regular session is subject to a fine not more than $25. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-13-130.

Discrimination: South Carolina school districts place handicapped students in private schools provided the school accepts children into the program regardless of color, race, sex, or religion. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-33-50.

Special Education: Handicapped students may be placed in private schools that maintain approved special education facilities if the school district cannot provide an appropriate education. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-33-50.

All private school administrators must report the names of visually handicapped students to the Commission for the Blind. The Commission may provide itinerant teachers to assist private school teachers who are responsible for teaching visually handicapped children. S.C. Code Ann. § 43-25-60.

Health: The Department of Health and Environmental Control has the authority to inspect private school lunchrooms and sanitary facilities. 1982 Op. Atty. Gen., No. 82-10, p. 12.

Potential staff members of a private school must be evaluated for tuberculosis prior to hiring. Applicants must present a health certificate certifying that they do not have tuberculosis in an active stage as a prerequisite to employment. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-29-150, 160.

Safety: The distribution of a controlled substance within a radius of one-half mile of a private elementary, middle, or secondary school is a criminal offense and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445. S.C. Code Ann § 16-17-420 (Disturbing Schools); S.C. Code Ann. § 16-11-110 (Arson).

Transportation: School buses owned and operated by private schools or under contract for a private school must conform to state laws and regulations of the State Board of Education. Buses failing to comply with the laws and regulations must be painted a color other than yellow and are not entitled to the privileges and protection of a school bus operating on the highways. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-67-40.

Home Schooling: Parents or guardians may teach their children at home if the instruction is approved by the district board of trustees in the district in which the child resides. Home school programs that meet the following standards will be approved:

  • The parent holds at least a high school diploma or the equivalent GED certificate and attains a passing score on the basic skills examination or has earned a baccalaureate degree;
  • The instructional day is at least four and one-half hours, excluding lunch and recesses, and the instructional year is at least 180 days;
  • The curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies and, in grades 7 through 12, composition and literature;
  • As evidence that a student is receiving regular instruction, the parent shall maintain the following records for inspection upon reasonable notice by a representative of the school district: a plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the parent and student engage; a portfolio of samples of the student?s work; and a record of evaluations of the student?s academic progress;
  • The student must have access to library facilities;
  • Students must participate in the annual statewide testing program and the Basic Skills Assessment Program approved by the State Board of Education for their appropriate grade level; and
  • The parent must agree in writing to hold the district, the district board of trustees and the district?s employees harmless for any educational deficiencies of the student sustained as a result of home instruction. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-40 (A).

Should a student in a home schooling program score below the test requirements of the promotion standards prescribed for public school students by the State Board of Education for one year, the district board of trustees shall decide whether or not the student shall receive appropriate instructional placement in the public school, special services as a handicapped student, or home schooling with an instructional support system at parental expense. The right of a parent to enroll his child in a private or parochial school as provided in S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-10(A) is unaffected by this provision. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-40 (D). A parent or guardian denied permission by a district board of trustees to begin or continue a program of home instruction may appeal that decision to the State Board of Education. S.C. Code of Reg. R. 43-246.

In lieu of the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-40, parents or guardians may teach their children at home if the instruction is conducted under the auspices of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools. Bona fide membership and continuing compliance with the academic standards of South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools exempts the home school from the further requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-40. The State Department of Education shall conduct annually a review of the association standards to insure that requirements of the association, at a minimum, include a) a parent must hold at least a high school diploma or the equivalent GED certificate; b) the instructional year is at least 180 days; and c) the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and in grades 7 through 12, composition and literature. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-45.

In lieu of the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-40 or § 59-65-45, parents or guardians may teach their children at home if the instruction is conducted under the auspices of an association for home schools which has no fewer than 50 members and meets the following requirements, determined by the State Department of Education through an annual review of the association: a) a parent must hold at least a high school diploma or the equivalent GED certificate; b) the instructional year is at least 180 days; c) the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and in grades 7 through 12, composition and literature; and d) educational records maintained by the parent-teacher. S.C. Code Ann. § 59-65-47.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The South Carolina Constitution prohibits public appropriations for the direct benefit of any religious or private educational institution. S.C. Const. Art. 11, sec. 4.

The South Carolina Constitution exempts private schools from property taxes except where profits are applied to private use. S.C. Const. Art. 10, 4.

Miscellaneous: The clerk of the House of Representatives may distribute the legislative manual to private schools without charge. S.C. Code Ann. § 2-1-130.



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.