Private School Regulation
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,
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
- 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,
The South Carolina Constitution exempts private schools from property
taxes except where profits are applied to private use. S.C. Const. Art.
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.