Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Through a Letter of Understanding, the Commissioner of Education recognizes the accreditation of non-public schools accredited by any of the accreditation organizations belonging to the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC).

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private school administrators/designees have an obligation to report suspected criminal conduct occurring on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities to the local police/sheriff. Tex. Education Code Ann. 37.015. Law enforcement agencies will notify the school principal of an arrest or conviction of delinquent conduct of an individual enrolled in a private school. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. § Article15.27(e).

Curriculum: Students attending a private or parochial school are exempt from compulsory attendance at a public school if the school includes in its course a study of good citizenship. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 25.086 (a)(1).

A school district must ensure that records or transcripts of a transfer student from a Texas nonpublic school are evaluated and that the student is placed in appropriate classes promptly. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 74.26 (a)(2). A transfer student from a Texas nonpublic school must complete all state requirements for graduation. 19 Texas Administrative Code, § 74.11 (f).

Student credits earned in non-public schools accredited by members of TEPSAC are transferable to Texas public schools. Letter of Understanding, Commissioner of Education

A driver’s education school shall receive approval from the Texas Education Agency prior to conducting a course at a private school. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 176.4(l).

Special Education: Local school districts may contract with approved private facilities for residential special education services. Facilities are considered for approval based on a programmatic evaluation of personnel qualifications, adequacy of physical plant and equipment, and curriculum content. Facilities may be approved in whole or in part. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 29.008.

When a private school student with disabilities is referred to the local district, the district is not responsible for providing services unless the parent(s) choose to enroll the child in the public school full-time or request services under dual enrollment. All state requirements concerning referral, assessment, and determination of eligibility are applicable to students placed in private schools by their parents once the students are referred. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 2, § 89.1095.

Health: Children may not be admitted to any elementary or secondary school unless they have been immunized as required by the Texas Board of Health, present an affidavit signed by a physician stating the immunization would be injurious to the health of the student or his family, or present an affidavit that the immunization conflicts with the tenets of his/her church or religious denomination. A religious exemption does not apply in times of emergency or epidemic. Tex. Education Code § 38.001.

The chief administrator of a private school must report the names of children suspected of having a communicable disease, i.e. diseases listed by the Texas Board of Health, to the local health authority or the Department of Health regional director. Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. §§ 81.003(10); 81.042(c).

Safety: Municipalities with populations greater than 850,000 must provide school crossing guards to assist children going to or leaving a parochial or private elementary or secondary school. Chapter 343.014cal Government Code.

Private schools are entitled to access all criminal history record information that relates to employees, applicants for employment, and volunteers. The school may obtain this information from any law enforcement or criminal justice agency. Private schools must notify the State Board of Educator Certification if an applicant for or holder of a certificate has a reported criminal history. Tex. Education Code Ann. §§ 22.081; 22.083-22.086.

Private schools are entitled to obtain criminal history records through the Department of Public Safety for employees, applicants, or volunteers, including those who drive or will serve as a monitor or aide on a bus in which students are transported. Tex. Government Code 411.097.

Private schools may participate in a missing child prevention and identification program in accordance with state provisions. Under the program, schools distribute program information to the parents and request written consent to take the child's fingerprints. Schools may charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs not to exceed $3. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 33.051 et seq.

Private primary schools are required to request records when enrolling a child under 11 years of age to verify the child’s name, birth date, and previous school records. If documentation is not provided, the school shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency to determine if the child has been reported missing. Law enforcement agencies shall immediately notify each school, including private primary schools, when a report of a missing child is received. Tex. Code of Criminal Procedure Ann. Chapter 63

It is a criminal offense to possess or consume alcoholic beverages on a public street, alley, or sidewalk within 600 feet of a facility that the person knows is a private school offering K-12 instruction. Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. § 101.75.

Acts of hazing that occur on or off the campus of an educational institution, including a private high school, must be reported to the appropriate official of the institution. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 37.151 et.seq.

Transportation: Street railways or motor buses operating in cities of not less than twenty thousand inhabitants are required to sell tickets to children attending private schools for one-half of the adult fare when school is in session. Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. art. 4008b; Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. art. 6544.

Home Schooling: Texas has no laws or regulations related to home schooling.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The Texas Constitution prohibits the state legislature from granting any part of the permanent or available school fund to any sectarian school. Texas Const. Art. VII, sec. 5(a).

No money from the State Treasury or property belonging to the State may be appropriated for the benefit of any sect or religious society. Texas Const. Art. 1, § 7. The Attorney General has ruled that this provision does not prevent a school district from providing band lessons to private school students at a public school. Op. Atty. Gen. 1972, No. M-1074. Texas Constitution Art. 1, sec 7, Art. 3, sections 51, 52.

Teacher service in accredited private schools may be claimed for salary increment purposes. Beginning with the 1989-90 school year and thereafter, private schools accredited by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission will be listed in the Texas School Directory. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 153.1021 (h)(8).

Private school students must be screened to detect vision and hearing disorders and any other special senses or communication disorders specified by the Board of Health. The Department of Health may coordinate screening activities of private schools with school districts, state agencies and volunteer organizations so that efforts are complementary and not fragmented or duplicative, and provide screening personnel, equipment, and services if the requirements cannot be otherwise met. Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 36.004.

Screening to detect abnormal spinal curvature is mandatory for private school children in grades 6 and 9. The Department of Health may coordinate screening activities and provide technical assistance and educational materials to assist private schools. Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 37.001.

The State Board of Education may enter into an agreement with a private nonprofit school to provide special textbooks and instructional aids for the instruction of blind or visually impaired students, if state funds, other than for administrative costs, are not involved. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 31.028 (c).

Food products served by private schools, student organizations, and parent-teacher organizations are exempt from sales tax when served during the regular school day or during a fund-raiser when the proceeds do not benefit an individual. Tex. Tax Code Ann. 151.314(d)(1).

Miscellaneous: Parochial and private schools are expected to observe Texas Week, the week of March 2. Tex. Civ. Stat. Art. 6144a.

A private school may administer the state assessment instrument required for all public schools. The private school must reimburse the agency for the cost of administering the assessment, not to exceed the cost for administering the same assessment to a student enrolled in a public school. Tex. Education Code Ann. § 39.033.

A private school administering the state assessment instrument shall provide to the commissioner performance results on the academic excellence indicators adopted by the State Board of Education. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 101.1 (j). The private school shall notify the student and his or her parents or guardian of test results. Tex. Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 101.5.

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.