Private School Regulation


In Utah, local school boards determine what constitutes a regularly established private school. Opinion of the Attorney General, November 23, 1977.

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Local school boards are responsible for determining what constitutes a regularly established private school. Opinion of the Attorney General, November 23, 1977.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools must retain official certificates of immunization for every student as part of the individual's permanent school record. The Department of Health provides official certificate forms. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-304.

Private schools have a duty to cooperate with employers by issuing age certificates or lists of students or recent students showing their dates of birth according to school records. Utah Code Ann. § 34-23-209.

In September and March of each year, accredited nonpublic schools must provide the County Clerk an estimate of the number of enrolled students who are 18 years of age or who will be 18 within 6 months. The County Clerk will provide sufficient by-mail voter registration forms, free of charge, to be disseminated to the students. Utah Code Ann. § 20A-2-302; 53A-3-402.5.

Curriculum: Private school students may enroll in public schools for dual enrollment purposes and participate in any academic activity subject to the same rules applicable to full-time students. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-102.5.

School districts maintaining driver education classes must allow private school pupils, grades 9-12, to enroll in driver education courses at the most accessible public school. Enrollment is on the same terms and conditions as apply to public school students. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-13-203.

Special Education: The State Director of Special Education is responsible for the general supervision of all public programs offered through private agencies for students with disabilities and has a duty to cooperate with private schools and agencies concerned with education and training students with disabilities. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-15-302.

Health: Students may not attend private K-12 schools without certification of immunization unless exempted for personal, medical, or religious reasons. Utah Code Ann. §§ 53A-11-301; 53A-11-302.

Immunization Records, see Recordkeeping/Reports.

Private K-12 schools may administer medication to students if policies and procedures are adopted in consultation with the Department of Health. The policies must provide for the designation and training of employees who administer medication, proper identification and safekeeping of medication, and the maintenance of records of administration. Medication may be administered only if the parent/guardian has provided a written request and the student's health professional has signed a statement describing the method, amount, and time schedule for the administration necessary during school hours. School employees in substantial compliance with the physician's orders are not civilly or criminally liable for a student's adverse reaction to the medicine or discontinuing the medicine following actual notice to the parent/guardian. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-601.

Private school administrators have a duty to report the name and address of a person suspected of having a communicable disease, and the facts relating to the case, to the Department of Health. Utah Code Ann. § 26-6-6.

Local health departments have the statutory authority to close private schools when necessary to protect the public health. Utah Code Ann. § 26A-1-114.

It is illegal to smoke or use tobacco on the property of a private elementary or secondary school with the exception that adults may smoke in designated areas during nonschool hours. Utah Code Ann. § 76-10-106.

Safety: Utah restricts the establishment of state liquor stores, package agencies, restaurants and private clubs serving liquor, and on-premise beer retailers in the proximity of private schools. Utah Code Ann. §§ 32A-2-101; 32A-3-101; 32A-4-101; 32A-5-101; 32A-10-201.

The Utah Fire Prevention Board establishes the minimum standards for the prevention of fire, the protection of life and property against fire, and panic in private schools. Utah Code Ann. § 53-7-204.

Law enforcement agencies have a duty to notify the administrator of a private school if an employee has been arrested for a controlled substance or sex offense. Utah Code Ann. § 53-5-218.

Private schools may require potential employees/volunteers to submit to a criminal background check through the Law Enforcement and Technical Services Division as a condition for employment or appointment and, where reasonable cause exists, schools may require an existing employee or volunteer to submit to a criminal background check. Only job-related convictions should be considered by the school. The private school must pay the cost unless the applicant has passed an initial review; is one of a pool of five candidates or less; and, has not been the subject of a criminal background check during the preceding two years. If an individual is denied employment based on the background check, the person has a right to written notice of the reasons for the denial and an opportunity to respond. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-3-410.

Possession of a weapon, explosive, flammable material, or other dangerous material in a private elementary or secondary school building, grounds, or area used for a school activity is a criminal offense unless approved by a responsible school official or used in an approved activity. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-3-502.

Utah's criminal code provides enhanced penalties for the use of a firearm in an offense committed on or about school premises. Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-203.2.

Anyone who knowingly assaults an employee or volunteer at a private school when the victim is acting within the scope of his employment is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-102.3.

A person who enters or remains on private school property and is intent to cause harm, commit a crime, is reckless as to the safety of others, or enters or remains without authorization if notice against entry has been given, commits a misdemeanor of criminal trespass on school property. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-3-503. A person who is asked to leave by a school official and remains to disrupt an activity of a private school commits a misdemeanor. Utah Code Ann. § 76-9-106.

A teacher who has committed a sexual offense against a minor child and is ineligible for certification, may not be employed or permitted to volunteer in any position in a private school where the teacher would be in close proximity to minor children or interact with minor children. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-6-104.

The Administrator of Teacher Certification may provide a private school administrator with information in his possession which is significant in evaluating the employment of a current or prospective employee. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-6-106.

Private school students who participate in industrial education, physics laboratory, and chemistry laboratory activities that may endanger one's vision, must wear quality eye protective devices. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-13-103.

Transportation: The Utah Department of Transportation regulates the design and operation of school buses privately owned for use by private schools. Private schools and their employees are subject to the regulations. Utah Code Ann. § 41-6-115.

The Highway Patrol safety inspects biannually all school buses operated by private schools for the transportation of students. Utah Code Ann. § 53-8-211.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The Utah Constitution prohibits the appropriation of public money or property for religious instruction or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment. Utah Const. Art. 1, Sec. 4. In addition, the Utah Constitution further prohibits appropriations by the state and its political subdivisions for the direct support of any religiously controlled school. Utah Const. Art. X, Sec. 9.

Miscellaneous: A private or parochial school may exempt itself from the state prohibition of corporal punishment by adopting a school policy and notifying the parent/guardians of the exemption. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-11-802.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction includes applicable private school data in his annual report to the Governor and the Legislature on the public school system. Utah Code Ann. § 53A-1-301.

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.