Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: An independent school is
defined by statute as "a school other than a public school, which provides
a program of elementary or secondary education, or both." Vt. Stat. Ann.
tit. 16, § 11(8). Independent schools may apply for approval by the
State Board of Education or file an enrollment notice as a recognized independent
school. Tutorial programs, providing education to a pupil who is placed
in a short term program for evaluation and/or treatment, may also apply
for approval by the State Board of Education. V.S.A. 16 § 828. Distance
learning schools located in Vermont may apply for approval but are not
eligible to receive tuition from public funds. V.S.A. 16, § 166 (b)(6).
The State Board of Education approves independent schools if the school
provides a minimum course of study and substantially complies with the
Board's rules for approved independent schools. The Board's rules require
at a minimum: 1) adequate resources to meet the school's objectives, including
financial capacity; 2) faculty qualified by training and experience in
the areas assigned; 3) physical facilities and special services in accordance
with state and federal law. Approval may be granted without state board
evaluation if the school is accredited by a private, state or regional
agency recognized by the State Board. Approval may be revoked or suspended,
after opportunity for a hearing, for failure to comply with state requirements.
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(b).
The State Board of Education is charged with adopting rules for approved
independent schools relating to instruction, faculty, curriculum, libraries,
educational materials and physical facilities, which are necessary to provide
an acceptable educational opportunity for pupils in those schools. Vt.
Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 164(14).
A recognized independent school may operate in Vermont upon filing an
enrollment notice with the State Commissioner of Education. The notice
must include: 1) a statement that the school will be in session an amount
of time substantially equivalent to public schools; 2) a detailed description
of the minimum course of study for each grade level and how the annual
assessment will be performed; and 3) assurances that the school maintains
attendance records, maintains annual assessments of each pupil's progress
that is reported to parents/guardians, provides the minimum course of study
as provided by § 906 (See Curriculum),
employs teachers and materials sufficient to carry out the educational
program, and meets applicable state and federal laws concerning physical
facilities and health and safety matters. An enrollment notice must be
renewed annually unless the school has been recognized or accredited by
a state approved organization for the purpose of recognizing and accrediting
purposes. If a school is unable to comply with any requirement due to a
deep religious conviction shared by an organized group, the commissioner
may waive the requirement if the educational purposes are being met. Vt.
Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(c).
If the Commissioner has information that creates significant doubt that
the school is able to meet the recognition requirements, or once in operation,
is meeting the requirements, he may call a hearing for a determination
on the matter. If a school fails to establish that it can meet or has met
the requirements, the commissioner will require specific action to come
into compliance or the students must attend another school, or the school
may be closed for the remainder of the year. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(c).
Independent schools that offer kindergarten, but no other graded education,
may be approved by the state if the school substantially complies with
the board's rules for approved independent kindergartens. Vt. Stat. Ann.
tit. 16, § 166(b)(1).
Religious schools may apply to be either approved or recognized independent
schools and follow the State Board of Education rules and the Vermont Statute
for Independent Schools but they are not eligible to receive tuition from
The State Board of Education may approve tutorial programs if the program
substantially complies with the Board’s rules for approved tutorial
programs. The Board’s rules require at a minimum: 1) adequate resources
to meet the school’s objectives, including financial capacity; 2)
faculty qualified by training and experience in the areas assigned; 3)
physical facilities and special services in accordance with state and federal
law; and 4) policies for coordination with each student’s responsible
Distance Learning Schools shall meet the procedures and standards set
forth for approved independent schools, which because of the schools’ structure
can be applied, and additional rules adopted by the State Board of Education.
The additional rules address tuition, admission policies, and communications
Recordkeeping/Reports: An approved independent school must provide
parents/guardians a statement of its status under Vermont's approval requirements
and a copy of Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, §166 prior to accepting any
tuition payments. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(b)(3).
A recognized independent school must provide parents/guardians a copy
of its currently filed statement of objectives and a copy of Vt. Stat.
Ann. tit. 16, §166 upon enrollment or September 1, whichever comes
later. Failure to do so may create a permissible inference of false advertising.
Recognized independent schools and approved independent schools must provide
the names and addresses of enrolled pupils to the Commissioner on October
1 of each year. The school must also notify the commissioner of the names
and addresses of any pupils withdrawing from the school within seven days
of their withdrawal. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(b)(4), (c)(6).
See fire drill records under Safety.
Length of School Year/Day: Recognized independent schools must
be in session an amount of time substantially equivalent to that required
for public schools. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § (c)(1)(A).
School year is defined under Vermont's general provisions as beginning
July 1 and ending the next June 30. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 11(12).
Curriculum: Approved and recognized independent
schools must provide learning experiences in the minimum course of study, i.e. learning
experiences adapted to a pupil's age and ability in the fields of: 1) basic
communication skills, including reading, writing, and the use of numbers;
2) citizenship, history, . gove .nt in Verm . . the United States; 3) physical
education and comprehensive health education including the effects of tobacco,
alcoholic drinks, and drugs on the human system and on society; 4) English,
American and other literature; 5) the natural sciences; and, 6) the fine
arts. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 906.
It is the Commissioner of Education's duty to distribute, at his discretion
and upon request, forms and materials relating to the Vermont state basic
competency program for elementary and secondary pupils to approved independent
schools. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 212((12).
Subject to the approval of the commissioner, local superintendents of
schools must arrange for the establishment of a driver education and training
course for approved independent schools located within his/her supervisory
jurisdiction at their request. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 1046.
Special Education: The Commissioner of Education establishes minimum
standards of services for students receiving special education in independent
schools; maximum rates to be paid by the department and school districts
for tuition, room, and board, based on the level of services; and may advise
independent schools as to the need for certain special education services
in Vermont. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 2973.
Health: No person may enroll as a student in a Vermont school
unless the appropriate person has received a record of certificate of immunization
issued by a licensed physician or health clinic that the person has received
immunizations appropriate to age as specified by the Vermont Department
of Health. Exemptions to this requirement are allowed if the immunizations
are in process, would be detrimental to the person's health or not appropriate,
or contrary to the person's or parent/guardian's religious beliefs. Vt.
Stat. Ann. tit. 16, §§ 1121, 1122.
Safety: Independent schools must drill the
pupils once each month during the school year so that they may be able
to leave the school building in the shortest possible time or without panic
or confusion. A record of the date, time and time consumed in vacating
the building shall be kept in the official school register and be open
at all times for inspection by the Department of Labor and Industry or
the Department of Education. A principal who willfully neglects to comply
will be fined not more than $20.00.
Independent schools shall request a finger-print supported criminal record
check on the person(s) recommended for any full-time, part-time, or temporary
employment. The request is conducted through the Vermont Crime Information
Center (VCIC). A notice of any criminal record is reported by VCIC to the
independent school; except for a record relating to any crimes of a sexual
nature involving children. Such a record is sent to the Commissioner of
Education who shall notify the headmaster in writing, with a copy to the
person about whom the request was made. Any information sent to a person
by a headmaster or the Commission of Education shall be accompanied by
a written notice of the person’s rights enumerated under the statute.
Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 16, § 251-260.
The board of trustees of an independent school shall adopt harassment
policies and establish procedures for dealing with harassment. Vt. Stat.
Ann. Tit. 16 § 166 (e)
Independent schools shall adopt a gun-free school policy for any portion
of the school day during which the students participate in LEA programs
or activities. Nothing prohibits an independent school from adopting a
gun-free school policy for the entire school program. Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit.
16 § 1166.
Persons knowingly and unlawfully delivering or selling a regulated drug
on a school bus or in real property comprising a private elementary, secondary,
or vocational school will, in addition to any other penalty, be sentenced
to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit.
18, § 4237.
Home Schooling: Home schooling is an education program offered
through home study that provides a minimum course of study and is offer
to no more than the children residing in that home and two or fewer children
not residing in that home from one family. Vt. Stat. Ann, tit. 16, § 11
Parents wishing to home school their child must file a written notice
with the Commissioner each year. The notice must contain the name
and age of the child, contact information for parent and instructor,
assessment of the previous year if the child was home schooled in
the previous year, evidence that the child is or is not handicapped,
a description of the content in each area, the name of the resident
school district, and the signature of the parents. Vt. Stat. Ann,
tit. 16, § 166b
An annual assessment is required. Several options are open to parents,
including assessment by a Vermont certified teacher or a teacher
from an approved Vermont private school, a standardized achievement
test, or a report by the instructor accompanied by a portfolio of
the child’s work.
Public schools may allow home schools to use the resources of the
public school. A child eligible for special education services does
not lose the right to services if home schooling is chosen. Acceptance
of home school credit is at the discretion of the receiving school
or college. No public high school diploma is issued for a home schooled
The minimum course includes basic communication skills (reading,
writing, and use of numbers), citizenship, history, government, physical
education, comprehensive health education, English and American literature,
natural sciences, and fine arts. Vt. Stat. Ann, tit. 16, §§ 131,
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: State
general aid may be used by a town school district or an incorporated
school district for tuition to approved independent schools. Vt.
Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 3445.
The electorate of a school district that does not maintain an elementary
school may grant authority to the school board to pay tuition for
elementary pupils at approved independent nonresidential elementary
schools upon request of the parent/guardian, if in the board's judgment,
the pupil's educational interests can be better served there than
at another public school district. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 821
The electorate of a school district that does not maintain an approved
high school may provide for the high school education of its pupils
by paying tuition to an approved public or independent high school
selected by the parents or guardians of the pupil, within or without
the state. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 822. The Vermont Supreme
Court has held that a reimbursement of tuition to a sectarian high
school under this provision is not prohibited by the Establishment
Clause of the First Amemdment to the United States Constitution. Campbell
v. Manchester Bd. of School Directors, 641 A.2d 352 (Vt. 1994).
School Districts will pay high school tuition charged its resident
pupils who attend an independent school in Vermont that functions
as an approved area technical center or an independent school meeting
public school standards. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 824.
School Districts that do not maintain an approved public high school
may designate an approved independent school as the public school
of the district and pay the tuition charges to the independent school.
If a parent/guardian is dissatisfied with the instruction, cannot
obtain a course or instruction desired, or whose child can be better
accommodated in an approved high school nearer to his home, he may
request the school board to pay tuition to another approved high
school. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 827.
Approved independent schools that are religious school may not be
designated by school districts and tuition charges cannot be paid
to the religious school.
Persons aggrieved by a school board's decision relating to tuition
payments may appeal to the state board and its decision shall be
final. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 828.
An independent school serving publicly placed students must notify
the sending school board and the Commissioner of any proposed tuition
increases on or before February 1 in any year. The increase will
not become effective without the notice and not until the following
school year. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 826.
The State Treasurer may issue bonds to assist independent schools
meeting public school standards which serve as public high schools,
receive their principal support from public funds, and are supervised
by a board of trustees, two-thirds of the membership being appointed
by the selectmen of a town or by the city council or both. Independent
schools aggrieved by an allocation or award may appeal to the county
superior court. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, §§ 3447, 3450.
These independent schools may also apply to the State Board for construction
aid for additions, alterations, and acquisition of facilities. Vt.
Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 3448.
Independent schools may participate in Vermont's school lunch program
operating under federal programs. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 172.
1946-48 Op. Atty. Gen. 92.
Miscellaneous: Quasi-public or private elementary or secondary
schools that directly or indirectly receive support from public funds
are considered municipal employers under the Vermont Municipal Labor
Relations Act. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 1735.
Superintendents, principals, and teachers must subscribe to an oath
prior to discharging their duties. The oath affirms their support
for the constitutions and the laws of the United States and Vermont.
Foreign citizens serving as superintendents, principals or teachers
are not required to take the oath. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 12.
Vermont has a council of independent schools to advise the commissioner
on policies and procedures with respect to independent schools. The
commissioner appoints the 11-member board. Nine members come from
within the independent schools' community and two members from the
community at large. At least three members must be representatives
of recognized independent schools. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 166(d).
The State Librarian will deliver a published copy of the state papers
of Vermont to the library of a private high school, upon request.
Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 3, § 117.
Independent schools must annually conduct exercises in commemoration
of the birth, life, and services of Abraham Lincoln on the last school
day before February 12. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 16, § 907.