Private School Regulation

Virgin Islands

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: The Commissioner of Education will accredit parochial or private schools on a voluntary basis if the building, equipment, curriculum and teaching personnel have "efficiency substantially equal" to public schools of like grade. The Commissioner will not issue a certificate of accreditation unless the Commissioner has conducted a qualitative review and assessment, and approved each program or course of study of the school; and, the school has submitted data on its facilities, financial resources, administrative capabilities and faculty to afford and require of students the completion of an educational program. Accredited schools are subject to annual inspections by the Commissioner to determine whether the school's standards have been maintained. Accredited schools must display the certificate of accreditation in a conspicuous place. The Commissioner may recognize a certificate of accreditation issued from recognized regional accrediting agencies. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, §§ 192, 193.

No nonpublic school may operate in the Virgin Islands without a certificate of operation. The criteria for operation need not be as high as those that qualify a school for a certificate of accreditation. The Department of Education will review all applications to operate nonpublic schools and issue the Certificate of Operation if the school satisfies the rules and regulations of the Virgin Islands Board of Education regarding: 1) the quality and content of educational courses proposed; 2) adequate space, equipment, instructional material, and personnel; 3) enrollment that is within reason; 4) instructors that hold credentials of their profession; 5) administrators, owners, and directors are of good and moral reputation and demonstrate professional character; 6) school compliance with local and federal regulations; 7) school records that show student attendance, progress and financial stability; 8) a course outline given to students upon enrollment; 9) a written copy of course outline, schedule of tuition, fees, and enrollment information. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 194.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private, denominational and parochial schools must report the name, age, and grade of every child enrolled and other requested information to the Department of Education at the opening of school and at other times when directed by the Commissioner. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 96.

Length of School Year/Day: The school year begins no earlier than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in August and ends not later than the last Friday in May, provided that the school calendar includes no less than 1080 hours of pupil instruction. Act No. 5961, April 6, 1994.

Students attending parochial, denominational or private schools regularly and punctually and enrolled in the appropriate grade are exempt from attendance in public schools. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 85.

Discrimination: Under the Virgin Islands' nondiscrimination statute, parochial and denominational schools may modify tuition expenses and give preference in admission to members of the religious body maintaining the school. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 5.

Teacher Certification: All persons teaching in nonpublic schools must be licensed by the Virgin Islands Board of Education. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 126.

Special Education: The Department of Education may contract with private schools to provide services to children with disabilities when the Department is unable to provide services. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 288.

Health: Health services, i.e., medical and dental health appraisals, vaccinations and immunizations, are provided to private and parochial school students prior to entrance into kindergarten or 1st grade, 5th grade and 9th grade, or upon entrance to the school if that pupil has not been previously examined at another school. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, §111. Parents may provide health services at their own expense and furnish the physician's report to the Department of Education. V.I. Code Ann. 17, § 114 (c).

Safety: Individuals apprehended for the distribution of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a private or parochial school will be sentenced an additional minimum sentence of at least two years confinement. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 19, § 604.

Transportation: It is the policy of the Virgin Islands to provide free transportation to school for school-age children residing within and without the urban areas of the Virgin Islands. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, §1; V.I. R. & Regs, tit. 17, § 101-1 et seq.

Home Schooling: Parents must file with the Commissioner of Education a Notice of Intent Home Instruction of Student At Home form. A Notice of Intent will be effective for up to one school year. The filing of the Notice of Intent must occur within 10 days of the start of the home instruction program. A completed form is one that provides basic program information, including the name of teacher, subjects to be taught, days of instruction, and teacher's method of assessment. The Department of Education will conduct a semi-annual Portfolio Review. By filing the Notice of Intent, the parent acknowledges full responsibility for the education of his/her child, but in no way constitutes approval by the school district of the program of home instruction. The school district shall provide whatever reasonable assistance it can to ensure that children instructed at home benefit appropriately from home instruction, including but not limited to, Promotional/Retention Policies, grade level standards, and sample portfolios. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 84.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Government subsidies may be granted to nonpublic schools for strictly educational purposes, but not to denominational or sectarian schools. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 191.

Seniors attending accredited private or parochial high schools may apply for partial grants for educational or cultural class trips abroad. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 371.

Graduates from parochial high schools are eligible to apply for scholarships in nursing and related medical fields that are awarded by the Commissioner of Health. V.I Code Ann. tit. 17, § 180

Miscellaneous: Private elementary and secondary schools are subject to an annual license fee of $200. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 27, § 302.

The Commissioner of Education is responsible for disseminating materials to private and parochial school for the celebration of John P. Scott Day, Melvin H. Evans Day, Rothschild Francis Day, and Cyril Emmanuel King Day. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 1, §§ 180, 186-188.

Nonpublic school libraries may participate in the Virgin Islands Library Network, a cooperative, coordinated, multitype network of libraries located on the Virgin Islands. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 3, § 28d. In addition, private and parochial school libraries can access public government documents through depository libraries maintained by the Territorial Librarian. V.I Code Ann. tit. 3, § 883.

The Commissioner of Education has a statutory duty to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the Federal Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act as applicable to private schools to ensure privacy and confidentiality of student educational records. V.I. Code Ann. tit. 17, § 98.

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.