Private School Regulation

West Virginia

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Attendance at an approved or registered private or parochial school exempts students from compulsory public school attendance. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1. Schools may seek "approval" to operate from the local board of education or "register" with the state superintendent. If a school registers to operate, it follows Chapter 18, Article 28 and administers a comprehensive test of basic skills on an annual basis. See Curriculum, Testing. If a school complies with Article 28, no other education provisions apply except requirements respecting fire, safety, sanitation and immunization. W. Va. Code § 18-28-6.

Recordkeeping/Reports: "Approved" private and parochial schools serving students in lieu of public school are required to furnish county boards of education any information and records requested regarding attendance, instruction, and progress of pupils under 16 years of age. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 (Exemption A). Private, parochial and church schools are required to maintain annual attendance and disease immunization records for each pupil enrolled. Attendance records must be made available to parents/guardians. Upon request of the County Superintendent of Schools, the school must furnish a list of names and addresses of all students between 6 and 16 years of age. W. Va. Code § 18-28-2.

New schools operating under Chapter 18, Article 28, must send the State Superintendent of Schools a notice of intent to operate, name and address of the school, and name of the school's chief administrator. Schools must also notify the Superintendent upon termination. W. Va. Code § 18-28-5.

Length of School Year/Day: "Approved" private and parochial schools serving students in lieu of public school must be open for a time equal to the county school term. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1. Private, parochial or church schools that are "registered" must observe a minimum instructional term of 180 days with an average of five hours of instruction per day. W. Va. Code § 18-28-2.

Instruction in English: The basic language of instruction for approved private and parochial schools is the English language. W. Va. Code § 18-2-7.

Curriculum: Approved private, parochial and denominational schools are required to provide at least one year of instruction in West Virginia history prior to completion of the eighth grade. In addition, such schools must require regular courses in the history of the United States in civics, the constitution and the government of both West Virginia and the United States by the completion of the twelfth grade. The boards of private, parochial and denominational schools have a duty to prescribe courses covering these subjects similar to those required in the public schools. W. Va. Code § 18-2-9.

Private and parochial schools are required to use a state prescribed course of study in fire prevention. W. Va. Code § 18-2-8.

Driver education courses offered by private, parochial, or denominational schools must comply with minimum standards established by the State Board of Education. W. Va. Code § 18-6-3.

Private, parochial and church schools may elect to administer a standardized test on an annual basis in lieu of approval requirements. The school administrator may select the comprehensive test of basic skills, the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test or the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills/Tests of Achievement and Proficiency. All students between the ages of 6 and 16 must be tested. Student test results and the school composite test results must be made available to parent/guardians. Upon request, the school composite test results must be furnished to the State Superintendent of Schools. Each of these schools must establish curriculum objectives and provide an instructional program to develop the students' potential for becoming literate citizens. If a school's composite test results fall below the fortieth percentile, the school must initiate a remedial program. If the results are not raised above the fortieth percentile level after two consecutive calendar years, attendance at the school may no longer satisfy the compulsory school attendance requirement. W. Va. Code § 18-28-3. Private, parochial or church schools complying with these provisions may participate in any state operated program made available by law. W. Va. Code § 18-28-4.

Special Education: The State Superintendent of Schools is responsible for assuring that all exceptional children in private schools receive an education in accordance with state and federal laws. W. Va. Code § 18-20-5(5).

Health: County boards of education may provide screening tests for vision, hearing, speech and language disabilities upon request for children entering nonpublic schools. W. Va. Code § 18-5-17(a).

It is a misdemeanor to permit the use of a common drinking cup in parochial or private schools. W. Va. Code § 16-9-1.

Safety: Private, parochial and church schools are subject to reasonable fire, health, and safety inspections by state, county, and municipal authorities as required by law. W. Va. Code § 18-28-2.

The state fire marshall will inspect all private schools for fire exits and reasonable safety standards and report his findings and recommendations to the proper administrative heads. W. Va. Code § 29-3-12(d).

A person 18 or older convicted of a felony for distribution of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary or secondary school, if incarcerated, is ineligible for parole for 2 years. W. Va. Code § 60A-4-406(a).

It is a misdemeanor to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon on a school bus or in or on any school building, structure, facility or grounds, except for law enforcement officers in their official capacity, persons authorized by the county board of education or school principal to conduct a program with a valid education purpose, and under some circumstances a person possessing or leaving locked-up an unloaded firearm or other deadly weapon in a motor vehicle. It is a felony to possess any firearm or any other deadly weapon with the intent to commit a crime. Revocation or denial of a motor vehicle license or instruction permit is among possible penalties. It is a misdemeanor for a parent, custodian or legal guardian of a minor, who knows that the minor has violated this provision, or has reasonable cause to believe that a violation is eminent, not to report the belief to the school or law enforcement officials. W. Va. Code § 61-7-11a.

Transportation: County boards of education have the authority to provide at public expense transportation for all school age children who live more than two miles distance from school. W. Va. Code § 18-5-13(60)(a).

Private, parochial, and church schools must comply with the West Virginia school bus safety regulations. W. Va. Code § 18-28-2.

Home Schooling: Home instruction must be in the home of the child to be instructed or in another approved location and must be for a time equal to the school term of the county. The person or persons providing home instruction must file a notice of intent to prove home instruction that contains the name of the child to be instructed. The notice of intent shall be given at least two weeks prior to withdrawing the child from a public school. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 (a); (b)(1)

The person or persons providing the instruction must submit satisfactory evidence of a high school diploma or its equivalent and formal education at least four years higher than the most academically advanced child for whom the instruction will be provided. The person providing home instruction must outline a plan of instruction for the ensuing school year. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 (b)(2)(3).

The person or persons providing the instruction shall annually obtain an academic assessment of the child for the previous school year. This can be satisfied by an approved standardized test; a written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child's work has been reviewed by a certified teacher or other person mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent, and that the child's academic progress is in accordance with the child's abilities; or evidence of an alternative assessment of the child's proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. The assessment of progress must be submitted on or before the 30th of June of the school year covered by the assessment. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 (b)(4).

The superintendent or a designee shall offer such assistance, including textbooks, other teaching materials and available resources, as may assist the person or persons providing home instruction subject to their availability. Any child receiving home instruction may, upon approval of the county board of education, exercise the option to attend any class offered by the county board of education as the person or persons providing home instruction may deem appropriate subject to normal registration and attendance requirements. W. Va. Code § 18-8-1 (b)(4)(iii).

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The sale of textbooks, tangible personal property and services for nonprofit elementary and secondary schools, and food bought for and sold to students is exempt from consumers sales tax. W. Va. Code § 11-15-9.

County boards of education may provide state-adopted textbooks for pupils enrolled in private schools whose parents are unable to provide textbooks. W. Va. Code § 18-5-21b.

Miscellaneous: Private and parochial secondary schools may elect to join the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission for interscholastic athletic events and band activities on the same basis as public schools. W. Va. Code § 18-2-25.

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.