Private School Regulation

Georgia

Georgia private schools must provide 180 days of instruction each year. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), d.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private school administrators must report their enrollment to the local public school superintendent where the student resides within 30 days of the beginning of each school year. The reports must include the name, age and residence of each student. Notice must be given monthly of any student's admission or withdrawal from the school. Ga. Code Ann. ? 20-2-690(b), (5), (d). The State Board of Education makes available through the local school superintendent printed forms necessary to comply with the reporting requirements.

Length of School Year/Days: Private schools by definition must provide 180 days of instruction each twelve months with each school day consisting of four and one-half school hours. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(3), d. Children between their 7th and 16th birthdays excused from attendance at private schools for sickness, emergencies, or other reasons authorized by board policy for public schools, are exempt from compulsory attendance. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-693(b). The local school superintendent will report truants to the appropriate court after written notice to the parent/guardian. § 20-2-701.

Curriculum: Private schools by definition must provide a basic academic educational program that includes reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(4), (d).

The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education is authorized to contract with private schools to provide program or services deemed necessary. § 20-4-14 (c) (5).

Special Education: Local school systems may provide special education programs to eligible students by contracting with qualified private institutions. The State Board of Education will fund placements in private institutions provided professionals meet the certification or licensing standards of their profession. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-152(b),(c). According to the Attorney General's Office, there is no statutory impediment to providing psychological services to private school children but the degree to be served is a matter of policy at the discretion of the state and local boards of education. 1976 Office of the Attorney General No. § 76-118.

Health: A parent's religious beliefs concerning vaccinations is not a valid excuse for the parent's failure to have a child vaccinated which prevents a child from attending school. 1950-51 Op. Attorney General p. 47. See also Anderson v. State, 65 S.E.2d 848 (1951).

Safety: Georgia's criminal code makes it a felony to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance or marijuana within 1,000 feet of a private elementary or secondary school. An affirmative defense lies if the violation occurred entirely within a private residence, no person 17 or younger was present, and the conduct was not intended for financial gain. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-13-32.4(a), (b), (g). The Commissioner of Public Safety makes available to the private schools an alcohol and drug course and instructors where necessary. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-142.b(3).

Private school teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and social workers are required to report instances of suspected child abuse to the person in charge of the school or his designee. The person so notified must report the abuse to the designated child welfare agency, police authority, or district attorney. Persons participating in the making of a report are immune from any civil or criminal liability if acting in good faith. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-7-5 (a), (c), (f).

Private school buildings must meet all health and safety standards established under state law and local ordinances. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(b)(6), (d).

Loitering on private school property is unlawful. Private school principals have the authority to exercise control over the school buildings and grounds. Failure to remove oneself at the request of the principal is a misdemeanor. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-1180.

Transportation: The Department of Motor Vehicles and Traffic will furnish without charge to private schools a driver's record abstract for any current employee or applicant for a school bus driver position. The employee/applicant must agree in writing to permit the release. Ga. Code Ann. § 40-5-2.

Private schools are required to meet equipment, color, and marking requirements set out in the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Code, § 40-8-110 - 40-8-112, 40-8-114.

See Public Aid for Private Schools

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The Georgia Constitution prohibits any money from the public treasury to be used directly or indirectly in aid of any sectarian institution. Georgia Constitution Article I, § II, Paragraph VII. The Attorney General's Office has interpreted this prohibition to apply to transportation services, 1945-47 Op. Attorney General p. 222 and to contracts for goods and services, 1969 Op. Attorney General Number 69-125. Programs wholly financed by the federal government are lawful even though it contemplates the provision of library resources, textbooks and instructional materials. 1965-66 Op. attorney General Number 65-4.

State and local school funds may not be used for school programs in nonpublic schools. 1974 Op. Attorney General Number 155.

Homeschooling: Parents or guardians may teach their children at home in a home study program which meets the following requirements: (1) Parents/guardians must submit within 30 days after the establishment of a home student program and by September 1 annually thereafter a declaration of intent to utilize home study to the superintendent of schools of the local district in which the home study program is located; (2) The submission must include in the declaration a list of the names and ages of the students who are enrolled, the address where the home study program is located, and a statement of the 12 month period being considered the school year for this program; (3) Parents may teach their own children if they hold at least a high school diploma or GED, but may employ a tutor who holds at least a baccalaureate college degree; (4) The home study program must include, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science; (5) The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months equivalent to 180 school days that consist of at least four and one-half school hours; (6)

Attendance records must be kept and submitted to the local superintendent at the end of each month; (7) Students in home study programs must take an appropriate nationally standardized test administered in consultation with a person specifically trained in administration and interpretation of norm reference tests, at least every three years beginning at the end of third grade and the program must retain the results of these tests, although they are not required to be submitted to the local superintendent; and (8) The home study program instructor must write an annual progress assessment report to include the instructor?s individualized assessment of the student?s academic progress in each required subject area and retain the reports for a period of at least three years. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690.

Miscellaneous: Private schools may sublease buildings or facilities of the Georgia Education Authority through county/city boards of education. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-553 (a)(5). 1954 Op. Attorney General p. 224.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission allows for the participation of one private school teacher from an accredited private school on the 18-member board. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-983 (b)(1).

The principal administrative officer or his designee is responsible for issuing employment certificates for students between 12 and 16 years old. The certificate must verify the true age of the student and the physical fitness of the student to engage in the particular employment. Students between 16 and 18 years of age also need a certificate that must be maintained in the minor's school file. Ga. Code Ann. § 39-2-11.



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.