Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: There is no general requirement in Illinois that non-public schools register with, be licensed by, or be accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education, although certain non-public school facilities need to be approved to serve public school special education students. However, non-public schools have the option of applying for registration and recognition on a voluntary basis. A school is registered when it has filed with the Board a "Nonpublic School Registration, Enrollment, and Staff Report" furnishing such evidence as required to assure compliance with federal and state laws regarding health examination and immunization, attendance, length of term, nondiscrimination, and applicable fire and health safety requirements. Minimum requirements for the recognition of nonpublic schools cover the organization, administration, instructional programs, instructional programs, extra-classroom activities, pupil services, school facilities, and personnel. Policy and Guidelines for Registration and Recognition of Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools, March 1984.

Recordkeeping/Reports: The State Board of Education includes in its annual report to the Governor and General Assembly the number of men and women teachers and total enrollment of private schools. 105 Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) ch. 5, para. 2-3.11.

Every school shall report to the State Board of Education by October 15, the number of children who have received immunizations and health examinations, the number of children who have not complied, and the number of children exempt on religious or medical grounds. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 27-8.1.

Length of School Year/Days: The school year calendar for registered and recognized nonpublic schools must provide a minimum of 176 days of no less than five hours of instruction, or a yearly total of 880 hours of instruction. Policy and Guidelines for Registration and Recognition of Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools, March 1984, 2.01B and 5.01C.

Instruction in English: Attendance at a private or parochial school satisfied the Illinois compulsory attendance statute if the instruction in the branches of education is in the English language. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 26-1.1.

Curriculum: Attendance at a private or a parochial school satisfies the Illinois compulsory attendance statute if the children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 26-1.1.

Illinois has adopted the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act for all elementary and secondary schools in the state. The curricula includes studies in human growth and development, family life instruction, AIDS education (grades 6-12), alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. Pupils are not required to study AIDS or family life instruction if the parent/guardian submits a written objection. The State Board of Education establishes the minimum amount of instruction time to be devoted to the program at all grade levels and makes available instructional materials and guidelines to assist schools. 105 ILCS ch. 110, para. 3-4.

Nonpublic school students are eligible to enroll in driver education courses provided through the public schools. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 27-24.2, 4.

Special Education: Illinois publicly places children with disabilities in private schools complying with state regulations if the special education program of a district is unable to meet the needs of the child. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 14-7.02.

Students with disabilities attending nonpublic schools are eligible to receive special education services through part-time attendance at a public school. Transportation shall be provided if required in the child's individual educational. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 14-6.01.

Health: Private school students are required to have a health examination, including a tuberculosis skin test if residing in designated areas, within one year prior to entering kindergarten or first grade, upon entering the fifth and ninth grade, and, irrespective of grade, immediately prior to entrance, each child must present proof of an examination as required. At the same time, students must present proof of immunizations against preventable communicable diseases as required by the Department of Public Health. Children may be exempt based on the religious objections of the parents or due to medical contraindications. Every school must report to the State Board of Education by October 15, the number of children who have received immunizations and health examinations, the number of children who have not complied, and the number of children exempt on religious or medical grounds. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 27-8.1; 410 ILCS ch. 235, para. 6.

Safety: The Office of the State Fire Marshal promulgates rules governing the conduct of fire drills. Private schools are required to hold no less than three full-participation fire drills during the regular school term. 105 ILCS ch. 120, para. 1, 2; ch. 5, para. 10-20.22.

Under the Illinois Missing Child Program, private school administrators are provided periodic information bulletins from the Department of Enforcement apprising them of missing children. If the school determines that a missing child is attending the school, the administrator shall immediately notify the authorities. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 2-3.73.

Private school students, teachers and visitors must wear industrial quality eye protective devices when participating in harmful specified courses. 105 ILCS ch. 115, para. 1.

Liquor licenses are not issued to retailers within 100 feet of any elementary or secondary school, with some exceptions. 235 Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 5, para. 6-11.

Transportation: District school boards that provide transportation to and from local public schools must provide transportation, without cost, for students attending nonpublic schools. If the student resides at least 1 1/2 miles from the school and along the regular route of the public school bus, the transportation will extend from a point on the route nearest or most easily accessible to the home and the school. If the student resides within 1 1/2 miles from the school, transportation will be afforded on the same basis as provided for public school students. Separate bus routes for nonpublic school students are permitted if it is safer, more economical, and more efficient. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 29-4. State reimbursement for public school transportation may be withheld for failure to furnish transportation to nonpublic school students. People ex rel. Bd. of Educ. v. State Bd. of Educ., 344 N.E.2d 5 (1976).

The school board of any school district may agree to provide transportation for students attending nonpublic school activities, if the Board provides transportation for public school students and the buses are not needed for public school activities. A charge must be assessed in an amount not less than the cost, including a reasonable allowance for depreciation of the vehicle. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 29-3.2.

The Chicago Transit Board is authorized to provide free transportation, or transportation at reduced fares, to pupils in attendance at private schools offering grades of instruction comparable to those offered in public schools. 70 ILCS ch. 3605, para. 30.

Private school bus drivers must be over 21 years of age, have at least 1 year of driving experience, and hold a valid school bus driver permit. 625 ILCS ch. 5, para. 6-104 (b), (d).

Home Schooling: The term "private school" in the context used under compulsory education requirements, that is, any child attending a private or parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education are in English, applies to children schooled at home. People v. Levisen, 404 Ill. 574, 90 N.E. 2d 213 (1950).

The regional superintendent has the responsibility for monitoring compliance with the compulsory attendance law. In so doing, the regional superintendent may expect the parents who seek to educate their children at home to establish that they are providing instruction that is at least commensurate with the standards of the public schools. The burden of proof rests with the parents. The parents may be expected to document the subjects taught which must include "branches of learning" taught in the public school, the time frame in which instruction will be offered, and the competency of the parent or other instructor(s). It is not necessary for the instructor to have a teacher?s certificate. The parents may also be expected to establish by written examinations or by some other method that the child?s achievement is comparable to that of the child?s peers of corresponding age and grade level. Scoma v. Chicago Board of Education, 391 F. Supp. 452 (N.D. Ill. 1974).

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: No county, city, town, township, school district or other public corporation may make any appropriation to support or sustain any school or academy controlled by any church or sectarian denomination. Illinois Const., Art. 10 § 3; 105 ILCS 5 § 22-10.

Illinois Expense Credit: Beginning with tax years ending after December 31, 1999, a taxpayer who is the custodian of one or more qualifying pupils shall be allowed a credit against the tax imposed by Illinois for qualified education expenses, but in no event may the total credit claimed by a family exceed $500. Additionally, the tax credit cannot reduce the taxpayer?s liability to less than zero. 35 ILCS 5/201 (m) as amended by P.A. 91-0009.

The State Board of Education is under a statutory duty to provide the loan of secular textbooks listed for use by the Board free of charge to any student in the state enrolled at a public school or at a school other than a public school which is in compliance with the compulsory attendance laws and the federal nondiscrimination statute, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq. ILCS ch. 105, para. 18-17. See also Ill. Admin. Code tit. 23, §350.10-.30.

The Illinois General Assembly may exempt from taxation property used exclusively for school and religious purposes. Illinois Const. Art. IX, Sec. 6.

Tangible personal property purchased by an institution for religious or educational purposes is exempt from Illinois use tax. 105 ILCS ch. 3, para. 5.

Private school students and teachers are entitled to equitable participation in all services and activities provided under computer literacy grants awarded to school districts and educational service regions. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 2-3.43.

Private school students and teachers may benefit from programs and services offered through the state's Educational Service Centers, provided public schools have already been afforded adequate access. The Centers provide education for gifted children through area service centers, computer technology education, mathematics science and reading resources for teachers including continuing education, inservice training and staff development. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 2-3.62.

Private schools are eligible to participate in the Illinois school lunch and breakfast programs. Applications are provided by the State Board of Education and must be filed through the Regional Superintendent of Schools. 105 ILCS ch. 125, para. 5.

Nonpublic schools are eligible for state grants under the Asbestos Abatement Act. Any recovery by the nonpublic school through litigation, must be used to reimburse the state Asbestos Abatement Fund. 105 ILCS ch. 105, para. 9c.

Miscellaneous: Nonpublic school principals may arrange for the part-time attendance of their students at a public school in the school district where the student resides if there is sufficient space. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 10-20.24.

Nonpublic schools may employ public school employees part-time or on a temporary basis provided the employment is in no way connected or subsidized by their public school employment, or conflicts with an employee's public school duties. 105 ILCS ch. 5, para. 24-1.1.

Nonprofit private schools conducted by eleemosynary or religious institutions are protected from excessive tort liability costs under the Tort Liability of Schools Act. Civil actions for personal or property injury must be commenced within one year, notice given to the school within 6 months, and liability is limited to $10,000 in each separate cause of action unless otherwise provided by law. 745 ILCS ch. 25, para. 5.

Private schools may conceal the location or address of an individual covered by an order of protection issued by the courts under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The school must maintain a certified copy of the order in the student's records. 750 ILCS ch. 60, para. 222.

Illinois gives parents a statutory right to school conference and activity leave (8 hours), with certain qualifications. Private schools must notify parents of their school visitation rights. In addition, it is the responsibility of the school administrator to verify the parent/guardian's school visitation for employers. 820 ILCS ch. 147, para. 30.

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.