Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: The Indiana State Board of Education has established a performance-based accreditation system available to nonpublic schools. The standards for accreditation are the same standards required of all public schools. Indiana Code § 20-1-1.2-2. An attempt to deny accreditation to a school which denies enrollment on the basis of creed is an interference with the free exercise of religion. Opp. of Atty. Gen. 1975, No. 22, p. 74.

Indiana State Board of Education implements a voluntary system of recognition for nonpublic school educational programs. The system recognizes the distinguishing characteristics of nonpublic schools and is separate from the accreditation standards available to nonpublic schools. Indiana Code §§ 20-1-1-6.2; 20-1-1.2-2. Ind. Admin. Code tit. 511, r. 6.1-9.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private schools may require students who initially enroll in the school after July 1, 1988, to provide the name and address of the school last attended and produce reliable proof of the student's date of birth. The school shall request the student's records within fourteen days of enrollment. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17-1(a).

If the proof of a student's date of birth is not provided within 30 days of enrollment or appears to be inaccurate or fraudulent, the school shall notify the Indiana Clearinghouse for Information on Missing Children to determine if the child is reported missing. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17-1(b).

If an Indiana private school receives a request for records, the records must be promptly sent unless the student's records have been flagged by the Indiana Clearinghouse for Information on Missing Children. In that event, the private school must immediately notify the clearinghouse and may not send the records without the authorization of the clearinghouse. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17-1(d).

Private schools must keep an accurate daily record of attendance to verify the enrollment and attendance of any particular child upon request of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or local Superintendent of the School Corporation. Indiana Code ? 20-8.1-3-23.

The principal/school administrator in every private school must furnish, on request of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the number of children by grade level attending the school. If a pupil withdraws from the school and the school does not receive a request for records within 15 school days, then the private school must report to the state superintendent of Public Instruction or the local Superintendent of the School Corporation the name and address of the pupil and the date he withdrew. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-24(b).

Length of School Year/Days: To comply with the Indiana compulsory attendance statute, private school attendance must extend for the number of days the local public schools are in session. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17(d).

Instruction in English: Indiana's compulsory education statute requires that students attend either a public school or "some other school which is taught in the English language." Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17(a).

Curriculum: Nonpublic, nonaccredited and unapproved schools are exempt from curriculum requirements. Indiana Code § 20-8.1-3-17.3.

Nonpublic schools that voluntarily seek state accreditation shall provide instruction in: (1) the constitutions of Indiana and the United States in grades 6 through 12; (2) the systems of government in Indiana and the United States, methods of voting, party structures, election laws, and the responsibilities of citizen participation in grades 6 through 12 for 5 full class periods within the 2 weeks preceding each general election; (3) morals instruction as outlined by the state superintendent in grades 1-12; (4) safety education for one semester in grade 8; (5) AIDS. Indiana Code § 20-10.1-1-0.5, 3, 4-1, 4-3, 4-4, 4-6, 4-10,

Nonpublic schools that voluntarily seek state accreditation shall administer the Indiana Statewide Testing For Educational Progress (ISTEP) to its students at the same time that school corporations administer the test and make available to the Department of Public Instruction the results. An accredited nonpublic school is entitled to receive the ISTEP program test and the scoring reports used by the Department at no charge. Indiana Code § 20-10.1-16-9.

Special Education: Students requiring special education may be placed at public expense in private schools, in or out-of-state, if their disability precludes achievement in the local public school setting. The state pays any costs that exceed the regular cost of education born by the local school board. Indiana Code § 20-1-6-19.

Transportation: The local school corporation must provide transportation without charge for parochial school students residing along a highway constituting the regular route of a public school bus. Indiana Code § 20-9.1-7-1.

Private schools may contract with an urban mass transportation system for the transportation of pupils to and from school. Indiana Code § 36-9-4-54; Opp. of Atty. Gen. 1988, No. 6, p.152.

Private school buses are regulated by the Indiana School Bus Committee that governs the design and operation of all school buses used for the transportation of school children. Indiana Code § 9-21-12-4.

Private school bus drivers are required to attend an annual safety meeting or workshop not to exceed 2 days in any one calendar year. Indiana Code § 20-9.1-3-7, 11.5.

If a bus driver has less than 30 days experience in the 3 prior years, he must satisfactorily complete a preservice school bus driver safety education training course. The course is provided by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and may not exceed 40 hours. Indiana Code § 20-9.1-3-7.5, 11.5

Private school buses are subject to an annual inspection by the Indiana Police Department to determine whether each bus complies with the safety requirements prescribed for school bus construction and equipment. Indiana Code § 20-9.1-4-5.

Home Schooling: Home schools in Indiana are nonpublic, nonaccredited schools. Home educators must teach a minimum of 180 days per calendar year. They choose the days and keep attendance records. Home school educators must register by submitting their grade level enrollment to the Indiana Department of Education. Indiana Code ? 20-8.1-3-23(c); §20-8.1-3-24(b). Instruction given in a home school must be equivalent to instruction received in a public school. State law does not define equivalency of instruction. Indiana Code §20-8.1-3-34. State law exempts home schools from the curriculum and program requirements which public schools must follow. Indiana Code ? 20-8.1-3-17.3.

Home educated students can participate, with the approval of the superintendent or the school board, in public school educational activities. Indiana Code § 208.1-3-17.3. Participation in elementary or junior high athletics is at the discretion of the public school. Participation in high school athletics is rare because the home schooled student?s educational program must also conform to the bylaws of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

Home school students may not take ISTEP+ or any other public school administered test unless they are enrolled in a public school for at least one period a day. Home schooled children will not receive a diploma from the local public school or from the state. Seventeen-year-old students may take the examination for the General Equivalency Development (GED) Certificate.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The Indiana Constitution provides that no money shall be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious or theological institution. Indiana Constitution Art. 1, § 6.

Students who attend accredited nonpublic schools and meet financial eligibility standards may receive reimbursement payments from the state for textbooks. The Indiana Department of Education provides each school with application forms; the nonpublic schools assist the parents/emancipated minors in completing the forms and make the determination of financial eligibility. The school's application to the state must be filed before November 1 of a school year. Parents/emancipated minors may be reimbursed for textbooks (20% of the cost) and workbooks and consumable textbooks (100% of the cost) that have been adopted by the State Board of Education or waived by the Board. Indiana Code §§ 20-8.1-9-9.5, 9.6, and 14.

School corporations may rent textbooks to students enrolled in nonpublic schools in compliance with the minimum certification standards of the Indiana Board of Education. Indiana Code § 20-10.1-10.2.

Nonprofit parochial schools maintained by recognized religious denominations are exempt from gross income tax. In order to obtain the exemption, the taxpayer must fulfill certain filing and reporting requirements. Indiana Code § 6-2.1-3-22, 19(b)

Students attending accredited nonpublic schools may be eligible to participate in the Twenty-First Century Scholars Program. Indiana Code § 20-12-70-2.

Miscellaneous: A school counselor is immune from disclosing privileged or confidential communication made by a student if the communication was made to him in his counselor capacity. Indiana Code § 20-6.1-6-15.

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.