Private School Regulation


Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Kentucky law provides optional certification for private, parochial, and church schools that comply with curriculum, certification, and textbook standards established by the Kentucky Board of Education. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 156.160(3). Nonpublic schools can be certified based on the accreditation of a recognized regional or national accrediting agency or by a self-study accreditation process through the Kentucky Nonpublic School Commission.

Proprietary schools, i.e. privately owned educational institutions offering instruction in business, trade, technical, industrial, or related areas, but not including parochial, denominational, or eleemosynary schools, are subject to state minimum standards. The standards cover, but are not limited to, the school's facilities, quality and content of courses, qualifications of instructors and administrators, and finances. Student and faculty records must be available for inspection. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§165A.310, 165A.370.

Recordkeeping/Reports: Private and parochial schools are required to report to the local school district superintendent the names, ages, and places of residence of all pupils and any other information the superintendent requires to comply with the laws relating to the compulsory attendance and employment of children. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.160.

If a private, parochial or church regular day school declines to notify the local board of education of those students in attendance, the school must notify each student's parent/guardian in writing and it becomes the duty of the parent/guardian to notify the local board of education. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.030(1)(b).

Private and parochial schools must keep student attendance records in a register provided by the State Board for Elementary and Secondary Education. The schools must make attendance and scholarship reports in the same manner as required of public school officials. The schools must be open to inspection by the directors of Pupil Personnel and officials of the Department of Education at all times. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.040.

Length of School Year/Day: The school term for private and parochial schools may not be shorter than the term of the local public school district; if the school operates year-round then the minimum term is 185 days. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.080.

Instruction in English: Private and parochial schools must be taught in the English language.
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.080,

Accessibility: Parochial and private schools occupied by more than 250 persons or occupying 3200 or more square feet must be accessible to and usable by persons with physical disabilities. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 198B.260(e).

Curriculum: Private and parochial schools must offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state. The State Textbook Commission approves text materials for private and parochial schools for certification purposes if texts are comprehensive and appropriate to the grade level in question, notwithstanding they may contain elements of religious philosophy. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 158.080, 156.445(3).

Special Education: Kentucky publicly places students in private schools that maintain special education programs approved by the Kentucky Board of Education if the local school district does not provide a special education program for the exceptionality. Transportation costs are included in the covered costs by the state. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §157.280(1), (2); 707 Ky. Admin. Regs.1:015.

Health: Persons smoking tobacco products on school grounds while children are assembled will be fined not less than $1 nor more than $5, except adult employees smoking in a designated room or individuals smoking in designated areas in secondary schools. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 438.050.

Safety: Private and parochial schools must establish an earthquake emergency procedure system according to state requirements for every school building having the capacity of 50 or more students, or having more than 1 classroom. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.163.

Kentucky's Department of Environmental Protection, Division for Air Quality, maintains a comprehensive statewide asbestos assessment and response program that identifies and controls asbestos hazards in public and private schools. Under the program, the Division reviews private school asbestos management plans and inspects school buildings for compliance. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 224.20-300.

The use of machinery for mechanical arts classes in private schools is subject to the approval of the local board of education and the general industrial safety standards. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 339.430

Home Schooling: Parents wishing to educate their child at home must first establish a bona fide school, notify the local superintendent of schools that they have established this school, and report the names, ages and place of residence for each pupil in attendance at the school. Because home schools are considered private schools in Kentucky, private school laws apply equally to home schools. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §159.160.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Kentucky's Constitution prohibits the appropriation, use, or aid of any church, sectarian or denominational school through state taxes levied for educational purposes. Kentucky Const. Sec. 189. Kentucky's Constitution provides that the common school (public school) fund be appropriated to the public schools and to no other purpose. Kentucky Const. Sec. 184, 186.

Nonprofit educational institutions are exempt from taxation. Kentucky Const. Sec. 170, 186.

Kentucky's statutory provision, Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 171.215, furnishing textbooks to nonpublic schools, was found unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Fannin v. Williams, 655 S.W.2d 480 (1983).

School Districts which contract to furnish transportation to students attending nonpublic schools may adopt any payment formula which assures that no public school funds are used for the transportation of nonpublic students. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 157.360(2).

Miscellaneous: The Kentucky Department of Education operates a program to identify and locate missing children. By statute, the Department must distribute a list of missing Kentucky school children to private schools monthly. Private schools must notify the Department at its earliest known contact with any child appearing on the list. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 156.495.

Pupils completing the prescribed elementary program of studies at any approved private or parochial school are entitled to a certificate of completion signed by his/her teachers. The certificate entitles the pupils to admission into any public high school. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 158.140.

If an unmarried child between the age of 16 and 18 wishes to terminate his education prior to graduation, the principal/designee must conduct a conference with the student and request a conference with the child's parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must sign a written notification of withdrawal, co-signed by the school principal/designee 60 days prior to withdrawal. During the 60 day period, the parent/guardian and child are required to attend a one-hour counseling session to view a Department of Education media presentation on economic statistics and potential problems of nongraduates. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 159.010(2).

Voter registration forms are available to private schools upon request from the county clerk. The school may designate an individual to inform students and employees of the availability of the forms and assist them in properly registering. The completed forms must be returned to the county clerk for official registration. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 116.0

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.