Private School Regulation

New York

New York has operated without mandatory registration for private schools since its state statute was struck down in 1948. Packer Collegiate Institute v. University of New York, 81 N.E.2d 80 (1948).

Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: A New York registration statute that conferred comprehensive power on the Board of Regents to regulate the registration of nonpublic schools was held invalid under the state constitution in 1948.Packer Collegiate Institute v. University of New York, 81 N.E.2d 80 (1948).

Nonpublic high schools must be registered with the Board of Regents in order to issue a high school diploma. N.Y. Educ. Law § 210; 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. § 100.2(p).

Nonpublic nursery schools and kindergartens may voluntarily register with the State Education Department. 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. Part 125.

Minors may comply with the state's compulsory education requirement at public schools or elsewhere. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3204.1.

Recordkeeping/Reports: The Commissioner of Education is under a statutory duty to establish procedures for a statewide system of assigning unique student identification numbers for all students in public and nonpublic schools for student tracking and state reporting purposes. N.Y. Educ. Law § 305.22.

Teachers are required to keep an accurate record of attendance as prescribed by the Commissioner of Education. Principals must ensure attendance records are maintained and produced if requested by school authorities. The principal must notify school authorities in writing of any student transfers or discharges. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3211.

Boards of Cooperative Educational Services are authorized to enter into contracts with nonpublic schools to provide data processing service for pupil personnel records and other administrative records of the nonpublic schools. N.Y. Educ. Law § 1950.4.h.4.

Nonpublic schools that are members of the University of the State of New York must complete verified reports as prescribed by the Regents or the Commissioner of Education. N.Y. Educ. Law § 215. In addition, these schools must provide information to the Regents for their annual report to the Governor and the Legislature concerning the schools of the state. N.Y. Educ. Law § 215-a.

Pupil records must be maintained by nonpublic schools in accordance with 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. Part 104. Nonpublic schools that discontinue operation must make provision for pupil academic records in accordance with 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. § 104.2.

Length of School Year/Day: Unless shorter instruction has been approved by school authorities as substantially equivalent in amount and quality, students attending nonpublic schools must attend for at least as many hours as required in public schools. In addition, permitted absences must follow the general rules and practices of the public schools. Absence for religious observances and education are permitted under rules established by the Commissioner. Holidays and vacations must not exceed the amount allowed by public schools. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3210.2.

A full time day school must be in session for not less than 190 days each year, inclusive of legal holidays during the term and exclusive of Saturdays. N.Y. Educ. Law. § 3204.4. Accounting for the 10 state public holidays, schools must be session 180 days.

Instruction in English: English is the language of instruction and textbooks used must be written in English, except for a limited time (3 - 6 years), for students with limited English proficiency. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3204.2.

Teacher Certification: Instruction may only be given by a competent teacher. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3204.2.

All professional instructional and supervisory personnel at private schools providing public placements for disabled children must be appropriately certified. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 8, § 200.7(b)(6).

Effective October 1994, coaches of high school extra-class nonpublic school athletic activities must meet training requirements in first aid and adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Persons already employed as coaches have an additional 12 months to obtain the necessary training. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3001-c.

Curriculum: Instruction given to a minor elsewhere than a public school must be substantially equivalent to the instruction given at the local public school. N.Y. Educ. § 3204.2. (The course of study for the first eight years of public school must include arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, the English language, geography, United States history, civics, hygiene, physical training, the history of New York state and science. Beyond the first eight years, instruction must include the English language and its use, civics, hygiene, physical training, American history including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, and may include a course in communism and its methods and its destructive effects. N.Y. Educ. § 3204.3.)

As part of health education, all schools must provide instruction to discourage the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and promote attitudes and behavior that enhance health, well being and human dignity. N.Y. Educ. Law § 804.

Students may be excused from health and hygiene if it conflicts with their parent/guardian's religion and is certified by a representative of their religion. N.Y. Educ. § 3204.5.

Private schools offering instruction deemed substantially equivalent to public schools must offer courses of instruction in patriotism, citizenship, and human rights issues (with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust) for students over 8 yrs. old, and instruction in the Constitution of the United States and New York and the Declaration of Independence for students in grade 8-12. N.Y. Educ. Law § 801.1, 2.

Private schools offering instruction deemed substantially equivalent to public schools must offer instruction in physical education for students over 8 years old. N.Y. Educ. Law § 803.4

Similar [physical education] courses shall be prescribed and maintained in private schools in the State, and all pupils in grades kindergarten through 12 shall attend such courses. 8 N.Y. Comp. R & Regs. Tit. Part 135.4

Private and parochial schools must provide instruction in fire and arson prevention as prescribed by the Commissioner of Education. Instruction must be given at least 45 minutes every month while school is in session. N.Y. Educ. Law § 808.

Private schools offering instruction deemed substantially equivalent to public schools must offer instruction in highway safety and traffic regulations, including bicycle safety. N.Y. Educ. Law § 806.1.

Discrimination: No person may be denied admission into any course of instruction offered in the state public and high school systems based on sex. Neither may students be disqualified from state public and high school athletic teams based on sex, except as provided by state regulations. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3201-a.

No student may be denied participation in any program or activity included in a school program on the basis of race, sex, marital status, color, religion, national origin or disability. Special provisions are made applicable to disabled students and male/female participation in extraclass athletic activities. Nonpublic schools may limit admission to students of a single sex and/or a single religion or denomination, and a religious nonpublic school may separate students based on sex as required by their religious tenets. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 8, § 100.2(k).

New York's Human Rights Law prohibits employment discrimination based on age, race, creed color, national origin, sex and disability in nonpublic schools. Nonsectarian education corporations that are exempt from taxation are prohibited from denying the use of their facilities to any person based on race, color, religion, disability, national origin, age or marital status. Religious or denominational institutions, or organizations operated for education purposes that are operated by religious organizations, are not barred from limiting employment, sales or rental of housing accommodations, admission, or giving preference to persons of the same religion or denomination, or from taking action to promote the religious principles for which the institution was established. N.Y. Executive Law § 296.1, 4, 11.

Special Education: Upon written request by the parent/guardian, nonpublic schools students may receive services for gifted pupils, occupational and vocational education, and education for students with disabling conditions and related services provided the instruction is given to public school students. Transportation is provided if the distance between the nonpublic school and the public school exceeds 1/4 mile except disabled students receive transportation according to their needs. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3602-c.

School district's may provide students with disabilities special services or programs through contracts with private residential and nonresidential schools approved by the Commissioner. N.Y. Educ. Law § 4401.2 (e), (f), (g). 8 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & 200.6.

All professional instructional and supervisory personnel at private schools providing public placements for disabled children must be appropriately certified. N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 8, § 200.7(b)(6).

School boards must provide suitable transportation up to a distance of fifty miles to and from a nonpublic school which a disabled child attends to receive special education services. N.Y. Educ. Law § 4402.4.d.

The State Department of Education has a duty to audit nonpublic schools receiving public moneys for services to children with disabilities. N.Y Educ. Law § 4403.5.

Health: Local school districts must provide all health and welfare services and facilities that are available to public school students to students attending schools other than public, when requested. Services may include, but are not limited to services performed by a physician, dentist, dental hygienist, nurse, school psychologist, social worker, speech correctionist and maintenance of health records and emergency care programs for ill or injured pupils. N.Y. Educ. Law § 912.

Students attending private schools must have certificates of immunization unless a physician certifies than the immunization is detrimental or if immunization is contrary to the genuine and sincere religious beliefs of the parent/guardians. School principals may not admit students in excess of 14 days who do not have a certificate. (The period may be extended to 30 days if the immunization is in progress.) School principals have a duty to inform parent/guardians of the necessity of immunization and the availability of free immunizations through the local health officer. If students are excluded from school for lack of immunization, principals have a duty to notify the local health authority and the parent/guardians and to provide an opportunity for immunization through the local health authority if the parent consents. N.Y. Pub. Health § 2164.

Nonpublic schools operating substance abuse programs must have the approval of the Commissioner of Mental Health. Approval is valid for three years and is contingent on compliance with the regulations promulgated by the Commissioner. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 23.01.

Smoking is prohibited in all private schools and on school grounds, with the exception that smoking by adult faculty and staff members may be permitted in designated smoking areas during nonschool hours. (School hours include any student activity supervised by faculty or staff, or any officially sanctioned school event.) N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 1399-o.

Private school authorities may cause students to be examined for drug abuse, including urine analysis, upon written consent of the parents. N.Y. Educ. Law § 912-a.

Safety: Private school administrators have a duty to train pupils to exit the building in a sudden emergency. Fire drills must be conducted at least 12 times each school year; 8 of the drills must be held between September 1 and December 1; 1/3 of the drills should use fire escapes on buildings if provided; and at least 1 drill should instruct students how to leave the building during lunch period. An administrator failing to comply with this provision is guilty of a misdemeanor. N.Y. Educ. § 807.

Administrators of private schools, i.e. kindergarten with 6 or more pupils and establishments other than public schools with 25 or more pupils, must have the school buildings inspected annually for fire hazards. Inspections must be conducted prior to December 1st and a report filed with the State Fire Administrator on forms provided by the Commissioner of Education. The provision is inapplicable to school authorities in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. N.Y. Educ. Law § 807-a.

Private schools located in areas with local fire departments unequipped with electronically operated fire alarm reporting systems may cause the internal school fire alarms to be interconnected with the local fire department. Installation and maintenance costs must be apportioned to the school authorities. N.Y. Educ. Law § 807-c. Private schools having a central annunciator panel identifying activated alarms must locate the panel so it can be read without entering the building. N.Y. Educ. Law § 807-d.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services disseminates a missing children's bulletin to the State Education Department for public and private school use. The division will assist private schools in developing education and prevention programs concerning child safety. N.Y. Exec. Law § 837-f.

New York restricts retail liquor licenses for on-premises consumption within 200 feet of a building used exclusively as a school. N.Y. Alco. Bev. Cont. Law § 64.7.

Administrators of private schools must arrange that every participant in shop or laboratory classes involving dangerous activities, as specified, wear eye safety devices in accordance with state regulations. N.Y. Educ. Law § 409-a.

Nonpublic school administrators must require that batboys and batgirls participating in baseball and softball competitions wear protective headgear when on the field and the game is in play. N.Y. Educ. Law § 409-c.

Transportation: The New York Constitution allows the state legislature to provide transportation for students to and from private schools. New York Const. Art. XI, Sec. 3.

Non-city school districts are required to provide transportation up to 15 miles, is provided for all children residing within the school district who are in need i.e. K-8 students residing more than 2 miles from school and 9-12 students residing more than 3 miles from school. City school districts are not generally required to provide transportation; but if provided, transportation must be offered equally to all children in like circumstances. Transportation from centralized pick-up points at public schools may be provided to pupils attending nonpublic schools under certain circumstances. Superintendents of cities in excess of one million, must notify nonpublic school officials who have requested transportation of the school calendar for the following year by June 1st. N.Y. Educ. § 3635.1.a-c; 2-a.

The Commissioner of Transportation has authority to regulate all motor vehicles transporting passengers to and from schools, for hire or owned and/or operated by any private school. N.Y. Transp. Law § 140.2.a.(i).

Nonpublic school vehicle operators may apply for reimbursement of motor vehicle tax expended exclusively in educational related activities. N.Y. Tax Law § 289-c.3.e.

Home Schooling: Parents must provide an annual written notice to the superintendent of schools of their school district of residence by July first of each school year of their intention to educate their child at home. Parents who begin home instruction after the start of the school year must provide written notice within 14 days. Parents must submit a form provided by the local superintendent that provides an individualized home instruction plan for each student being home schooled. The individualized home instruction plan must include the child. s name, age, and grade level; a list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction to be used in each of the required subjects; the dates for submission to the school district of the parents. quarterly reports; and the names of the individuals providing the instruction. Required courses, timing for submitting the individualized instruction plan, receiving approval of the plan or appealing disapproval, assessment requirements, and other reporting requirements, are contained in the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education, § 100.10.

Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: The New York Constitution prohibits appropriations by the state or any subdivision, directly or indirectly, to a sectarian school except for examination or inspection. New York Const. Art. XI, Sec. 3.

The State Commissioner of Education annually apportions to qualifying schools (nonprofit nonpublic schools providing instruction in accordance with N.Y. Educ. Law § 3204) the actual cost incurred by each school for compliance with state requirements of the pupil evaluation program, basic educational data system, regents examinations, the statewide evaluation plan, uniform procedure for pupil attendance reporting and other similar state prepared examinations and reporting procedures. 1974 N.Y. Laws, chapter 507, as amended by chapter 508. Appropriations have been made annually since 1974, most recently in 1994 N.Y. Laws, chapter 53, § 1.

Local school districts have the power and the duty to loan free of charge textbooks to children enrolled in nonpublic schools upon request. Textbooks must be designated for use by public schools or approved by school authorities. School districts must loan textbooks to public and nonpublic schools on an equitable basis. N.Y. Educ. Law ? 701.3,4. The loan of free textbooks to parochial schools does not violate the N.Y. Constitution. Bd. of Education v. Allen, 228 N.E.2d 791 (1967).

School districts have the power and duty to loan school library materials to pupils attending private schools. The materials must be designated for use in any public elementary or secondary school of the state or approved by the board of education, trustees or other school authorities. N.Y. Educ. Law § 712.

See Health for health care services.

The Commissioner of Education is under a statutory duty to give timely notice to nonpublic schools of alternate sources of funding including competitive grants. N.Y. Educ. Law § 305.2.

Nonpublic schools may make purchases, except of printed material, through the State Division of Standards and Purchase, Office of General Services. Boards of education may permit nonpublic schools to make purchases through the local school district provided administrative costs are paid by the nonpublic schools. N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law. § 109-a.

Upon request, local school districts will loan computer software to private school students free of charge. Software programs must be designated for use in any public school or approved by school authorities. N.Y. Educ. Law § 752.

Private schools are eligible to apply to the Office of Mental Health for education grants for the identification and treatment of adolescents who are at high risk for suicide. N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law § 41.49.

Real property owned by nonprofit corporations or associations conducted exclusively for religious or educational purposes is exempt from real property tax. N.Y. Real Prop. Tax § 420-a.

Sales by or to nonprofit corporations or associations, organized exclusively for religious or educational purposes, are exempt from state sales and compensating use tax. N.Y. Tax § 1116(a).

The Commissioner of Education may approve school district and boards of cooperative educational services applications for funding of approved learning technology programs, including services benefiting nonpublic school students. § 550 of Chapter 170 of the Laws of 1994.

Miscellaneous: The Department of Education has established a Teacher Career Recruitment Clearinghouse which provides nonpublic schools an applicant data base, employment opportunities, and information regarding financial assistance for students interested in careers in education, certification and licensure requirements. N.Y. Educ. Law § 3034.

The New York State Theatre Institute offers guidance and consultation on arts and education programs in private elementary and secondary schools. N.Y. Arts & Cult. Aff. Law § 9.07.

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.