Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Under the Organic Act of
the Department of Education of 1990, the General Council of Education has
the power to issue licenses and authorize the establishment and operation
of elementary and secondary educational institutions and to accredit public
and private schools. Accreditation by the General Council on Education
is optional for private schools. 1990 P.R. Laws 68 § 5, 6.
Licensing standards include the following minimum requirements: 1) a permit
for use of the physical plant; 2) faculty with the necessary educational
preparation and experience; 3) facilities, equipment, library and laboratory
services in the proportion compatible with the objectives and nature of
the institution; 4) an educational plan and the ways and means to implement
it; 5) permits to protect the health and safety of the students; 6) an
economic viability study; 7) a copy of the institutional regulations regarding
academic matters, student affairs, administrative and fiscal matters; and,
8) address information for the institution, Board of Directors and chief
Accredited elementary and secondary private schools must meet public education
minimum requirements for academic work, administrative procedures, and
physical plant and school equipment facilities. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 57.
Licensing is compulsory for all private educational institutions at the
elementary and secondary levels. Minimum requirements for licensing include:
1) teacher certification or provisional certification issued by the Secretary;
2) facilities, equipment, library and laboratory services compatible with
the school's objectives; 3) an educational plan and the means to implement
the plan; and, 4) an economic viability study that shows the institution
can reasonably comply with its commitments. Licenses must be renewed every
four years. Schools submitting evidence of accreditation will have their
licenses automatically renewed. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, §§ 2111,
2113, 2119, 2120.
Recordkeeping/Reports: The principal/teacher of a private school
must report the names of students under 16 who are absent for a week of
school for employment purposes to the Secretary of Labor and Human Resources.
P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29, § 452. The General Council on Education may
waive the responsibility to keep minors under 18 in school if parents present
proof that their children are currently employed or studying in a recognized
educational institution. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 3, § 397 F(19).
Length of School Year/Day: Puerto Rico's compulsory school attendance
law requires private school students to regularly attend school during
the period of each year the public schools are in session, on the customary
days and during the regular hours of the school term. P.R. Laws Ann. tit.
29, § 450.
Teacher Certification: Teachers in accredited private schools must
hold a current teacher's certificate appertaining to their position. P.R.
Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 266. Teachers in licensed private schools must
hold a current teacher's certificate or obtain a provisional certificate
from the Secretary of Education. Provisional certificates may be issued
if the school shows the faculty member has the necessary academic degree
or proper professional experience compatible with the practice and standards
prevailing in the academic community, or holds a Master's degree, or PhD.
in the academic field. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 2113(b).
Curriculum: Accredited elementary and secondary private schools
must meet public education minimum requirements for academic work. P.R.
Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 57.
Special Education: The Secretary of Social Services is empowered
to contract with private schools for the care and teaching of deaf-mute
children provided the school can serve a minimum of 60 students. P.R. Laws
Ann. tit. 18, § 1043.
Health: Students are required to have the proper immunizations
in order to be admitted or enrolled in school. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 24, § 182 et
Safety: Puerto Rico imposes a fixed term of 15 years imprisonment
for burglary when committed in any private, elementary, junior, or senior
high school. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 33, § 4277.
Any person who knowingly and intentionally distributes or possesses a
controlled substance in a private school or in its surroundings is guilty
of a felony and will be punished twice the penalties for a first offense,
and three times the penalties for subsequent offenses. P.R. Laws Ann. tit.
24, § 2411a.
The Secretary of the Treasury may deny a license to sell alcoholic beverages
at retail from premises less than 25 meters from a private school. P.R.
Laws Ann. tit. 13, § 6080.
Establishments providing access to coin- or token-operated electronic
games, pinball machines, or lotteries may not be located within 200 meters
from a private school. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 15, §§ 701; 809.
Any person who enters the building or grounds of an elementary, junior
or senior high school without permission of the Director or person in charge,
his substitute, or official or employee of a higher rank, or who remains
within said institution after being ordered to leave, shall incur in a
misdemeanor. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 33, §§ 2091.
Home Schooling: There is no legislation in Puerto Rico regarding
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Puerto
Rico's Constitution prohibits the appropriation of public funds for schools
other than Commonwealth schools; but, the Constitution expressly provides
that this mandate does not prevent the Commonwealth from extending noneducational
services for the protection or welfare of children. Puerto Rico Const.
Art. II, 5. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 3.
Puerto Rico statutory law ensures that no person can be required to support
any ministry, religious sect or denomination against his consent. P.R.
Laws Ann. tit. 1, § 9.
Teachers and pupils of private schools may buy at cost any teaching materials
produced by the Department of Education. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 48.
Miscellaneous: Private school teachers and support staff, including
parochial school teachers and support staff, are protected by Puerto Rico's
minimum wage provision. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 29, § 245; Luis Cardenal
Aponte Martinez, et al v. Miguel Guardiola and Ferdinand Ferrer, et al.,
628 F. Supp. 1173 (D.C.P.R. 1985).
An attempt to inspect a Catholic school's internal records by the Puerto
Rico Department of Consumer Affairs was found unconstitutional. In an effort
to restrain inflationary trends and establish price controls, the Department
sought to review annual budgets, sources of finances, costs of transportation,
etc. The First Circuit declared the practice an impermissible burden on
the free exercise of religion and threat of entanglement between the affairs
of church and state. Bishop Ricardo Surinach etc,. et al., v. Carmen
T. Pesquera de Busquets, 604 F.2d 73 (1st. Cir. 1979).
The Department of Education is directed to coordinate with private schools
in its plans to celebrate "Renowned Puerto Rican Statesmen's Day" on April
18th of each year. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 1, § 150j.
The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to distribute copies of existing
consumer protection legislation and regulations, free of charge, to private
schools. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 3, § 341e.
Use of a loudspeaker near a private school during school hours in a manner
that disturbs the normal functioning of the school is a misdemeanor. P.R.
Laws Ann. tit. 18, § 128.
Accredited private schools may serve as practice centers for students
serving internships prior to certification. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 18, §§ 471,