Private School Regulation
Registration/Licensing/Accreditation: Church-related schools
are required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership
of the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association
of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of
Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools,
the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, or a
school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Church-related
schools may voluntarily seek approval by the State Board of Education.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801.
The Commissioner of Education has the power to inspect, approve
and classify private schools, K-12, upon request, provided that
the same standards are used as for public schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-1-201(19).
Recordkeeping/Reports: Principals and teachers of private,
denominational or parochial schools must report to the local superintendent
the names, ages and residence of all pupils in attendance at their
schools within 30 days after the beginning of the school year.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3007(c).
All private and parochial schools shall keep daily reports of
attendance, verified by the teacher making such record and open
for inspection by the local superintendent. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3007(d).
Private schools are under a duty to report promptly to the local
superintendent the names of students who have withdrawn or who
have been absent 5 days without adequate excuse. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3007(e).
Length of School Year/Day: Church-related schools must
be conducted for the same length of term as public schools. Tenn.
Code Ann. § 49-50-801(c).
Curriculum: Private high schools which offer a four-year
course in literary branches must require every student to have
one year of instruction in American history and government. Failure
to comply will automatically remove the school from the list of
accredited high schools. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1202.
Special Education: Every school district must test and
examine, or cause to be tested and examined, each Tennessee resident
attending a private school within its boundaries to determine whether
such child is handicapped. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-10-108.
The Department of Education is empowered to provide special schools
and special classes in private schools, and transportation to and
from school for physically handicapped, visually handicapped and
crippled children. Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-12-109.
Blind students have the option of attending any private school
that teaches the course of study used in the public schools, or
a course of study adapted for the blind and approved by the Commissioner
of Education. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3015(c).
A Special Education Services Association may make arrangements
and pay private schools for services to handicapped children if
the association is unable to provide satisfactory service with
its own facilities or the facilities of member school districts.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-10-205.
Health: The Commissioner of Health is authorized, subject
to the approval of the public health council, to designate diseases
against which children must be immunized prior to attendance at
any school of Tennessee. Parents may file a written statement with
the school authorities that such immunizations conflict with their
religious tenets and practices. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-5001.
Safety: Fire drills must be held at least twice a month
in private schools. A record of all fire drills, including the
time and date, must be kept in the respective school and made available
upon request to the State Fire Marshal. Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-102-137.
All doors serving as exits must be kept unlocked during the periods
that a building is occupied. Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-102-137.
It is a criminal offense in Tennessee for a student to carry a
firearm, not for instruction or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes,
in a private school building, bus, campus or athletic field. Private
school administrators must display in prominent locations a sign,
at least 6 inches high and fourteen inches wide, stating: FELONY.
STATE LAW PRESCRIBES A MAXIMUM PENALTY OF SIX (6) YEARS IMPRISONMENT
AND A FINE NOT TO EXCEED THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($3,000) FOR CARRYING
WEAPONS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1309.
The chief administrative officer of any private, denominational
or parochial school, who has probable cause to believe that any
person has committed a drug-related offense on school grounds has
a duty to report such probable cause to the local law enforcement
official. Tenn. Code Ann. § 53-11-405(b).
Sentencing under a conviction for the sale of a controlled substance
may be enhanced if the sale was to a minor within 1,000 feet of
a private school building. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-114.
School personnel having knowledge of any child who is suffering
from any physical or mental condition which reasonably appears
to have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect, must report
the harm immediately. Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-403.
School personnel who know or have reasonable cause to suspect
that a child has been sexually abused must report such knowledge
or suspicion. Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-605.
Community residential facilities that accommodate state or federal
adult prisoners on release programs are prohibited within 1,000
feet of a private school in counties with populations of 750,000
or more, or counties having a metropolitan form of government.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 41-22-128.
Home Schooling: There are two sets of procedures for home
schooling in Tennessee. One is for Independent Home Schools and
one is for Church-Related Home Schools. A Church-Related School
is a school operated under denominational, parochial, or other
bona fide church organizations that are required to meet standards
of accreditation or membership in one of several private school
associations. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. Parents can register
with church-related schools to conduct home schools in grades K-12.
An Independent Home School is a school conducted by parents or
legal guardians for their own children that is not a church-related
school. The intent to operate an independent home school must be
submitted to the local superintendent before the commencement of
each school year. These home schools register only with the local
school system. Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050(b). Health records
must be included the first time an application is filed.
Home school students entering public schools are treated as students
entering from other non-approved schools regarding credit for work
transferred and examinations that may be required. State Board
of Education Rule No. 0520-1-2-03 (11).
No diplomas or certificates of attendance are given by Tennessee
to students who are home schooled.
Independent Home Schools:
- Parents or legal guardians conducting an independent home school
must register their child by August 1 of each year with the superintendent
of schools. There is a provision for late registration and possible
payment of a late fee.
- Parents or legal guardians conducting an independent home school
must have a high school diploma or a GED to teach grades K-8
or a BA to teach grades 9-12. Parents or legal guardians conducting
an independent home school may subscribe to any curriculum they
- Students must attend a minimum of four hours of school per
day for 180 days per year. Attendance records are sent to the
Superintendent at the end of the school year.
- Independent home school students are required to take the same
State Board approved secure standardized tests required of public
school students in grades 5, 7, and 9, except that the high school
proficiency test is not required of ninth graders who are home
schooled. If students score one year or more below grade level
for two years in a row, the Superintendent may request that the
parent enroll the child in public or private school, unless the
child is learning disabled.
State recognized church-related home schools:
- All home school students registered with a State recognized
church-related school in grades 9 through 12 must register with
the local school system as well as the State-recognized church-related
- Parents or legal guardians conducting a State-recognized church-related
home school in grades K-8 must have an educational level as determined
by the church-related school; those teaching grades 9-12 must
have a high school diploma or GED. A parent who meets these educational
requirements may start a church-related home school at any time
during the school year set by the State-recognized church-related
school. Parents register in grades K-8 with the State-recognized
church-related school and for grades 9-12 with both the church-related
school and the local school system.
- The hours of attendance are determined by the State-recognized
church-related school. All students must attend school for 180
days. Record-keeping is also determined by the State-recognized
- Testing in grades K-8 State-recognized church-related home
schools is under the supervision of the church-related schools.
State-recognized church-related home school students in grades
9-12 must take the Secondary Subject Area Test. The curriculum
may be determined by the State-recognized church-related school
in grades K-12.
- Students in grades 9-12 who score below average in achievement
on standardized tests two years in a row shall be enrolled in
public or private school.
Public Aid for Private Schools/Private School Students: Admission
to events or activities sponsored by private schools, K-12, is
exempt from amusement tax. Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-6-330(a)(1).