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OII: Office of Innovation and Improvement
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ALABAMA
Updated April 30, 2013

State Regulation

State Regulation of Private and Home Schools — Map
Note this is a stand-alone state chapter.
State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.


Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • By definition, a private school, but not a church school, holds a certificate issued by the state superintendent of education showing that the school conforms to the following requirements: (1) instruction is given by persons holding certificates issued by the state superintendent of education; (2) instruction is given in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools; (3) the English language is used in giving instruction; and 4) a register of attendance is kept indicating every absence of each child from school for a half day or more. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1(1).
  • No requirements for Accreditation.
  • Registration is mandatory.
    • All private schools, except church schools (for definition, see Home Schools section) must register annually on or before October 10 with the Alabama Department of Education and report on the number of students and instructors, enrollment, attendance, course of study, length of term, cost of tuition, funds, value of property, and the general condition of the school. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-1-11. The state superintendent of education furnishes the necessary forms for reporting. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-4-16.
  • No requirements for Licensing
  • No requirements for Approval.

Teacher Certification

  • Teachers instructing in private schools, but not church schools, must hold certificates issued by the state superintendent of education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1 (1)a, (2).

Length of School Year and Days

  • Every child between the ages of six and 17 is required to attend a public school, private school, church school, or be instructed by a private tutor certified by the state of Alabama for the entire length of the school term in every scholastic subject under the compulsory attendance law. Students enrolled in a church school before their 16th birthday are exempt from the new (2009) compulsory attendance law and may withdraw at age 16. Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-3, 16-28-1, 16-28-7.

Curriculum

  • Each private school’s purpose and objectives shall be stated in the catalog, bulletin, or brochure of the institution. Ala. Admin. Code r. 290-030-050-.05.
  • Private schools, but not church schools, are required to use the English language in giving instruction. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1(1).
  • Private schools, but not church schools, are required to offer instruction in "the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools." Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1(1).
  • Private schools, but not church schools, must provide a physical education program that conforms to the program outlined by the Alabama Department of Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-40-1.

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Recordkeeping and Reports

  • At the end of the fifth day from the opening of the public school, the principal teacher of each private school, but not church school, must report to the local superintendent the names and addresses of all children enrolled; and thereafter, at least weekly the names of students absent without excuse. Code of Alabama. 1975 §16-28-7.
  • The principal teacher of private and church schools must keep an attendance register showing the enrollment of the school and every absence of each enrolled child from school for a half-day or more. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-8. The registry is admissible as evidence in compulsory attendance hearings. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-23.
  • Private schools, i.e. a profit or nonprofit entity as opposed to publicly owned or operated schools, which cease operations shall place student academic attendance and financial aid records in the following repository: (1) if merged, consolidated, or change of ownership, in the continuing school; (2) if part of a system, organization, franchise, or church ministry, in the administrative office; (3) if without system support, with the local superintendent of the public county or city. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-46-3(e).

Health and Safety Requirements

  • A certificate of immunization or testing for the prevention of communicable diseases designated by the state health officer is required prior to admittance to a private school. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-30-4.
  • No teacher or school administrator employed by a nonpublic school is excluded from participating in in-service teacher education institutes or curriculum development programs for drug abuse prevention provided under Chapter 41, Drug Abuse Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-41-5.
  • An additional penalty of 5 years incarceration, with no provision for probation, is imposed for the unlawful sale of a controlled substance on the campus of a private school or within a three-mile radius of the campus. Code of Alabama 1975 §13a-12-250.
  • Alabama requires all private schools to conduct monthly fire drills and to have all doors and exits open out, and that all such doors and exits be unlocked during school hours. Code of Alabama 1975 §36-19-10.
  • A nonpublic school must seek and obtain a criminal history background information check on all “applicants seeking positions with, and on all current employees and current employees under review employed by any nonpublic school, who have unsupervised access to or who provide education, training, instruction, or supervision for children in an educational setting.” Chapter 22A, Alabama Child Protection Act of 1999. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-22A-5(b). Criminal history background information reports are to be sent from the Department of Public Safety to the State Department of Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-22A-5(d).
  • Private schools must fully meet the building code requirements unless the building was used for that purpose prior to the effective date of the code. Code of Alabama 1975 §41-9-163(c).

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Transportation

  • A license tax or registration fee of $13.00 is imposed on motor buses owned by a church or a private school that are used only for the purposes of the institution. Code of Alabama 1975 §40-12-246 (d).

Textbooks

  • There is no state policy at this time.

Testing

  • There is no state policy at this time.

Special Education

  • In any public place, including private schools, service animals are permitted to accompany any person with a disability (including a person who is totally or partially blind, hearing-impaired or diagnosed on the autism spectrum). Code of Alabama 1975 §21-7-4 amended.

Nursing and Health

  • There is no state policy at this time.

Technology

  • There is no state policy at this time.

Professional Development

  • No teacher or school administrator employed by a nonpublic school is excluded from participating in in-service teacher education institutes or curriculum development programs for drug abuse prevention provided under Chapter 41, Drug Abuse Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-41-5.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • There is no state policy at this time.

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Tax Exemption

  • The Alabama state legislature is prohibited from taxing school property, real or personal. Alabama Constitution, Article 4, Section 91.

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: No money raised for the support of the public schools can be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian or denomination school. Alabama Constitution, Article 14, Section 263.
  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: There are no such programs at this time.

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Home Schools

  • A home school can seek qualification as a private school, church school, or under the private tutor option. Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-1(1), 16-28-1(2), 16-28-5.
    • Private schools must hold a certificate issued by the state superintendent of education that shows the following requirements are being met: 1) any teachers are state certified; 2) subjects mandated by the state are included; 3) instruction is in English; and 4) regular attendance is kept. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1(1).
    • A K-12 school or school with any combination of these levels “operated by a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches on a nonprofit basis which do not receive any state or federal funding” is defined as a church school. Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-1(2), 16-46-1(3).
    • Instruction as a private tutor is defined as instruction by a state certified teacher who teaches in English state required courses between 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a minimum of three hours per day over the course of at least 140 days during the calendar year. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-5.

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • Documentation of the enrollment and attendance of a child in a church school must be filed with the local public school superintendent by the parent or guardian on a form provided by the superintendent. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-7.
  • By the end of the first week of instruction for a new school year, the principal private school teacher of a home school qualified as a private school or any state certified private tutors who are working within a home school setting must submit paperwork with the county superintendent of education. The paperwork states the child or children to be instructed, the subjects to be taught and the period of time instruction is to be given. In addition, throughout the compulsory attendance period a register of attendance shall be kept on each child. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-7.
  • The registry of attendance for any church school or private tutor in compliance with the provisions of law or any rule and regulation promulgated by the State Board of Education is admissible as evidence in compulsory attendance hearings. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-23.
  • At church schools, enrollment and attendance must be reported to the local public school superintendent by the parent or guardian on a form provided by the superintendent. The administrator of the church school countersigns the enrollment form. If a child leaves the church school, the church school will notify the local public school superintendent, by prior consent of the parent or guardian. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-7.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • A private tutor (holding a state superintendent of education issued certificate) offers instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state; for at least three hours a day for 140 days each calendar year, between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., and who uses English language in giving instruction. The tutor shall keep a register of work that includes attendance and hours of instruction. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-5.
  • If a home school is qualified as a private school, the school must provide a physical education program that conforms to the program outlined by the Alabama Department of Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-40-1.
  • A church school includes only such schools that offer instruction in grades K–12, or any combination thereof including the kindergarten, elementary, or secondary level and are operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches on a nonprofit basis and which do not receive any state or federal funding. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-28-1.
  • If a home school is operated as a ministry of a local church, there are no legal requirements for instructors. Code of Alabama 1975 §§16-28-1, 16-28-5.
  • No teacher or school administrator employed by a nonpublic school is excluded from participating in in-service teacher education institutes or curriculum development programs for drug abuse prevention provided under Chapter 41, Drug Abuse Education. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-41-5.

Assessment and Diplomas

  • High school graduation examinations, though not required by the state for homeschooled students, are available to nonpublic school students in the state. Interested students who seek this option may contact the local school district for timeframes and any reasonable fees associated with covering the costs of providing the examination. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-3-40.

Health

  • A certificate of immunization or testing for the prevention of communicable diseases designated by the state health officer is required prior to admittance to a private school. Code of Alabama 1975 §16-30-4.

Public School Access

  • There is no state policy at this time. If a homeschooled student seeks to participate in public school classes or activities, the student can seek permission through an individual school or school district.

Web Resources

Information and Legislation

Forms

Contact Information —State and Federal Departments of Education

  • Alabama State Department of Education
    5227 Gordon Persons Building
    50 North Ripley Street
    P.O. Box 302101
    Montgomery, AL 36104-3833
    Phone: (334) 242-9700
    Fax: (334) 242-9708
    Private School Registration: (334) 242-9960
    Homeschooling: (334) 242-8165
    Website: http://www.alsde.edu
  • U.S. Department of Education, Alabama

Updated April 30, 2013

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Last Modified: 05/08/2013