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MISSISSIPPI
Updated July 12, 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

  • Accreditation is optional.
    • Nonpublic schools may be accredited by independent nonpublic school accrediting agencies. Miss. Code Ann. §37-17-9.
    • Nonpublic schools “serving school age students” may request to be accredited by the State Board of Education. Miss. Code Ann. §37-17-7. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 1.0, 2004. See Approval.
  • Registration has no requirements.
  • Licensing has no requirements.
  • Approval is optional.
    • Nonpublic schools may request approval by the Mississippi State Board of Education. A process set by the State Board of Education will determine approval, but the standards for nonpublic school approval may not be more rigorous than the accreditation standards for public schools. Miss. Code Ann. §37-17-7. Miss. State Board of Education Policy Manual, §1000, revised September 2012.
    • Standards for state approval or accreditation are set out in the policy document Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 2.2, 2004.
    • Private schools must reapply for accreditation no later than October 1 each year. The application requires information on the following: name, mailing address, and telephone number(s) of the school; name of the chief school administrator; name, address, and phone number of the chairperson of the governing board; number of students enrolled by grade, race, and sex; number of instructional staff members by grade level and total; annual calendar of the school; participation in federal and state funded programs; graduation data; and a preliminary list of school staff. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 7.1, 2004.
    • The Mississippi Board of Education assigns an accreditation status from the following four options: accredited, advised, probation and withdrawn. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 2.3, 2004.
    • The first year an accredited private school fails to comply with state requirements for accreditation, it will be assigned an “advised” status. If the private school does not take corrective action to resolve the deficiencies within the following year, it will be assigned a “probation” status and be required to develop a corrective action plan. If the school with an assigned “probation” status fails to meet the approved corrective action plan’s goals and timelines, the school will receive a “withdrawn” status. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 2.3, 2004.

Teacher Certification

  • Teacher certification is required for those schools that choose to be accredited by the State Board of Education. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 12, 2004.

Length of School Year and Days

  • A nonpublic school term is the number of days that each school requires for promotion from grade to grade. Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(2)(e).

Curriculum

  • The secretary of state will furnish without charge applications for voter registration by mail to private schools upon request. Miss. Code Ann. §23-15-47(4)(a).
  • Agricultural high schools may be leased by private schools if there are no funds available to run the institution. Miss. Code Ann. §37-27-31.
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Recordkeeping and Reports

  • All children of compulsory school age must be enrolled in a public school, private school, or home school program. The parents or guardians of the child or the nonpublic school official must complete a certificate of enrollment for each such student. The certificate, provided by the State Board of Education, asks the following basic information: 1) name, address, and date of birth of the student; 2) name and address of the parent/guardian; 3) a simple description of the type of education provided; 4) name and address of the nonpublic school; and 5) parent or guardian and school official signatures and date signed. The certificate must be returned to the school attendance officer for the youth or family court where the child resides on or before September 15 of each year. Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(3).
  • Private, parochial, or denominational schools accepting free school textbooks on behalf of their students must file annual reports as required by the State Board of Education. Miss. Code Ann. §37-43-51.
  • State accredited private schools are required to submit an Annual Application Form, an Annual Compliance Report, an Annual Personnel Data Report, and a Summer School/Extended Year Report. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, 7.1, 2004.

Health and Safety Requirements

  • Church-related and private schools are exempt from Mississippi's State Board of Health standards for preparation of food. Miss. Code Ann. §41-3-15.
  • The circuit court clerk will notify the State Department of Education of any certificated personnel employed by a private elementary or secondary school that is convicted of a felony or of a sex offense. Miss. Code Ann. §37-3-51.
  • The president or chancellor of a private school will be notified by the local law enforcement office if any enrolled student is arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor. Miss. Code Ann. §37-11-29.
  • The sale or distribution of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of the real property of a private school or 1500 feet of a private school building may be punished by an enhanced penalty, twice the authorized imprisonment or fine or both, for a first offense and three times the penalty for a subsequent offense. Miss. Code Ann. §41-29-142.
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Transportation

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to transportation for private schools.

Textbooks

  • Students attending state accredited nonpublic schools are allowed to borrow books at no cost from the local school district. Miss. Code Ann. §37-43-1.
  • The loan of textbooks to qualified private schools does not violate Mississippi's constitutional prohibition against public support of sectarian schools or the control of educational funds by religious sects. Chance v. Mississippi State Textbook Rating & Purchasing Bd., 200 So. 706 (1941).

Student Assessment and Graduation Requirements

  • Nonpublic schools do not participate in the statewide assessment system and are not assigned a school performance classification. Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, Introduction, 2004.
  • A private school student seeking to transfer to a Mississippi public school “may be required to take a test to determine the grade and class to which the pupil shall be assigned at the time of pupil transfer.” Miss. Code Ann. §37-15-33.
  • A homeschooled student seeking to transfer to a Mississippi public school “may be required to take a test to determine the grade and class to which the pupil shall be assigned at the time of pupil transfer.” Miss. Code Ann. §37-15-33.
  • Enrollment in a nonpublic school/program (to include, but not limited to: private schools, parochial schools, home schools, virtual schools, summer schools, independent study / correspondence programs, etc.) shall not be used to circumvent participation in the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System or students meeting the graduation requirements outlined in this policy. Miss. Board of Education Policy Manual, §3801, revised December 2012.

Special Education

  • Mississippi provides financial assistance, determined by the state department of education, to exceptional children attending accredited private or parochial schools. Tuition reimbursement for applicants choosing to attend an accredited private or parochial school is 100% for the first $600. If the local school district Individual Education Program Committee determines that the district cannot provide a free appropriate public education for a handicapped child, the state will reimburse the district for placement in an accredited private or parochial school up to a maximum of $3,000. Miss. Code Ann. §§37-23-3; 37-23-63; 37-23-69.

Nursing and Health

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to nursing and health for private schools.

Technology

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to technology for private schools.

Professional Development

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to professional development at private schools.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to reimbursement for performing state and local functions for private schools.
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Tax Exemption

  • The income from transporting grade school students under contract with nonprofit private schools is exempt from Mississippi sales tax. Miss. Code Ann. §27-65-107.

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: Mississippi's Constitution prohibits the appropriation of any state education funds for the support of sectarian schools or private schools. Miss. Const. Art. 8, Sec. 208.

  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: In 2013, Mississippi began a “state educational loan fund” and an application process for loans from this fund for “students who desire to receive a secular education in any of the grades one through twelve” in any “accredited nonfree elementary or secondary school.” To be eligible for a loan an applicant must be a current resident of the state and be able to document attendance in good standing at the nonsectarian private school. If an applicant’s loan is granted, it may not exceed $2,400. Miss. Code Ann. §37-51-1 et seq.

  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Students with Dyslexia: Enacted in 2012, the Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program provides scholarships to children with this specific learning disability to attend state accredited special purpose nonpublic schools. Students can go to such a nonpublic school “in order to receive comprehensive multisensory dyslexia therapy delivered by holders of an appropriate license in dyslexia therapy issued by the department.” Eligibility is restricted to students in grades 1-6 who have a diagnosis of dyslexia and attended public school or any other state approved nonpublic school in the state that emphasizes instruction in dyslexia intervention the previous school year. The maximum scholarship amount is based on the state’s base funding per pupil in any given year. The statute’s nonpublic school option is to be repealed effective July 1, 2016. Miss. Code Ann. §37-173-1 et seq.
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Home Schools
  • Home schools meet the definition of "nonpublic schools," which means an institution for the teaching of children, consisting of a physical plant, whether owned or leased, including a home, instructional staff members and students, and which is in session each school year. This definition shall include, but not be limited to, private, church, parochial, and home instruction programs. Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(2)(i).
  • The State of Mississippi does not have the “authority to control, manage, or supervise” the private education of children.” Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(9).

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • The parent or guardian of a child enrolled in a legitimate homeschooling program is required to complete a "certificate of enrollment" and return it to the school attendance officer where such child resides on or before September 15 of each year. Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(3).
  • Other than the Certificate of Enrollment, there are no current state laws concerning requirements for home schooling programs.
  • A parent must educate his child in a “legitimate home instruction program” and not with the “purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory attendance law.” Miss. Code Ann. §37-13-91(3)(c).
  • “Home schools and home schooling programs, including those that are affiliated with an accrediting agency, are specifically excluded from this definition [of “school”] and are not eligible to participate in the State Board of Education accreditation process.” Nonpublic Schools Accountability Standards, Introduction, 2004.

Student Assessment and Graduation Requirements

  • A homeschooled student seeking to transfer to a Mississippi public school “may be required to take a test to determine the grade and class to which the pupil shall be assigned at the time of pupil transfer.” Miss. Code Ann. §37-15-33.

Web Resources

Information and Legislation

Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education

  • Mississippi Department of Education 359 North West Street
    P.O. Box 771
    Jackson, MS 39205
    Phone: (601) 359-3513
    Fax: (601) 359-3242
    Website: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/
  • U.S. Department of Education, Mississippi

Updated July 12, 2013

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Last Modified: 07/18/2013