Updated November 15, 2012
State Regulation of Private and Home Schools Map
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- No requirements for Accreditation.
- Registration is mandatory.
- If a nonpublic school chooses not to seek state approval, the school must register with the state each school year in order to comply with Louisiana's statute, La. R.S. Ann. §17:232 (C) and (D). Nonpublic registered schools (not seeking state approval) may include 1) educational programs or 2) traditional schools with a physical plant that make the choice, based on a variety of reasons, not to obtain state approval. One example of the latter is a school whose staff do not all meet minimum qualifications.
- To register, a nonpublic school must submit a signed letter including the name of the school, contact information, and total number of students enrolled, to the Department of Education by the 30th day after the school session begins. La. R.S. Ann. §17:232 (C).
- No requirements for Licensing.
- Approval is optional.
- The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approves any private elementary, secondary, or proprietary school upon application, if the school meets and maintains a sustained curriculum or specialized course of study of a quality at least equal to that prescribed for similar public schools. La. Const. Art. VIII, § 4; La. R.S. Ann. §17:11.
- After initial approval, the board will annually determine whether the private school is maintaining such quality and, if not, shall discontinue approval of the school. La. R.S. Ann. §17:11.
- Schools are evaluated annually. A school can be classified "approved" if the school meets all the standards specified in the state's standards for approval of nonpublic schools, "provisionally approved" if the school has deficiencies based on the standards, "probationally approved" if the school assumes one or more of three defined errors, or "unapproved." An unapproved school becomes ineligible for state and federal funding. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §107.
- All certificates and diplomas issued by an approved private school shall carry the same privileges as one issued by a state public school. La. R.S. Ann. §17:11 (C). Louisiana Department of Education Bulletin 741: Handbook for School Administrators §2111 (D).
- To be classified as a school under the General School Law provisions, the instructional staff of a nonpublic school receiving local, state, or federal funds or support, directly or indirectly, must be qualified in accordance with the rules established by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. If the school does not receive public aid, directly or indirectly, the instructional staff must meet such requirements as may be prescribed by the school or the church. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.
- Instructional staff at nonpublic schools must meet one of the following three criteria: hold a valid Louisiana teaching certification for the courses he/she instructs; qualify to teach in a nonpublic school (as qualified by guidance outlined by the Louisiana Department of Education), or obtain a one-year Nonpublic Temporary Teaching Authorization (NTTA) issued by the Department of Education or diocesan superintendent for schools within the diocesan system. Specific details of these qualifications can be found in Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §303.
Length of School Year, School Days, and Minimum School Day
- To be classified as a school under the General School Law provisions, the institution must operate a minimum session of 180 days. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.
- For grades 1–12, the minimum school day shall include 330 minutes of instruction time exclusive of recess, lunch, and planning periods. For kindergarten, the minimum instructional day for a full-day program shall be 330 minutes and for a one-half day program, 165 minutes. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §705.
- State approval of a nonpublic school is dependent on whether the school meets and maintains a sustained curriculum or specialized course of study of quality at least equal to that prescribed for similar public schools. La. R.S. Ann. §17:11.
- A minimum of 23 credits is required for incoming freshmen prior to 2009–10. The requirements are four units of English, three units each of mathematics, science, and social studies, two units of health and physical education, and eight units of electives (a maximum of four credits in religion). Specific details of these requirements can be found in Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §2109.
- A minimum of 24 credits is required for incoming freshmen beginning in 2009–10, who will complete the Louisiana Core 4 Curriculum. The minimum course requirements are four units of English, mathematics, science, and social studies, two units of health and physical education, two units of foreign language or speech, one unit of art, and three units of electives. Specific details of these requirements can be found in Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §2109.
- Effective August 2011, prekindergarten programs may be operated as part of an approved elementary school program in conjunction with other grades or may be operated solely as an approved prekindergarten program. Prekindergarten includes developmental programs for children ages 3–4, with a minimum age of 3 by September 30 of the year the child enters prekindergarten. Children in prekindergarten programs are eligible to enter kindergarten at the established age requirement for these programs. Nonpublic schools are not required to offer prekindergarten programs nor are children required to attend these programs. Any other program that operates in a school as a childcare program shall follow the day care standards as prescribed by the appropriate agency. 2011 Legislative Session HB 373 (Act 102).
- No more than 35 students can be enrolled in one class except for certain activity classes such as physical education, art, music, etc. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §707.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- Nonpublic schools must keep registration and attendance records of students, and maintain a current permanent record of the student's individual data and academic progress through school. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators, §505.
- Nonpublic schools must maintain a health record for each student from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §519.
- A nonpublic school is required to submit an annual school report to the State Department of Education by October 15. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §527.
- Upon entering a private school for the first time, all children must present a copy of their official birth record to the school principal. Children born in Louisiana will be given a 15-day grace period to secure a copy of their birth record. Children born out of this state will be given a 30-day grace period in which to produce a copy of their birth record. If birth certificates or birth verification cannot be obtained, the school principal may accept whatever positive proof of age, race, and parentage is available. It is left to the discretion of the parish or city superintendent of schools, subject to the authority of the school board, as to whether or not a child shall continue in school upon failure to comply. La. R.S. Ann. §§17:167, 222.
- Private schools that receive local, state, or federal funds, directly or indirectly, or whose students or their parents are recipients or beneficiaries of any local, state, or federal education program or assistance must cooperate with visiting teachers or supervisors of child welfare and attendance. Within 30 days after the beginning of the school term, principals must report in writing to the visiting teacher or supervisor of child welfare and attendance the name, birth date, race, parents' names, and residence of each pupil in attendance at their schools, and make other reports as required. Attendance must be taken daily and at the beginning of each class period, verified by the teacher keeping the record and open to inspection. All schools must immediately report unexplained, unexcused, or illegal absence, or habitual tardiness. La. R.S. Ann. §17:232.A, B, C.
- Private schools that do not receive local, state, or federal funds, directly or indirectly, and where neither students nor parents are recipients or beneficiaries of such funds, are required to report to the Louisiana Department of Education their total attendance as of the 30th day of their school term. La. R.S. Ann. §17.232.C.
- All schools in Louisiana must respond to the request of a city or parish public school system as to whether an individual student is enrolled in the school and fulfilling the compulsory attendance requirements. La. R.S. Ann. §17.232.D.
- Approved nonpublic schools may receive upon request, and without cost, progress profiles of their students at Louisiana colleges and universities. The performance data includes a standard designation of students by age or by high school graduation date and the program they completed in high school. The report includes information on the number of students from each high school in each system requiring remedial training and the subject matter of such training. La. R.S. Ann. §3912.C.(3).
Health and Safety Requirements
- Persons entering any school within Louisiana for the first time must present satisfactory evidence of immunization or an immunization program in progress according to the schedule approved by the Office of Public Health. If the student or parent submits either a written statement from a physician that the procedure is contraindicated for medical reasons or a written dissent, the student is not required to be immunized. Administrators of all elementary and secondary schools are responsible for checking students' records to see that these provisions are enforced. In the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease at the school, the administrators are empowered to exclude unimmunized students until the appropriate disease incubation period has expired or the unimmunized person presents evidence of immunization. La. R.S. Ann. §17:170.
- It is the duty of the state health officer to prepare and promulgate rules and regulations relative to public and private schools. Plans and specifications for such public and private building structures and facilities must be submitted to the state health officer for review and approval. La. R.S. Ann. §40:4.
- Under the Missing Children Identification Act, parents have the opportunity to have a child identification card created by the local sheriff in cooperation with the elementary schools. The identification card includes the child's photograph and fingerprints, and other identifying information. The card becomes the property of the child's parent but is kept in the care and custody of the principal of the elementary school that the child attends. The principal of each elementary school must request parent notification forms from the local sheriff for entering students and anticipated transfer students. The principal must deliver the forms to the parents for their consent no less than two weeks prior to the scheduled identification process. The principal retains all returned parent notification forms, whether granting or denying consent. No cause of action lies against any principal for failure to comply. The sheriff will send an identification officer to the elementary school at a time mutually agreed upon between the sheriff and the principal. La. R.S. Ann. §40:2514-17.
- Private schools may request the Department of Transportation and Development to place directional signs to identify the location of their school. The Department will erect and maintain each sign. The cost of the sign must be paid for in advance by the requestor. La. R.S. Ann. §32:238.
- Nonpublic schools are required to adhere to specific rules and regulations to protect the health and safety of three-year-olds who attend prekindergarten at approved nonpublic schools. 2011 Louisiana Legislative Session HB 373 (Act 102).
- Parish and city school boards must provide free transportation for nonpublic school students attending approved schools, providing the school does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. If a parish or city school board determines transportation by bus is impractical, not available, or unwarranted, the board may utilize common carriers. If transportation is not provided by the parish or city school for economically justifiable reasons approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Education will reimburse the parent of any student who resides more than one mile from the school as funds are appropriated by the legislature but not more than $125 per student or $375 per family. La. R.S. Ann. §17:158. "If transportation is not provided by the public school board, parents of students attending nonpublic schools shall be reimbursed for transportation, provided funds are appropriated." La. R.S. Ann. §17:158 (C), (D), (H). Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §1901.
- Approved nonpublic schools may voluntarily pool their bids with city and parish school boards for purchases of school buses and related equipment. The Louisiana Department of Education prepares bid forms and specifications, obtains quotations of prices, and makes such forms and information available to school boards and any participating nonpublic schools in order to facilitate this service. La. R.S. Ann. §158.3.
- Contract drivers of all privately owned school buses transporting private school students qualify for a refund of one-half of the gasoline tax and the special fuel tax. La. R.S. Ann. §47:715.1.
- The secretary of the Department of Revenue and Taxation will make refunds of gasoline taxes on gasoline used for operating any boat to transport children to or from parochial schools.
- City and parish school boards that disburse school library books, textbooks, and other materials of instruction to nonpublic school students may submit to the superintendent of education documentation to verify administrative costs and receive reimbursement from the state. La. R.S. Ann. §17:353.
- A record of all state-purchased textbooks shall be kept. This shall include textbooks on hand at the beginning of the session, those added, and those lost or worn-out. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §517.
- Any approved nonpublic school may award a school diploma to any student who meets the state's minimum high school graduation requirements.
- Assessment of nonpublic school students is optional. Any approved nonpublic school that participates in the state Exit Testing Program shall award a state and/or school diploma to a student who successfully completes the state's minimum graduation requirements and meets the following assessment requirements:
- Students entering the ninth grade prior to 2010–11 must pass the English Language Arts and Mathematics components, and either the Science or Social Studies components of the Graduation Exit examination. For incoming freshmen in 2010–11 and beyond, students must pass three End-of-Course Tests in English II or English III; Algebra I or geometry; biology or American history.
- A student who attends an approved nonpublic school that opts to participate in the state Exit Testing Program but who does not successfully complete the state's minimum graduation requirements and meet the assessment requirements shall not be eligible for either a state or a school diploma.
- Any approved nonpublic school that wishes to award the state diploma to its students shall follow state department of education timelines and other administrative guidelines for administering the state Exit Testing Program.
- Any nonpublic school that opts to participate in the state Exit Testing Program shall follow the rules and regulations set by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Any state-approved nonpublic school that does not choose to participate in the state Exit Testing Program may grant a school diploma, which denotes the state's minimum graduation requirements have been met. This school diploma carries the same privileges as one issued by a public school.
- Regarding a school that is a participating nonpublic school within any of the state student scholarship programs, the nonpublic school shall ensure that scholarship recipients are administered all examinations required pursuant to the Louisiana School and District Accountability System at the prescribed grade levels including the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, the integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (iLEAP), and graduation exit examinations. La. R.S. Ann. §17:4023.
The awarding of high school diplomas shall in no way affect the school approval classifications of any school. Specific details of these requirements can be found in the Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Handbook for School Administrators §2111.
- Louisiana at times places exceptional students in nonpublic schools. Local education agencies must apply to the state education agency for the authority to place children with disabilities in programs other than public schools. The Office of Special Education ensures that private schools serving exceptional children and receiving funds establish uniform accounting and reporting procedures and meet minimum requirements established by the Louisiana Department of Education. La. R.S. Ann. §17:1944.
- The Louisiana state department of education and local education authorities may, under state policies, enter into the purchase of service agreements or contracts with other public or nonpublic agencies to provide special education and related services. La. R.S. Ann. §17:1947.
Nursing and Health
- There is no state policy at this time.
- Nonpublic schools choosing to implement a distance education program shall establish policies and procedures for reviewing and approving programs that meet the Standards for Distance Education as established by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §2523.
- The Louisiana Virtual School (LVS), one of several distance education options, is a technology-based program to expand learning opportunities for high school students through courses of study that may not otherwise be available to them. LVS offers access to a full menu of standards-based online courses of study. Certified teachers deliver the subject matter using the Internet, electronic mail and other online resources. Any high school student may enroll in a course of study offered by the LVS through the school in which the student is enrolled. The student's high school grants credit for any earned coursework. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.4.
- A minimum of two days of professional development shall be held each school year. Louisiana Department of Education (Nonpublic) Bulletin 741: Louisiana Handbook for Nonpublic School Administrators §305.
- The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education must appoint an advisory committee of private and proprietary school representatives to advise and counsel the board relative to standards and guidelines affecting these schools. La. R.S. Ann. §17:11.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- Annually, the superintendent of education reimburses approved nonpublic schools for the actual cost incurred for providing school services, maintaining records, and completing and filing mandatory reports, e.g. forms, reports, or records relative to school approval or evaluation, public attendance, pupil health and pupil health testing, transportation of pupils, federally funded educational programs, including school lunch and breakfast programs, school textbooks and supplies, library books, pupil appraisal, pupil progress, transfer of pupils, teacher certification, teacher continuing education programs, unemployment, and annual school data. La. R.S. Ann. §17:361.
- Property owned by nonprofit corporations, organized and operated exclusively for religious or educational purposes, and exempt from federal and state income tax, are exempt from ad valorem taxation. La. Const. Art. VII, §21.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions:
According to the Louisiana Constitution, the legislature shall appropriate funds to supply free school books and other materials of instruction prescribed by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to the children of the state. La. Const. Art. VIII, §13.
Private schools that are racially segregated are ineligible for state assistance of any kind, including textbooks, materials, and transportation. Brumfield v. Dodd, 405 F. Supp. 338 (E.D. La. 1977).
In 1970, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional Louisiana's Secular Educational Services Law, La. R.S. Ann. §17:1322–1324, which would have allowed the superintendent of public education to purchase secular educational services from nonpublic school teachers to be performed at nonpublic schools with public funds. Seegers v. Parker, 241 So.2d 213 (1970).
- Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools:
- Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program became law in 2008 and provides scholarships for New Orleans' students from families with a family income of no greater than 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and who reside within the geographical boundaries of the covered district (Orleans Parish). Kindergarten through sixth-grade students are eligible to receive the scholarship of an amount "equivalent to ninety percent of the per pupil amount the covered district receives from combined state and local sources," or the private school's tuition, whichever is less. Scholarship recipients remain eligible to receive the scholarship through grade 12 as long as they remain enrolled in a participating school. Only state-approved nonpublic schools are eligible to participate. La. R.S. Ann. §17:4011-17:4025.
- Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction became law in 2008 and allows a deduction from tax table income for the sum of amounts paid or incurred during the taxable year by a taxpayer for a student's enrollment in a nonpublic elementary or secondary school, or to a public elementary or secondary school for a student's participation in curricular and core classes, or for qualified education expenses associated with homeschooling. Tuition includes the purchase of school uniforms required by schools for general day-to-day use, the purchase of textbooks or other instructional materials required by schools, and the purchase of school supplies required by schools. The deduction shall equal 50 percent of the actual amount of tuition and fees paid by the taxpayer per student or $5,000 per student, whichever is less. La. R.S. Ann. §47:297.10-47:297.12.
- The School Choice Pilot Scholarship Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities became law in 2010 and was first implemented in the 2011-2012 school year. The program was established in each parish having a population in excess of 190,000 persons according to the 2000 Federal Census. The program provides students the opportunity to attend schools of their parents' choosing that provide educational services that specifically address the needs of such students. Students who have been evaluated by a local education agency as defined in La. R.S. Ann. §17:1942, determined to be in need of services, and have an Individual Education Plan or a services plan in accordance with Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 300.37 are eligible. The value of each scholarship shall be equivalent to 50 percent of the per-pupil allocation of state funds to the city, parish, or other local public school district in which the eligible student is residing for the school year, but not to exceed the amount of tuition charged by the eligible nonpublic school. Only state-approved nonpublic schools are eligible to participate. La. R.S. Ann. §17:4031.
- Solely for purposes of compulsory attendance in a nonpublic school, a child who participates in a home study program approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall be considered in attendance at a day school. A home study program shall be approved if it offers a sustained curriculum of a quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level. La. R.S. Ann. §236.
- A home study plan is a program in which an approved curriculum can be implemented under the direction and control of a parent or a tutor. Any child eligible to attend an elementary or secondary school in Louisiana is eligible to participate in a home study plan. Home study regulations are found at La. R.S. Ann. §17:236, §17:236.1.
- A home school educational program may operate by registering as a nonpublic school not seeking state approval in accordance with Louisiana's compulsory attendance law. An official, signed letter must be submitted annually to register (by the thirtieth day after the school session begins) and it must include: the school year, name of school, contact information, and the total number of students enrolled La. R.S. §17:232 (C) and (D).
Initial and Renewal Applications
- The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (SBESE) may approve home study programs. To be approved by the SBESE, a home study program must offer a sustained curriculum of a quality at least equal to that offered by the public schools, consist of an adequate physical plant, and operate a minimum session of no fewer than 180 days. La. R.S. Ann. §17:221.3, §17:232 (C) and (D), and §17:236, §17:236.1, and §17:236.2.
- An initial application must be made within 15 days of beginning a program of home instruction. It must include a completed application and certified copy of the birth certificate for the child. A short-form birth certification card is acceptable as a certified copy of the birth certificate. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.1.
- A renewal application must be made by October 1 of the school year, or within 12 months of the approval of the initial application, whichever is later. A renewal application is accepted upon presentation of satisfactory evidence that the program offered a sustained curriculum of a quality at least equal to that of the public schools at the same grade level. The sustained curriculum can be substantiated in several ways, including presentation of test results on which the student scored at or above his or her grade level, or description and substantiating documents detailing the contents of the instructional program. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.1.
Curriculum and Instruction
- State Board policy requires local school systems to provide textbooks to students participating in SBESE-approved home study programs when extra copies are available. Local school systems may charge a deposit fee for each book borrowed by a home study parent, but the deposit is refunded when the book(s) is/are returned. La. R.S. Ann. §17:351.
Assessment and Diplomas
- State assessment is not required. A student in an SBESE-approved home study program may request the local school board or state superintendent to administer the iLEAP, LEAP, or GEE tests. It is the parent's responsibility to contact the testing coordinator in early February to arrange the student's participation in state testing. A fee of no more than $35 for administering, scoring, and reporting may be charged. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.1.
- Completion of a home study program does not entitle the student to a regular high school diploma. Only public and approved nonpublic schools that meet state requirements may issue a state diploma. The state board can award the General Equivalency Diploma (GED), provided the student passes the GED examination. La. R.S. Ann. §17:11.
- Effective August 2010 and thereafter, high school diplomas awarded through home study programs approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are now recognized by all public postsecondary educational institutions, all state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions, and all other state and local government entities to have all of the rights and privileges as those awarded by a state-approved nonpublic school. La. R.S. Ann. §17:236.1.G.
- Home study program diplomas are not awarded by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or by the Louisiana Department of Education. Therefore, depiction, reproduction, or duplication of state seals or wording that implies implementation of the prescribed course of study required for public schools is unauthorized.
- If a child is 11 years of age and participating in an approved home study program (La. R.S. §17:236.1), Louisiana state law requires parents to provide proof of immunization against meningococcal disease. Parents have the right to submit waivers for religious, medical, or personal reasons to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in lieu of immunization evidence. La. R.S. §17:170.4(A)(1)(c).
Public School Access
- Home study students have the opportunity to participate on a public school sports team with the approval of the school's principal. La. R.S. §17.236.3.
Information and Legislation
- Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE): Nonpublic Schools
- LDOE Nonpublic Schools Seeking State Approval
- LDOE: BESE Approved Home Study Guidance and Applications
- LDOE Registered Nonpublic Schools Not Seeking State Approval
- Louisiana School Choice Pilot Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities
- Louisiana Administrative Code
- LDOE Legislative Bulletin
- Louisiana State Legislature — Search Louisiana Laws on left side column
- 2011 Session: HB 95, Act 166 — Student/School Attendance, Age 17
- 2011 Session: HB 373, Act 102 — Prekindergarten Instruction
Contact Information--State and Federal Departments of Education