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Indiana State Regulations

Updated February 15, 2017 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

    • Accreditation: optional
      • The Indiana State Board of Education has established a performance-based accreditation system available to nonpublic schools. The standards for accreditation are the same standards required of all public schools. The “observance of: (A) Indiana Code (IC) 20-31-4; (B) IC 20-28-5-2; (C) IC 20-28-6-3 through IC 20-28-6-7; (D) IC 20-28-11.5; (E) IC 20-31-3, IC 20-32-4, IC 20-32-5, and IC 20-32-8; is a prerequisite to the accreditation of a school.” Building and site guidelines adopted by the state board are not a prerequisite of accreditation. IC §20-19-2-8 (4).
      • To comply with accreditation standards, a nonpublic school must meet state requirements in the areas of health and safety, time of school activity, curriculum, development and implementation of a staff evaluation plan under IC §20-28-11.5, and a completed school improvement plan. IC §20-31-4-6.
      • A school must comply with the following legal standards to be accorded full accreditation status: (A) health and safety requirements; (B) minimum time requirements; (C) staff-student ratio requirements; (D) curriculum offering requirements; (E) instructional staff requirements; (F) Indiana Statewide Testing For Educational Progress (ISTEP) participation requirements; (G) mandatory annual assessment requirements; (H) accurate and timely submission of all reports required of schools; (I) production of an annual performance and its dissemination to school constituents; (J) strategic and continuous school improvement and achievement planning requirements. 511 Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 6.1-1-4. For additional details, see 511 IAC 6.1.
      • A school seeking accreditation must be assigned to one (1) of the following categories of school improvement and performance under 511 IAC 6.2-6-4: (A) Exemplary; (B) Commendable; or (C) Academic progress. 511 IAC 6.1-1-4.
      • Each accredited school principal shall coordinate the development of the Strategic and Continuous School Achievement and Improvement Plan that covers a three-year period. The plan must state objectives and be annually reviewed and revised to accomplish the achievement objectives of the school. The learning needs of all students, including programs and services for exceptional learners, must be addressed. The plan must address how the school plans to make continuous improvement in all areas of the education system where results are measured by setting benchmarks for progress on an individual school basis and note any specific areas where improvement is needed immediately. IC §20-31-5-4. For details, see 511 IAC 6.2.
      • A nonpublic school may choose to pursue freeway school accreditation under Indiana law by entering into a contract with the Indiana State Board of Education. This allows the school to suspend statutes concerning curriculum, pupil/teacher rations, curricular materials, graduation requirements, the performance based accreditation system, and the ISTEP program if an alternative locally assessment program is adopted. IC §20-26-15-5.
      • An attempt to deny accreditation to a school that denies enrollment on the basis of creed is an interference with the free exercise of religion. Opinion of Attorney General 1975, No. 22, p. 74.
    • Registration: no requirements
    • Licensing: no requirements
    • Approval/Recognition: optional
      • Indiana State Board of Education implements a voluntary system of recognition for nonpublic school educational programs. The system recognizes the distinguishing characteristics of nonpublic schools and is separate from the accreditation standards available to nonpublic schools. 511 IAC 6.1-9.
      • A nonpublic school must comply with the following standards to be recognized: (A) school mission requirements; (B) governance requirements; (C) curriculum requirements; (D) personnel requirements; and (E) facility requirements. In addition, the nonpublic school must perform at the expected level in the following areas to be recognized: (A) student attendance rate; (B) for high schools, graduation rate; (C) ISTEP results; (D) mathematics proficiencies; and (E) language arts proficiencies. 511 IAC 6.1-9-3.
      • The school must inform the Indiana Department of Education of its intention to seek recognition on or before July 1 of the school year in which the school seeks recognition. A recognized nonpublic school seeking renewal of its recognition must notify the Indiana Department of Education of its intention to seek renewal on or before July 1 of the year preceding the expiration of its recognition. 511 IAC 6.1-9-4.
      • If the Indiana Department of Education determines that a recognized school no longer is in compliance with recognition requirements, then it may institute revocation proceedings before the Indiana State Board of Education. A school may appeal the Indiana Department of Education’s decision to the Indiana State Board of Education. 511 IAC 6.1-9-5 and -6.

Teacher Certification

      • Accredited and recognized nonpublic schools are required to employ personnel that are “properly licensed” under 511 IAC 10. 511 IAC 6.1-6-1 and -9-3.

Length of School Year and Days

      • In order to comply with compulsory attendance law in Indiana, a student shall attend school each year for the 180 days public schools are in session. IC §§20-33-2-5 and 20-30-2-3.

Curriculum

      • The Indiana State Board of Education “shall adopt clear, concise, and jargon free” academic standards comparable to national and international academic standards. IC §20-31-3-1.
      • Nonpublic schools that voluntarily seek state accreditation must provide instruction in: (1) the constitutions of Indiana and the United States in grades six through 12; (2) the systems of government in Indiana and the United States, methods of voting, party structures, election laws, and the responsibilities of citizen participation in grades six through 12, for five full class periods, within the two weeks preceding each general election; and (3) morals instruction, as outlined by the state superintendent, in grades one–12. IC §§20-30-1-1; 20-30-5-1, -4, and -5.
      • Nonpublic high schools that voluntarily seek state accreditation must provide a course on constitutions of Indiana and the United States that discusses the historical, political, civic, sociological, economical, and philosophical aspects. IC §20-30-5-2.
      • Nonpublic, non-accredited, and non-approved schools are not required to follow the curriculum or educational program content requirements set forth in IC titles 20 or 21. A student in a nonpublic, non-accredited, and non-approved school can enroll in a particular educational program or participate in a particular educational initiative offered by an accredited public, nonpublic, or state board approved nonpublic school if the governing body, superintendent or administrative authority of the school approves the enrollment or participation by the student. IC §20-33-2-12.
      • Indiana’s compulsory education statute requires that students attend either a public school or some other school that is taught in the English language. IC §20-33-2-4.

Recordkeeping and Reports

      • Private schools may require students who initially enroll in the school to provide the name and address of the school last attended and produce reliable proof of the student’s date of birth. The school shall request the student’s records within 14 days of enrollment. IC §20-33-2-10(a).
      • If the proof of a student’s date of birth is not provided within 30 days of enrollment or appears to be inaccurate or fraudulent, the school shall notify the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults to determine if the child is reported missing. IC §20-33-2-10(c).
      • Private schools must keep an accurate daily record of attendance to verify the enrollment and attendance of any particular child upon request of the state superintendent or local superintendent of the school corporation. IC §20-33-2-20.
      • The principal/school administrator in every nonpublic school must furnish, on request of the state superintendent, a list of the names, addresses, and ages for all students attending the school. If a pupil withdraws from the school and the school does not receive a request for records within 15 school days, then the private school must report to the state superintendent or the local superintendent of the school corporation the name and address of the pupil and the date the pupil withdrew. IC §20-33-2-21.
      • If an Indiana nonpublic school receives a request for records, the records must be promptly sent unless the student’s records have been flagged by the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults. In that event, the nonpublic school must immediately notify the clearinghouse and may not send the records without the authorization of the clearinghouse. IC §20-33-2-10(d).
      • If an accredited nonpublic school receives a request for records for a student whose parent is in breach of contract for the conditions that release records, the accredited nonpublic school must provide the requesting school sufficient verbal information to allow the requesting school to make placement decisions for the student. IC §20-33-2-10(e).
      • A school psychologist in a counselor capacity, who received privileged or confidential communication from a student, may not disclose it except under the following circumstances: (1) trials for homicide when the disclosure relates directly to the fact or immediate circumstances of the homicide; (2) proceeding to determine mental competency or in which a defense of mental incompetency is raised; (3) civil or criminal actions regarding alleged malpractice by the school psychologist; (4) when there is an issue as to the validity of a document; (5) with the express consent of the client or, in the case of a client’s death or disability, of the client’s legal representative; or (6) when circumstances occur under which privileged communication is lawfully invalidated. IC §20-28-12-5.

Health and Safety Requirements

      • Accredited non-public schools must comply with the rules of the Indiana State Board of Education under 511 IAC 2, the fire prevention and building safety commission, the Indiana Department of Health, and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 511 IAC 6.1-1-4 and 511 IAC 6.1-2-1.

Transportation

      • The local school corporation must provide transportation without charge for nonpublic school students residing along a highway constituting the regular route of a public school bus. IC §20-27-11-1.
      • Private schools may contract with an urban mass transportation system for the transportation of pupils to and from school. IC §36-9-4-54.
      • Private school buses are regulated by the Indiana School Bus Committee that governs the design and operation of all school buses used for the transportation of school children. IC §20-27-3-4.
      • Nonpublic school bus drivers are required to attend an annual safety meeting or workshop that cannot exceed two days in any one calendar year. IC §20-27-8-9.
      • If a bus driver has less than 30 days experience in the three years prior to service, the bus driver must satisfactorily complete a preservice school bus driver safety education training course. The course is provided by the state superintendent of public instruction and may not exceed 40 hours. IC §20-27-8-10.
      • Nonpublic school buses are subject to an annual inspection by the Indiana Police Department to determine whether each bus complies with the safety requirements prescribed for school bus construction and equipment. IC §20-27-7-1.

Textbooks

      • Students who attend accredited nonpublic schools and meet financial eligibility standards may receive reimbursement payments from the state for textbooks. The Indiana Department of Education provides each school with application forms; the nonpublic schools assist the parents or emancipated minors in completing the forms and make the determination of financial eligibility. The school’s application to the state must be filed before Nov. 1 of a school year. Parents or emancipated minors reimbursement will be determined according to the formula of IC §20-33-5-9.5. IC §20-33-5-9.
      • The school board may rent textbooks to students enrolled in any public or nonpublic school that is: (1) in compliance with the minimum certification standards of the state board; and (2) located within the attendance unit served by the governing body. IC §20-26-12-2.

Testing

      • Nonpublic schools that voluntarily seek state accreditation shall administer the ISTEP to students at the same time that school corporations administer the test, and make available to the Indiana Department of Education the results. An accredited nonpublic school is entitled to receive the ISTEP program test and the scoring reports used by the Indiana Department of Education at no charge. IC §20-32-5-17.
      • A recognized nonpublic school must participate in the ISTEP testing program under IC §20-32-5 and 511 IAC 5-2. A recognized nonpublic school may request that the board approve use of another test instrument in place of ISTEP to determine if the school has met its expected performance levels. The nonpublic school must establish, to the satisfaction of the board, that the test is an appropriate substitute for ISTEP. 511 IAC 6.1-9-4.

Special Education

      • Each public agency must (1) locate, identify, and evaluate all students with disabilities as specified in 511 IAC 7-40 in any nonpublic school or facility, including any religious school or home school, within its boundaries; (2) consult with nonpublic school representatives and representatives of parents of nonpublic school students with disabilities; (3) provide information to the division of special education related to parentally-placed nonpublic school students covered under this rule; and (4) make available special education and related services to all students with disabilities. 511 IAC 7-34-1.

Nursing and Health

      • No state policy currently exists.

Technology

      • An accredited nonpublic school is required to have “a provision for the coordination of technology initiatives” within its strategic and continuous school improvement and achievement plan. IAC 6.2-3-3.

Professional Development

      • No state policy currently exists.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

      • No state policy currently exists.

Tax Exemption

      • Sales of food and food ingredients are exempt from the state gross retail tax for parochial school regularly maintained by a recognized religious denomination. In order to obtain the exemption, the taxpayer must file an application for exemption with the Indiana Department of Revenue. IC §6-2.5-5-21.

Public Aid for Private Education

      • Constitutional Provisions: The Indiana Constitution provides that no money shall be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious or theological institution. Indiana Constitution Art. 1, §6.
      • Programs for financial assistance for attendance at private schools:
        • In Indiana, private school parents are eligible for a tax deduction of tuition, fees, computer software, textbooks, workbooks, curricula, school supplies, and other written materials used primarily for instruction or tutoring, of up to $1,000 per student. IC §6-3-2-22.
        • Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program provides a scholarship that can be used for tuition and fees at an eligible nonpublic school to a student who is a part of a household whose annual income is no more than 150 percent of the amount required to qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program; and (1) would be required due to residency to attend a public school in the lowest category of school improvement; (2) has previously attended two semesters of a public school; (3) who or whose sibling received a tax-credit scholarship of at least $500 the previous year; (4) who or whose sibling received a scholarship under this or the tax credit scholarship program a previous year; or (5) who is a student with a disability that has an individualized education plan or services plan and is a part of a household whose annual income is no more than 200 percent of the amount required to qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program. A nonpublic school is eligible to accept choice scholarships if it is accredited by the state; a national or regional accrediting body; administers the ISTEP assessment program; does not discriminate based on race, color, or national origin; and grants access for observational visits. IC §§20-51-1 through 20-51-4.
        • Indiana allows a taxpayer to receive a tax credit for 50 percent of the donation to a school scholarship granting organization. A student is eligible to receive a scholarship through this program if the student is a part of a household whose annual income is no more than 200 percent of the amount required to qualify for the federal free or reduced price lunch program and is or has been enrolled in a participating school. A participating nonpublic school must be accredited by the state or a national or regional accrediting body, and administer the ISTEP assessment program. IC §§6-3.1-30.5-7, -8, 20-51-1-5, and -6.

State-Level Nonpublic School Group

      • No state-level group currently exists.

Home Schools

Initial and Renewal Applications

      • Homeschool educators may register by submitting their grade level enrollment to the Indiana Department of Education. IC §20-33-2-21.

Curriculum and Instruction

      • Home educators must teach a minimum of 180 days per calendar year. IC §20-33-2-5.
      • Per the Indiana Department of Education’s Homeschool Help Sheet, the head of the home school will decide the days and hours of the home school. Also local public school superintendents may request the attendance records to verify attendance.
      • State law exempts home schools from the curriculum and program requirements that public schools must follow. IC §20-33-2-12(a).

Assessment and Diplomas

      • Homeschooled students may not take ISTEP+ or any other public school administered test unless they are enrolled in a public school for at least one period a day. Homeschooled children will not receive a diploma from the local public school or from the state, but can receive a legally issued, non-accredited diploma, according to the state of Indiana, issued by the instructor of the home school. Sixteen-year-old students may take the examination for the general equivalency development certificate. Per the Indiana Department of Education’s Homeschool Help Sheet.

Special Education

      • Each public agency must (1) locate, identify, and evaluate all students with disabilities as specified in 511 IAC 7-40 in any nonpublic school or facility, including any religious school or home school, within its boundaries; (2) consult with nonpublic school representatives and representatives of parents of nonpublic school students with disabilities; (3) provide information to the division of special education related to parentally-placed nonpublic school students covered under this rule; and (4) make available special education and related services to all students with disabilities. 511 IAC 7-34-1.

Public School Access

      • Home-educated students can participate, with the approval of the superintendent or the school board, in public school educational activities. Participation in elementary or junior high athletics is at the discretion of the public school. IC §20-33-2-12(B).
      • Participation in high school athletics is controlled by the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). IHSSA requires that the student (1) has been homeschooled the previous three consecutive years; (2) must be enrolled in the school that the student is representing for at least one class per day; (3) pass a physical examination; (4) participate in the required practices for the activity as affirmed by the school; (5) has completed all state-wide examinations as authorized by the Indiana Department of Education; and (6) has his/her grades submitted and be certified passing by his or her family. Per the Indiana Department of Education’s Homeschool Help Sheet.

Web Resources

Information and Legislative

Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education

      • Indiana Department of Education
        South Tower, Suite 600
        115 W. Washington St.
        Indianapolis, IN 46204-2795
        Phone: (317) 232-6610
        Fax: (317) 232-8004
        Email: webmaster@doe.in.gov
        Website: http://www.doe.in.gov/
        U.S. Department of Education, Indiana

        Updated February 15, 2017