Skip to Content

Oregon State Regulations

Updated January 25, 2017
Notes: This is a stand-alone state chapter. Oregon did not participate in the review process of this chapter.
State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • Accreditation: no accreditation requirements
  • Registration: only required for private alternative schools to receive public funds
    • A private alternative school is a private school “designed to best serve students’ educational needs and interests and assist students in achieving the academic standards of … the state.” Oregon Revised Statutes (Or. Rev. Stat.) §336.615.
    • If a private alternative school is going to receive public school funds it must comply with the Private Alternative Education Standards established by the Oregon State Board of Education. Each school must register with the Oregon Department of Education annually by March 31. Each school must have a mission statement that clearly identifies the student population to be served and articulates the unique education option provided by the program; an education plan, which outlines program goals and strategies in the following areas: student equity, academic achievement, social skills development, and successful transitions to further education and training; a requirement for all staff of reference and criminal background checks and regular evaluations; and an instructional program that is aligned with state content and performance standards. Oregon Administration Rules (Or. Admin. Rules) §581-021-0072.
  • Licensing: only required for schools with residential programs
    • Private schools offering residential programs for children must be licensed by the Department of Human Services. The standards for licensing encompass the physical health, care, and safety of the children. The superintendent of public instruction will advise on the education program conducted by the residential school. No licensing fees are charged. Or. Rev. Stat. §418.327.
  • Approval: required for public placement for special education and private alternative schools
    • Private schools must be approved for the public placement of students for special education services. Or. Admin. Rules §581-015-2270. See Special Education.
    • Private alternative schools must be annually approved of by the district school board to receive public funds. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.631.

Teacher Certification

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to teacher certification for private school teachers except private alternative schools.
  • A private alternative school as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615 must have procedures in place regarding staff hiring and evaluation that require staff licensing/registration by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission in compliance with Or. Admin. Rules §584-036-0015. Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0072 (r).
  • For registered private alternative schools, as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615, the school is not required to only employ licensed teachers and administrators and school employees are not considered to be employees of any school districts for purposes of Or. Rev. Stat. §342.173. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.635 (5).

Length of School Year and Days

  • Students attending a private or parochial school for a period equivalent to that required of children attending public schools are exempt from public school attendance. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.030(1)(a).

Curriculum

  • Students being taught the courses of study usually taught in grades one through 12 in the public schools at a private or parochial school are exempt from public school attendance. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.030(1)(a).
  • Private schools may offer courses in driver instruction using the curriculum established by the Oregon Department of Transportation under Or. Rev. Stat.§802.345. State reimbursement for costs, however, is provided for private school students only if they complete the course in a public school or other facility. Or. Rev. Stat.§§336.800 and 336.805.
  • Instruction in all subjects in private and parochial schools must be conducted primarily in English, except instruction in foreign languages and bilingual education for pupils whose native tongue is other than English. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.074.
  • Each private alternative school as defined by Or. Rev. Stat.§336.615 needs to have a procedure for granting credit for work satisfactorily completed according to its planned education program, and in accordance with the criteria stated in Or. Admin. Rules §581-022-1131, to earn diploma credits. Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0072 (5)(g) and (i).
  • Each private alternative school, as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615, must have a comprehensive plan of instruction focusing on human sexuality education, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections and disease prevention in elementary and secondary schools as an integral part of health education and other subjects as per Or. Admin. Rules §581-022-1440. Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0072 (4)(c)(C).
  • Each private alternative school, as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615, must offer accountable activities. Or. Admin. Rules §581-023-0008(2).
  • Accountable activities are defined as one or more of the following as approved by the school district by contract: tutorial instruction; small group instruction; large group instruction; personal growth and development instruction; counseling and guidance; computer assisted instruction; vocational training; cooperative and/or supervised work experience; instructional activities provided by institutions accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges; supervised community service activities performed as part of the instructional program; and supervised independent study in accordance with a student’s educational goals, including classroom or equivalent work supervised by school district officials that serve as one component of the student’s educational plan and profile and not the entire part. Examples of this include required and elective courses, supervised independent study, career-related learning experiences, and project-based learning. Or. Admin. Rules §581-023-0008(2).

Recordkeeping and Reports

  • Private elementary and secondary schools must transfer student progress records within 10 days of being notified of the student’s enrollment in another school. Or. Rev. Stat. §326.575.
  • Private alternative schools, as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615, must report annually on each student’s academic progress, including the results of the state assessment, to students, parents and the school district. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.637(2).

Health and Safety Requirements

  • Oregon recognizes immunization as a parental responsibility. Prior to admission to any school, students must provide evidence of immunization as required by the Health Division or meet the requirements for exceptions listed in Or. Rev. Stat. §433.267. Or. Rev. Stat. §§433.240 and 433.267.
  • Private schools may adopt more stringent requirements for immunizations if medical and religious exemptions are included and the requirements comply with the United States Public Health Service Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. Or. Rev. Stat. §433.284.
  • Private schools may not permit persons under 18 to possess tobacco products while present on school grounds unless lawfully prescribed. The school must have written policies prohibiting possession and written plans to implement the policies. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.883.
  • School administrators may exclude from school a child or employee suspected to be exposed to a “restrictable disease” as defined by the Health Division. Or. Rev Stat §§433.235 and 433.260.
  • Private schools must provide instruction in exiting the building in an emergency and seeking shelter in case of an earthquake. Schools must conduct at least two earthquake drills and two safety threats drills a year, as well as drills on fires. Schools in coastal zones must conduct at least three drills on earthquakes and tsunamis each year. Drills must be held at least once a month and amount to 30 minutes each. Exit doors must be maintained so they can open from the inside without a key during school hours. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.071.
  • It is illegal in Oregon to operate a methadone clinic within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary, vocational, or secondary school. Or. Rev. Stat. §430.590.
  • Unless authorized by law, it is illegal to manufacture or deliver controlled substances within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary, vocational, or secondary school attended by minors. Or. Rev. Stat. §475.904.
  • Oregon assists and regulates traffic patrols appointed by private or parochial schools to protect pupils crossing highways on their way to school. Patrol members must be 18 or older or have parental consent, display a traffic patrol badge, and may display a directional sign or signal. Or. Rev. Stat. §§339.650 and 339.660.
  • It is a felony to possess a firearm in a private school building with some exceptions. Or. Rev. Stat. §166.360 and 166.370.
  • Private or parochial schools through secondary level with a capacity greater than 250 individuals are subject to additional building code regulations for structures vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. Or. Rev. Stat. §455.447.
  • Private alternative schools as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615 must meet the emergency plans and safety program requirements of Or. Admin. Rules §581-022-1420; the asbestos management plans requirements of Or. Admin. Rules §581-022-1430; the administration of prescription and nonprescription medication to students set forth in Or. Rev. Stat. §339.870 and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0037; and the requirement of a prevention- oriented health services program for all students, according to Or. Admin. Rules §581-022-0705. Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0072 (4)(c).

Transportation

  • All children attending private or parochial schools under the compulsory school attendance laws are entitled to transportation along or near the designated routes when the district provides transportation for public school students. Or. Rev. Stat. §332.415.

Textbooks

  • In 1961, an early free textbook statute was struck down based on Article 1 Section 5 of Oregon’s Constitution. Dickman v. School District 62C, 366 P.2d 533, cert. denied, Carlson v. Dickman, 371 U.S. 823 (1962).

Testing

  • Students enrolled in private alternative schools, as defined by Or. Rev. Stat. §336.615, must take the statewide assessment developed by the Oregon Department of Education under Or. Rev. Stat. §329.485. Or. Rev. Stat. §336.637 (2).

Special Education

  • In private schools, children with disabilities must, to the maximum extent possible, be educated with children who do not have disabilities. Separate schoolings, classes, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment should only occur if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Or. Admin. Rules §581-015-2240.
  • Private schools that intend to provide special education and related services to school-age children with disabilities, who are placed by the public school district under a written agreement, must submit an application for initial approval and an annual application for renewal to the Department of Education. Or. Admin. Rules §581-015-2270.

Nursing and Health

  • Representatives of private and parochial schools serve on the committee to the Oregon Health Authority to advise on regulations to promote disease control in schools. Or. Rev. Stat. §433.245.

Technology

  • No state policy currently exists.

Professional Development

  • No state policy currently exists.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • No state policy currently exists.

Tax Exemption

  • Church-operated parochial schools are exempt from unemployment compensation taxes. Emp. Div. v. Archdiocese of Portland, 600 P.2d. 926 (1979), but see, Salem College & Academy, Inc. v. Employment Division, 695 P.2d 25 (1985).

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: Oregon’s constitution prohibits any state approval for the benefit of any religious institution. Ore. Const. Art. 1, Sec. 5.
  • Programs for financial assistance for attendance at private schools: There is no such program at this time.

State-Level Nonpublic School Working Group

  • The ESSA Private School Partnership Advisory Committee exists to provide the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) with input to better serve the needs of private schools’ staff and students through opportunities available under ESSA. The committee is made up of private school leaders and school district leaders from throughout Oregon. In addition, the advisory committee invites department staff from various programs including IDEA staff to collaborate and coordinate uniform agency support to private schools for all students.

Home Schools

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • The parent or legal guardian must notify the education service district in writing within 10 days of withdrawing a student from public school to be homeschooled. The education service district shall acknowledge receipt of any notification in writing. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.035 (2) and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026 (1)(f), (4).
  • The notification must include the child’s and parent’s names and addresses, the child’s birth date, and the name of the school the child is presently attending or last attended or, if the child has not attended school, the name of the public school district where the child resides. Annual notification is not required. Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026 (1)(f), (4).

Curriculum and Instruction

  • No state policy currently exists.

Assessment and Diplomas

  • Homeschool students are required to participate in a comprehensive examination that is approved by the Oregon State Board of Education in grades three, five, eight, and 10. The parent may choose which approved examination is used, but the exam must be administered by “a qualified neutral person” and occur no later than Aug. 15. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.035(3) and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026(5).
  • If the student withdraws from public school to be home-schooled, then the student must participate in an examination within 18 months. If the student never attended public school, then the first examination must be administered prior to the conclusion of grade three. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.035(3) and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026(5).
  • The individual administering the examination must score it and report the results to the parent or legal guardian and, when requested, the parent or legal guardian shall submit the results to the education services district. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.035(3)(c) and (d) and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026(5)(b) and (c).
  • If the student scores below the 15th percentile, the child must be given the examination again within in one year. If this occurs for three consecutive years, then the superintendent of the education services district has the authority to require that the child receive education from a certified teacher selected by and at the expense of the parent or legal guardian. If the parent or legal guardian does not consent to placing the education of the child under the supervision of a licensed teacher, then the superintendent may order the child to school for a period not to exceed 12 months. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.035(4) and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0026(7)(a), (b), and (d).

Public School Access

  • A homeschooled student may participate in the resident district’s interscholastic activities if the student achieves and submits a composite test score that is in the 23rd percentile or greater, all school district eligibility requirements except school or class attendance requirement and class requirements of the voluntary association administering interscholastic activities. A school district may adopt alternative requirements, in consultation with the parent or legal guardian of a homeschooled student, i.e. a portfolio of work samples. Or. Rev. Stat. §339.460 and Or. Admin. Rules §581-021-0333.
  • A school district may allow homeschool students to attend academic classes but is not required by law to do so. Oregon Department of Education – Homeschooling—Q & A’s.

Web Resources

Information and Legislation

Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203
Phone: (503) 947-5600
Fax: (503) 378-5156
Website: http://www.ode.state.or.us/
U.S. Department of Education, Oregon

Updated January 25, 2017