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Texas State Regulations

Updated January 25, 2017 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • Accreditation: optional
    • The accreditation of nonpublic schools through the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission (TEPSAC) became effective on February 12, 1986. The Texas Education Agency ceased directly accrediting nonpublic schools after May 31, 1989. Through a letter of understanding, the commissioner of education recognizes the accreditation of nonpublic schools accredited by associations that are members of TEPSAC.
    • Teacher service in accredited private schools may be claimed for salary increment purposes in public schools. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §153.1021(h)(8) states: “(A) For experience prior to the 1986-1987 school year, accreditation by the Texas Education Agency or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is required; (B) For experience in the 1986-1987, 1987-1988, and 1988-1989 school years, service shall be acceptable if the school was accredited by the Texas Education Agency, or a recognized regional accrediting agency; (C) For experience in the 1989-1990 school year and thereafter, service shall be acceptable if the school was accredited by the TEPSAC; (D) During the 1986-1987, 1987-1988, and 1988-1989 school years, private schools accredited by the Texas Education Agency, a recognized regional accrediting agency, or an association recognized by the commissioner of education will be listed in the Texas School Directory; (E) Beginning with the 1989-1990 school year and thereafter, private schools accredited by the TEPSAC will be listed in the Texas School Directory; and (F) Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year and thereafter, private schools accredited by the TEPSAC will be listed on the Texas Education Agency website.” Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, § 153.1021(h)(8).
  • Registration: no requirements
  • Licensing: no requirements
  • Approval: no requirements

Teacher Certification

  • Teacher certification is not required for private schools.
  • All teachers in accredited private schools must be “highly qualified,” but each accrediting agency is allowed to define what that means as part of its approval process. The accrediting agency may choose to use the Texas state teacher certification or may develop its own standards, as long as they are higher than those for the Texas state teacher certification. The accrediting agency also has the option of recognizing out-of-state credentials. TEPSAC Policy Book.

Length of School Year and Days

  • Accredited private schools must meet or exceed the minimum seat time required of public schools. TEPSAC Policy Book.

Curriculum

  • Students attending a private or parochial school are exempt from compulsory attendance at a public school if the school includes in its course a study of good citizenship. Texas Education Code Ann. §25.086(a)(1).
  • A transfer student from a Texas nonpublic school must complete all state requirements found in Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §74.11(d)(1) for graduation. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §74.11(f).
  • The district may use a variety of methods to verify the content of courses for which a transfer student from a Texas nonpublic school has earned credit. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §74.26(a)(2).
  • Parochial and private schools are expected to observe Texas Week the week of March 2. Texas Civil Statute Article 6144a.

Recordkeeping and Reports

  • Private school administrators or their designees have an obligation to report suspected criminal conduct occurring on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities to the local police or sheriff. Texas Education Code §37.015.
  • Law enforcement agencies must notify the school principal of an arrest or conviction of delinquent conduct of an individual enrolled in a private school. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure §15.27(e).
  • A school district must ensure that records or transcripts of a transfer student from a Texas nonpublic school are evaluated and that the student is placed in appropriate classes promptly. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §74.26 (a)(2).
  • An institution of higher education is not permitted to require an applicant who presents evidence of successful completion of a nontraditional secondary education (which includes a nonaccredited private school) to obtain a general education development certificate, certificate of high school equivalency, or other credentials equivalent to a public high school degree; or to take an assessment not generally required of applicants. Texas Education Code §51.9241.

Health and Safety Requirements

  • Children may not be admitted to any elementary or secondary school unless they (1) have been immunized as required by the Texas Department of State Health Care Services; or (2) present an affidavit or certificate signed by a physician stating the immunization would pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of the student or his family; or (3) present an affidavit declining the immunization for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. Private schools may choose to accept or reject these affidavits. A person who has not received the required immunizations for reasons of conscience, including a person’s religious beliefs, may be excluded from school in times of emergency or epidemic. Texas Administrative Code, Title 25 §§97.61 through 97.72.
  • The principal or other chief administrator of a private school must report the names of children suspected of having a reportable condition, i.e. diseases listed by the Department of State Health Services and the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, to the local health authority, or the Department of Health regional director. Texas Health and Safety Code §§81.003(10); 81.041(c) and 81.042(c).
  • Municipalities with populations greater than 850,000 must provide school crossing guards to assist children going to or leaving a parochial or private elementary or secondary school. Texas Local Government Code §343.014.
  • Private schools may obtain all criminal history record information that relates to employees and applicants for employment or volunteers. The school may obtain this information from any law enforcement or criminal justice agency. Texas Education Code §§22.083(b) and 22.0835.
  • Private schools are entitled to obtain criminal history records through the Texas Department of Public Safety for employees, applicants, or volunteers, including those who drive or will serve as a monitor or aide on a bus in which students are transported. Texas Government Code §411.097(b).
  • Private schools may participate in a missing child prevention and identification program in accordance with state provisions. Under the program, schools distribute program information to the parents and request written consent to take the child’s fingerprints or photograph. Schools may charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs not to exceed $3. Texas Education Code §§33.052 through 33.054.
  • Private primary schools are required to request records when enrolling a child under 11 years of age to verify the child’s name, birth date, and previous school records. If documentation is not provided, the school must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency to determine if the child has been reported missing. Law enforcement agencies must immediately notify each school, including private primary schools, when a report of a missing child is received. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure §§63.019 through 63.022.
  • It is a criminal offense to possess or consume alcoholic beverages on a public street, alley, or sidewalk within 1,000 feet of a facility that the person knows is a private school offering k–12 instruction. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §101.75.
  • Acts of hazing that occur on or off the campus of an educational institution, including a private high school, must be reported to the appropriate official of the institution. Texas Education Code §§37.151 and 37.152.

Transportation

  • Street railways or motor buses operating in cities of not less than 20,000 inhabitants are required to sell tickets to children attending private schools for one-half of the adult fare when school is in session. Texas Transportation Code Annotated, Title 5, §131.103.

Textbooks

  • The Texas State Board of Education may enter into an agreement with a private nonprofit school to provide special textbooks and instructional aids for the instruction of blind or visually impaired students, if state funds, other than for administrative costs, are not involved. Texas Education Code §31.028(c).

Testing

  • A private school may administer a state assessment instrument required for all public schools. The private school must reimburse the Texas Education Agency for the cost of administering the assessment, not to exceed the cost for administering the same assessment to a student enrolled in a public school. Texas Education Code §39.033.
  • A private school administering a state assessment instrument must
    • provide to the commissioner performance results on specified academic excellence indicators adopted by the Texas State Board of Education. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §101.1(c); and notify the student and his or her parents or guardian of test results. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §101.5(b).

Special Education

  • Local school districts may contract with approved private facilities for residential or day special education services. Facilities are considered for approval based on a programmatic evaluation of personnel qualifications, adequacy of physical plant and equipment, and curriculum content. Facilities may be approved in whole or in part. Texas Education Code §29.008.
  • When a private school student with disabilities is referred to the local district, the district is not responsible for providing services unless the parent(s) choose to enroll the child in the public school full-time or request proportional share services. All state requirements concerning referral, assessment, and determination of eligibility are applicable to students placed in private schools by their parents once the students are referred. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 2, §89.1096.

Nursing and Health

  • Private school students must be screened to detect vision and hearing disorders and any other special senses or communication disorders specified by the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The Texas Department of State Health Services may coordinate screening activities of private schools with school districts, state agencies, and volunteer organizations so that efforts are complementary and not fragmented or duplicative, and provide screening personnel, equipment, and services if the requirements cannot be otherwise met. Texas Health and Safety Code §36.004.
  • Screening to detect abnormal spinal curvature is mandatory for private school children in grades six and nine. The Texas Department of State Health Services may coordinate screening activities and provide technical assistance and educational materials to assist private schools. Texas Health & Safety Code §37.001.

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

  • Food products served by private schools, student organizations, and parent-teacher organizations are exempt from sales tax when served during the regular school day or during a fund-raiser when the proceeds do not benefit an individual. Texas Tax Code 151.314(d)(1).

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • The Texas Constitution prohibits the state legislature from granting any part of the permanent or available school fund to any sectarian school. Texas Constitution Art. VII, sec. 5(c).
    • No money from the Texas State Treasury Department or property belonging to the state may be appropriated for the benefit of any sect or religious society. Texas Constitution Art. 1, sec. 7. The Attorney General has ruled that this provision does not prevent a school district from providing band lessons to private school students at a public school. Op. Atty. Gen. 1972, No. M-1074.
  • Programs for financial assistance for attendance at private schools: There are no such programs at this time.

State-Level Nonpublic School Group

  • No state-level group currently exists.

Home Schools

  • Texas has no laws or regulations related to homeschooling. The state of Texas does not regulate, monitor, approve, register, or accredit programs available to parents who choose to homeschool their children. In addition, the state of Texas does not award a diploma to students who are homeschooled. However, in accordance with Texas Education Code §51.9241, the state of Texas considers the successful completion of a homeschool education to be equivalent to graduation from a public or private high school.

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • No state policy currently exists.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • Under the Texas Supreme Court decision rendered in Leeper et al. vs. Arlington Independent School District et al. a homeschool curriculum must be designed to meet a minimum of basic education goals including reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship.
  • A home school will be considered a private school for the provision of services for children with disabilities if it provides elementary or secondary education that includes a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals, with a scope and sequential progress of courses and a review and documentation of student progress in place. Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §89.1096

Assessment and Diplomas

  • An institution of higher education is not permitted to require an applicant who presents evidence of successful completion of a nontraditional secondary education (which includes homeschooling) to obtain a general education development certificate, certificate of high school equivalency, or other credentials equivalent to a public high school degree; or to take an assessment not generally required of applicants. Texas Education Code §51.9241.

Public School Access

  • No state policy currently exists.

Web Resources

Information and Legislation

Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701-1494
Phone: (512) 463-9734
Fax: (512) 463-9838
Email: teainfo@tea.state.tx.us Website: http://tea.texas.gov/
U.S. Department of Education, Texas

Updated January 25, 2017