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Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions and requirements regarding private schools in California.

Private Schools and Schooling at Home

Private Schools: Alternatives; Regulations; Selecting a School

  1. What is a private school?
  2. What is the compulsory education law?
  3. What are the exemptions?
  4. How do these exemptions to compulsory attendance work?
  5. What is truancy?
  6. What constitutes a full-time day school for exemption purposes?
  7. How can I learn more about education rules and regulations?
  8. Do the public schools offer alternatives within the public school system?
  9. What is a charter school?
  10. What is a nonpublic school or certified nonpublic school?
  11. Does the California Department of Education (CDE) regulate private schools?
  12. Do any California Education Code (EC) sections apply to private schools?
  13. Does CDE license private schools?
  14. How can I get a teaching position at a private school?
  15. Must private school teachers possess a valid California teaching credential?
  16. How can I locate private schools in my area?
  17. Are there online private schools?
  18. How do private internet-based programs work?
  19. Does the CDE validate private school diplomas?
  20. Does the CDE evaluate or rate private schools?
  21. Do private schools have Academic Performance Index (API) scores?
  22. How do I determine if a private school has high student achievement?
  23. How can I learn about the quality of a private school’s program?
  24. Does the CDE accredit schools?
  25. Are public funds available for private school tuition?
  26. What if my California private school did not file the Private School Affidavit?
  1. What is a private school?

    A private school is a private business or nonprofit entity that offers or conducts full-time instruction with a full complement of subjects at the elementary, middle, or high school level. Private schools function outside the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education (CDE) and most state education regulations. Private schools do not participate in California’s educational accountability system and are directly accountable to students and their parents or guardians, based on the terms of the private school enrollment contract.

    A more detailed discussion of private schools is located in the CDE Fact Book 2009 (pages 102-103) on the CDE Fact Book Web page.

    Information on the definitions of public and private schools is on the CDE Web page Definition of a School - Content.

  1. What is the compulsory education law?

    California's compulsory education law (See EC Section 48200 on the CDE Selected California Education Codes Web page) requires each person between 6 and 18 years of age to attend public, full-time day school and requires their parents or guardians to send them unless legally exempt.

  1. What are the exemptions?

    The two principal exemptions from attending public school are set forth in EC Section 48222, under which children being instructed in a private, full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall be exempt; and in EC Section 48224, under which children being instructed in study and recitation for at least three hours a day for 175 days each calendar year in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state and in the English language by a private tutor or other person holding a valid California teaching credential for the grade level being taught shall be exempt.

  1. How do these exemptions to compulsory attendance work?

    In California, exemption from public school attendance requires enrollment in and instruction of a student by a full-time private school. A full-time private school may include a parent instructing his or her own child at home if the home school meets the criteria applied to other private schools. All private schools must file the Private School Affidavit annually as required by EC Section 33190. Credentialed tutors seeking exemption for a student must offer instruction for at least 3 hours a day for 175 days in a year.

    Students not enrolled in a public school and not exempt by California Education Code may be declared truant by the local school district.

  1. What is truancy?

    Truancy is declared by a public school district when a child misses a defined number of days of school without a valid excuse. (EC Section 48260 et seq.)

  1. What constitutes a full-time day school for exemption purposes?

    California law does not specifically define “full-time” for this purpose. It appears to mean enough hours per day and days per year to offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state to the same general degree of depth. These branches of study are outlined in EC sections 51210 and 51220. “Full-time” does not include institutions or programs which offer instruction in single subject classes such as language or driver education, nor does it include tutoring of students enrolled in regular public schools.

  1. How can I learn more about education rules and regulations?

    There are local regulations and state regulations. California is divided into county offices of education and public school districts. Your local county and local district offices have policy and procedure manuals and other local resources. For state statute, the California Education Code and Code of Regulations can be accessed through the CDE Laws and Regulations Web page.

  1. Do the public schools offer alternatives within the public school system?

    Yes. Public school districts offer independent study, charter schools, and other alternatives. Look for the questions/answers that follow about public school options or refer to the education options link below. Because all such public school options require enrollment in a public school system, these options satisfy compulsory attendance. Your local public school district can explain public school alternatives.

    For more information about public school alternatives, visit the CDE Educational Options Web page.

  1. What is a charter school?

    A charter school is a public school that may provide instruction in any of grades kindergarten through twelve. A charter school is usually created or organized by a group of teachers, parents and community leaders or a community-based organization, and it is usually sponsored by an existing local public school board or county board of education. Specific goals and operating procedures for the charter school are detailed in an agreement (or charter) between the sponsoring board and charter organizers.

    For more information on charter schools, visit the CDE Charter School Resources Web page or the CDE Fact Book 2009 (pages 100-101) on the CDE Fact Book Web page.

  1. What is a nonpublic school or certified nonpublic school?

    California's nonpublic schools (NPS) are specialized private schools that provide services to public school students with disabilities. EC Section 56034 External link opens in new window or tab. defines a nonpublic, nonsectarian school (nonreligious) as a private, nonsectarian school that enrolls individuals with exceptional needs pursuant to an individualized education program. The tuition of a student in an NPS is paid by the public LEA that places the student in the NPS based on the student’s individual needs. Unlike other private schools, each NPS is certified by the CDE. The federal government also uses the term nonpublic school but as a descriptor for any private school.

    Questions concerning the operation of certified nonpublic schools should be directed to the CDE Special Education Division at 916-327-0141.

  1. Does the CDE regulate private schools?

    No. The CDE has no statutory authority to regulate or monitor private schools or private education, except to the extent they request NPS certification.

  1. Do any California EC sections apply to private schools?

    Yes. While the vast majority of EC sections apply only to public schools, certain sections do apply to private education and private schools. Selected EC sections that pertain to private schools are listed below and on the CDE Selected California Education Codes Web page.

The U.S. Department of Education maintains a current statement of private school regulations External link opens in new window or tab. in each state.

  1. Does CDE license private schools?

    No. In California, no state agency licenses, regulates, or oversees private schools, except for non-public schools as described in #10, above. A private school is a business or nonprofit entity that is required to comply with requirements imposed by the jurisdiction, county, city, or other locality in which it is located, such as zoning, health and safety codes, fire codes, or other local ordinances.

  2. How can I get a teaching position at a private school?

    Private schools are completely independent of CDE. Anyone interested in employment in a private school should contact each private school directly about available teaching positions. A list of California private schools that have filed the Private School Affidavit and have six or more students is on the CDE Private Schools Web page. The list is arranged alphabetically by county and then by school name and includes the contact information for each school listed along with other information that may be useful.

    The Teach California External link opens in new window or tab. Web site has valuable information for anyone interested in teaching at any level in California.

  3. Must private school teachers possess a valid California teaching credential?

    No. EC Section 48222 specifies only that private school teachers be “…persons capable of teaching”. However, many private school teachers do possess current California teaching credentials. An NPS (defined in #10, above) that accepts public school students with individualized education programs must have appropriately qualified and credentialed staff.

  4. How can I locate private schools in my area?

    CDE has two directories for private schools in California. The online Private School Directory can be used to search for private schools and contains more detailed information about each school. This list, which includes private schools having six or more students that registered with CDE by filing a Private School Affidavit, is located on the CDE Private Schools Web page. The lists on this Web page have been posted annually in the spring since 1999. Each list is an Excel spreadsheet that can be sorted and downloaded.

    A second directory, the California School Directory on the CDE Web site, also includes private schools. This Directory can be faster and easier to use for some types of searches which require general contact information for a private school.

    Note: A listing in either Directory is not evidence that the entity is a private school. A listing is evidence only that a Private School Affidavit has been filed. Filing the Affidavit does not imply any evaluation by the CDE nor does it indicate any approval by CDE or other government agency.

  5. Are there online private schools?

    Yes. Such virtual campuses can be found through an Internet search. The quality of such schools varies widely.

  6. How do private internet-based programs work?

    Private, fee-based programs offered on the Internet can be found through an Internet search. Programs are located in California and in many other parts of the country. These programs operate with little oversight. Students enroll online. Some programs offer face-to-face meetings with teachers; others are purely virtual and operate almost completely online. Transferability of course credits between private online schools and California public schools and colleges varies widely. Some programs qualify for accreditation by the regional accrediting agency. The regional accrediting agency for California is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  7. Does the CDE validate private school diplomas?

    No. The CDE does not have any authority to monitor or regulate private schools and consequently has no role in determining the validity or acceptability of private school diplomas. Colleges, employers, and military branches have complete discretion as to whether private school credits or diplomas are acceptable. Private high schools that are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges grant diplomas that generally are universally accepted.

  8. Does the CDE evaluate or rate private schools?

    No. CDE does not have any authority to monitor or evaluate private schools and has no ranking or rating system for private schools.

  9. Do private schools have Academic Performance Index (API) scores?

    No. The API, by law, applies only to public schools.

  10. How do I determine if a private school has high student achievement?

    The CDE does not collect any information on private school student performance nor does it evaluate private school instructional programs. To determine the relative competitiveness of a private school, ask the school’s main office how the school measures student achievement and request copies of any reports of this information.

  11. How can I learn about the quality of a private school’s program?

    When considering a private school, ask the school’s administrator to explain how student achievement is measured and how teachers use assessment information. Private high schools will also have information about college acceptance. For more detailed program quality information, ask to see the school’s profile of standardized test results by grade

  12. Does the CDE accredit schools?

    No. The CDE does not accredit either public or private schools. Accrediting is done by a variety of accrediting organizations.

    The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is an example of an established organization that accredits private schools. WASC accreditation generally ensures that the credits and diploma awarded by the schools it accredits will be accepted by colleges and prospective employers. You can review the WASC External link opens in new window or tab. list of accredited schools on their Web site or by calling 650-696-1060.

  13. Are public funds available for private school tuition?

    No. There are no state programs in California that offer public funding for private school tuition, except where a student with a disability is placed in a non-public school by a public school district.

  14. What if my California private school did not file the Private School Affidavit?

If a private school does not file an Affidavit, the CDE will have no record of this school, and the students attending the private school will not be exempt from compulsory public school attendance.

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Private Schools and the Private School Affidavit

  1. What is the Private School Affidavit?
  2. Which schools should file a Private School Affidavit?
  3. When should a school file the Affidavit?
  4. Should a provider of tutoring services or an after-school program file the Private School Affidavit?
  5. How does one file the Private School Affidavit?
  6. What does filing the Affidavit mean?
  7. Is there a paper version of the Private School Affidavit?
  8. For what purposes is the information from the Affidavit used?
  9. Is a copy of the Affidavit or statement filed for a particular school available?
  10. Are all private schools that file the Private School Affidavit assigned a County-District-School (CDS) Code?
  11. May one make changes to or update the information in an Affidavit?
  12. When a private school closes, must the closure be reported to CDE?
  13. What can be done to assure that a private school is included in the CDE private school directories?
  1. What is the Private School Affidavit?

    The Private School Affidavit, also referred to as the R-4 Form, is a registration document. By filing the Affidavit, operators of a private school report under penalty of perjury the school
    information required by EC Section 33190. The Affidavit is required to be filed annually by all California private schools. During the annual filing period, the Affidavit on the CDE Filing the Affidavit Private School Web page can be viewed and submitted online. Filers should note that separate links are available for schools with five or fewer students and schools with six or more students. A process for filing a paper form by mail is also available.

  1. Which schools should file a Private School Affidavit?

    EC Section 33190 requires every person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation offering or conducting private school instruction to file an Affidavit or statement, under penalty of perjury, containing the information specified in subsections (a)-(g) of the code section above. Further, EC Section 48222 clarifies that the Affidavit should be filed by full time schools which “…shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state”. The branches of study required by the state are outlined in EC sections 51210 and 51220.

  2. When should a school file the Affidavit?

    EC Section 33190 requires all private schools to file an Affidavit or statement each year between October 1 and October 15. Those trying to file outside of the statutory filing period should visit the Affidavit filing page on the CDE Web site for additional information.

  3. Should a provider of tutoring services or an after-school program file the Private School Affidavit?

    No. Only schools that “…offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state…” (EC Section 48222) for students ages 6 to 18 should file the Affidavit. A full-time program is one that would exempt the student from attending another public or private school.

  4. How does one file the Private School Affidavit?

    The Private School Affidavit on the CDE Web site can be filed online or by mail. From the Web page linked above, follow the links to the form of the Affidavit that is appropriate for your situation. The Submit Form button at the end of the online form must be selected to complete the online filing process. If filled out fully and submitted, your online Affidavit’s information enters the CDE database of private schools immediately. If the filer provides a school e-mail address, CDE immediately sends an automated confirmation e-mail and confirmation number. If a paper form of the Affidavit is submitted, no confirmation is sent and entry of the information into the data base may be delayed. It is the responsibility of the filer to keep a copy of the Affidavit and/or a copy of the confirmation number for the year's filing.

    NOTE: The online Affidavit is unavailable for filing from the close of the filing period until the following October 1. The link to the Affidavit is not available for filing during this period.

  5. What does filing the Affidavit mean?

    The Affidavit is a registration document only. If the filing entity meets the criteria outlined in #2 in this section above, files properly, and receives a confirmation number, the filing school’s name and other information will appear in a database maintained by CDE and accessible generally to the public. This database is used by public school districts to help determine whether absent students in their attendance areas are truant. Filing the Affidavit does not explicitly nor implicitly constitute approval, endorsement, validation, or certification by the CDE of the school or entity named in the Affidavit. The information filed in the Affidavit is not verified and the CDE takes no position as to its accuracy. It is expected that districts engaged in private school consultation verify nonprofit status and the accuracy of student enrollment data if it is being used for the purpose of providing equitable services. If a discrepancy is found, the district should notify the CDE by sending an e-mail to privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

  6. Is there a paper version of the Private School Affidavit?

    Yes. While the online Affidavit filing process ensures that all required information is on file immediately at CDE and a confirmation is sent by e-mail, California law does allow that a paper Affidavit or a statement may be filed annually with CDE. Any such statement must contain the required information listed in EC Section 33190 subsections (a)-(g). Further, to serve as an Affidavit, the statement must include a certification that is equivalent to the following:

    To the best of my knowledge and belief, the information contained in this statement is true and accurate, and this school is in compliance with EC Section 44237 to the extent it applies.

    Last, the owner or other head of the private school must sign the statement under the above certification. Unsigned mailed statements or letters missing required information do not constitute proper filing.

    The paper Affidavit may be requested by phone at 916-319-0839 or by E-mail at privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

  7. For what purposes is the information from the Affidavit used?

    The first purpose is to comply with the information requirements in EC Section 33190. A central requirement is that school information is reported in the online Private School Directory. Private schools appearing in this Directory have established an exemption from compulsory public school attendance, as outlined in EC Section 48222, for each student enrolled in that private school.

    A second purpose is to provide for each California school district a list of nonprofit California private schools that are eligible for certain programs and services through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Title IX, Part E, Subpart 1 External link opens in new window or tab., question/answer E-1 and E-2). This eligibility for California private schools requires filing the Affidavit each fall. Specific information from the Affidavit is reported to the public school district in which the private school is located which prompts consultation between the district and the eligible private school. The information filed in the Affidavit is not verified and the CDE takes no position as to its accuracy. It is expected that districts engaged in private school consultation verify nonprofit status and the accuracy of student enrollment data if it is being used for the purpose of providing equitable services. If a discrepancy is found, the district should notify the CDE by sending an e-mail to privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

    The third purpose is to compile selected school information as statistical reports used by State and federal agencies. These documents are available on the CDE Private Schools Web page.

  8. Is a copy of the Affidavit or statement filed for a particular school available?

    Yes. All Affidavits are public records. All schools filing the Affidavit should retain a copy of their Private School Affidavit for their own records.

    Request a copy of an Affidavit by mail at:

    Title II Leadership Office - Private Schools
    California Department of Education
    1430 N Street, Suite 4309
    Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

    Request by means of fax to: 916-319-0136; or by e-mail at privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

    Please include the name and address of the school. Also include the requestor's name and telephone number, and the physical or e-mail address to which you want the copy sent. Most Affidavits filed after 2005-06 school year can be e-mailed.

  9. Are all private schools that file the Private School Affidavit assigned a County-District-School (CDS) Code?

    No. The CDS Code is an administrative tool for identifying and linking public and private schools. Private schools that offer instruction in kindergarten through grade twelve and file with six or more students are assigned a CDS Code. However, neither the filing of the Affidavit nor the assignment of a CDS number is evidence of any approval or review of the private school.

    Private schools with five or fewer students do not receive a CDS code unless they are also certified nonpublic, nonsectarian schools for purposes of providing special education services.

  10. May one make changes to or update the information in an Affidavit?

    Yes. Private schools that filed a Private School Affidavit for the current year may submit changes to their filing. To request a change, send an e-mail to privateschools@cde.ca.gov. Please include the affidavit confirmation number, the school name and address, along with the name and telephone number of the requestor. Those without Internet access may contact our office using the phone number indicated at the bottom of this page.

  11. When a private school closes, must the closure be reported to CDE?

    No. A private school is only required to file an Affidavit each year it is operating. However, it is helpful to the CDE to receive a notice regarding the closure so the school can be removed from the mailing list.

    Please direct a closure notice stating the name and address of the school by mail to:

    Title II Leadership Office - Private Schools
    California Department of Education
    1430 N Street, Suite 4309
    Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

    By fax to: 916-319-0136; or by e-mail at privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

  12. What can be done to assure that a private school is included in the CDE private school directories?

    The CDE collects the Private School Affidavit annually beginning each October 1 and publishes online directories each year. Private schools with an enrollment of six or more students are included in the lists only if they have filed the Affidavit for that year by the deadline set by the CDE. The lists are posted once each year after March1, with periodic updates.

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Private School Records; Starting a Private School; and Complaints

  1. Does the CDE have copies of private school records such as transcripts or diplomas?
  2. What information does the CDE have that can help me locate student records?
  3. Is there any agency that might have my private school records?
  4. I attended a private college or vocational school. Are there agencies that I can contact to get my records?
  5. If a private school is just starting, is there a particular agency which the new school should contact before it begins operation?
  6. Should a new private school file the Affidavit before enrolling students?
  7. Do private schools follow a curriculum required by the state?
  8. Must private school employees be fingerprinted and submit to a Department of Justice background check?
  9. What do statutes say about the transfer of student records between public and private schools?
  10. Can I earn a valid high school diploma by taking a test or a few hours of classes for a fee?
  11. I am transferring my child from a private school to a public school. The public school will not give my child full credit for all his or her courses. Can the public school refuse credits issued by private schools?
  12. Can the CDE help resolve a complaint regarding my child’s private school?
  13. Who should I contact about possible criminal behavior at a private school?
  14. Who should I contact about possible health and/or safety issues at a private school?
  15. Who should I contact about possible discrimination at a private school?
  16. Who should I contact about a billing or business practice complaint with a private school?
  1. Does the CDE have copies of private school records such as transcripts or diplomas?

    No. The CDE does not collect or store any private school student records, transcripts, or diplomas.

  2. What information does the CDE have that can help me locate student records?

    Because private schools are required to file the Private School Affidavit on which certain contact information is listed, such as the Custodian of Records, the CDE may be able to tell you the name, address, and telephone numbers for helpful contacts last filed by the private school.

    To locate the Affidavit, the CDE will need the following information:

It is important to remember that the Affidavit will only have the contact information for the year that the Affidavit was filed. If the school cannot be contacted, due to closure or other instance, the records may be unobtainable.

  1. Is there any agency that might have my private school records?

    Perhaps. The CDE receives calls each year from former private school students searching for copies of their private school records at the request of an employer or educational program. Often the CDE has little or no information to assist in the search. The CDE has no information prior to 1975. The CDE recommends attempting to contact the private school and any officials connected to the school, if possible.

    If your private school was part of a religious or secular organization’s school system, such as Catholic or Jewish schools, student records from the private school may be available through the organization's headquarters or regional office.

    You can contact the county or public school district in which your private school was located at the time of operation to inquire if the private school turned over its records to the county or public school district. However, it is not required that a private school ask the county or public school district to accept its records, nor is it required that the county or public district accept them.

    Parents who are concerned about the continuing availability of private school records should ask the private school their child attends what plan the school has for storing records in the event the school closes.

  2. I attended a private college or vocational school. Are there agencies that I can contact to get my records?

    Yes. Contact the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education for assistance in locating records from a private college or vocational training program.

    The Department of Consumer Affairs External link opens in new window or tab. maintains a Web site for private, post-secondary institutions.

  3. If a private school is just starting, is there a particular agency which the new school should contact before it begins operation?

    California private schools operate independent of most agencies and statutes. No single state agency has jurisdiction when a private school first opens. Before a new private school begins operation, local business ordinances (if appropriate) and building use requirements should be thoroughly investigated. Child care facilities which will enroll students younger than four years and nine months must be licensed through the Community Care Licensing Division External link opens in new window or tab. of the California Department of Social Services External link opens in new window or tab..

  4. Should a new private school file the Affidavit before enrolling students?

    No. The Affidavit is not to be filed in anticipation of having students enrolled in the future. The Affidavit should reflect the actual enrollment of at least one student at the time of filing.

  5. Do private schools follow a curriculum required by the state?

    No. Private schools select and provide all curriculum, instruction, and instructional materials to students. However, to meet the statutory criteria as a private full-time school, the private school must, as stated in EC Section 48222, offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state to the same general degree of depth. While the State does not provide any educational curriculum, instructional or other materials, or standardized tests or assessments, to children who are educated privately, there are curricular guidelines in the form of content standards for each grade level accessible on the CDE Web site.

  6. Must private school employees be fingerprinted and submit to a Department of Justice background check?

    Yes. EC Section 44237 specifies that each applicant for a private school position submit fingerprints to the Department of Justice so that the school can obtain a confidential criminal records summary.

  7. What do statutes say about the transfer of student records between public and private schools?

    California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 5, Section 438 External link opens in new window or tab. governs records transfers between schools but not expressly between private schools. A private school cannot refuse to transfer student records to a requesting public school because of any tuition or fees that are owed by the student or parent (CCR, Title 5, Section 438[c] External link opens in new window or tab..

    When a student moves from a private school to a public school or from a public school to a private school, the law requires that the student’s mandatory permanent record, or a copy, be transferred by the former school when requested by the receiving school (See EC Section 49068).

    However, under EC Section 48904(b), a private school may keep certain records from the parents if monies are owed provided that the governing body of the school has established rules governing procedures for withholding those records.

  8. Can I earn a valid high school diploma by taking a test or a few hours of classes for a fee?

    In California, the California High School Proficiency Exam External link opens in new window or tab. or the General Education Development (GED) External link opens in new window or tab. test will, if passed, earn an equivalent diploma. Most colleges, licensing or certificate programs, employers, and military branches require diplomas earned through full-time study of the subject areas taught at traditional California public high schools. CDE does not evaluate any private school diploma. The validity of any diploma is determined by the receiving entity.

    The U.S. Department of Education maintains a Diploma Mills and Accreditation External link opens in new window or tab. Web page which addresses the subject of diplomas.

  9. I am transferring my child from a private school to a public school. The public school will not give my child full credit for all his or her courses. Can the public school refuse credits issued by private schools?

    Yes. The law does not require public schools to accept credits from private schools. Public school districts have the responsibility to evaluate the appropriate placement for a student.

  10. Can the CDE help resolve a complaint regarding my child’s private school?

    Only in certain cases. The CDE has no authority to monitor or regulate private schools. A private school is a private business or nonprofit entity and most issues are controlled by the private school unless regulated by law (such as health or safety laws) or regulated by private contract. The school may have written policies or procedures that you can request before enrolling your child. If you have a contract or written agreement with the private school, check to see if school policies or procedures address the nature of your complaint.

    In general, complaints about a private school’s policies or practices would be addressed to and handled by that school’s administration, governing board, owner, or affiliated church.

    Many private schools are affiliated with organizations or associations that may be able to provide assistance in resolving a complaint that you have been unable to resolve at the school level. The California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO) is an example of such an association to which many private school organizations belong. CAPSO's External link opens in new window or tab. member organizations are listed on their Web site.

    The CDE's Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) hears complaints involving perceived discrimination. The OEO is charged with ensuring compliance with state and federal civil rights laws. The office can be reached by phone at 916-445-9174.

    A second office at CDE, the Categorical Programs Complaints Management Office, hears complaints from private schools, rather than from private school parents, concerning mandates outlined in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. For details, visit their Web page Uniform Complaint Procedure, and/or contact the Private Schools Office, which can be reached by phone at 916-445-7331 or by e-mail at privateschools@cde.ca.gov.

    Many private schools are affiliated with organizations or associations that may be able to provide assistance in resolving a complaint that you have been unable to resolve at the school level. The California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO) is an example of such an association to which many private school organizations belong. CAPSO's External link opens in new window or tab. member organizations are listed on their Web site.

  11. Who should I contact about possible criminal behavior at a private school?

    Complaints about alleged criminal acts should be directed to local law enforcement authorities or county child protective services.

  12. Who should I contact about possible health and/or safety issues at a private school?

    Health and safety issues should be directed to local health or fire departments or to child protective services.

  13. Who should I contact about possible discrimination at a private school?

    As stated in #12 above, discrimination complaints can be directed to the Categorical Programs Complaints Management office at CDE that handles Uniform Complaint Procedures which concern discrimination, harassment, or a violation of a federal or state law or regulation. Cases of discrimination might also be presented to the OEO.

  14. Who should I contact about a billing or business practice complaint with a private school?

    Billing or business practice complaints should be directed to your local Better Business Bureau or to the California Department of Consumer Affairs External link opens in new window or tab. Web site or by calling 1-800-952-5210.

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Schooling at Home

  1. Is schooling at home recognized in California as exempting a student from public school attendance?
  2. What public school options are available to kindergarten through grade twelve students in California for schooling at home?
  3. May a parent who is schooling his/her own child at home file a Private School Affidavit?
  4. Can a child being taught by a parent at home be exempt from the compulsory education laws?
  5. Since the Affidavit is not available until after school begins, how can parents schooling at home prevent absence notifications from the local public schools?
  6. Am I required to report to the school district in which I live once I have filed the Affidavit, or do I have to send the district a copy of my Affidavit?
  7. Am I required to maintain any records while I school my child at home?
  8. Am I required to show the records to the local school district's attendance supervisor?
  9. Are there state or local curriculum guidelines or materials a student home schooling under the Affidavit is required to follow?
  10. Is there a course of study I must follow?
  11. Where do I locate curriculum, tests, or materials?
  12. Is there networking support for families schooling at home?
  13. Does filing the Affidavit to school my child affect my child's right to public school education?
  14. I have been teaching my child at home and now want to enroll my child in public school. May a public school refuse to recognize the credits I have conferred on my child?
  15. Can graduation requirements be established for my high school child who has been schooled at home?
  1. Is schooling at home recognized in California as exempting a student from public school attendance?

    California statutes do not explicitly authorize home schooling. Whether a home schooled child is attending a private school, and therefore is exempt from public school attendance, is a decision made by local school districts and law enforcement authorities.

  1. What public school options are available to kindergarten through grade twelve students in California for schooling at home?

Many public schools offer independent study or home-based study as an option. California has a growing number of charter schools which offer different types of schooling in non-traditional settings. To learn what options your local schools offer, start by asking the public school district in which you live what programs allow schooling at home. You might also contact other school districts near yours or your county office of education. If your district or county does not offer a program that a neighboring district or county offers, you may be able to obtain an inter-district transfer that allows your child to be registered in another district’s program. A more detailed discussion of the various educational options available is located in the CDE Fact Book 2009 (pages 94-99) on the CDE Fact Book Web page.

For assistance with determining the best public school option, use the Internet to read about independent study and about charter schools. You can also call the Educational Options Office at 916-322-5012 or listen to pre-recorded schooling at home information at 916-319-0878.

  1. May a parent who is schooling his/her own child at home file a Private School Affidavit?

    Yes. A parent offering or providing private school instruction and who meets the requirements of EC Section 33190 may file an Affidavit in the manner described. However, filing such an Affidavit with the CDE does not constitute any opinion by the CDE as to whether a student enrolled in that school is exempt from public school attendance.

  2. Can a child being taught by a parent at home be exempt from the compulsory education laws?

    Yes. If the Private School Affidavit is properly filed, and the school meets the criteria for a full-time private school, a local school district can allow an exemption. EC Section 48200 requires all children between ages 6 and 18 to attend public, full-time day school, and requires the parent or guardian to send the child unless the child is exempt. Public school officials have an obligation to ascertain whether a child not in public school is truant or being privately educated in accordance with an exemption from the compulsory education law. EC Section 48222 says that children may be exempt from compulsory public education if they are attending a private full-time day school. EC Section 33190 requires such schools to file the Private School Affidavit annually with CDE. For families schooling at home, filing the Affidavit is a required first step toward an exemption from compulsory school attendance.

    The exemption has two parts: first, parents or guardians schooling their student(s) at home must file the Private School Affidavit, thereby registering the intent to educate their student(s) privately. Second, the public school district listed in the Affidavit makes a determination of whether a home-schooled child has met statutory requirements and therefore is exempt from public school attendance.

  3. Since the Affidavit is not available until after school begins, how can parents schooling at home prevent absence notifications from the local public schools?

    The annually required Affidavit becomes available October 1. Since most public schools open prior to that date, parents/guardians of students not in attendance may be notified of absence. First time Affidavit filers whose children have been attending public schools might consider contacting the school district attendance officer to inform the district of an intent to school at home under EC sections 33190 and 48222.

    Parents continuing to school at home who filed an Affidavit in the prior year have an exemption from compulsory public school attendance in place until September 30. Should absence notification be received in the new school year, showing a copy of the prior year’s Affidavit to the appropriate school official should re-establish the attendance exemption.

    Parents intending to school at home whose students have been identified as eligible for special education services under an individualized education program (IEP) or identified as truant should communicate directly with the school district to satisfy all requirements before pursuing schooling at home.

  4. Am I required to report to the school district in which I live once I have filed the Affidavit, or do I have to send the district a copy of my Affidavit?

    No. You are not required to report to your school district. However, keeping in mind that the school district has responsibility for checking on school-age children not attending school, you might avoid confusion by informing the district that you intend to home school or privately educate your children.

  5. Am I required to maintain any records while I school my child at home?

    Yes. EC Section 33190 requires a copy of the Affidavit be kept at the school. Requirements of what must be included in the Affidavit are also outlined in EC Section 33190.

    EC Section 48222 states:

    "The attendance of the pupils shall be kept by private school authorities in a register, and the record of attendance shall indicate clearly every absence of the pupil from school for a half day or more during each day that school is maintained during the year."
  6. Am I required to show the records to the local school district's attendance supervisor?

    Yes. EC Section 48222 states:

    "Exemptions under this section shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of EC Section 33190."

  7. Are there state or local curriculum guidelines or materials a student home schooling under the Affidavit is required to follow?

    There are no written state or local school district curriculum requirements or guidelines because California’s grade level standards and adopted materials do not apply to students schooled at home under the Affidavit.

  8. Is there a course of study I must follow?

    Because the Affidavit can be filed only by full-time private schools in order to get the exemption under EC Section 48222, a student being schooled at home in California should receive instruction in the various branches of study required in the public schools of the state. The State Board of Education-approved content standards and curriculum frameworks for core subjects that comprise these branches of study are both available on the CDE Standards and Frameworks Web page. These standards and frameworks are the foundation for what is taught in public schools and can serve as guides for curriculum in schools outside the public system.

  9. Where do I locate curriculum, tests, or materials?

    Parents who are privately educating or schooling their children at home must select and provide all curriculum, instruction, and materials.

  10. Is there networking support for families schooling at home?

    The State of California does not provide networking support for schooling at home. However, there are private associations of home schooling that may be located on the Internet.
  11. Does filing the Affidavit to school my child affect my child's right to public school education?

    No. You may enroll your child in public school at any time.

  12. I have been teaching my child at home and now want to enroll my child in public school. May a public school refuse to recognize the credits I have conferred on my child?

    Yes. Public school districts establish their own policies regarding the placement of new enrollees. Students from other schools, states and even countries must be placed in public schools in a fashion that is consistent with school district policy and practice.

  13. Can graduation requirements be established for my high school child who has been schooled at home?

    Parents schooling at home and exploring a student’s next steps after high school might check with specific colleges, technical schools and prospective employers (e.g., branches of the U.S. military) to learn about student admission or eligibility. Because there is no law or regulation that establishes graduation or diploma requirements for California private schools, any such requirements set for an individual home school may not be generally recognized. Understanding how post-secondary institutions and prospective employers recognize course work completed in alternative education settings is important for parents/guardians considering home school for their high school student.

    Inquiring about post-secondary program and job eligibility requirements is also recommended for high school students schooled at home and using commercial curricular programs or enrolled in out-of-state, online courses of study.

    Alternative diploma equivalencies for students not attending public school include the General Education Development (GED) Test and the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE). For information about the GED External link opens in new window or tab. and CHSPE External link opens in new window or tab., please visit the respective Web sites.

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Questions:   Private Schools | privateschools@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-7331
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