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Private School Enrollment - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

Children who are instructed in private, full-time day schools are exempt from public school attendance (California Education Code [EC] Section 48222). Private schools must offer instruction in the several areas of study required in the state’s public schools.

Private schools in California are private businesses or private nonprofit organizations. The California Department of Education (CDE) is not empowered to license, evaluate, recognize, approve, or endorse any private elementary or secondary school or course. The CDE does not accredit public or private schools. Some schools, however, have elected to be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). For information regarding whether a specific private school has been accredited by WASC, contact WASC at 650-696-1060. Additional information is available on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools Web site External link opens in new window or tab. . Private schools are subject to local city and county ordinances (e.g., health, safety, zoning, business license, and so forth) that may apply to the operation of private schools.

There is no requirement in EC for a teacher in a private school to hold a state teaching credential. Private school authorities are required to obtain a criminal record summary on every applicant for employment in a position requiring contact with minor pupils (except a parent or legal guardian working exclusively with his or her children). Private school authorities may not employ a person before the criminal record summary is received, and they may not employ an applicant who has been convicted of a serious or violent felony unless the applicant has a certificate of rehabilitation and a pardon, pursuant to Chapter 3.5 of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code. Private schools are also prohibited from hiring any person who would be prohibited from employment by a public school district pursuant to any provision of the EC because of his or her conviction for any crime. Since July 1, 1999, no person who would be prohibited from employment by a private school because of his or her criminal conviction record may own or operate a private school offering instruction at the elementary or high school level. (EC Section 44237, as amended, provides further information regarding these restrictions on hiring and private school ownership or operation.) Those possessing a valid California teaching credential and those licensed by another state agency requiring a criminal record summary and comparable background clearance criteria are exempt from this requirement.

California private schools serving kindergarten through grade twelve are required by state law to file a Private School Affidavit (PSA) with the English Learner and Curriculum Support Division of the CDE each year between October 1 and October 15. Full-time private schools with physical addresses in California must file the Affidavit, which can be accessed from the CDE Private Schools Affidavit Web page. In the 2008–09 school year, 3,357 private elementary, middle, and high schools (with six or more students), enrolling 533,180 students filed Affidavits. The Private School Affidavit is not a license. The Affidavit is necessary to facilitate each public school district’s provision of an exemption from California’s compulsory public school attendance law. School districts have the responsibility to verify the Private School Affidavit and ensure that all school-age children in the district are either in attendance at a public school or are legally exempt.

The California Private School Directory lists all private schools with six or more students that have filed the informational affidavit. The Affidavit is posted annually on the CDE Private School Affidavit Web page.

For further information, please contact the Title II Leadership Office by phone at 916-445-7331 or by e-mail at privateschools@cde.ca.gov. Additional information is available on the CDE Private Schools Web page.

Private School Enrollment as a Percentage of Total Enrollment
in California Schools: 1996–97 Through 2008–09

Year

Public School Enrollment

Private School Enrollment*

Total Enrollment

Percentage of Total State Enrollment

1996–97

5,612,965

615,011

6,227,976

9.9

1997–98

5,727,303

622,965

6,349,968

9.8

1998–99

5,844,111

628,746

6,472,857

9.7

1999–2000

5,951,612

640,802

6,592,414

9.7

2000–01

6,050,895

648,564

6,699,459

9.7

2001–02

6,147,375

635,719

6,783,094

9.4

2002–03

6,244,732

611,350

6,856,082

8.9

2003–04

6,298,783

599,605

6,898,388

8.7

2004–05

6,322,141

591,056

6,913,197

8.5

2005–06

6,312,436

594,597

6,907,033

8.6

2006–07

6,286,943

584,983

6,871,926

8.5

2007–08

6,275,469

564,734

6,840,203

8.3

2008–09

6,252,031

533,180

6,785,211

7.9

*Includes only private schools with six or more students

Source: CBEDS data collection, Educational Demographics, October 2008, and 2008–09 Private School Affidavits

Additional information is also available on the Private Schools Web page.

Questions:   Private Schools | 916-445-7331
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