Private School FAQs

Academic Fraud

Q: Are there any criminal statutes with address academic fraud?
Yes.  See G.S. 14-118.2; G.S. 14-122.1; G.S. 14-117 and G.S. 14-225.  These criminal statutes are enforced by local law enforcement officials.

Administrators, New School

Q: What do new North Carolina conventional non-public school administrators need to know?
DNPE suggests that you familiarize yourself with each of the following:
  1. The current legal requirements for North Carolina conventional non-public schools.
  2. Each September, watch for an annual mailing from DNPE which will include a Non-Public Annual Report form.  Complete and return it each school year.
  3. Fire and Sanitation Inspections:  Regular fire and sanitation inspections are required.  If it has been longer than 12 months since your last school facility inspections, immediately call or write your county health department and your city or county fire marshal to request the inspections.
  4. Student Fire Drills:  Conduct them at least monthly.
  5. Nationally Standardized Tests:  Required by state law to be administered each year to all students enrolled in grades 3, 6, 9 and 11.  Note that this requirement is different from that of North Carolina's public schools.
  6. Superintendent Notification:  Your local public school superintendent would greatly appreciate notification whenever a student withdraws from your school.  This voluntary action on your part will help a great deal in enforcing the compulsory attendance law for students in your local area.
  7. Click on School Termination and read this very important information.
  8. Expect a school visit from DNPE at least one every three years.  You will receive notice of a school visit from a DNPE official via mail at least 2 weeks in advance.
  9. DEC Requirements:  If your school enrolls students aged 15 - 17, please be sure to read carefully the North Carolina non-public school student Driving Eligibility Certificate Requirements.  Please be certain to always require the student to first take the certificate home to have the parent/guardian sign it, and then return it to your school for you to then place your signature, your school's raised imprinted seal, and enter the date on it.  It is then ready at that point to be given to the student to take to the local North Carolina DMV center.
  10. Familiarize yourself with the Non-Public Education General Statutes and Other North Carolina Statutes of Interest to Non-Public Schools.
  11. President's Education Awards Program:  These certificates are available free from the US Department of Education.  The award may be given to students graduating from elementary, middle and senior high schools (public or private).  Students who have maintained an A- grade average and score in the 85th percentile on a nationally standardized achievement test are eligible.
    Contact:
           President's Education Recognition Programs
           US Department of Education
           400 Maryland Avenue SW
           Washington, DC 20202-3521
           Call toll free:  (877) 897-4784
           Fax to: (703) 518-6295
           Click on President's Education Awards Programs.

Buses

Q: Are schools and child care centers covered under the North Carolina Child Booster Seat law?
Click here for this information.  Also, click on and read the North Carolina child restraint systems statutes.
Q: Must a non-public school which uses its own bus to transport students and/or adults across state lines for class, field or other type trips obtain a US DOT license number to do so?
Yes.  It is required for all privately owned buses, but not for government owned buses. For more details, call (919) 856-4378.
Q: Are school buses in North Carolina required to be yellow in color?
G.S. 20-4.01(27)d4 mandates that all school buses acquired on or after August 1, 2007 (those picking up children from and returning them to their homes each day) be painted primarily yellow below the roofline and bear the plainly visible words " School Bus" on the front and rear.

In order for a school bus to be able to stop traffic on North Carolina highways (or their right-of-ways) when picking up and depositing children at their homes, it must be of the same color as North Carolina public school yellow buses and equipped with the same type flashing lights, mirrors and front bumper arm as North Carolina public school yellow buses which pick up children each morning. 

G.S. 20-4.01(27)d3 defines activity buses as buses "generally painted a different color from a school bus."

Q: What determines if a vehicle is a bus?
A vehicle is a bus if it is built to transport eleven or more persons including the driver.

It is a school bus if it is used to transport students to or from school or school-related events. 

It is illegal to buy, sell or lease a new school bus that does not meet the federal motor vehicle safety standards applicable to school buses.

Q: Is there more information available on the web concerning North Carolina school buses?
Yes.  Click here to access this information.
Q: What number can I call to obtain answers to other school bus-related questions?
The telephone number is (919) 861-3106.

Calendar/Schedule, School

Q: Any suggestions for handling makeup days for weather-related school day closings?
Non-public schools are exempt from all laws governing public schools except for those relating to building code, sanitation and immunization requirements.  Non-public school laws mandate a school year of at least nine calendar months excluding reasonable holidays and vacations.

No specific minimum number of days or number of hours per day are given.  They also do not address the issue of weather-related school closings and the makeup of them. 

DNPE suggests that, in most cases, school days missed because of weather-related closings be made up within the school year.  Most non-public schools build several adverse weather days into each school year's calendar. 

Q: Does North Carolina non-public school law require that a conventional non-public school student be on the school's premises for a specific number of hours per day, week, month or year?
No.  G.S. 115C-548 and 556 require that the non-public school student regularly attend classes and that the non-public school itself shall operate ". . . on a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year."

However, there is no reference to a specific number of hours per day, week, month or year the school must require its students to be on its premises.  G.S. 115C-554 and 562 exempt non-public schools from any such public school laws. 

Q: Why does DNPE recommend for conventional non-public schools a school term of at least 180 school days, typical school day lengths of at least 5 1/2 hours, and typical class periods for grade 9-12 students of 50 minutes each?
Since most non-public schools usually have some students who transfer back into the local public school system, be aware that the principal of your local public school is empowered by public school law to determine the acceptance or rejection of transfer credit from your non-public school into his/her public school.

Non-public schools that do not meet or exceed the length of school year, the length of school day, and the grade 9-12 class period length requirements for North Carolina public schools may encounter problems in gaining transfer credit recognition for academic work completed by the student at the non-public school. 

To view the statutes addressing school calendars for the Public Schools of North Carolina, click here.


Child Care

Q: Does DNPE possess legal jurisdiction over non-public schools which enroll children younger than five years old?
No.  DNPE's oversight of non-public schools involves only those schools offering any student grade levels between kindergarten and high school.  Also, see the FAQ section below on "Kindergarten."
Q: What about Pre-Kindergarten programs for three or four year olds?
So long as the three or four year olds are on the school premises for more than four hours per day and the non-public school is not accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools, these Pre-Kindergarten programs must meet all applicable child care requirements.

See G.S. 110-86(2) for further specifics.  

Q: Which North Carolina government agency oversees non-public schools which enroll children younger than five years old?
The North Carolina Division of Child Development oversees such programs which involve any children younger than age five who are on the premises for more than four hours daily.

Code or Identification Numbers, School

Q: Are there any government ID numbers which I must obtain for my new school?
Yes.  You must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) by going to the US Internal Revenue Service web site and clicking there first on "Businesses", then on "Starting a Business", and then on "Employer Identification Number.

You may apply there on line for an EIN.  In addition, you must obtain a "Withholding Identification Number" from the North Carolina Department of Revenue, P.O. Box 25000, Raleigh, NC 27640. 

Their telephone number in Raleigh is (877) 252-3052.

Q: Does DNPE issue a school code number after a non-public school files its Notice of Intent with DNPE?
Yes, a school ID number will be issued to the non-public school after the school successfully files a Notice of Intent with DNPE.  This school ID number is only for internal use and identification purposes by DNPE staff.  
Q: How can a non-public school obtain a school code number so its students can register for the various college entrance and college scholarship tests?
The non-public school chief administrator (or his/her designee) will need to contact each of the test companies individually and request from them a school code number.

Contact information for the test companies: ACT, PSAT/NMSQTSAT.

Q: What is an NCES number and how does a non-public school acquire one?
The US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) issues this number to all non-public schools which voluntarily participate in its annual Public School Universe Survey (PSS).

A NCES non-public school number is assigned when it is first included in the Private School Universe Survey. Schools wishing to participate in future surveys may complete and file a form to request to be included in the next PSS data collection.


Curriculum

Q: Are non-public schools required to follow the Public Schools of North Carolina curriculum?
No,  non-public schools may utilize whatever curriculum they wish.
Q: Is the Public Schools of North Carolina curriculum available online?
Yes, the NC Standard Course of Study is available online.

Driving Eligibility Certificates

Q: What are the requirements and procedures for obtaining a student driving eligibility certificate?
The Student Driving Info page contains information on the requirements and procedures for obtaining a student driving eligibility certificate.
Q: What are the procedures for revoking a student's driving eligibility certificate?
The Student Driving Info page contains procedures for revoking a student's driving eligibility certificate. 
Q: Where can I find additional information?
Additional questions and answers relating to student driving and Driving Eligibility Certificates can be found by visiting Frequently Asked Questions on Driving Eligibility Certificates.  

Funding/Services, Government

Q: State of North Carolina funded programs or services available to North Carolina non-public schools or their students?
The only such programs/services currently available to North Carolina non-public schools or their students are:

The student Driver Education course (available free of charge only through the local public school system); and, participation in the annual Governor's School and teacher licensure programs. 

Voluntary participation in the Public Schools of North Carolina annual testing program is also permitted. 

However, please note that these tests are only state standardized tests. 

Q: Are there any US government funded programs available to North Carolina non-public schools or their students?
There are some federally-funded services available to qualifying North Carolina non-public school students -- not to schools; however, these programs are administered solely through the local North Carolina public school system.

Before contacting the federal programs administrator within the central offices of your local North Carolina public school system, visit the US Department of Education's Office of Non-Public Education web site.  It provides some very helpful information concerning which programs/services are available.

Q: Do local North Carolina public school systems allow local North Carolina non-public schools or their students to participate in any locally funded programs?
In the State of North Carolina, the General Assembly and the State Board of Education make certain policies and minimal requirements for all public schools throughout the state.

Each local North Carolina public school system then follows these policies and requirements; however, each system is an independent local unit governed by additional policies and requirements made by the local board of education. 

There is no statewide requirement for local public schools to provide any type of assistance or services to North Carolina non-public schools or to students in such schools (except for those cited above in the first question).  The ultimate answer to this question would come from the local board of education.

Q: Does the State of North Carolina provide any funding to North Carolina child cares or pre-kindergartens?
Under present North Carolina law, there are no state funds available to non-public elementary and/or high schools.  What distinguishes North Carolina non-public elementary/high schools from their North Carolina public school counterparts is simply that they receive no state funding for their elementary or high school programs.

For that reason, the laws governing North Carolina non-public schools provide greater "legal latitude" in the operation of them. 

However, the State of North Carolina does provide certain types of state funding for qualifying students enrolled in pre-kindergarten as well as before and after-school, child care programs which operate under the legal jurisdiction of the North Carolina Division of Child Development

Q: May North Carolina public school systems elect to contract with private providers for certain services?
Yes, but only for students with disabilities.  See G.S. 115C- 111.2 and also G.S. 115C- 250(a).
Q: What about vouchers for North Carolina non-public school attendance?
The state offers Opportunity Scholarship grants to certain eligible students to pay towards tuition at participating nonpublic school.  Please contact the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority for information relating to these Opportunity Scholarships.  

Graduation Requirements, High School

Q: Does North Carolina require that each non-public school student satisfy a specific academic competency requirement in order to graduate from high school?
Yes.  Since 1979, that competency level has been (and still is) based on how well the student performs on the nationally standardized test which is required annually of each grade 11 non-public school student.

G.S. 115C-550 and G.S. 115C-558 both state that each non-public school ". . . shall establish a minimum score which must be attained by each student on the selected test in order to be graduated from high school." 

Q: Does non-public school law mandate specific subjects and units for student graduation?
No.  Each non-public school establishes its own standards for high school graduation.
Q: How do I obtain the statewide minimum high school graduation requirements for the Public Schools of North Carolina and the UNC minimum entrance requirements?
You may obtain both of them here.

Home School Families, Assistance to

Q: How may North Carolina conventional non-public schools legally serve North Carolina home school families?
Under North Carolina law, home schools enrolling students of compulsory attendance age must be registered with this office.  The parents/legal guardians of the students enrolled in the home school then "determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction."  

As long as the parent or legal guardian is determining the scope and sequence of the academic instruction and providing for that academic instruction, the home school may enlist the assistance of conventional non-public schools in whatever arrangment both school administrators agree to.

Q: Instead of the family registering with DNPE as a home school, may a North Carolina conventional non-public school enroll the student in its school but release the student to the parent for a portion of each school day for the parent to also teach certain academic subjects to the student instead of the conventional non-public school?
Yes.  However, the North Carolina conventional non-public school will then assume the full legal responsibility for the complete oversight of the student's education.  Local compulsory attendance enforcement officials will then regard the student as being enrolled in and regularly attending the conventional non-public school.

Should the parent be approached by local compulsory attendance enforcement officials, the parent would explain that the student is not enrolled in a home school but rather in a local conventional non-public school's "teaching-at-home program" (or some similarly named program) for a portion of each academic day. 

Q: May home-schooled students participate in conventional non-public school inter-school competition such as sports teams or fine arts contests?
Non-public school laws do not address this question.

This decision would be made by the conventional non-public school or by the athletic or fine arts organization of which the conventional non-public school is a member.


Inspections/On-Site Visits 

Q: How frequently does DNPE do on-site visits to conventional non-public schools?
Each school is visited within one year of being registered with DNPE and then again once every two to three years.
Q: In registering a new school, is there a preferred order for the conducting of the three types of initial building inspections?
First, contact the local building inspector's office.  That inspector will approve the building for school usage.

Second, contact the local fire marshal's office to request that a fire inspection be conducted. 

Third, contact the county health department's school sanitation section to request what is known as an "initial courtesy inspection."   The sanitation inspector will then do an initial brief "walkthrough" and give the school administrator only a partially completed Inspection of School form.  He/she will then return at a later unannounced date to assign sanitation grades to each of the items on his/her official Inspection of School form. 

A photocopy of this "initial courtesy inspection" will suffice for attaching to your completed Notice of Intent to Operate A School form. 

See the school sanitation inspection preparation checklist. 

If the school will meet in a leased or rented building, it is suggested that these inspections be done before formally committing to the lease or rental of the facility.  Also, be sure the inside of the building is free of asbestos-containing materials.


Kindergarten

Q: Is there a birthday cutoff date for students to be admitted in to a non-public school kindergarten program?
No.  Non-public school laws give such schools the freedom to establish their own policies regarding the age cutoff for admission.  See G.S. 115C-554 & G.S. 115C-562

For example, a non-public school may require that the child turn age 5 by November 1 of the school year during which the child seeks admission to its kindergarten program.

Q: Must non-public school kindergarten programs operate on full day schedules?
No.  Non-public school kindergartens may utilize a half-day schedule all year long, if the school so desires.
Q: What is the Public Schools of North Carolina birthday cutoff date for children to be eligible for kindergarten enrollment?
The child must have reached his/her 5th birthday on or before August 31 of the school year for which the child is seeking kindergarten enrollment.  See G.S. 115C-364.
Q: Will there be any potential legal ramifications for the student or parent if a non-public school chooses to set its kindergarten entrance age cutoff date later than the Public Schools of North Carolina?
Yes.  G.S. 115C-288a grants to the principal of a local public school authority to grade and classify students presented for enrollment in his/her school.

There is a distinct possibility that the public school principal may not move a younger non-public school kindergarten student into his/her public school first or second grade. 

Read the Attorney General's Office Legal Opinion on this subject.

In addition, non-public schools which use a kindergarten entry cutoff date later than August 31 may encounter some problems with the NC Division of Child Development involving its Child Care statutes as well as its Rules and Regulations.


Records/Transcripts, Student

Q: Are there any criminal statutes which address academic fraud?
Yes.  See G.S. 14-118.2; G.S. 14-122.1; G.S. 14-117 and G.S. 14-225.  These criminal statutes are enforced by local law enforcement officials.

Also, read carefully the article "What You Need to Know about Diploma Mills."

Q: How long must a North Carolina non-public school retain its student academic records?
North Carolina non-public school laws do not speak to this question except to require that the nationally standardized test result records for students enrolled in grades 3, 6, 9 and 11 be retained at the school office for one calendar year.

Therefore, each North Carolina non-public school chief administrator develops his/her own policies on the retaining of other student records.  Most North Carolina non-public school student academic records for grade K-8 levels are usually disposed of sometime after the student has successfully graduated from high school.

Academic records for grade 9-12 students who have graduated from the school are kept indefinitely.  Originals of academic records for K-8 students transferring to another local conventional school are usually hand-delivered to them by a school staff member and signed for by a school official at the conventional school accepting them.

Q: Is there a standard type of transcript design followed by both public and non-public schools?
Yes.  The National Association of Secondary School Principals has designed and markets such a transcript form.
Q: May a conventional North Carolina non-public school withhold student records, subject grades and transcripts for students whose financial account is delinquent?
Yes, provided the North Carolina non-public school does not participate in any federally-funded programs.  The vast majority of North Carolina non-public schools do not participate in them.

Student immunization records, however, must always be released when requested by the next conventional school which the student will be attending.  The withholding of student academic records, report cards, etc. by North Carolina non-public schools until a student's financial account is paid in full is a long standing, perfectly legal and acceptable practice for non-public schools to utilize in collecting past-due accounts. 

Virtually all private colleges and also North Carolina non-public schools use this technique as a method of last resort.  No one in state government has legal authority to deal with this type issue.  Such a problem can only be resolved by the student's parent/guardian and the North Carolina non-public school involved. 

North Carolina non-public school student enrollment contracts usually contain a statement informing the parent/guardian in advance about the school's policies and procedures concerning overdue student financial accounts. 

Read the North Carolina Attorney General's legal opinion on this subject. G.S. 115C-554 and 562 exempt North Carolina non-public schools from the public school requirements about the transferring of student records which are described in G.S. 115C-288(j) and 403(b).

Q: Must North Carolina non-public schools make its student records available to students, parents or the general public upon request?
No, provided the school does not participate in any federal government funded programs (Most North Carolina non-public schools do not participate in them).

Each North Carolina non-public school establishes its own policies concerning release of student records.

Q: What are the laws governing non-public school student record maintenance?
G.S. 115C-554 and 562 exempt non-public schools from all public school laws relating to student record keeping.

North Carolina's non-public school statutes require that the non-public school make and maintain only student attendance, immunization and nationally standardized test result records. 

Non-public school laws do not address student academic or disciplinary record keeping requirements. 

However, it is suggested that you read the student record maintenance requirements for North Carolina's public schools.

Q: What happens to North Carolina non-public school student academic records, transcripts, etc. when the school terminates its operation?
North Carolina non-public school law does not address this topic.

Neither DNPE nor the North Carolina Archives and Records Section of state government in Raleigh keep individual non-public school student records.  When a non-public school terminates operation, it forwards all original student academic records directly to the next conventional schools where the students will be attending. 

However, academic records for those students issued high school diplomas from the school (as well as present grade 9-12 students next going into a home school setting) are kept together as a group indefinitely.  The school's graduates are then able to later obtain high school transcripts when requested. 

The school then should notify DNPE in writing where the high school transcripts and academic records for its graduates will be retained along with an address, telephone number and contact person. This information is then entered permanently into the school's file at DNPE.  

Individual student records are often kept permanently either:

  1. In the central student record-keeping office of the local public school system;
  2. At a local church in which the school formerly operated;
  3. At another local non-public school which is still in operation or;
  4. By the last chief administrator or a school board member at the time the North Carolina non-public school terminated operation.

Taking the GED test at a local North Carolina Community College to obtain a GED diploma for college entrance might also be another way for a graduate of a terminated non-public school to successfully gain admission into college. 

The graduate, however, should first discuss this possibility with the admissions officer from the college to which the graduate is seeking admission.


School Accreditation

Q: Do colleges and universities accept students who graduate from non-accredited schools?
Usually.  Most colleges accept students from a non-accredited high school (public or private) as long as: 
  1. The school is in compliance with the school laws of the state in which it is located; and
  2. The prospective college student achieves a certain minimum score on either the ACT (American College Test) or the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test).

DNPE suggests that you contact the admissions officers at some colleges to which your son/daughter may ultimately seek admission and ask them this question.

Q: How can I tell if a North Carolina conventional non-public school is accredited?
Conventional North Carolina non-public schools which are accredited are designated by accrediting association name codes within the North Carolina Directory of Non-Public Schools.

The title page within each year's directory of schools gives the meaning of each accrediting association's code utilized throughout the directory.

Q: Is a North Carolina conventional non-public school which meets the North Carolina non-public school legal requirements considered an accredited school?
No.  Like most states, North Carolina has no state laws mandating that non-public schools be accredited by an accrediting organization. 

The State of North Carolina, however, requires certain minimum standards that all non-public schools must meet.  As long as those standards are met, the school is satisfying compulsory attendance requirements and is authorized to issue high school diplomas to its graduates. 

Accreditation can only be obtained through private accrediting organizations such as the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools, the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the North Carolina Christian School Association, etc.  

Q: What are some of the advantages of a school's being accredited?
Graduate acceptance at a wider array of colleges and universities is much more likely, provided the student's college entrance test results are adequate. 

An accredited school may be more successful in obtaining corporate funding for the school.

Q: What is involved in the process known as school accreditation?
The meaning of the term "accreditation," as it relates to private elementary and secondary schools, varies somewhat from state to state.

In North Carolina, it involves the school voluntarily joining a school accrediting association and electing to undergo a periodic comprehensive peer review of the school's policies, practices and programs by a team of visiting professional educators.

The school's staff and the visiting professionals evaluate the purposes, goals, procedures, standards, etc. of the school's entire program. 

There are financial costs involved in association membership and in the accreditation process itself.

Q: Why would a conventional non-public school choose not to become accredited?
The financial cost and staff time involved are major reasons.  It will usually cause the non-public school to pass the financial cost of it on to the school parents.

Many religious schools often cite theological autonomy as the reason.  Such schools are sensitive to outside-of-the-school professional educators evaluating the school's religious curriculum, philosophy and practices. 

Other schools do not seek it simply because there is no demand from the school clientele for it.


School Regulation in North Carolina, Non-Public

Q: Are privately owned organizations which provide only tutorial or supplemental enrichment activities or services to school age children required to register with the Division of Non-Public Education in order to provide such programs or services?
No, the provision of such programs or services does not fall under the Division of Non-Public Education's jurisdiction.

However, if such programs or services involve a certain number of children under age 13 on a regular basis, they may fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Division of Child Development.

Q: Are there any differences between the legal requirements for boarding schools and day schools?
The various building inspection requirements are different for boarding schools since students are on the premises 24/7.

Consult the local government building inspector, fire marshal and the county health department for details.

Q: Are there any public school laws that are legally binding also on non-public schools?
Only public school laws relating to fire, safety, sanitation and immunization (such as eye protection devices required by G.S. 115C-166-169).  See G.S. 115C-554 and 562.

Otherwise, non-public school laws must meet only the requirements of Article 39, Chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes and also the rules and regulations governing the student driving eligibility certificate program. 

A listing of other North Carolina statutes of possible interest to non-public schools is available.

Q: How long does it normally take to legally establish a conventional non-public school?
The lengthiest part of the legalization process involves the local building inspections.  Plan on several weeks for local building inspectors, fire marshal inspectors and sanitation inspectors to complete their part of the process.

See item #2 of the State of North Carolina Private School Requirements for more details relating to these inspections. 

Once the completed Notice of Intent form along with its proper attachments are received by DNPE, the Notice of Intent form will be processed and acknowledged via US Mail within 30 days of arrival at DNPE. 

Q: What is the regulatory philosophy underlying today's North Carolina conventional non-public school laws?
North Carolina (like every other state) operates a public school system which is free of tuition charges and open to all school age children.

No one is required to attend a non-public school. 

Since North Carolina's non-public schools receive no state tax dollars and enroll only about 10% of the compulsory attendance age children living in North Carolina, the State of North Carolina does not attempt to regulate the religious philosophy, educational philosophy or the operational policies of non-public schools.  

North Carolina does, however, establish fire safety and sanitation standards which all conventional non-public school buildings must meet. 

North Carolina non-public school law also mandates the length of the school year, student attendance and immunization record-keeping and nationally standardized testing of students in order to monitor the overall quality of student academic performance. 

DNPE staff representatives periodically conduct on-site visits to conventional non-public schools to review updated fire safety and sanitation building inspection records, the school calendar, attendance records, and nationally standardized test score records to make certain that these requirements are met on an on-going basis. 

Q: Which state government organizations oversee post high school private educational institutions?
Non-public post secondary educational institutions offering degrees fall under the legal jurisdiction of the General Administration of the University of North Carolina System in Chapel Hill at (919) 962-4558.

However, non-degree granting non-public post secondary educational institutions answer to the North Carolina Division of Proprietary Schools within the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges in Raleigh.


Students

Q: Are there any building regulations mandating that certain age (or grade level) children be housed on the ground floor or in other areas of the school building?
Yes.  Contact your local government building inspector's office for complete details -- either city or county, depending on the local governmental jurisdiction in which the building is located.

Also, click on "Daycare through Grade 2 Students in Existing Buildings" for additional information.

Q: Are there any North Carolina non-public school laws addressing the administering of medications to North Carolina non-public school students?
No, North Carolina non-public school laws do not address it and North Carolina non-public schools are exempt from the North Carolina public school laws and policies relating to it.

The Public Schools of North Carolina policy, however, is found in G.S. 115C-375.1

This topic is also addressed in the child care statutes in G.S. 110-102.1A.

Q: Do public school laws and policies regarding special needs children apply to non-public schools enrolling such students?
No, G.S. 115C-554 and 562 exempt North Carolina non-public schools from all public school laws and policies regarding this issue, since non-public schools unlike all public schools are not financed by federal or state government dollars.  (The non-public education statutes are found in G.S. 115C-547-562).

However, be aware that when a former non-public school special needs student transfers to a public school, all public school laws and policies then apply. 

The Exceptional Children Division within the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction administers public school requirements and policies relating to its special needs enrollees.

Q: How do North Carolina non-public schools deal with excessive student absence and tardiness issues?
G.S. 115C-554 and 562 exempt North Carolina non-public schools from the student attendance and tardiness requirements of North Carolina's public schools.

However, every North Carolina non-public school must operate on a regular schedule for at least nine calendar months each year and require its students to regularly attend classes.  See G.S. 115C- 548 and 556

Each North Carolina non-public school establishes its own policies and procedures for handling excessive student absence and tardiness situations and usually distributes a published copy of them annually to each school family. 

The document specifies the maximum number of days (or times) a student may be absent (or tardy) during any given school year.  The publication should also state what will happen to the student should he/she exceed the maximum number of absences or tardies allowed by the school. 

It would usually state that the student may be permanently expelled from the school once the maximum permissible number of days or tardies have been reached. 

Once the student has been expelled, the North Carolina non-public school then reports the student expulsion directly to local public school compulsory attendance enforcement officials for their immediate follow-up. 

Please note that local compulsory attendance authorities will normally not handle excessive student absence or tardy situations until after the student is no longer enrolled in the North Carolina non-public school. 

Pertinent North Carolina public school student compulsory attendance statutes include:  G.S. 115C- 378, 379 and 380

The specific penalty limits for the various classes of misdemeanors are found in G.S. 15A- 1340.23.

Q: Is corporal punishment of students permitted in North Carolina non-public schools?
Yes.  North Carolina non-public schools are exempt from all North Carolina public school laws except for those relating to building inspections and student immunizations.  North Carolina's non-public school laws do not address the issue of corporal punishment.

State law allows all local North Carolina public school systems to use corporal punishment if they wish to do so; however, most of them do not exercise it.

DNPE suggests that schools utilizing it follow the public school general guidelines for its use. 

You may access them by clicking on G.S. 115C- 391.

Q: Is there anything school administrators should know about the use of student social security numbers?
Yes.  See the US Congress Privacy Act of 1974 .  The North Carolina General Statutes address the use of social security numbers in G.S. 132-1.10.
Q: Must non-public schools require students to be on campus for a specific time period?
No.
Q: What must I know about enrolling foreign students in a North Carolina non-public school?
There are US immigration laws which all North Carolina non-public schools must follow.  These laws have changed dramatically since the Patriot Act was enacted by the US Congress as a result of 9-11.

All schools must now be approved by the Federal government (Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security) to accept international (foreign) students. 

If the Federal government (US Immigration & Naturalization Service) has certified your school previously to accept international students, that certification is no longer valid, as of August 1, 2003. 

Any previously issued Forms I-20 are no longer valid.  Submission of I-17 forms are now required of each school. 

To apply for certification or renew a previous certification, please click on US Immigration & Customs Enforcement

You may also telephone that Federal government agency in Washington, DC for information and assistance at (202) 305-2346.


Summer Programs

Q: Are there any North Carolina non-public school laws governing summer schools operated by currently legal North Carolina conventional non-public schools?
No, this topic is not addressed in North Carolina non-public school law.

However, if the summer school program will also enroll students from local public schools which will then return to the local public school system the following fall, DNPE suggests that local public school officials be contacted before announcing the new summer school program.

The conventional non-public school will want to make certain that local public school principals will accept credit for academic work completed in the conventional non-public school summer school program and under what conditions.

Q: Must a North Carolina conventional non-public school utilize only its regular school year teaching staff in the summer school program?
No, the conventional non-public school may hire different teachers for the summer school program if it wishes.
Q: What about summer recreational and specialized activity programs?
Non-public school laws do not address this topic.

However, if such programs involve children younger than age 13, it is suggested that you read the Division of Child Development's exempted from its jurisdiction list given in G.S. 110-86(2) to be certain that your proposed program does not fall under its jurisdiction.

Q: What are the North Carolina public school laws and policies governing their summer school programs?
The operation of public school summer school programs is addressed in G.S. 115C-233.

At this time, the State Board of Education has no standards in place for the operation of such programs. 

Each local public school system develops its own standards, schedules and policies (if the local system offers such a program). 

Therefore, this information can only be obtained through the local public school system or a local public school principal. 

It is suggested that non-public schools planning to operate summer school programs meet or exceed the same standards as the local public school system.


Teachers

Q: Are health certificates required of non-public school teachers and other school staff?
No, provided the school does not operate a pre-kindergarten program.

However, non-public schools are encouraged to voluntarily require them initially for each new school staff member.  Read the North Carolina Attorney General's legal opinion

The current public school staff health certificate statutory requirement is found in G.S. 115C-323.

Q: Are non-public school teachers and administrators required to be licensed by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction or State Board of Education?
No, each individual non-public school establishes its own qualifications for its faculty and administrative staff.
Q: How does a North Carolina non-public school head have a criminal background check run on a North Carolina non-public school employee?
A criminal background check can be obtained only through the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh.

Contact Yvonne at (919) 662-4509, extension 6366.  A statewide only record check will usually cost about $15 per person while both a state and a federal criminal record check will usually cost the North Carolina non-public school about $40 per person. 

Non-public school chief administrators are strongly encouraged to run a criminal background check initially on each new school employee.

Q: How does a North Carolina non-public school head seek recognition to obtain CEU credit toward North Carolina teacher license renewal for his/her teaching/administrative staff?
Call the Chief of the Teacher Licensure Section of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, at (919) 807-3310 or toll-free within North Carolina only at (800) 577-7994.
Q: Is there a statutory requirement binding on non-public school administrators and staff about reporting suspected abuse or neglect of a juvenile and, if so, is there a penalty for failure to report it?
Reporting it is required; however, the decision to enforce any criminal statute is always left to the discretion and jurisdiction of the local District Attorney and the Attorney General's Office.  G.S. 14-318.2 addresses penalties for abuse.

G.S. 7B-301 requires all persons and institutions to report any "cause to suspect" abuse or neglect of juveniles. 

Therefore, DNPE recommends that the non-public school administrator immediately contact the Director of the Department of Social Services in the North Carolina county where the juvenile resides or is presently located. 

It is further recommended that the non-public school consider including a statement to this effect in its parent handbook, in case the need ever arises for the school to report such information to local authorities. 

For additional information, see G.S. 7B-101 (which defines abuse) as well as G.S. 7B-302 and 7B-303.

Q: Must non-public school teachers follow the Public Schools of North Carolina student promotion and retention policies?
No,  North Carolina's non-public school statutes do not address this topic.

Therefore, private K-12 schools in North Carolina are free to make their own final decisions regarding whether a student is promoted to the next grade level or retained.

G.S. 115C-554 & G.S. 115C-562 exempts them from all public school promotion/retention policies.


Termination, School

Q: In terminating a North Carolina conventional non-public school, what actions need to be taken?
When a North Carolina conventional non-public school ceases operation, DNPE must be notified immediately, preferably in writing.

In addition, all academic, attendance and health records for all high school graduates of the school should be keep and stored together as a group in one location. 

DNPE should also be informed immediately of the name, mailing address and telephone number of the organization/person who has been assigned permanent custody of these records. 

The school's high school graduates may need later in their lives to obtain an official copy of their high school transcript. 

Under NO circumstances are originals of these records ever to be given to the students or their relatives/guardians. 

Records for non-graduating students should be forwarded directly to the next conventional school which the student will be attending.

Q: What happens to North Carolina non-public school student academic records, transcripts, etc. when the school terminates its operation?
North Carolina non-public school law does not address this topic.

Neither DNPE nor the North Carolina Archives and Records Section of state government in Raleigh keep individual non-public school student records. 

When the school terminates, it forwards all original student academic records to the next conventional school the student will be attending.  However, academic records for those students issued high school diplomas from the school are kept together as a group indefinitely, along with academic records for students who will be transferring in to a home school after completing grades 9, 10 or 11 in the school. 

The school should then notify DNPE where the high school transcripts and academic records for its graduates will be retained along with an address, telephone number and contact person.  In the years which follow, the school's graduates are then able to obtain high school transcripts as needed.

DNPE enters this information permanently into the school's file at DNPE.  Graduates from terminated schools seeking transcripts should contact DNPE for the location information for transcripts from that terminated school. 

Individual student academic records are often kept permanently either: In the central student record-keeping office of the local public school system; at a local church in which the school formerly operated; at another local non-public school which is still in operation; or by the last chief administrator or school board chairperson or board member who held these positions at the time the North Carolina non-public school terminated operation.


Testing, National Standardized

Q: Any exemptions from the annual nationally standardized testing requirement for enrollees in grades 3, 6, 9 or 11?
No.  It is required of every conventional K-12 non-public school enrollee in grades 3, 6, 9 and 11. No exceptions for any reason. Conventional K-12 non-public schools are exempted from all Public Schools of North Carolina student testing requirements. See G.S. 115C-554 and 562.

A grade 12 student cannot legally be graduated from a conventional K-12 non-public school in North Carolina until he/she has achieved the school's required minimum competency score on the nationally standardized test administered the previous school year while the student was enrolled in grade 11. See G.S. 115C-550 and 558.

Q: How can nationally standardized tests be ordered?
Two of the major nationally standardized student test publishers from which conventional non-public school administrators can order are CTB/McGraw-Hill and Pearson Assessments.

These publishers usually require the purchase of at least 35 student test booklets (or similar large quantities) for any given grade level. 

If you would prefer to order less than that number for any given grade level, you may want to consider ordering instead from a home school test distributor which sells quantities as few as one per grade level. 

Q: How can the Public Schools of North Carolina Student End-of-Grade, End-of- Course, Competency tests, etc. be ordered?
The Non-Public School Testing Service has information about these tests.
Q: How does one obtain a school code number for students registering for a college entrance/placement test?
Non-Public School code numbers are not provided or assigned by the State of North Carolina.  They must be obtained directly from the test publisher.

Contact either the ACT or the College Board organization to obtain them, depending on which test is chosen. 

Q: Is a minimum test score required for promotion to the next grade level?
Non-public school law does not require that a student attain a certain minimum score on the nationally standardized test administered in a non-public school before he/she is promoted to the next grade level in that school.

However, it does state concerning the grade 11 test that non-public schools ". . . shall establish a minimum score which must be attained by a student . . . in order to be graduated from high school." 

Q: Must North Carolina non-public schools administer to its students the same standardized tests as administered to North Carolina public school students?
No.  The chief administrator of each conventional non-public school chooses which nationally standardized achievement test is administered.

The nationally standardized test for grades 3, 6 and 9 must measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling and mathematics. 

The grade 11 test must measure competencies in the verbal and quantitative areas.  Non-public school law also requires that the test results be kept on file at the school's office for one year after the testing date for annual inspection by a DNPE staff representative.

Q: Special Education Students:  Does North Carolina non-public school law exempt them from nationally standardized testing?
No,  North Carolina non-public schools are exempt from all North Carolina public school laws and policies concerning standardized testing.

Non-public school law does not exempt special needs (or any other) students from the grade 3, 6, 9 and 11 nationally standardized test requirement.  Concerning the non-public school standardized testing requirement, G.S. 115C-549, 550, 557 and 558 state that the test is to be administered in those grade levels each year "to all students enrolled or regularly attending."

There are no exceptions given for any reason.

Q: What are the AP and the CLEP tests?
They are tests provided by the College Board which produces several college entrance/placement tests.

For more information about each of them, click on AP and on CLEP


Textbooks

Q: Do the Public Schools of North Carolina provide textbooks at no charge to students enrolled in non-public schools?
No,  Each non-public school must purchase its own textbooks. 
Q: Is there an online version of the North Carolina State Board of Education textbook adoption list available?
Yes, the current listing is available here.
Q: May non-public schools purchase textbooks from the Public Schools of North Carolina?
The Public Schools of North Carolina do not sell their textbooks to non-public schools.
Q: Must conventional non-public schools utilize the same textbooks as used by the Public Schools of North Carolina?
No, non-public schools may use any textbooks they wish.
Q: Where can instructional materials for blind students be acquired?
By clicking on American Printing House for the Blind and then on Hadley School for the Blind.  Also, click on Blind Students in North Carolina Non-Public Schools.

Transfers, Student

Q: Are there any North Carolina non-public school laws which address the recognition by a North Carolina non-public school chief administrator of student academic credits earned while enrolled in a previously attended non-public or public school?
No.  Each North Carolina non-public school establishes its own criteria for the acceptance of credit earned at schools previously attended.
Q: Are there any North Carolina non-public school laws which address the recognition of credit earned while attending a home school?
No.  North Carolina home school law requires each home school to make and maintain only three types of student records: attendance, immunization and annually required nationally standardized achievement test.  It would be wise for the conventional non-public school to always require the parent to provide written evidence that the home school was registered with DNPE and satisfying North Carolina's home school laws as well as provide copies of the three types of legally required student records. 

The school might review the student's last nationally standardized achievement test results to determine adequate grade placement. 

The school might consider assigning at least a letter subject grade (and one unit high school credit) for each of the four major areas of the test -- provided the student scored at or above the national norm for each of the major subject areas tested.  Examples could include:  B in Language Arts; B in Math; B in Social Studies; B in Science, etc. 

The parent would be well-advised to provide to the conventional non-public school as much paper evidence as the school will request and keep in mind that it will usually ask for more than the home school law requires.

Q: Is there a credit recognition requirement for transferring a non-public school student back into the Public Schools of North Carolina?
The principal of each North Carolina public school determines whether transfer credit will be recognized by his/her school from the previous school -- regardless of whether it is a conventional non-public, a home or another public school.

Read carefully G.S. 115C-288(a) which addresses the powers and duties of the North Carolina public school principal.

Q: What happens if a non-public school student attempts to enroll in a local public school without having taken the previous school year's Public Schools of North Carolina End-of-Grade or End-of-Course tests?
The second paragraph of G.S. 115C-288(a) reads: "A principal shall not require additional testing of a student entering a public school from a school governed under Article 39 of this Chapter if test scores from a nationally standardized test or nationally standardized equivalent measure that are adequate to determine the appropriate placement of the child are available." 

This sentence was added in June of 1996 (as part of S1139, the ABC's Plan) by the North Carolina General Assembly in response to an organized effort by the North Carolina non-public school community requesting its addition to help prevent double-testing of former non-public school students when entering the Public Schools of North Carolina. 

It is applicable only when the student was administered such a test in the latter portion of his/her final year of non-public school attendance. 

On occasion, a public school principal may honestly claim that the test scores are simply not adequate to determine the appropriate grade placement of the student. 

However, it was clearly the legislative intent of the North Carolina General Assembly that such occurrences be rare.  Since these tests are nationally standardized, most principals accept them as adequate, as long as there is no question about the credibility of the administering of the test and its scoring, and the scores indicate the student is functioning at or near grade level. 


Tutorial Organizations 

Q: Are privately owned organizations which provide only tutorial or supplemental enrichment activities or services to school age children required to register with the Division of Non-Public Education in order to provide such programs or services?
No,  The provision of such programs or services does not fall under the Division of Non-Public Education's jurisdiction.

However, if such programs or services involve a certain number of children under age 13 on a regular basis, they may fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Division of Child Development