Colorado State Regulations
Updated October 20, 2014 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- Accreditation is optional.
- The Colorado State Board of Education does not require private schools to acquire accreditation, but allows private schools to voluntarily choose to seek accreditation from a private agency.
- The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) provides contact information for some accrediting agencies as a courtesy to those interested in private schools; however, it does not endorse any particular group or organization.
- Registration has no requirements.
- Licensing is mandatory.
- Nonpublic schools (private, non-state independent and parochial) are considered to be small businesses in the state of Colorado. School owners must obtain a license from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to operate. C.R.S. 24-48.5-101.
- Neither the Colorado State Board of Education nor any local board of education has jurisdiction over the internal workings of a nonpublic school since these schools are considered to be small businesses. However, there are legal requirements all Colorado schools must follow, including nonpublic schools.
- Approval has no requirements.
- Certification of teachers in private schools is not required. A nonpublic institution may request the state board to review the content of its teacher preparation program to determine if it meets the state’s specifications for licensure endorsement. C.R.S. 22-2-109.
- For employment purposes, nonpublic schools may make an inquiry to the CDE regarding a potential employee’s past unlawful conduct (i.e., whether an individual has been dismissed or resigned from a school district as a result of an allegation of unlawful behavior involving a child that was supported by a preponderance of the evidence). To facilitate the inquiry, the governing board of the nonpublic school shall require an applicant or employee to submit to the governing board a complete set of his or her fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement agency or an authorized school employee. C.R.S. 22-1-121.
Length of School Year and Days
- Every child who has attained the age of six years on or before August 1 of each year and is under the age of seventeen years shall attend public school. However, compulsory school attendance law is satisfied if at an independent, private or parochial school a child is enrolled for a minimum of one hundred seventy-two days and is provided with a basic academic education (sequential program of instruction). C.R.S. 22-33-104.
- The basic academic educational program at the private school is a sequential program of instruction that shall include, but not be limited to, communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, and science. C.R.S. 22-33-104 (2)(b).
- All teachers in the grade and high schools in the state of Colorado shall be provided the necessary instruction and information to teach pupils the proper respect of the flag of the United States, to honor and properly salute the flag, and to properly use the flag in decorating and displaying. C.R.S. 22-1-106.
- Instruction on the use of the United States flag and information about the honor of the flag shall be given. C.R.S. 22-1-107.
- All public and private schools located within the state of Colorado shall give regular courses of instruction in the United States Constitution. This content shall begin no later than grade seven and continue through high school. C.R.S. 22-1-108, 22-1-109.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- The CDE annually posts on its website a nonpublic schools directory as a courtesy to those interested in private schools. Private schools can voluntarily submit their contact information to CDE, but are under no obligation to notify CDE when they open, if their address changes or if they close.
- Whenever requested by the board of education of the school district in which the private school is located, the person or corporation in charge and control of any school other than a public school shall certify in writing a statement containing the name, age, place of residence, and number of days of attendance of all children of school age, during the preceding month, who attended the school. C.R.S. 22-1-114.
- Private schools are required to maintain a file of the official certificates of immunization for every enrolled student. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) may examine, audit or verify the records of immunizations. C.R.S. 25-4-906(2), (3).
- The CDE does not keep any records or transcripts on nonpublic school students.
Health and Safety Requirements
- A nonpublic school’s governing body may adopt a policy authorizing a school nurse or other designated school personnel to administer an epinephrine auto-injector to any student the authorized individual in good faith believes is experiencing anaphylaxis. The injection procedure should be in accordance with current medical practice. The student does not need a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. Nonpublic schools may also maintain a stock supply of epinephrine auto-injectors obtained at fair-market or reduced prices, or for free. C.R.S 22-1-119.5(5.5),(6), and (8); 12-36-117(1.8); 12-38-125(1)(n); and 12-42.5-102(42)(b)(xv).
- The CDPHE is under a duty to establish and enforce sanitary standards for the operation and maintenance of schools; all schools must meet health standards. Contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246; phone: 303.692.2000. NOTE: If a nonpublic school exists in some county other than Denver County, the county office of the CDPHE should be contacted. C.R.S. 25-1.5-101(1)(H). Private school students must receive immunizations as specified by the Colorado State Board of Health. Exemptions are allowed based on religious belief, endangerment to life, or sound medical practice. C.R.S. 24-4-901; 25-4-902; 25-4-904.
- Private schools are obligated to suspend or expel any student failing to obtain the proper school entry immunizations unless the student is otherwise exempt. Prior to suspension or expulsion, the appropriate school authority must give direct personal notification to the student’s parent or guardian, the emancipated student, or the student eighteen years of age, and inform them of the student’s rights. C.R.S. 25-4-902; 25-4-902.5; 25-4-903 and 25-4-907.
- Private and nonpublic school officials have the responsibility of ensuring the buildings used meet local building codes, zoning requirements, and fire safety standards. School officials have the responsibility to check with both the local city and county on these matters.
- Private schools are prohibited from using toxic fire extinguishing agents in any fire extinguisher device. C.R.S. 9-3-101.
- Duties regarding eye protective devices. Any person, firm, or organization maintaining any private school, university, college, or other institution of higher education, in the state of Colorado, must provide eye protective devices for the use of all students, teachers, and visitors when participating in courses, substances and activities dangerous to eyes. C.R.S. 22-3-101.
- Private schools providing food services are required to obtain an annual certificate of inspection for food service establishments. Parochial and private schools are granted certificates without incurring fees. C.R.S. 25-4-1606; 25-4-1607(I).
- Private school officials and employees are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the county department or local law enforcement agency. C.R.S. 19-3-304.
- There is no state policy at this time pertaining to transportation.
- The board of education of a school district has in its discretion to provide library resources for the benefit of children and the use of teachers to benefit children in the nonpublic schools out of federal grants made for this purpose. The provision of resources must be made without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. C.R.S. 2-32-110(dd).
- A child enrolled in a nonpublic school is not required to take the Colorado Student Assessment Program test (CSAP). C.R.S. 22-7-409(III).
- A nonpublic school shall be permitted to administer the assessments and shall be provided with the results. The nonpublic school shall be required to pay all costs associated with administering and providing results for such assessments. C.R.S. 22-7-409(1.3)(a).
- The board of education of a school district has in its discretion to provide special educational services and arrangements for the benefit of educationally deprived children in the district who attend nonpublic schools out of federal grants designated for that purpose. The provision of services must be made without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. C.R.S. 22-32-110(cc).
Nursing and Health
There is no state policy at this time pertaining to nursing and health.
- There is no state policy at this time pertaining to technology.
- Teachers, school nurses, or school administrators employed by a nonpublic school may participate as students in in-service education institutes or curriculum development programs conducted by school districts or boards of cooperative services (BOCES). At the discretion of the school district or BOCES such participants may be required to pay the pro rata share for the cost of participation. C.R.S. 22-25-108.
- Colorado law provides for cooperative ventures in teacher education programs between public and private schools and institutions of higher education. C.R.S. 22-62-102.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- There is no state policy at this time pertaining to reimbursement for performing state and local functions.
- Real and personal property used solely for religious worship or schools is exempt from taxation unless otherwise provided by general law. Colorado Constitution, Art. X, Section 5.
- Nonprofit private schools are exempt from real and personal property tax. 8 Colorado Code Regs. §1304-2.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: Public aid, i.e. aid from the general assembly, any county, city, town, township, school district or public corporation, to sectarian schools is expressly prohibited. Colorado Constitution, Art. IX, Section 7.
- The state legislature is expressly prohibited from appropriating money for education purposes to any person, corporation, or community not under the absolute control of the state, or to any denominational, or sectarian institution or association. Colorado Constitution, Art V, Section 34.
- The state legislature is expressly prohibited from appropriating money for educational purposes to any person, corporation, or community not under the absolute control of the state, or to any denominational, or sectarian institution or association.
- Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: The Douglas County School District (DCSD) Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (CSP) was enacted and launched in 2011. This program provides 500 tuition scholarships to any public school students who have spent at least one year enrolled in this district. Private schools located outside Douglas County may participate though homeschooled or online students may not. The school board must consider this program annually for renewal or cancellation. Eligible students may receive a scholarship worth either the private school tuition or 75 percent of the per-pupil public revenue ($4,575 in 2011-12), whichever is the lesser amount. In 2011, the program was challenged in state court. In early 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in favor of CSP. The appellate court ruling will be reviewed by the Colorado Supreme Court (as announced in March 2014). Several Amicus briefs submitted in early August 2014 support the program. As of September 2014, the Choice Scholarship Program is on hold due to the court challenge.
- Home-based education is a legitimate alternative to classroom attendance for the instruction of children. Homeschooling is permissible under Colorado law and is distinguished from private and nonpublic schools. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5.
Initial and Renewal Applications
- The parent or guardian must provide a written notification to the local school district office 14 days in advance, explaining his or her intent to home school. Written notification is to be given for each child six years of age or older, for each year the program is maintained. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(3)(e).
- All costs of home education are assumed by the parents. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5.
Curriculum and Instruction
- The instructor of a child being homeschooled must be a parent, guardian, or adult relative. The parent must keep records of attendance, test and evaluation results, and immunization records. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(3)(a).
- The nonpublic, home-based educational program must be a minimum of 172 days, averaging four instructional contact hours per day, and shall include, but not be limited to, communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, science, and regular courses of instruction in the constitution of the United States. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(3)(d).
- Teachers conducting evaluations for educational progress must be qualified as defined by the state. A qualified teacher is one who is licensed pursuant to article 60.5 of this title. The teacher is 1) employed by a nonpublic school; 2) a licensed psychologist; or 3) a person with a graduate degree in education. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(2)(c).
- Attendance data, test and evaluation results, and immunization records must be maintained and stored. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(3)(g).
Assessment and Diplomas
- Each child participating in a nonpublic home-based educational program shall be evaluated when such child reaches grades three, five, seven, nine, and eleven. Each child shall be given a nationally standardized achievement test to evaluate the child’s academic progress, or a qualified person shall evaluate the child’s academic progress. Testing is administered at the parent’s expense in accordance with the school district’s decision. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5.
- Parents of a homeschooled student are required to submit test or evaluation results to the local school district that received the written notice of intent to home school. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5(3)(f).
- Parents may request from a school district that a homeschooled child take a state assessment with the results being sent to the parents or legal guardian. C.R.S. 22-7-409(III)(1.3)(b).
- A district diploma is issued only to students who complete a public education school program. There is no state-accredited diploma issued to homeschooled students; however, parents may issue a diploma when the student completes the home-based program. Homeschooled children have the option of taking the GED. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5.
Public School Access
- Students who receive instruction at home and participate in an extracurricular activity at a school selected by a district may do so without having to enroll in a course or obtain course credit as a condition to participate. Districts, schools, and interscholastic organizations may require homeschooled students to enroll in a course if the extracurricular activity is an extension of the course. C.R.S. 22-33-104.5 (6)(b)(I).
Information and Legislative
Colorado Department of Education (CDE) – Colorado Non-Public Schools CDE ─ Colorado Legal Requirements for Non-Public Schools CDE ─ Schools of Choice Office CDE ─ Private School Resources CDE ─ Home School in Colorado Colorado Revised Statutes Colorado Regulations
Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education
Colorado Department of Education
201 East Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
U.S. Department of Education, Colorado
Updated October 20, 2014