Kentucky State Regulations
Updated January 25, 2017 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- Accreditation: optional
- In order for a nonpublic school to become certified, the school must first be accredited by one of the accrediting agencies recognized by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and the Kentucky Non-Public School Commission (KNPSC). Non-Public School Information Packet.
- Registration: no requirement
- Licensing: optional
- Kentucky law provides optional certification for private, parochial, and church schools that comply with curriculum, certification, and textbook standards established by the KBE. Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) §156.160(3).
- Pupils completing the prescribed elementary program of studies at any approved (interchangeable with certified in Kentucky) private or parochial school are entitled to a certificate of completion signed by his/her teachers. The certificate entitles the pupils to admission into any public high school. KRS §158.140.
- Proprietary schools, i.e. privately owned for-profit educational institutions offering instruction in business, trade, technical, industrial, or related areas, but not including parochial, denominational, or charitable schools, cannot be established, maintained, operated, or conducted without a license. KRS §§ 165A.310 and 165A.330.
- Approval: See Licensing
- Proprietary schools are subject to state minimum standards. The standards include qualifications of instructors and administrators. KRS §§165A.310 and 165A.370.
Length of School Year and Days
- The school term for private and parochial schools may not be shorter than the term of the local public school district; if the school operates year-round then the minimum term is 185 days that includes no less than the equivalent of 1062 instructional hours in a minimum of 170 instructional days. KRS §§158.070 and 158.080.
- Instruction at private and parochial schools must be in the English language. KRS §158.080.
- The State Textbook Commission approves text materials for certified private and parochial schools if texts are comprehensive and appropriate to the grade level in question, notwithstanding that they may contain elements of religious philosophy. KRS §156.445(3).
- Proprietary schools are subject to state minimum standards. The standards include the quality and content of courses. KRS §§165A.310 and 165A.370.
- If an unmarried child between the ages of 16 and 18 wishes to terminate his or her education prior to graduation, the principal/designee must conduct a conference with the student and request a conference with the child’s parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must sign a written notification of withdrawal. The parent/guardian and child are required to attend a one-hour counseling session on potential problems of nongraduates. KRS §159.010(2).
Recordkeeping and Reports.
- Private and parochial schools are required to report to the local school district superintendent the names, ages, and places of residence of all pupils and any other information the superintendent requires to comply with the laws relating to the compulsory attendance and employment of children within two weeks of the first day of the school year. KRS §159.160.
- If a private, parochial or church regular day school declines to notify the local board of education of those students in attendance, the school must notify each student’s parent/guardian in writing and it then becomes the duty of the parent/guardian to notify the local board of education. KRS §159.030(1)(b).
- Private and parochial schools must keep student attendance records in a register provided by the State Board for Elementary and Secondary Education. The schools must make attendance and scholarship reports in the same manner as required of public school officials. KRS §159.040.
- The schools must be open to inspection by the directors of pupil personnel and officials of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) at all times. KRS §159.040.
- Voter registration forms are available to private schools upon request from the county clerk. The school may designate an individual to inform students and employees of the availability of the forms and assist them in properly registering. The completed forms must be returned to the county clerk for official registration. KRS §116.046.
- Proprietary schools are subject to state minimum standards. The standards include that student and faculty records must be available for inspection. KRS §§165A.310 and 165A.370.
Health and Safety Requirements
- Persons smoking tobacco products on school grounds while children are assembled will be fined between $1 and $5, except adult employees smoking in a designated room or individuals smoking in designated areas in secondary schools. KRS §438.050.
- If the local board of health or Cabinet for Health and Family Services determines a school building is unsanitary, unsafe, or constructed in violation of the law, the local board of health or Cabinet for Health and Family Services “may institute an action in the Circuit Court of the county where the building is situated, and the court, after due hearing and verifying the facts, may order a safe and sanitary school building to be erected within a reasonable time by the county or city board of education in accordance with the laws of the state governing the erection of schoolhouses and the control of disease, and the rules and regulations of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.” KRS §212.210(3).
- The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act includes provisions that require procedures to identify and control asbestos hazards in private schools, grades K–12, reviewing school asbestos management, and inspections of schools for compliance. KRS §224.20-300.
- The KDE operates a program to identify and locate missing children. By statute, the KDE must distribute a list of missing and recovered Kentucky school children to private schools weekly. Private schools must notify the KDE at its earliest known contact with any child appearing on the list. KRS §156.495.
- School districts that “contract to furnish transportation to students attending nonpublic schools may adopt any payment formula which assures that no public school funds are used for the transportation of nonpublic students.” KRS §157.360(2)(c).
- Kentucky’s statutory provision, KRS §171.215, furnishing textbooks to nonpublic schools, was found unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Fannin v. Williams, 655 S.W.2d 480 (1983).
- No state policy currently exists.
- Kentucky publicly places students in private schools that maintain special education programs approved by the Kentucky Board of Education if the local school district does not provide a special education program for the student’s exceptionality. Transportation costs are included in the costs covered by the state. KRS §157.280(1) and (2).
Nursing and Health
- Private primary or secondary schools, and preschool programs must require a current immunization certificate for any child enrolled as a regular attendee to be on file within two weeks of the child’s attendance. Any child enrolled in grade six must also have an immunization certificate for hepatitis B. The certificate is provided by administrative regulation of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, promulgated under KRS Chapter 13A. KRS §214.034.
- KRS §§339.210 through 339.450 that deals with employment of minors do not prevent the use of suitable machinery for instruction in schools where the mechanical arts are taught in connection with and as part of the usual school curriculum. The use of such machinery in a private school is subject to the approval of the board of education of the district where the school is situated. It is also subject to the general industrial safety standards and safeguards that apply to use of such machinery. KRS §339.430.
- No state policy currently exists.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- No state policy currently exists.
- Nonprofit educational institutions are exempt from taxation. Kentucky Constitution Sec. 170.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: Kentucky’s constitution prohibits the appropriation, use, or aid of any church, sectarian or denominational school through state taxes levied for educational purposes. Kentucky Constitution Sec. 189. Kentucky’s constitution provides that the common school (public school) fund be appropriated to the public schools and to no other purpose. Kentucky Constitution Sec. 184 and 186.
- Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: No such programs currently exist.
State-Level Nonpublic School Working Group
- The Kentucky Non-Public School Commission, Inc. is not mandated by Kentucky law. However it was created by the KBE, the KDE, and the leadership of the state’s nonpublic schools was created to address the common concerns of those privately operated schools that desired to be in voluntary compliance with state standards, and thus become “certified” nonpublic schools. The commission was incorporated in 1993, and in 1994 the KBE approved its accreditation process. The Kentucky Non-Public School Commission website.
- Parents have the prerogative to choose the education for their child. Kentucky State Board for Elementary and Secondary Education V. Rudasill, Ky. 589 S.W. 2nd 877 (1979).
- Home schools are defined as nonpublic schools in Kentucky. Because home schools are considered private schools in Kentucky, private school laws apply equally to home schools. KRS §159.030.
Initial and Renewal Applications
- Parents wishing to educate their child at home must first establish a bona fide school, notify the local superintendent of schools that they have established this school, and report the names, ages, and place of residence for each pupil in attendance at the school. Each year they must notify the local superintendent of schools of their intent to homeschool their child(ren) within two weeks of the first day of the school year. KRS §159.160.
- The homeschool parent must keep student attendance records and be open to inspection by the KDE. KRS §159.040.
Curriculum and Instruction
- The curriculum is to be similar to the courses taught in the public schools of the state, consistent with KRS §156.445(3). This is interpreted in Kentucky State Board for Elementary and Secondary Education V. Rudasill, Ky. 589 S.W. 2nd 877 (1979) to at least include reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, mathematics, and civics. KRS §158.080.
- The school term of nonpublic schools, including home instruction, may not be shorter than the term of the local public school district; if the school operates year-round, then the minimum term is 185 days. KRS §§158.070 and 158.080.
Assessment and Diplomas
- No state policy currently exists.
Public School Access
- Individual school districts can decide whether to allow home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities. Kentucky Home School Information Packet.
Information and Legislative
- Kentucky Department of Education: Non-Public Schools
- Non-Public School Information Packet
- Kentucky Department of Education: Home School
- Kentucky Home School Information Packet
- Kentucky Revised Statutes
Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Capital Plaza Tower
500 Mero St.
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-4770
U.S. Department of Education, Kentucky
Updated January 25, 2017