Maryland State Regulations
Updated June 13, 2014 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- Accreditation has no requirements.
- Registration is mandatory.
- Institutions operated by bona fide church organizations are exempt from the requirement to hold a certificate of approval from the Maryland State Board of Education if the legal authority of the bona fide church organization chooses. The head of a bona fide church organization must register a school operated by the organization by giving the school’s name and address and submitting acceptable evidence of the organization’s legal authority status. In addition, the organization’s head must provide to the Nonpublic School Approval Branch of the Maryland State Department of Education certification of the legal authority’s assumption of responsibility for governing and operating the nonpublic school. Schools in this category are called “church-exempt” schools. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-206(e)(4).
- Licensing has several requirements.
- Registered bona fide church organizations, and other entities desiring to operate nonpublic nursery schools, must hold valid child care center licenses or letters of compliance issued by the Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Child Care. Approval to operate nonpublic nursery schools is granted in accordance with Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)13A.16.16 Educational Programs in Nonpublic Nursery Schools. Licenses are issued in accordance with COMAR 13A.16 Child Care Center Licensing and COMAR 13A.17 Letters of Compliance.
- Nonpublic nursery schools operated by tax-exempt religious organizations that desire to obtain approval to operate from the Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Child Care are exempt from child care center licensing requirements. Annotated Code of Maryland, Family Law Article §5-574.
- There are no child care center licensing requirements for nonpublic kindergartens and grades 1–12.
- Approval is mandatory.
- Certificates of approval are required in Maryland to operate “noncollegiate educational institutions.” A certificate of approval is issued based on the adequacy and appropriateness of the facilities, conditions of entrance and scholarship, and educational qualifications and standards for the purpose of the institution, its program, personnel requirements, and certificates or diplomas issued. Institutions operated by bona fide church organizations are exempt from the requirement to hold a certificate of approval from the Maryland State Board of Education if the legal authority of the bona fide church organization so chooses. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-206(e) and COMAR 13A.09.09.01.
- An approved nonpublic school must certify to the Maryland Department of Education that it does not practice discrimination based upon race, color, or national origin. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-206(e)(3) and COMAR 13A.09.09.04H and COMAR 13A.09.10.06A.(3).
- An approved nonpublic school must display its certificate of approval in a “conspicuous place” on the premises. COMAR 13A.09.09. 03 E and COMAR 13A.09.10.03G.
- Regulations promulgated pursuant to Education Article §2-206 for approval of nonpublic schools include COMAR 13A.09.09, Educational Programs in Nonpublic Schools for private schools that are parent pay, and COMAR 13A.09.10, Educational Programs in Nonpublic Schools and Child Care and Treatment Facilities for schools that receive public funding.
- As with other nonpublic school programs in the state, Montessori programs must hold a certificate of approval issued by the Maryland State Board of Education. In addition, each approved nonpublic Montessori school must hold a certificate from a Department-recognized Montessori validating organization. By July 1, 2015, all approved (prior to Sept. 1, 2009) nonpublic Montessori schools must also possess a validating certificate issued by a Department-recognized Montessori validating organization. COMAR 13A.09.09.02B (11) and 13A.09.09.03N (1-2).
- Teachers who provide instruction in English, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and courses for which secondary school credit is granted at nonpublic schools approved under COMAR 13A.09.09 (private pay) must have a bachelor’s degree, 120 semester hour equivalence, or a bachelor’s degree equivalent as reviewed by an independent agency given authorization to evaluate foreign credentials. COMAR 13A.09.09.06.
- Teachers at nonpublic schools approved under COMAR 13A.09.10 (publically funded) shall hold certificates provided for in COMAR 13A.12.01 and COMAR 13A.12.02. COMAR 13A.09.10.18C (2).
Length of School Year and Days
- A nonpublic school approved under COMAR 13A.09.09 (private pay) must provide for at least 170 days for implementation of the school program. COMAR 13A.09.09.10B.
- A nonpublic school approved under COMAR 13A.09.10 (publically funded) shall provide at least 180 days of instruction. COMAR 13A.09.10.14B.
- The state board of education establishes minimum requirements for certificates or diplomas issued by private noncollegiate educational institutions, which include private K–12 schools. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-206(d). An approved nonpublic school must have an educational program in English, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies for kindergarten and all other grades. COMAR 13A. 09.09.07 (A)(2).
- A nonpublic school approved under COMAR 13A.09.09 (private pay) must require at a minimum the following credits for secondary school graduation: four credits in English-language arts; two credits in social studies to include at least one credit in U.S. history; six credits in science and mathematics (at least two credits in each); and nine additional credits in accordance with the school’s written requirements. COMAR 13A 09.09.09.
- A school approved under COMAR 13A.09.10 (publically funded) shall meet the requirements of COMAR 13A.03.02.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- Approved nonpublic schools must maintain a cumulative record of each student enrolled including the following: approved nonpublic school name, school address and telephone number, student’s first, middle, and last names; student’s birth date; student’s home address; month, day and year student entered; grade upon enrollment; month, day and year student withdrew; student’s performance information in each curricular area; code for the meaning of performance information; and number of days in attendance each school year. COMAR 13A.09.09.08 and COMAR 13A.09.10.10A.
- Each school annually certifies its compliance with the approval regulations by completing and submitting an annual report form provided by the Maryland Department of Education. COMAR 13A.09.09.04C and COMAR 13A.09.10.04B.
- Approved nonpublic high schools must be prepared to present a transcript of the secondary school record of each student for each year enrolled that contains specified components: school’s name, address, and telephone number; student’s first, middle, and last names; student’s date of birth; student’s home address; credits and grades earned in each subject area; code for the meaning of the grading system; transfer credits accepted by the secondary school; month, day, and year the student initially entered; month, day, and year the student withdrew or graduated; and number of days of attendance each school year. COMAR 13A.09.09.09D. and COMAR 13A.09.10.16C.
- The state archivist provides without charge a copy of each new Maryland Manual to each private educational institution. Annotated Code of Maryland, State Government Article §9-1027.
- If a private school ends operations in Maryland, the institution must file with the state’s superintendent of schools the original or a legible copy of all secondary school transcripts for each student who has been enrolled in grades 9 through 12 of the school. The records will become a permanent file maintained by the state’s superintendent of schools’ office to provide an academic record as required by postsecondary educational institutions for admission. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-304 and COMAR 13A.09.09D (3).
- The state board of education requires each private school to report annually, on or before Aug, 31, the school’s enrollment and courses of study on forms provided by the Board. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §2-205(n).
- The principal or head teacher of a private school is required to report immediately a student’s absence or irregular attendance without lawful excuse, or evidence of maladjustment to the county superintendent, supervisor of pupil personnel, or his designee, in order to resolve the situation. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-302.
- Approved nonpublic schools are required to distribute a written statement of their student-teacher ratios to parents annually. COMAR 13A.09.09.07D.
Health and Safety Requirements
- For initial issuance of a certificate of approval, a nonpublic school must verify that it is in compliance with applicable health, fire safety, and zoning regulations. COMAR 13A.09.09.11 and COMAR 13A.09.10.07A.
- An individual who has tuberculosis in a communicable stage may not work in any capacity in a private or parochial school. Certification and tests may be required as regulated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-406.
- County health departments must provide and fund hearing and vision screening for all students in approved nonpublic schools and approved nonpublic special education facilities. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-404.
- All nonpublic school employees and employers who have frequent contact with, or access to, students enrolled at a school are required to apply for and undergo a criminal background check. The applicants are responsible for fees assessed unless the employer agrees to pay the costs. Family Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 5, Part VI and Education Article §2-206.1
- Any adult who has reason to believe a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect must notify the appropriate authorities and the head of the school. Family Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, §5-704, COMAR 13A.09.09.04J and COMAR 13A.09.10.06A.
- Students who attend a private preschool program or nonpublic school must have the required immunizations for school attendance. Parents or guardians may furnish documentation to establish exemptions on medical or religious grounds. COMAR 10.06.04.03, 10.06.04.04, and 10.06.04.05.
- Private preschool programs and nonpublic schools must provide an immunization report annually, by Nov. 15, on students new to the program or school. COMAR 10.06.04.09.
- A nonpublic school that participates in state-funded education programs must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation that includes specific provisions. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-424.3.
- Nonpublic schools must establish a policy to permit school employees to administer auto-injectable epinephrine, if available, to a student who is known to be or thought to be in anaphylaxis. The school’s policy must include proper training, procedures for use, follow-up emergency procedures, allowance for school personnel to obtain and store the medication, specific parental notification, and an oversight and monitoring policy process. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-426.3.
- School buses used to transport students to nonpublic schools must be equipped with seat back crash pads that meet the standards established by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §22-417.
- School buses, owned by private schools that are exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, are not subject to excise taxes upon issuance of a certificate of title. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §13-810.
- The Maryland Nonpublic Student Textbook program provides “funding for the purchase of textbooks, computer hardware and computer software for loan to students in eligible nonpublic schools, with a maximum distribution of $60 per eligible nonpublic school student for participating schools, except that at schools where at least 20 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch program, the distribution will be $90 per student. The textbooks and computers purchased under this program must be secular in nature and acceptable for use in any public elementary or secondary school in Maryland.” Maryland Nonpublic Student Textbook Program: 2008-2009 Program Requirements and Procedures for Ordering Textbooks, Hardware, Software, and other Electronic Learning Materials, Maryland State Department of Education, October 2008.
- Schools that are regulated by COMAR 13A.09.10 and identified as publicly funded schools must meet all state testing requirements.
- Schools that are regulated by COMAR 13A.09.09 and identified as private schools are not required to meet state testing requirements.
- Children who need special educational services that are not provided in a public program will be placed at public expense in an appropriate nonpublic educational program that offers these services. Md. Education Code Ann. §8-406.
- The state board of education is responsible for adopting guidelines for the approval of public placement of children with disabilities in nonpublic schools if the local school system cannot provide an appropriate placement. Standards for the education of those children enrolled in programs operated by agencies other than a county board must be as high as the standards for county board programs. The standards for the education of students with disabilities are found in the COMAR 13A.09.10.
- County boards of education must provide or arrange for the transportation of handicapped students publicly placed in nonpublic schools. Md. Education Code Ann. §8-410.
Nursing and Health
- The county health department is required to provide hearing and vision screenings for students attending approved nonpublic schools. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-404.
- County Boards may allow private and parochial schools to connect to a closed-circuit educational television system maintained for public schools at the discretion of the public school system. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-107.
- Maryland law provides for representation of nonpublic schools on the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board. Two administrative or supervisory staff of approved Maryland nonpublic schools and one certified nonpublic school teacher is chosen to serve on the 25-member board from nominees provided by the Association of Independent Schools. Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §6-703.
- Teachers employed in schools approved under COMAR 13A.09.10 (publically funded) shall hold certificates in compliance with COMAR 13A.12.01 and COMAR 13A.12.02 for public school teachers. COMAR 13A.09.10.18C.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- There is no state policy at this time pertaining to reimbursement for performing state and local functions in private schools.
- Property used exclusively for a charitable or educational purpose to promote the general welfare of the people of Maryland and owned by a nonprofit educational organization is exempt from property tax. The limit on exemptions for real property is 100 acres. Md. Tax-Property Code Ann. §7-202(b), (c).
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: There is no state constitutional provision regarding nonpublic education.
- Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: There is no such program at this time pertaining to financial assistance for attendance at private schools.
- Home instruction programs that deliver regular, thorough instruction during the school year in subjects usually taught in public schools to children of similar age, five years old or older and under 16, satisfy Maryland’s compulsory school attendance law (subject to amendment July 1, 2015). Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article §7-301.
- Home instruction in Maryland is governed by state regulations that establish the process a local school superintendent uses to ensure a homeschooled child receives consistent and comprehensive instruction similar to that received by public school students of similar age. COMAR 13A.10.01 (A).
- A home-based private educational program is not a private school under state law.
Initial and Renewal Applications
- Parents or legal guardians must submit a written statement on a consent form prescribed by the Maryland Department of Education at least 15 days before the beginning of a home instruction program. Forms are available upon request to the local school system. COMAR 13A.10.01.
- Once home instruction is established, parents must annually thereafter, before the beginning of the school year, verify the continuation of home school instruction for their children with the local school superintendent. COMAR 13A.10.01.01 (2).
- Parents or legal guardians must select an entity to supervise the home instruction they provide. That entity may be one of the following: the local school system; a nonpublic school that holds a certificate of approval from the Maryland State Board of Education; a church-exempt nonpublic school; or an education ministry of a bona fide church organization. COMAR 13A.10.01.05.
Curriculum and Instruction
- Such parents or legal guardians must provide regular, thorough instruction in the subjects that are taught in the public schools. Parents or legal guardians may unilaterally select the relevant instructional materials and equipment they wish to use. COMAR 13A.10.01.
- Parents or guardians must teach their homeschooled children in the following mandatory subjects: English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. COMAR 13A.10.01.01C. (2).
Assessment and Diplomas
- The parent of a home instruction program must allow a representative of the local school system to review “the portfolio of educational materials, discuss the instructional program, and observe the instruction provided. … There are not more than three reviews during a school year.” COMAR 13A.10.01 (E).
- A parent of a child in a home instruction program may request that the child participate in the regularly scheduled standardized testing that is administered in the public school where the child is eligible to attend. COMAR 13A.10.01.02.
Public School Access
- There is no regulation at this time allowing homeschooled students to participate in courses or activities that are offered by a Maryland public school other than the standardized testing program. COMAR 13A.10.01.
- Parents or guardians may request that a homeschooled child participate in the regularly scheduled standardized testing programs being given at the child’s local public school district. COMAR 13A.10.01.02.
Information and Legislation
- Maryland Department of Education (MSDE): Nonpublic School Approval
- MSDE: Home Instruction
- MSDE: Nonpublic Schools Workgroup
- MSDE: Nonpublic Schools Regulations
- Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR): COMAR Online
- Code of Public General Laws (Statutes) of Maryland
Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education
- Maryland Department of Education
Certification and Accreditation Division
Nonpublic School Approval Branch
200 West Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
- Maryland Department of Education
Student, Family, and School Support Division
The Student Services and Alternative Programs Branch
200 West Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
- Maryland Department of Education
200 West Baltimore St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410-767-0100; 888-246-0016
U.S. Department of Education, Maryland
Updated June 13, 2014