Missouri State Regulations

Updated April 23, 2013 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • No requirements for Accreditation.
  • Registration is limited to those nonpublic schools that participate in federal and state grant programs.
  • No requirements for Licensing.
  • No requirements for Approval.

Teacher Certification

  • Teacher certification is not required by Missouri state statute for teachers in nonpublic schools. Nonpublic school teachers that hold state certification are subject to discipline by the State Board of Education for misconduct under Mo. Rev. Stat. §168.071.
  • The State Board of Education may refuse to issue or revoke a nonpublic school teacher’s certificate upon conviction of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude. Mo. Rev. Stat. §168.071(2).

Length of School Year and Days

  • Students in Missouri have the opportunity to enroll at public, private, parochial, parish, and home schools or a combination of the above. State law requires compulsory school attendance between the ages of seven years and the compulsory attendance age for a given school district. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.
  • Missouri state law does not specify a required length of school year or days for private schools. For comparison, the public school minimum school day consists of three hours for schools with a five-day school week or four hours for schools with a four-day school week in which the students are under the guidance and direction of teachers. The first day of July through the thirtieth day of June of the following year defines the school year period. Mo. Rev. Stat. §160.041.1.


  • Private schools, except privately operated trade schools, must provide courses of instruction in the constitutions of the United States and of Missouri and in American history and institutions. Instruction must begin no later than the seventh grade and continue in high school to the extent determined by the commissioner of education. No pupil can receive a certificate of graduation from any private school, except private trade schools, without satisfactorily passing an examination on these subjects. The commissioner will prescribe a list of suitable texts. These provisions do not apply to foreign exchange students. Mo. Rev. Stat. §170.011.
  • There is no specific state policy regarding other course content at this time for private schools.
  • The chief school officer of a nonpublic school has a duty to provide students information on available financial assistance for postsecondary education. The commissioner of higher education will provide nonpublic schools and their pupils with relevant information. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.278.

Recordkeeping and Reports

  • Each school superintendent of a private, parochial, or parish school must prepare a record showing the immunization status of every child enrolled. The superintendent must report the name of any parent or guardian who neglects or refuses to permit a nonexempt child to be immunized. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.181(4).
  • Student immunization records may be disclosed without a parent’s or guardian’s written authorization to individuals with a need to know, as specified by statute, e.g. employees of public agencies and departments. Anyone releasing the information for any other purpose would be liable for damages. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.183.

Health and Safety Requirements

  • Students attending private, parochial, or parish schools must comply with the Department of Health regulations governing the immunizations against poliomyelitis, rubella, rubeola, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. A student may not attend school unless he or she has been immunized, presents evidence of having begun the process, or is exempt. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.181.
  • Students are exempt from immunization if a parent or guardian presents to the school administrator a written objection based on religious beliefs or a written statement from a licensed physician that the immunizations are medically contraindicated. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.181.
  • Private elementary and secondary schools may obtain information from Missouri’s central registry of reports on child abuse and neglect pertaining to employees and volunteers or prospective employees and volunteers who provide services or care for children. Mo. Rev. Stat. §210.150(8).
  • Students, teachers, and visitors are required to wear industrial quality eye protective devices for courses involving exposure to certain hazardous materials. Mo. Rev. Stat. §170.005.
  • Private and parochial schools were required to examine their structures for friable asbestos and report the results to the Department of Health by March 1, 1987. Schools that have not completed their removal plan must reevaluate the material biennially and file a report with the department. Schools that identified nonfriable asbestos must reevaluate the material every three years, file a report with the department, and make their findings available to its employees and the public. Mo. Rev. Stat. §643.263.
  • Distribution of a controlled substance on or within 1,000 feet of a private elementary or secondary school in Missouri is a felony. Mo. Rev. Stat. §195.214.
  • “School-Based Nonviolent Conflict Resolution” materials developed by the Department of Health and State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can be made available to all schools, including private and parochial schools, and the general public. Mo. Rev. Stat. §170.046.



  • Transportation is not provided for students attending private schools. The provision of transportation to parochial school students by public school bus that also transports public school children violates the Missouri Constitution. McVey v. Hawkins, 258 S.W.2d 927 (1953).


  • Materials, supplies, or equipment, paid for with public funds, may not be provided to nonpublic schools. The provision of textbooks to teachers in private schools violates the Missouri Constitution. Paster v. Tussey, 512 S.W. 2d.97 (Mo. 1974).


  • Missouri state law does not require general testing of nonpublic school students.
  • Any student (public, nonpublic, or homeschooled) enrolled in a Missouri Virtual Instructional Program (MoVIP) course must take part in the Missouri Assessment Program through MoVIP. Mo. Rev. Stat. §161.670.

Special Education

  • The Missouri Department of Education may assign severely handicapped children to a private agency when it is in the best interests of the child. Mo. Rev. Stat. §162.735.
  • Special educational services may be offered during the regular school day to children who attend private, parochial, and parish schools. Mo. Rev. Stat. §162.996. LEAs must determine how and where services will be provided to children with disabilities attending private or parochial schools and could consider the provision of services at a neutral site. Missouri State Plan for Special Education – Part B (2012).

Nursing and Health

  • Nonpublic school students have access to state and county health services on the same basis as their public school counterparts.
  • Missouri provides special services to children enrolled in nonpublic schools identified as having a high risk of dropping out of school. Services may include skills assessment, tutoring, academic and personal counseling, family counseling, home visits, and staff development. Services must be provided at sites other than sectarian nonpublic schools. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.280.


  • Public, private, and homeschooled students are eligible to enroll in the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP), which offers online K–12 courses for students statewide. The Missouri Department of Education requests public or private schools, with any participating students in the MoVIP program, to provide a site liaison who will assist a student or virtual teacher if any challenges arise. Mo. Rev. Stat. §161.670.

Professional Development

  • There is no state policy at this time.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • There is no state policy at this time.


Tax Exemption

  • Sales by or to public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools are exempt from local sales tax. Mo. Rev. Stat. §144.030.2 (19) and (22).

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: The Missouri Constitution provides “No person can be compelled to . . . support any . . . teacher of any sect.” Missouri Constitution, Art. I§6. The public school fund may not be used for any other purpose than establishing and maintaining free public schools. The constitution further prohibits public aid to any private school controlled by any religious creed, church, or sectarian denomination. Missouri Constitution, Art. IX §8.

    Missouri’s Constitution notwithstanding, “educationally deprived children attending nonpublic schools” in Missouri “are entitled to receive allocation of federal funds for programs of special services comparable in quality, scope, and opportunity to children in public schools.” Barrera v. Wheeler, 475 F.2d 1388 (1973).

  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: There is no such program at this time.

Home Schools

  • A home school is not considered a private school though it is a school that “has as its primary purpose the provision of private or religious-based instruction.” Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.2(1)(a)-(c).
  • Instruction is given to children between the ages of seven and 17 years. Further state restrictions for children on either end of the age range are outlined in the law. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.1(3) and §167.031.2(3).

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • The parents may notify the superintendent of schools or the recorder of county deeds in the county where the parent resides of their intention to homeschool. This declaration of enrollment must be done before September 1 annually and within 30 days after establishing the home school. The law is permissive in the area of registering and does not mandate registration. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.042.
  • A parent who is homeschooling a child must maintain the following records: a plan book, diary, daily log, or other written record indicating the subjects taught and the activities engaged in with the student; a portfolio containing samples of the student’s academic work; and a record of evaluation of the student’s academic progress. These records do not need to be submitted. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • Any parent may educate a child at home. The parent does not have to hold a teaching certificate or meet any education requirements. If a parent decides to homeschool, he or she must provide 1,000 hours of instruction during the school year, with at least 600 hours in the basics, such as reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. At least 400 of the 600 hours must be taught in the home location. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.
  • Students may attend a combination of schools during the day ─ public or private school in the morning and home school in the afternoon ─ to satisfy the Missouri compulsory attendance law. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.

Assessment and Diplomas

  • If families are educating students of high school age and elect to re-enroll in the public schools, they need to be aware of the local board of education policies on accepting credit for students from unaccredited educational programs. There is no recognized high school diploma for homeschooled students. Individuals who have been homeschooled may take the high school equivalency exam to obtain their GED.

Public School Access

  • Homeschooled students may be allowed to attend public school part-time under Missouri’s compulsory attendance statute. Mo. Rev. Stat. §167.031.1.

Web Resources

Information and Legislation


Contact Information – State and Federal Departments of Education Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
205 Jefferson Street
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0480
Phone: 573-751-4212
Fax: 573-751-8613
TTY: 800-735-2966
Website: http://dese.mo.gov/
U.S. Department of Education: Missouri

Updated April 23, 2013