Vermont State Regulations
Updated October 6, 2014 State Regulation of Private Schools (Revised July 2009) is the last full report.
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- Accreditation: no requirements
- Registration: no requirements
- Licensing: no requirements
- Approval or Recognition: one of the two is mandatory
- An independent school is defined by statute as “a school other than a public school, which provides a program of elementary or secondary education, or both.” 16 Vermont Statutes Annotated (VSA) §11(8).
- The compulsory attendance requirement for a child between six and 16 is met by attendance at an approved or recognized independent school. 16 VSA §1121.
- The state board of education is charged with adopting rules for approved independent schools. 16 VSA §164(14).
- The state board of education approves independent schools if the school provides a minimum course of study pursuant to 16 VSA §906 and substantially complies with the board’s rules for approved independent schools. The board’s rules require at a minimum (1) adequate resources to meet the school’s objectives, including financial capacity; (2) faculty qualified by training and experience in the areas assigned; and (3) physical facilities and special services in accordance with state and federal law. Approval may be granted without state board evaluation if the school is accredited by a private, state, or regional agency recognized by the state board. Approval may be revoked or suspended, after opportunity for a hearing, for failure to comply with state requirements. 16 VSA §166(b).
- Independent schools may apply for approval by the state board of education or file an enrollment notice as a recognized independent school. Tutorial programs, providing education to a pupil who is placed in a short-term program for evaluation and/or treatment, may also apply for state board of education approval. Per 16 VSA §828, approved schools are in the position to receive public tuition monies.
- Distance learning schools located in Vermont may apply for approval but are not eligible to receive tuition from public funds. For approval, distance learning schools must meet the standards of the state board of education that can be applied to that type of school and any rules created specifically for this type of school. 16 VSA §166 (b)(6).
- Independent schools that offer kindergarten, but no other graded education, may be approved by the state if the school substantially complies with the board’s rules for approved independent kindergartens. 16 VSA §166(b)(1).
- A recognized independent school may operate in Vermont upon filing an enrollment notice with the state secretary of education. The notice must include a statement that the school will be in session an amount of time substantially equivalent to that provided in public schools; and a detailed description of the minimum course of study for each grade level and how the annual assessment will be performed. In addition, assurances are needed that the school will (1) maintain attendance records: (2), maintain annual assessments of each pupil’s progress that are reported to parents or guardians; (3) provide the minimum course of study as provided by 16 VSA § 906; (4) employ teachers and have materials sufficient to carry out the educational program; and (5), meet applicable state and federal laws concerning physical facilities and health and safety matters. An enrollment notice must be renewed annually unless the school has been recognized or accredited by an organization that the state has approved to conduct these functions. If a school is unable to comply with any requirement due to a deep religious conviction shared by an organized group, the secretary may waive the requirement if the educational purposes are being met. 16 VSA §166(c). See Curriculum.
- If the Secretary has information that creates significant doubt about whether the school would be able to meet the recognition requirements, or once in operation is meeting the requirements, the secretary may call a hearing for a determination on the matter. If a school fails to establish that it can meet or has met the requirements, the secretary will require specific action to come into compliance, require the students to attend another recognized or approved school or course of study. 16 VSA §166(c)(2).
- Religious schools may apply to be either approved or recognized independent schools and follow the state board of education rules and the Vermont Statute for Independent Schools. However, the schools are not eligible to receive tuition from public funds per Chittenden Town School District v. Vermont Department of Education, (1999), 169 Vt. 310, 738 A.2d 539.
- The state board of education may approve tutorial programs if the program substantially complies with the board’s rules for approved tutorial programs. The board’s rules require, at a minimum, that the program meet general and special education requirements as described in the following areas: (1) instruction and methods of instruction must be age and ability appropriate and coordinate with those in the responsible school district; (2) sufficient financial capacity must exist to cover facilities, materials, and a professionally qualified staff; (3) teachers who provide or supervise special education instruction must have licensure and endorsement equivalent to that needed for the same work in a Vermont public school; (4) facilities and operations must comply with local, state and federal health and safety laws and requirements; (5) attendance must be registered daily and reported to the responsible school district; and (6) instruction must be provided for a minimum of 10 hours per week, unless inconsistent with medical and/or educational recommendations. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 2230.3
- Vermont has a council of independent schools to advise the secretary on policies and procedures with respect to independent schools. The secretary appoints the 11-member board. Nine members come from within the independent school’s community and two members from the community at large. At least three members must be representatives of recognized independent schools. 16 VSA §166(d).
- Teachers at approved schools need to hold “a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in their field of instruction or substantially equivalent time in training and experience in their field of instruction.” State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 2226.5.1.
- An approved independent school providing special education services must satisfy the state licensure requirements for personnel who are responsible for the provision or supervision of special education and related services. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 2228.3.2.
- Superintendents, principals, and teachers must subscribe to an oath prior to discharging their duties. The oath affirms their support for the constitutions and the laws of the United States and Vermont. Foreign citizens serving as superintendents, principals, or teachers are not required to take the oath. 16 VSA §12.
- Quasi-public or private elementary or secondary schools that directly or indirectly receive support from public funds are considered municipal employers under the Vermont Municipal Labor Relations Act. 21 VSA §1735.
Length of School Year and Days
- Recognized independent schools must be in session an amount of time substantially equivalent to that required for public schools. 16 VSA §166(c)(1)(A).
- Per 16 VSA §1071, the minimum number of days for public school is 175.
- School year is defined under Vermont’s general provisions as beginning July 1 and ending the next June 30. 16 VSA §11(a)12.
- Approved and recognized nonpublic schools must provide a minimum course of study in the following fields: basic communication, including reading, writing, and the use of numbers; citizenship, history, and government in Vermont and the United States; physical education and comprehensive health education; English, American, and other literature; the natural sciences; and the fine arts. 16 VSA §906.
- Independent schools must annually conduct exercises in commemoration of the birth, life, and services of Abraham Lincoln on the last school day before February 12. 16 VSA §907.
- It is the secretary of education’s duty to distribute, at his or her discretion and upon request, forms and materials relating to the Vermont state basic competency program for elementary and secondary pupils to approved independent schools. 16 VSA §212(12).
- Subject to the approval of the secretary, local school superintendents must arrange for the establishment of a driver education and training course for approved independent schools located within his or her supervisory jurisdiction if an independent school requests such a course. 16 VSA §1046.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- An approved independent school must provide to parents or guardians a statement of its status under Vermont’s approval requirements and a copy of 16 VSA §166 prior to accepting any tuition payments. 16 VSA §166(b)(3).
- A recognized independent school must provide to parents or guardians a copy of its currently filed statement of objectives and a copy of 16 VSA §166 upon enrollment or by September 1, whichever comes later. Failure to do so may create a permissible inference of false advertising. 16 VSA §166(c)(3).
- Recognized independent schools and approved independent schools must provide the names and addresses of enrolled pupils to the secretary on October 1 of each year. The school must also notify the commissioner of the names and addresses of any pupils withdrawing from the school within seven days of their withdrawal. 16 VSA §166(b)(4) and (c)(6).
Health and Safety Requirements
- No student may enroll in a Vermont school unless the appropriate person has received a record of certificate of immunization issued by a licensed physician or health clinic that the student has received immunizations appropriate to age as specified by the Vermont Department of Health. Exemptions to this requirement are allowed if the immunizations are in process, would be detrimental to the person’s health or are not appropriate, or if the immunizations are contrary to the person’s or parent or guardian’s religious beliefs. 18 VSA §§1121(a) and 1122 (a)(1) and (a)(2).
- Approval for independent residential schools is contingent upon proof of the school’s satisfactory completion of an annual fire safety inspection by the department of public safety or its designee pursuant to 20 VSA §§2728 through 2767. 16 VSA §166(b)(7).
- A certificate executed by the inspecting entity, declaring satisfactory completion of the inspection and identifying the date by which a new inspection must occur, must be posted at the school in a public location. The school must provide a copy of the certificate to the secretary of education after each annual inspection. The school must pay the actual cost of the inspection unless the amount is waived or reduced by the inspecting entity. 16 VSA §166(b)(7).
- Independent schools must drill the pupils once each month during the school year so that students are able to leave the school building and clear the halls in the shortest possible time and without panic or confusion. A record of the date and time of the drill, as well as the time consumed in vacating the building must be kept in the official school register and be open at all times for inspection by the department of labor and industry or the Vermont Agency of Education. A principal who willfully neglects to comply will be fined not more than $500.00. 16 VSA §1481.
- Independent schools must request a fingerprint-supported criminal record check on the person(s) recommended for any full-time, part-time, or temporary employment. The request must be conducted through the Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC). A notice of any criminal record must be reported by VCIC to the independent school, except for a record relating to any crimes of a sexual nature involving children. Such a record is sent to the secretary of education who must notify the headmaster in writing, with a copy to the person about whom the request was made. Any information sent to a person by a headmaster or the secretary of education must be accompanied by a written notice of the person’s rights enumerated under the statute. 16 VSA §251-260.
- The board of trustees of an independent school must adopt harassment-, hazing-, and bullying-prevention policies and establish procedures for carrying out these policies. 16 VSA §166(e)
- Independent schools must adopt a gun-free school policy. 16 VSA §1166 and 18 U.S.C. §921.
- Persons knowingly and unlawfully delivering or selling a regulated drug on a school bus or on real property comprising a private elementary, secondary, or vocational school will, in addition to any other penalty, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years. 18 VSA §4237.
- Each legal pupil, as defined in 16 VSA §1073, entitled or required to attend an elementary or a secondary school may be furnished with total or partial transportation to school if the board of school directors decides it is reasonable and necessary to enable him or her to attend school. Each board must adopt a transportation policy for pupils required to attend school in accordance with the procedure specified in 16 VSA §563(1). 16 VSA §1222.
- The state librarian will deliver a published copy of the state papers of Vermont to the library of a private high school acting as a public high school, upon request. 3 VSA §117(i).
- An approved independent school accepting students for whom the district of residence pays tuition under chapter 21 of this title must use the assessment or assessments required under 16 VSA §164(9) to measure attainment standards for student performance of those pupils. In addition, the school must provide data related to the assessment or assessments as required by the secretary. 16 VSA §166(g).
- The secretary of education establishes (1) minimum standards of services for students receiving special education in independent schools; and (2) maximum rates to be paid by the agency of education and school districts for tuition, room, and board after consultation with Vermont independent schools, based on the level of services. The secretary may also advise independent schools as to the need to provide for certain special education services in Vermont. 16 VSA §2973.
Nursing and Health
- Independent schools may participate in Vermont’s school lunch program operating under federal programs. 16 VSA §1261a; 1946-48 Op. Atty. Gen. 92.
- No state policy pertaining to technology currently exists.
- An approved independent school must have an adequate professional development program for its staff. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 2226.6.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- No state policy pertaining to reimbursements for performing state and local functions currently exists.
- No state policy pertaining to tax exemption currently exists.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: The Vermont Supreme Court has held that a reimbursement of tuition to a sectarian high school under this provision is not prohibited by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Campbell v. Manchester Bd. of School Directors, (Vt. 1994), 641 A.2d 352. However, the Vermont Supreme Court has held that Chapter I, Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution renders unconstitutional tuition reimbursement to sectarian schools without appropriate restrictions to safeguard against the use of the funds for religious worship. Chittenden Town School District v. Vermont Department of Education, (1999), 169 Vt. 310, 738 A.2d 539.
- Programs for financial assistance for attendance at private schools: Tuition assistance began with an 1869 law that allowed for tuition support of students to attend private school when the local Vermont school district does not have available public schooling.
- The electorate of a school district that does not maintain an elementary school may grant authority to the school board to pay tuition for elementary pupils at approved independent nonresidential elementary schools upon request of the parent or guardian if, in the board’s judgment, the pupil’s educational interests can be better served there than in another public school district. 16 VSA §821.
- The electorate of a school district that does not maintain an approved high school may provide for the high school education of its pupils by paying tuition to an approved public or independent high school selected by the parents or guardians of the pupil, within or outside the state. 16 VSA §822.
- School districts must pay high school tuition charged its resident pupils who attend an independent school in Vermont that functions as an approved area career technical center or an independent school meeting public school standards. 16 VSA §824. Vermont school districts that do not maintain an approved public high school may designate an approved independent school as the public school of the district and pay the tuition charges to the independent school. If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the instruction, cannot obtain a course or instruction desired, or whose child can be better accommodated in an approved high school nearer to his home, he or she may request that the school board pay tuition to another approved high school. 16 VSA §827.
- Religious schools may not be designated by school districts as the approved public school of the district, and tuition charges cannot be paid to the religious school. Chittenden Town School District v. Vermont Department of Education, (1999), 169 Vt. 310, 738 A.2d 539.
- Persons aggrieved by a school board’s decision relating to tuition payments may appeal to the state board, and its decision is final. 16 VSA §828.
- An independent school serving publicly placed students must notify the sending school board and the secretary of any proposed tuition increases on or before January 15 in any year. The increase will not become effective without the notice and not until the following school year. 16 VSA §826.
- The state treasurer may issue bonds to assist independent schools meeting public school standards which serve as public high schools. These independent schools must receive their principal support from public funds; and are supervised by a board of trustees; two-thirds of the membership being appointed by the selectmen of a town or by the city council or both. 16 VSA §3447.These independent schools may also apply to the state board for construction aid for additions, alterations, and acquisition of facilities. 16 VSA §§3447 and 3448.
- Homeschooling is an educational program offered through home study that provides a minimum course of study and is offered to children residing in that home and to two or fewer children from one family not living in the home. 16 VSA §11 (21).
Initial and Renewal Applications
- Parents wishing to homeschool their children must file a written notice with the secretary each year. The notice must contain the name and age of the child; contact information for parent and instructor; an assessment of progress for a child enrolled in a home school during the previous year; evidence that the child is or is not handicapped; a description of the content in each instructional area; the name of the resident school district; the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and signatures of the persons who will provide ongoing instruction in each subject matter of the minimum course of study required; and the signature of the parents or guardians, who are legally authorized to make educational decisions for the student. 16 VSA §166b(a).
- Qualified home study programs do not have to submit the minimum course of study to the agency of education. A qualified home study program is a program that has, for two consecutive years, not been disallowed by the order of a hearing officer, meets home study program requirements of the state, and has enabled the student(s) to progress commensurate with his or her age and ability in all subject areas of the minimum course of study. This does not apply if the child is 12 years old at the time of his enrollment. 16 VSA §166b(i) and (k).
Curriculum and Instruction
- Home study programs in Vermont must provide a minimum course of study in the following fields: basic communication, including reading, writing, and the use of numbers; citizenship, history, and government in Vermont and the United States; physical education and comprehensive health education; English, American, and other literature; the natural sciences; and the fine arts. 16 VSA §906 (a) and (b).
- Students 13 years or older in a home study program are no longer required to report to the agency of education study of physical education, comprehensive health, and the fine arts. An Act Relating to Home Study Programs, signed into law 2006. 16 VSA §166b(i)(2).
Assessment and Diplomas
- An annual assessment is required. Several options are open to parents, including assessment by a Vermont licensed teacher, complete results of a standardized achievement test, or a report by the instructor accompanied by a portfolio of the child’s work. 16 VSA §166b(d)
Public School Access
- A home study student is eligible to enroll part-time at school in his or her district of residence. If the district does not operate a school, the student may attend another public school for which his or her district of residence is required to pay tuition. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 4403.1.
- A home study student is eligible to try out for and/or participate in cocurricular and extracurricular activities at the public school in the district of residence or the public school to which the district is required to pay tuition. The student must still show compliance with insurance, physical examination, age, transfer, and the other requirements of the public school. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 4404.1.
- A home study student may use the portions of a school building and grounds used by students for classes, study and cocurricular or extracurricular activities of the district public school or the public school for which his or her district is required to pay tuition. State Board Manual of Rules and Practices 4405.1.
Information and Legislation
- Vermont Agency of Education (VAE): State Board of Education Manual of Rules and Practices – Evaluation of Private Education Programs
- VAE: Independent School Guide
- VAE: Home Study
- VAE: State Board of Education Manual of Rules and Practices – Home Study Students
- Vermont Statutes Online
Contact Information – State Agency and U.S. Department of Education
>Vermont Agency of Education
Rebecca Holcombe, Secretary of Education
219 North Main Street Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641
Phone: (802) 479-1030
Fax: (802) 479-479-1835
Email: aoe-Edinfo@state.vt.us or firstname.lastname@example.org
>U.S. Department of Education, Vermont
Updated October 6, 2015