Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice
Opening a Private School in Florida
Private schools operating in Florida are allowed by section 1002.01(2), Florida Statutes, to be organized as either for-profit or nonprofit entities. Persons opening a private elementary or secondary school in Florida are required to complete two basic steps: (1) establish the private school; and (2) register the existence of the private school, once established, with the Department of Education.
Step 1: Establish a Private School
- Applications to establish a for-profit or nonprofit organization for the purpose of creating a private elementary or secondary school are processed by the Office of the Secretary of State, Division of Corporations. The telephone number for the Division is (850) 245-6052. Information about starting such a business is available on the Division's website.
- Churches are usually structured as nonprofit corporations. Persons seeking to operate a private elementary or secondary school in church space or as a part of a church's corporate charter should work directly with the church's owner, board, or legal representative and the denomination's state headquarters or association.
- For-profit private schools must pay an occupational business tax and obtain a Business Tax Certificate (formerly called an occupational license) issued by the local municipality. Exemptions may be available for nonprofit educational and religious organizations that qualify as tax exempt under s. 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. However, a nonprofit private school may still be required to obtain a Business Tax Certificate at no charge. For assistance in determining exemption status, contact your local municipality.
- For-profit and nonprofit private schools are subject to local building, zoning, public safety, and inspection regulations.
- All school buildings, public and private, are routinely inspected by representatives from the local county health department for compliance with health and safety regulations.
- Persons interested in establishing a private school are encouraged to read and become familiar with all Florida Statutes that are applicable to private schools, including but not limited to:
- Section 1002.20 K-12 Student and Parent Rights
- Section 1002.01 Private School Definition
- Section 1002.42 Private Schools
- State Board of Education Administrative Rule 6A-1.09512 specifies that children who are of compulsory attendance age and enrolled in a nonpublic school are considered to be in compliance with Florida’s compulsory age attendance requirements.
- Private schools are also mentioned in laws and codes related to school bus inspection, health and safety, voluntary participation in certain programs, and incorporation.
Step 2: Register the Existence of a Private School with the Department of Education
- Section 1002.42, Florida Statutes requires the administrator of a private school with students, in any one or more of grades K-12, to register the school with the Department of Education and annually report student enrollments by grade.
- Section 1002.42, Florida Statutes authorizes the Department of Education to maintain and annually update a database of private schools in the state. The law further requires the Department to make private school information available to the public.
- Private schools are required to notify the Department of Education when they open, change location, or close. New private school owners must Request a School Code and Password in order to register as a private school. After receiving the school code and password, the private school must Login and follow the instructions to complete the annual private school survey.
- In order to complete the registration process, a private school must mail a signed, notarized copy of the annual private school survey to the Department of Education. The school will then be listed in the Directory of Private Schools.
- Submitting annual survey data and being listed in the directory is required, but this should not be used by any private school to imply approval, recognition, or accreditation by the state. See the General Requirements for Private Schools.
- Private schools in Florida are not licensed, approved, accredited, or regulated by the State Board of Education or the local (school district) education agency. Issues related to a school's policies, courses, credits, transcripts, and accreditations are best resolved with professional assistance from other successfully established private schools that are similar in purpose, grade levels, and students.
- To begin the process of registering your existence as a private school, click on this link to Request a School Code and Password.