Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice
Private Schools - FAQs
Definition of a private school:
- What is a Private School?
Section 1002.01(2), F.S., states a "private school" is:
- …a nonpublic school defined as an individual, association, co-partnership, or corporation, or department, division, or section of such organizations, that designates itself as an educational center…
- …includes kindergarten or a higher grade or as an elementary, secondary, business, technical, or trade school below college level…
- …or any organization that provides instructional services that meet the intent of s. 1003.01(13), F.S…
- …or that gives pre-employment or supplementary training in technology or in fields of trade or industry or that offers academic, literary, or career training below college level…
- …or any combination of the above, including an institution that performs the functions of the above schools through correspondence or extension, except those licensed under the provisions of Chapter 1005, F.S.
- A private school may be a parochial, religious, denominational, for-profit, or nonprofit school.
This definition does not include home education programs conducted in accordance with s. 1002.41, F.S.
- What is an "umbrella school"?
The term "umbrella school" is sometimes used to refer to a private school offering distance programs or services to enrolled students. If students are registered with a private school listed in the Florida Private Schools Directory, they are considered private school students, not home education students, regardless of where, or by whom, they receive instruction.
- How can I locate information regarding private schools in Florida?
The Florida Private Schools Directory is a database of information submitted by private schools. The database is intended to provide "a service to the public, to governmental agencies, and to other interested parties" and not to "regulate, control, approve or accredit private educational institutions." s. 1002.42(2)(h), F.S. As such, the Department of Education does not verify the accuracy of the data submitted pursuant to the annual survey and inclusion of a school's information in the database does not imply approval or accreditation by the Department of Education.
- Does enrolling my child in a private school satisfy the compulsory attendance requirements?
Yes. s. 1003.21(1)(a)1., F.S., states that all children who have attained the age of 6 years or who will have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year or who are older than 6 years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, except as otherwise provided, are required to attend school regularly during the entire school term. Private schools as defined in s. 1002.01(2), F.S., satisfy the requirements for attendance according to s. 1003.01(13), F.S.
- Is there a requirement for length of school year in private schools?
Yes. Rule 6A-1.09512, F.A.C., provides the following criteria:
- One hundred eighty (180) actual school days determined as prescribed by Section 1011.60(2), Florida Statutes, or
- A minimum of one hundred seventy (170) actual school days and the hourly equivalent of one hundred eighty (180) actual school days, determined as prescribed below:
- Kindergarten: Five hundred forty (540) net instructional hours.
- Grades 1-3: Seven hundred twenty (720) net instructional hours.
- Grades 4-12: Nine hundred (900) net instructional hours.
- Does the Florida Department of Education license private schools?
No. The Department of Education does not have jurisdiction over private schools. Legislative intent not to regulate, control, approve, or accredit private educational institutions, churches, their ministries, religious instruction, freedoms, or rites, is explicit. The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for all aspects of their educational programs.
- Do private schools have to be accredited?
No. In Florida, private schools are not accredited by the state. Additionally, the Florida Department of Education does not officially recognize any of the various agencies that accredit private schools. Contact the private schools and accrediting agencies to determine the accreditation status.
- Do private schools have to hire certified teachers?
No. The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for establishing duties, qualifications, and salaries of faculty and staff.
- How do I know if a private school is legitimate?
Since private schools in Florida are not regulated or accredited by the state, the Department of Education is unable to determine the legitimacy of a school. You have the right and the responsibility to select the appropriate school to meet your child's learning needs. The Choosing a Private School in Florida Web page can help you to evaluate your private school choices to see if the needs of your child will be met.
- Do private school students have to take the FCAT or other standardized tests?
Student assessment, including the administration of standardized tests, is based on the decision of the owners and individual policies of private elementary and secondary schools. There are no state requirements for regularly enrolled students of private schools to take the FCAT or other standardized tests. McKay Scholarship and Florida Tax Credit Scholarshipstudents have the option to request to take the FCAT or other state wide assessments. Florida Tax Credit Scholarship students in grades 3 through 10 are required to take the approved norm-referenced assessment offered by their private school
- Are private school transcripts or diplomas approved by the Florida Department of Education?
No. The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for establishing academic, graduation or promotion requirements. It is wise to check with the prospective college, university, or employer to determine whether or not diplomas and transcripts from a specific private school will be accepted.
- Do private schools have to follow a certain curriculum?
No. Content and comprehensiveness of the curriculum are solely the responsibility of the owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida.
- Will credits from a private school transfer to public schools in Florida?
- If a private school closes, where can I get a transcript or copy of a diploma?
The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for student records content, retention, transfer, and release. According to s. 1002.42(3)(b) and (c), F.S., all private schools that close should transfer information contained in student records to the local public school district superintendent or transfer records to that private school system or association of which they have been a member. Private schools that close should notify the Department of Education of the date of transfer, the location of storage, the custodian of records, and the number of records stored.
If the Florida Department of Education is not notified as to the location of records, they are considered lost. The Department of Education does not have any means of retrieving lost records.
- If I withdraw my child from a private school before the end of the year, can I get a refund?
The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for establishing tuition, fee scales, pupil expenditures, and refund policies. Check your enrollment agreements carefully.
- Does the state pay for any private school costs?
There are two state school choice scholarship programs that have been established to provide Florida parents and students with educational options to attend a private school: The McKay Scholarship Program for students with disabilities, and the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for children of families with limited financial resources. Please visit the Florida Department of Education McKay Scholarship and Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Web pages for more information on opportunities they provide.