State Board of Education.
With origins predating statehood, the 16-member State Board of Education (SBE) is comprised of five members elected by geographic regions by school board directors, one member elected by private school directors, seven members appointed by the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and two non-voting student members.
The SBE has various duties and powers prescribed in statute, including:
State law specifies that private schools should be subject only to those minimum state controls necessary to insure the health and safety of all the students and to insure a sufficient basic education to meet usual graduation requirements.
In accordance with the SBE's authority to approve private schools for operation, the administrative or executive authority of private schools or private school districts must annually file with the SBE a statement certifying that the minimum statutory requirements governing private schools are being met, noting any deviations. After review of the statement, the SBE must notify schools or school districts of any concerns, deficiencies, and deviations that must be corrected.
Among other obligations, the minimum requirements for private schools specify that the school year for instructional purposes must be no less than 180 school days or the equivalent in annual minimum instructional hour offerings, with a school-wide annual average total instructional hour offering of 1,000 hours for students enrolled in grades 1 through 12, and at least 450 hours for students enrolled in kindergarten.
The SBE may adopt rules establishing the terms and conditions for allowing private schools to maintain their approval status when private schools are unable to fulfill the requirement of a full school year of 180 days or the annual average total instructional hour offering required by law due to a significant disruption resulting from an emergency.
For purposes of the rulemaking authority, "emergency" is defined as a natural event, mechanical failure, or an action or inaction by one or more persons, including negligence and threats, that: is beyond the control of both a private school and its employees; and has the direct or indirect effect of rendering one or more school facilities unsafe, unhealthy, inaccessible, or inoperable. The term "emergency" does not include any labor or personnel dispute between the administrative or executive authority of a private school and any employee of the private school.
(In support) This is request legislation from the SBE. The bill allows similar waivers for instructional hours that are allowed for public schools to apply to private schools.
Unlike public schools, private schools do not have flexibility in law to waive instructional day and hour requirements. Private schools do not anticipate needing to use the waiver mechanism.
This bill is simple and important: it responds to a waiver gap and permits private schools to permit to operate with approval.