(Last Updated September 15, 2013)
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
- In Nebraska, a nonpublic school must be (a) accredited; (b) approved; or (c) receive an exemption from the Commissioner of Education from the requirements for the operation of approved private schools.
- Accreditation: optional
- Approved private, denominational, or parochial schools are eligible to apply for and maintain accreditation. Title 92, Nebraska Administrative Code, Chapter 10 §001.03 (92 NAC 10 §001.03).
- Registration: no requirements
- Licensing: no requirements
- Approval: mandatory
- Approval is required unless a school chooses to operate under the provisions for “exempt” schools in 92 NAC 12 or 13. 92 NAC 14 §001.02.
- The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is authorized to establish rules and regulations regarding the governance and standards for private, denominational, and parochial schools which elect, pursuant to procedures prescribed in Nebraska Revised Statue §79-1601 (2) to (6) (Neb. Rev. Stat §79-1601 (2) to (6)), not to meet all state accreditation or approval requirements. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-318(5)(c).
- Schools exempt from the approval and accreditation requirements are not considered either approved or accredited by the Nebraska Department of Education and are not entitled to any of the benefits, privileges, or services accorded or provided to approved or accredited schools by 92 NAC 12 §001.02 and 13 §001.02.
- Private, denominational, and parochial school teachers in accredited and approved schools must hold a valid Nebraska certificate or permit issued by the commissioner of education. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-802.
- Pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-1603, persons conducting religion or prekindergarten classes which are not counted towards the nonpublic school’s courses for purposes of complying with the requirements in accredited or approved nonpublic schools are not required to hold Nebraska certification. 92 NAC 10 §003.01 and 14 §004.01A.
- Administrators in accredited nonpublic schools and approved private schools that are composed of k-12, or each secondary school with grades 10–12 or high school, must have a Nebraska administrative certificate. Approved nonpublic schools may share an area or diocesan head administrator. 92 NAC 10 §003.01 and 14 §004.02C.
- Employees of schools electing not to be accredited or approved (exempt schools) need not be certified, but must complete appropriate subject matter components of a nationally recognized teacher competency examination or offer evidence of competence through informal methods of evaluation developed by the state board of education. These methods are described in the regulations 92 NAC 12 §004.02 and 13 §004.02. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-1601(5).
- In an accredited nonpublic school, the ratio of pupils to certified staff members as computed on a full-time equivalency shall not exceed 25 to 1. 92 NAC 10 §012.01C.
- Accredited nonpublic schools must have a principal who holds a Nebraska administrative supervisory certificate with an endorsement for serving as principal for the appropriate level of grades or for superintendent. The principal is assigned at least one-half of his/her working hours for administration and supervision when there are 10 or more full-time equivalency teachers; and full-time when there are 20 or more. For each accredited private school having grades 10–12, the head administrator must have the endorsement for serving as a superintendent. Nonpublic school systems may share an area or diocesan head administrator. 92 NAC 10 §008.
- In accredited nonpublic schools with elementary grades, a minimum of 95 percent of teachers, computed on a full-time equivalency basis, must hold certificates with the appropriate endorsements for the area to which they are assigned. Those with the middle grades must have, computed on a full-time equivalency, at least 90 percent of teachers holding either a middle grades endorsement or an appropriate secondary endorsement; those with an elementary endorsement may teach in grades seven and eight if they acquire six credit hours per year toward the middle grades endorsement or participate in staff development; and those with a content area endorsement at the secondary level may teach grade six in that content area if they acquire six credit hours per year toward the elementary or middle grades endorsement. In a secondary school, at least 80 percent of the instructional units offered must be assigned to teachers who have certificates with the appropriate endorsements. 92 NAC 10 §007.
- Accredited k–12 or secondary nonpublic schools and schools with 300 or more students in the middle, secondary, or high school grades must have at least one-half time equivalency person to conduct a guidance and counseling program. If there are over 400 students in the k–12 or secondary school there must be at least one full-time equivalency appropriately endorsed person. If there are 450 or more students in the middle, secondary, or high school grades there must be at least one full-time equivalency appropriately endorsed person. An additional one-half time equivalent of an appropriately endorsed person is assigned for each 225 students at any of those levels. In nonpublic schools, clergy holding a Nebraska teaching or administrative certificate may fulfil the requirement. Other exceptions are listed in the section. 92 NAC 10 §007.05
- In an approved nonpublic school, the ratio of pupils to certified staff members, as computed on a full-time equivalency basis, shall not exceed 30 to 1. 92 NAC 14 §004.02C4.
- Approved nonpublic elementary schools having more than one and less than 10 full-time equivalency teachers must have a principal or designate one teacher as head teacher. The head teacher holds at least a Nebraska initial, standard, or professional teaching certificate issued with an appropriate endorsement for elementary education. The principal must hold a Nebraska standard or professional administrative certificate issued with an endorsement for principal or superintendent. When the number of full-time equivalency teachers reaches 10 or more, a principal holding a Nebraska standard or professional administrative certificate with an endorsement for principal or superintendent must be assigned at least one-half time for administration and supervision. Two or more schools may jointly contract with a person holding a Nebraska standard or professional administrative certificate with an endorsement for principal or superintendent. 92 NAC 14 §§005.02B, 005.02C, 006.02B, and 006.02C.
- In approved nonpublic schools with elementary grades, a minimum of 90 percent of teachers, computed on a full-time equivalency basis, must hold certificates with the appropriate endorsements for the areas to which they are assigned. Those with middle grades must have, computed on a full-time equivalency, at least 80 percent of teachers holding either a middle grades endorsement or an appropriate secondary endorsement; those with an elementary endorsement may teach in grades seven and eight if they acquire six credit hours per year toward the middle grades endorsement or participate in staff development; and those with a content area endorsement at the secondary level may teach grade six in that content area if they acquire six credit hours per year toward the elementary or middle grades endorsement. In a secondary school, at least 70 percent of the instructional units offered must be assigned to teachers who have certificates with the appropriate endorsements. 92 NAC 10 §§006-007.
Length of School Year and Days
- Under Nebraska’s compulsory education statute, a school term (year) must be no less than 1,032 instructional hours for elementary school and 1,080 instructional hours for high school. Kindergarten’s school term must be at least 400 clock hours. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-211; 92 NAC 10 §003.06 and 14 §004.01.
- Approved and accredited private, denominational, and parochial schools, grades k–five, must devote at least one hour per week to reciting stories of American history or American heroes, singing patriotic songs and memorizing the “Star Spangled Banner” and “America,” and developing reverence for the flag and instruction proper conduct in its presentation. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-724(3).
- In at least two grades from grades five–eight, approved and accredited private, denominational, and parochial schools must devote at least three periods per week to the teaching of American history from approved textbooks, taught so as to make the course interesting and attractive and to develop a love of country. In at least two grades of every high school, three periods per week must be devoted to civics, including the constitutions of the United States and Nebraska; the benefits and advantages of our form of government; the dangers and fallacies of Nazism; communism, and similar ideologies; and the duties of citizenship. Appropriate patriotic exercises must be held for Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s birthday, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day. Nebraska requires that all of these history courses stress the contributions of all ethnic groups to the growth of America, art, music, education, medicine, literature, science, politics, government, and war service. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-724(4)-(6).
- Approved and accredited private, denominational, and parochial schools must provide regular periods of instruction on fire dangers and fire prevention. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-706.
- Approved and accredited private, parochial and denominational school teachers must give special emphasis in their instruction to common honesty, morality, courtesy, obedience to law, respect for the national flag, the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of Nebraska, respect for parents and the home, the dignity and necessity of honest labor, and other lessons which promote an upright and desirable citizenry. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-725.
- Accredited and approved schools must have a core curriculum which includes language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, career and technical education, world language, visual and performing arts, and personal health and physical education. More detailed requirements depending on grades in the school are listed in 92 NAC, chapter 10 for accredited private schools and chapter 14 for approved private schools. 92 NAC 10 §002.05 and 14 §002.03.
- Each accredited and approved four year high school shall require at least 200 credit hours for graduation, with 80 percent being from the core curriculum. 92 NAC 10 §003.05 and 14 §004.01D.
- Accredited nonpublic high schools may provide up to 200 instructional units of the total 400 requirement through the following course options: (1) synchronous multi-site or distance learning; (2) instructional units provided through contractual or cooperative arrangements with other school systems, educational service units, and/or postsecondary institutions provided at the school’s expense; or (3) asynchronous multi-site or distance learning. For the instructional units to count, at least one student must be enrolled, a certified teacher must monitor or teach, and the course must be listed on the course schedule. 92 NAC 10 §004.04D.
- Approved nonpublic high schools may provide up to 100 instructional units of the total 200 required through the following course options: (1) instructional units provided through contractual or cooperative arrangements with other school systems, educational service units, and/or postsecondary institutions; (2) distance learning can represent up to 60 instructional units; or (3) correspondence courses available through Independent Study High School, University of Nebraska-Lincoln can account for 30 instructional units. For any instructional unit to count, at least one student must be enrolled, a certified teacher must be monitor or teach, and the course must be listed on the course schedule. 92 NAC 14 §007.01A.
- Prior to the date that an exempt school begins operation, each representative must submit a chart or written summary showing the scope and sequence of the sequential program of instruction designed to lead to basic skills in the language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health to the Commissioner of Education. 92 NAC 12 §004 and 13 §004.
- Instruction must be given in the English language in private, denominational and parochial schools. Nebraska Constitution Art. I, Sec. 27.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- Private schools must notify in writing persons enrolling new students that within 30 days they must provide (a) a certified copy of the student’s birth certificate or (b) other reliable proof of the student’s identity and age, along with an affidavit explaining why the birth certificate is inaccessible. Exempt schools (home schools) provide the commissioner of education with this same documentation. Neb. Rev. Stat. §43-2007(2)(3).
- On the third day of classes, in private, denominational, and parochial schools, the teachers shall send to the superintendent or administrator of the school a list of the pupils enrolled in his or her school with the age, grade and address of each. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-205.
- Private, denominational, and parochial school teachers must keep a record of (1) the name, age, and address of each child enrolled, (2) the number and county of the school district, (3) the number of days present and absent, and (4) the cause of absence. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-205.
- The head administrator of approved or accredited nonpublic schools must report the number of students who dropped out, were suspended, or excluded from school to the Commissioner of Education annually. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-527.
- Student records must be provided at no charge to any public or private school, upon request, when the student transfers. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-2,105.
- When notified that a student currently or previously enrolled is a missing person, private schools must flag the student’s records and report immediately any request for the records or knowledge of the person’s whereabouts to the local law enforcement agency. Schools must not forward a copy of the student’s flagged record to a requesting school. Neb. Rev. Stat. §43-2007.
- Nonpublic schools shall have a school record that is signed by the teacher and principal of the school which such child has attended and shall be furnished on demand to a child entitled thereto. It shall contain a statement certifying that the child has regularly attended the public school, or school’s equivalent, or parochial school for no less than three-fourths of the school year prior to applying for such school record, and is able to read and write simple sentences in the English language. It shall also state the amount of work completed by such child, measured by the grade of the public day schools in the city or county. Such school record shall also give the age and residence of the child as shown on the records of the school, and the name of his/her parent, guardian, or custodian. Neb. Rev. Stat. §48-306.
- A permit holder may not carry a concealed handgun in any building, grounds, vehicle, or sponsored activity or athletic event of any private, denominational, or parochial elementary, vocational, or secondary school. Neb. Rev. Stat. §69-2441.
- The head administrator of an accredited nonpublic school or the head administrator, or head teacher, or presiding officer of the governing body of each approved nonpublic school must submit electronically, via the Nebraska Student and Staff Record System (NSSRS) portal, the following:
- By Sept. 15 of each school year, a fall personnel report, with additions of certified staff after that date being reported to the department
- By the last day of February of each school year, a curriculum report
- Data elements with individual student demographics, including race, poverty status, high mobility status, attendance, and limited English proficiency; individual student achievement including data for assessments; and individual educational input characteristics including class size, teacher education, teacher experience, special education, early childhood programs, federal programs, and targeted education programs. These must be submitted by June 30 of each school year for the accredited nonpublic school. 92 NAC 10 §003.08 and §005.02 and 14 §004.01G.
- Approved nonpublic schools must annually prepare a written report, which includes, at minimum, student performance and student demographics. No public reports of students’ performance are provided for any grades having fewer than five students. 92 NAC 14 §004.02E2.
- The parent representative of each exempt school must file a statement annually, by July 15, containing names and ages of all children in the school and the names of their parents or guardians and assurances regarding submission of information on enrollment and attendance, signed in the presence of and acknowledge by a notary public upon oath or affirmation. This statement must be accompanied by a parent or guardian’s statement signed by each parent of all children who attend the exempt school. 92 NAC 12 §003.02A and 13 §003.02A.
- The parent representative of each exempt school must submit an information summary to the commissioner or designee prior to the date that the exempt school begins operation, and annually thereafter July 15, that includes: (1) a calendar of the school year indicating the hours of operation; (2)a list of all instructional monitors including their address, age, highest level of education complete, educational institutions attended and years of attendance, and a summary of prior teaching or monitoring experience; (3) a chart or written summary showing the scope and sequence of the curriculum; and (4) the names of the residential public school district and counties of the students. 92 NAC 12 §004 and 13 §004.
- A copy of the certificate or permit of each staff member of an approved private school who is required to have a certificate must be on file in the school or school system’s administrative office. 92 NAC 14 §004.02C3.
Health and Safety Requirements
- Any person who possesses a firearm in a school, on school grounds, in a school-owned vehicle, or at a school-sponsored activity or athletic event is guilty of the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm at a school. Unlawful possession of a firearm at a school is a class IV felony. Neb. Rev. Stat. §28-1204.04(1).
- A political subdivision may enact an ordinance, resolution, or other legal restriction prescribing where sex offenders may reside only if the restrictions are limited to sexual predators, and extend no more than five hundred feet from a school or child care facility. Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-4017.
- Each private, denominational, or parochial school, (including exempt schools that are not exempt for religious reasons) shall require each student to be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus prior to enrollment. On and after July 1, 2010, every student entering the seventh grade shall have a booster immunization containing diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and an acellular pertussis vaccine. Neb. Rev. Stat §79-217 and 92 NAC 12 §013.
- Exceptions to the immunization requirement can be found in Neb. Rev. Stat §79-221 through 222, and 92 NAC 12 §013.
- The second Friday of May is designated as State Fire Day to be observed by approved and accredited private and parochial schools to create awareness of fire damage. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-705.
- Approved and accredited private, denominational and parochial schools must provide monthly fire drills. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-706.
- Approved and accredited private schools must conduct regular fire drills in accordance with adopted regulations and keep all doors and exits unlocked during school hours. Neb. Rev. Stat. §81-527.
- Accredited schools must maintain safe, orderly, and healthy conditions, both in the school facilities and general environment. This includes a safety and security plan and committee, a policy on bullying, and a policy on dating violence that includes a statement that dating violence will not be tolerated. 92 NAC 10 §011.
- School boards providing transportation for children attending public schools must also provide transportation on the regular public school bus routes without cost for children attending nonprofit private schools within the district that are approved for legal operation under Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-318(5)(c). The transportation shall extend only from some point on the regular public school route nearest or most easily accessible to their homes to and from a point on the regular public school route nearest or most easily accessible to the school or schools attended by such children. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-601.
- The Nebraska Supreme Court determined that Neb. Rev. State §79-487, the source of Neb. Rev. Stat §79-601, does not violate the constitution of Nebraska. State ex rel. Bouc v. School Dist. of City of Lincoln, 320 N.W.2d 472 (1982).
- Nonprofit private schools must certify to the public school district the names, addresses, days of school attendance, and other useful information, on forms provided by the State Department of Education. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-601.
- Nonpublic schools must have transportation vehicles inspected by a motor vehicle mechanic before school opens in the fall and every 80 days during the school year. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-602.
- School bus drivers must furnish to the governing authority of a nonpublic school a driving permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles before contracting to provide school bus services. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-608.
- Companies providing bus service to private, denominational, or parochial schools must give instruction in safe riding practices and emergency evacuation drills at least twice during each school year. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-609.
- Public school boards of education have a duty to loan textbooks, upon request, to children attending k–12 private schools approved for legal operation under Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-318(5)(c) when funds are specifically appropriated by the state legislature. The textbooks must be designated for use in the public schools and loaned to private school students free of charge. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-734.
- An approved private elementary school must have at least one set of encyclopedias which has a copyright date within six years of the current school year. Each approved private secondary school has two sets of encyclopedia from different publishers with copyright dates from within the past five years. Required encyclopedia may be in print or electronic format. 92 NAC 14 §004.02D.
- Accredited nonpublic schools are required to administer a standardized norm-referenced test in at least one grade in each of the following three levels: grades four to six, grades seven to nine, and grades 10 to 12. Each school must submit a written performance report annually. 92 NAC 10 §005.01B – 005.02.
- Approved nonpublic schools are required to administer a standardized norm-referenced assessment instrument in at least one grade in each of the following three levels: grades four to six, grades seven to nine, and grades 10 to 12. Each school must submit a written performance report including school demographics annually. Also at least once every three years, each approved private high school must conduct a follow-up study of its graduates. 92 NAC 14 §004.02E.
- School districts are permitted to contract with private institutions for the education of students with disabilities (Nebraska Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 11) provided that the referral meets the regulatory requirements of NDE as provided in 92 NAC 51 §015.
- A nonpublic school or facility with a publicly placed student with disabilities may initiate and conduct any meeting to review and revise the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) at the discretion of the school district or approved cooperative. The school district or approved cooperative shall ensure that the parents and nonpublic representative are involved in any decisions about the student’s IEP and agree to any proposed changes in the IEP before those changes are implemented. 92 NAC 51 §015.01B.
- If the parents of a child with a disability, who previously received special education and related services under the authority of the school district or approved cooperative, enroll the child in a nonpublic preschool, elementary or secondary school as a means of obtaining special education and related services without the consent of or referral by the school district or approved cooperative, a court or a hearing officer may require the school district or approved cooperative to reimburse the parents for the cost of that enrollment if the court or hearing officer finds that the school district or approved cooperative had not made a free appropriate public education available to the child in a timely manner prior to that enrollment and that the private placement is appropriate. A parental placement may be found to be appropriate by a hearing officer or a court even if it does not meet the state standards that apply to education provided by the school district or approved cooperative. 92 NAC 51 §015.02B.
- Parentally placed nonresident nonpublic school children with disabilities may receive a different amount of services than resident public and nonpublic school children with disabilities. 92 NAC 51 §015.03H2.
- Elementary and secondary nonpublic school teachers, employed by or contracted with the local education agency, providing equitable service to parentally-placed nonresident nonpublic school children with disabilities do not have to meet the special education teacher requirements of 92 NAC 51 §§003.62 and 015.03H1.
Nursing and Health
- Private schools may request assistance, including vaccines, serums, services and guidance, from the Department of Health in establishing immunization clinics. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-218.
- An approved or accredited private, denominational, or parochial school shall allow a student with asthma or anaphylaxis to self-manage his or her asthma or anaphylaxis condition upon written request of the student’s parent or guardian and authorization of the student’s physician, upon receipt of a signed statement and pursuant to an asthma or anaphylaxis medical management plan. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-224.
- An approved or accredited private, denominational, or parochial school shall allow a student with diabetes to self-manage his or her diabetic condition upon written request of the student’s parent or guardian and authorization of the student’s physician, upon receipt of a signed statement and pursuant to a diabetes medical management plan. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-225.
- Private schools may request materials for a comprehensive health education course prepared by the commissioner of education. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-713.
- Accredited and approved nonpublic elementary schools are required a minimum of 25 new library media resources in print format, not including textbooks and encyclopedias, of different titles, per teacher, per year, of up to 150 titles in one year. For accredited private schools, 75 of the new titles must be in print format if the library media resources are also available through electronic format. For the approved private schools, 100 of the new titles must be in print format if the library media resources are also available through electronic format. 92 NAC 10 §006.01B and 14 §004.02D2.
- In accredited nonpublic schools, technology staff and services must be available locally or in collaboration with other agencies to provide support, maintenance, consultation, and training for meaningful use of technology resources. 92 NAC 10 §007.04.
- Accredited nonpublic school systems must annually conduct or arrange staff development sessions. Each teacher must participate in at least 10 hours of staff development activities each year. 92 NAC 10 §007.07A.
- Approved nonpublic school teachers must participate in at least 10 hours of staff development activities each year. 92 NAC 14 §004.02C5.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- There is no state policy at this time.
- Meals and food products sold for human consumption by private schools, student organizations, and parent-teacher associations are exempt from sales and use tax, including concession sales by elementary and secondary schools to the general public. Neb. Rev. Stat. §77-2704.10.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: The Nebraska Constitution prohibits state appropriations for schools not owned or exclusively controlled by the state or a political subdivision. Contracts with nonsectarian schools for the education of disabled students are an exception. The Constitution specifically allows for the distribution of federal funds in accordance with federal grants. Nebraska Constitution Art. VII, Sec. 11.
- Programs for financial assistance for attendance at private schools: There is no such program at this time.
- In Nebraska, “home schools” are referred to as exempt schools and are considered private non-approved and non-accredited schools. By filing for and receiving exempt status, parents are electing not to have their child attend a school that meets State approval or accreditation requirements while also complying with the compulsory school attendance law. Neb. Rev. Stat. §79-201(e).
Initial and Renewal Applications
- Parents or legal guardians who elect to homeschool their child because the requirements for school approval and accreditation interfere with the decisions of the parents or legal guardians in directing their child’s education do so under 92 NAC 12. Parents or legal guardians who elect to homeschool their child because the requirements for school approval and accreditation would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs do so under 92 NAC 13. Each parent or legal guardian, regardless of the justification they use, must sign a separate statement of objection and assurances. 92 NAC 12 §§001.02, 003.01 and 13 §§001.02, 003.01
- Thirty days before beginning homeschooling, and annually thereafter by July 15, the parent representative must file a statement containing the names and ages of all children in the school and the names of their parents or guardians, and containing assurances regarding submission of information on enrollment and attendance, signed in the presence of, and acknowledged by, a notary public upon oath or affirmation with the statements of objection and assurances. 92 NAC 12 §03.02A and 13 §03.02A
- Upon enrollment of a student in an exempt school, the parent or guardian must provide the commissioner of education with either (a) a certified copy of the student’s birth certificate or (b) other reliable proof of the child’s identity and age with an affidavit explaining the inability to produce a copy of the birth certificate. 92 NAC 12 §009 and 13 §009.
- Each exempt school that is not exempt for religious reasons shall require each student to be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus prior to enrollment. On and after July 1, 2010, every student entering the seventh grade shall have a booster immunization containing diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and an acellular pertussis vaccine. 92 NAC 12 §013.
- Exceptions to the immunization requirement can be found in 92 NAC 12 §013.