West Virginia Regulations
(Last Updated June 7, 2013)
Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval
In West Virginia, nonpublic schools are classified as either exemption (b) or exemption (k) based on WV Code §18-8-1 (b) and §18-8-1 (k). Exemption (b) schools operate based on agreement with the county in which they are located. Exemption (k) schools operate based on compliance with WV Code §18-28.
- Accreditation is optional.
- The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) may recognize national or regional educational accrediting agencies. The WVBE will maintain a list of approved accrediting organizations. WV Code §§18-3-11, 18-2E-5, 18-2-6(d). Board of Education Policy 2330, §126-13C-2.
- West Virginia nonpublic schools that are directly accredited by an organization that has been recognized by WVBE “shall be accepted to meet the criteria for West Virginia non-public school accreditation.” WV Code §§18-3-11, 18-2E-5, 18-2-6(d). Board of Education Policy 2330, §126-13C-2.
- Registration is optional only for exemption (b) nonpublic schools. Registration is required for exemption (k) schools.
- Registration is one option for a nonpublic school to operate in West Virginia as noted in WV Code §18-8-1 (k), the first section of state law involved.
- Schools shall (WV Code §18-28-5) “register” with the state superintendent of schools. If a school registers to operate, it follows Chapter 18, Article 28 and administers a comprehensive test of basic skills on an annual basis. If a school complies with Article 28, no other education provisions apply except requirements respecting fire, safety, sanitation and immunization. WV Code §18-28-6. See Curriculum and Testing.
- No requirements for Licensing.
- Approval is optional and only relates to exemption (b) schools.
- Approval is a second option for a nonpublic school to operate in West Virginia as noted in WV Code §18-8-1 (b), the first section of state law involved.
- Schools may seek “approval” to operate from the local board of education. See Curriculum, Recordkeeping/Reports, and Testing.
- Attendance at an approved or registered private or parochial school exempts students from compulsory public school attendance. WV Code §18-8-1.
- Teacher certification is not required for teachers at private schools.
Length of School Year and Days
- “Approved” private and parochial schools serving students in lieu of public school must be open for a time equal to the county school term. WV Code §18-8-1.
- Private, parochial or church schools that are “registered” must observe a minimum instructional term of 180 days with an average of five hours of instruction per day. WV Code §18-28-2.
- All nonpublic schools (private, parochial, denominational) whether approved or registered are required to provide at least one year of instruction in West Virginia history prior to completion of the eighth grade. In addition, such schools must require regular courses in the history of the United States, in civics, the constitution and the government of both West Virginia and the United States by the completion of the twelfth grade. The boards of private, parochial and denominational schools have a duty to prescribe courses covering these subjects similar to those required in the public schools. WV Code §18-2-9.
- Private, parochial and church schools, exemption (k) schools, must establish curriculum objectives and provide an instructional program to develop the students’ potential for becoming literate citizens. WV Code §18-28-3. See Testing below.
- All nonpublic schools, private and parochial schools are required to use a state prescribed course of study in fire prevention. WV Code §18-2-8.
- Driver education courses offered by all nonpublic schools, private, parochial, or denominational schools, must comply with minimum standards established by the State Board of Education. WV Code §18-6-3.
- The basic language of instruction for all approved and registered private and parochial schools is the English language. WV Code §18-2-7.
- County boards of education control the supervision and regulation of interscholastic athletic events and other extracurricular activities and may delegate authority to the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission. WV Code §18-2-25.
Recordkeeping and Reports
- “Approved” exemption (b) private and parochial schools serving students in lieu of public school are required to furnish county boards of education any information and records requested regarding attendance, instruction, and progress of pupils under 17 years of age. WV Code §18-8-1 exemption (b).
- Registered private, parochial and church schools are required to maintain annual attendance and disease immunization records for each pupil enrolled. Attendance records must be made available to parents or guardians. Upon request of the county superintendent of schools, the school must furnish a list of names and addresses of all students between six and 17 years of age. WV Code §18-28-2.
- New schools operating under Chapter 18, Article 28, must send the state superintendent of schools a notice of intent to operate, name and address of the school, and name of the school’s chief administrator. Schools must also notify the superintendent upon termination. WV Code §18-28-5.
Health and Safety Requirements
- County boards of education may provide screening tests for vision, hearing, speech and language disabilities upon request for children entering nonpublic schools. WV Code §18-5-17(a).
- Registered private, parochial and church schools are “subject to reasonable fire, health, and safety inspections by state, county, and municipal authorities as required by law ….” WV Code §18-28-2.
- The state fire marshal will inspect all private schools for fire exits and reasonable safety standards and report his findings and recommendations to the proper administrative heads. WV Code §29-3-12(d).
- A person 18 or older who is sentenced to the custody of the commissioner of corrections for service of a sentence of incarceration and is convicted of a felony for distribution of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property of a private elementary or secondary school, if incarcerated, is ineligible for parole for three years. WV Code §60A-4-406(a).
- It is a felony to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon on a school bus or in or on any school building, structure, facility or grounds, except for law enforcement officers in their official capacity, persons authorized by the county board of education or school principal to conduct a program with a valid education purpose, and under some circumstances a person possessing or leaving locked-up an unloaded firearm or other deadly weapon in a motor vehicle. It is a felony to possess any firearm or any other deadly weapon with the intent to commit a crime. Revocation or denial of a motor vehicle license or instruction permit is among possible penalties. It is a misdemeanor for a parent, custodian or legal guardian of a minor, who knows that the minor has violated this provision, or has reasonable cause to believe that a violation is eminent, not to report the belief to the school or law enforcement officials. WV Code §61-7-11a.
- County boards of education have the authority to provide at public expense transportation for all school age children who live more than two miles distance from school. WV Code §18-5-13(f)(1)(A).
- Registered private, parochial, and church schools must comply with the West Virginia school bus safety regulations. WV Code §18-28-2(e).
- County boards of education may provide state-adopted textbooks for pupils enrolled in private schools whose parents are unable to provide textbooks. WV Code §18-5-21b.
- Registered private, parochial and church schools, exemption (k) schools, shall administer a standardized test on an annual basis to every child registered between the ages six and 17 years. The school administrator may select the comprehensive test of basic skills, the California Achievement Test, the Stanford Achievement Test or the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills/Tests of Achievement and Proficiency. Student test results and the school composite test results must be made available to parents or guardians. Upon request, the school composite test results must be furnished to the state superintendent of schools. Each of these schools must establish curriculum objectives and provide an instructional program to develop the students’ potential for becoming literate citizens. If a school’s composite test results fall below the fortieth percentile, the school must initiate a remedial program. If the results are not raised above the fortieth percentile level after two consecutive calendar years, attendance at the school may no longer satisfy the compulsory school attendance requirement. WV Code §18-28-3. Private, parochial or church schools complying with these provisions may participate in any state operated program made available by law. WV Code §18-28-4.
- The state superintendent of schools is responsible for assuring that all exceptional children including those in private schools receive an education in accordance with state and federal laws. WV Code §18-20-5(5). The state superintendent does not have authority for nonpublic schools.
Nursing and Health
- There is no state law at this time pertaining to nursing and health for private schools.
- There is no state law at this time pertaining to technology in private schools.
- There is no state law at this time pertaining to professional development for private schools.
Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions
- There is no state law at this time pertaining to reimbursement for performing state and local functions in private schools.
- The sale of textbooks, tangible personal property and services for nonprofit elementary and secondary schools, and food bought for and sold to students is exempt from the consumer sales tax. WV Code §11-15-9.
Public Aid for Private Education
- Constitutional Provisions: There is no relevant provision at this time pertaining to public aid for private education.
- Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: There is no such program at this time pertaining to financial assistance for attendance at private schools.
- West Virginia does not recognize home schools as private schools.
- West Virginia has a compulsory attendance statute, WV Code 18-8-1(a). Beginning with the 2011–12 high school freshman cohort class of students, the maximum age of compulsory school attendance is 17. WV Code 18-8-1(c) contains two subdivisions that allow an exemption to compulsory attendance for “home instruction.” Note: A homeschooled student is not considered a private school student in West Virginia.
Initial and Renewal Applications
- If the homeschool provider chooses to file a notice of intent to homeschool as noted in WV Code §18-8-1(c)(2), the person or persons providing home instruction must file a notice of intent to provide home instruction that contains the name, address, and grade level of the child to be instructed. The notice of intent shall be given at least two weeks prior to withdrawing the child from a public school. WV Code §18-8-1 (a); (c)(2)(A).
- The person or persons providing the instruction must submit satisfactory evidence of a high school diploma or its equivalent. The person providing home instruction must outline a plan of instruction for the ensuing school year. WV Code §18-8-1 (c)(2)(B) and (C).
Curriculum and Instruction
- If the homeschool provider seeks county board approval as noted in WV Code §18-8-1(c)(1), home instruction must be in the home of the child to be instructed or in another approved location and must be for a time equal to the school term of the county.
- The superintendent or a designee shall offer such assistance, including textbooks, other teaching materials and available resources, as may assist the person or persons providing home instruction subject to their availability. Any child receiving home instruction may, upon approval of the county board of education, exercise the option to attend any class offered by the county board of education as the person or persons providing home instruction may deem appropriate subject to normal registration and attendance requirements. WV Code §18-8-1 (c)(3).
Public School Access
- A homeschooled student prohibited from participating in interscholastic athletics does not violate equal protection under art. III, §10 of the West Virginia Constitution.
- “…Any child receiving home instruction may upon approval of the county board exercise the option to attend any class offered by the county board as the person or persons providing home instruction may consider appropriate subject to normal registration and attendance requirements.” WV Code §18-8-1 (c)(2)(E)(3).