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Nonpublic School Approval
Nonpublic School Approval > Docs > Fact Sheets
Legal Requirements
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MARYLAND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS

1. What does Maryland law require of nonpublic schools in order to operate?

Education Article, §2-206, Annotated Code of Maryland, requires a nonpublic school to hold a Certificate of Approval from the Maryland State Board of Education before it begins to operate. A nonpublic school that is operated by a bona fide church organization is not required to hold a Certificate of Approval. Such a school must, however, register with the State Department of Education before it begins to operate. Every nonpublic school in Maryland, therefore, must either be approved or registered as church-exempt with the State Department of Education.

2. May an entity refer to itself in any manner as a "school" if it is not approved or registered as church-exempt with the Maryland State Department of Education?

No. COMAR 13A.09.01 prohibits the use of the name "preschool", "school", "institute", or "academy" or words of like meaning, in such manner as to connote the offering of a high school, junior-high or middle school, elementary school, kindergarten, nursery school, or any combination thereof, unless the entity holds a Certificate of Approval or is registered as church-exempt with the Maryland State Department of Education.

3. Does attendance in a school that does not hold a Certificate of Approval or is not registered as church-exempt meet the compulsory school attendance law?

A school that does not hold a Certificate of Approval or that is not registered as church-exempt is not operating in compliance with Maryland law. Attendance in such a school, therefore, may not meet the compulsory school attendance requirement.

4. How can I be sure that the nonpublic school that I am interested in is operating legally?

Directory information about currently operating approved nonpublic schools is available by clicking here

Directory information about currently operating church-exempt nonpublic schools is available by clicking here.

5. What levels and/or grades are required to be approved by or registered as church-exempt with the Maryland State Department of Education?

The Maryland State Department of Education must approve or register all levels and/or grades offered in a nonpublic school. This includes Nursery School (ages 2, 3, and 4), Kindergarten (age 5), Elementary School (Grades 1 through 8), and Secondary School (Grades 9 through 12).

6. May a nonpublic school that is governed and operated by a bona fide church organization change its status from a church-exempt school to an approved school?

Yes.
A church-exempt school may seek approval from the State Board of Education at any time. Approval of an educational program does not interfere with the religious practices or teachings of a school.

7. May a church operated school seek a Certificate of Approval initially instead of beginning operation as a registered church-exempt school?

Yes. A church operated school may begin operation with a Certificate of Approval instead of registering as church-exempt.

8. May a church operated school operate part of its school as church-exempt (e.g. nursery school level and/or elementary school level) with the other part of its school approved (e.g. high school level)?

No. The entire school of a bona fide church organization must operate as either approved or church-exempt. A school cannot be partially church-exempt and partially approved.


Contact Information
Sarah Spross, Chief

Maryland State Department of Education
Division of Educator Effectiveness
Nonpublic School Approval Branch

200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone:  410-767-0409
Fax: 

410-333-8963

Email:  sspross@msde.state.md.us
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