OVERVIEW OF COLORADO LAWS REGARDING PRIVATE “UMBRELLA” SCHOOLS
Colorado Non-Public Schools
Legal Requirements for Non-Public Schools
1. C.R.S. 22-33-104. School Attendance Law makes school attendance at a public school compulsory unless the child “is enrolled for a minimum of one hundred seventy-two days in an independent or parochial school which provides a basic academic education” or “is being instructed at home.” “Basic academic education” for the purpose of this article shall mean “the sequential program of instruction provided by an independent or parochial school. Such program shall include, but not be limited to, communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, and science.”
Provision for the enforcement of the compulsory attendance law is found in C.R.S. 22-33-107 and 22-33-108 which charges the local school district with the responsibility “to enforce the provisions of this article which relate to compulsory attendance.” Neither the State Board of Education nor any local board of education has jurisdiction over the internal affairs of any nonstate, independent, or parochial school in this state.
2. C.R.S. 22-1-114. Statements from private schools. “Whenever requested by the board of education of the school district in which a private school is located, if not more often than once per month, the person or corporation in charge and control of any school other than a public school shall certify in writing, and if so requested, upon forms or blanks furnished by the said school district for that purpose, a statement containing the name, age, place of residence, and number of days of attendance at school during the preceding month or since the preceding report of all children of school age who then are or since the preceding report have been attending any such school.”
3. C.R.S. 25-1-107(1)(m). The school must meet health standards. Contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80222, Phone: (303) 692-3620. (NOTE: If a non-public school exists in some county other than Denver County, the county office of the Colorado Department of Health should be contacted.)
4. A building being used by a non-public school must meet local building codes, zoning requirements, and fire safety standards. Non-public school officials have the responsibility to check with the local city and/or county on these matters.
5. Curriculum Required
22-33-104 (2) (b) C.R.S. requires that a sequential program of instruction be provided by an independent or parochial school. Such program shall include, but not be limited to, communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking, mathematics, history, civics, literature, and science.
22-1-106 C.R.S. requires information concerning the honor and use of the flag to be taught.
22-1-108 and 22-1-109 C.R.S. requires the United States Constitution to be studied. Instruction shall begin no later than the seventh grade and continue in high school.
The Colorado Department of Education does not mandate a prescribed set of adopted textbooks, approved curriculum, or course of study for public or non-public schools.
Home Study and Non-Public Schools
The School Attendance Law (Article 33 of Title 22, C.R.S.) distinguishes between non-public schools and home study. Home study is permitted in Colorado under this law. Non-public schools are required to provide a basic academic education, but are protected from untoward interference by any board of education, state or local.