A proposed rule change by the Alabama Department of Education will more strictly enforce laws regarding the licensure of private schools in the state.

Alabama State Superintendent Tommy Bice presented the state school board with a draft of new regulations on Thursday that would beef up the state Department of Education’s enforcement of laws regarding the licensure of private schools.

Malissa Valdes Hubert, a spokesperson for the department, said laws regarding the licensure of private schools had been on the books for some time, but had not been strictly enforced by the Department of Education. Hubert said the passage of the Alabama Accountability Act necessitated more thorough licensure because of its requirements regarding qualifying schools.

Hubert said private schools can obtain two-year licenses if they meet the following requirements:

N Teachers must hold Alabama teaching certificates.

N The school must keep attendance records.

N The school must have a bond to insure students and their families against loss if the school shuts down.

N The school’s academics standards must be comparable to state standards.

N The school must keep records.

N The school must comply with zoning and building codes.

“A lot of this is commonsense things you would expect most private schools are already doing,” Hubert said.

Private schools will have to meet some other requirements to allow parents who transfer students there from a failing public school to receive tax credits on tuition, including accreditation and the acceptance of students receiving scholarships under the Alabama Accountability Act.

Hubert said some schools could apply for exemptions to the licensure requirements. Hubert said church schools could obtain an exemption so long as they did not receive any state or federal funding. Schools that have had national accreditation since 1984 could also obtain an exemption.

The state board of education will vote on the proposed rule changes in early July.

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