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Private School Education Statutes

Wisconsin Statutes Pertaining to the Educational Program in Private Schools

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all state law requirements applicable to private schools. This and other related information provided by this Department is not intended as legal advice nor as instruction on how to incorporate or establish a private school. It is the sole responsibility of the new private school to develop an educational organization which is in compliance with all statutory requirements.

Section 115.001 DEFINITIONS.

In chs. 115 to 121:
(3r) “Private school” means an institution with a private educational program that meets all of the criteria under s. 118.165(1) or is determined to be a private school by the state superintendent under s. 118.167.


(7)(b) Subject to the same rules and laws concerning qualifications of applicants and granting and revocation of licenses or certificates under par. (a), the state superintendent shall grant certificates and licenses to teachers in private schools, except that teaching experience requirements for such certificates and licenses may be fulfilled by teaching experience in either public or private schools. An applicant is not eligible for a license or certificate unless the state superintendent finds that the private school in which the applicant taught offered an adequate educational program during the period of the applicant’s teaching therein. Private schools are not obligated to employ only licensed or certified teachers.

Section 115.30 FORMS AND REPORTS.

(3) On or before each October 15, each administrator of a public or private school system or a home-based private educational program shall submit, on forms provided by the department, a statement of the enrollment on the 3rd Friday of September in the elementary and high school grades under his or her jurisdiction to the department which shall prepare such reports as will enable the public and private school and home-based private educational programs to make projections regarding school buildings, teacher supply and funds required. The administrator of each private school system and home-based private educational program shall indicate in his or her report whether the system or program meets all of the criteria under s. 118.165(1).


118.076(1) (1) In this section, “automatic external defibrillator" has the meaning given in s. 440.01 (1) (ad).

118.076(3) (3) Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, each school board operating any grade from 7 to 12, the operator of each charter school established under s. 118.40 (2r) or (2x) that operates any grade from 7 to 12, and the governing body of each private school that operates any grade from 7 to 12 shall do all of the following:

118.076(3)(a) (a) Provide instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and cardiocerebral resuscitation in any health education course offered to pupils in grades 7 to 12. The school board, operator of the charter school, or governing body of the private school shall use either of the following, and shall incorporate into the instruction the psychomotor skills necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and cardiocerebral resuscitation:

118.076(3)(a)1. 1. An instructional program developed by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

118.076(3)(a)2. 2. Nationally recognized, evidence-based guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and cardiocerebral resuscitation.

118.076(3)(b) (b) Provide instruction about automated external defibrillators to pupils enrolled in grades 7 to 12 in the school district, charter school, or private school.


(1) The school board of a district operating high school grades shall determine, with the advice and consent of the state superintendent, the minimum standards for admission to high school.

(4) The school board of a school district operating high school grades shall allow a pupil enrolled in a private school or a pupil enrolled in a home-based educational program, who has met the standards for admission to high school under sub. (1), to take up to 2 courses during each school semester if the pupil resides in the school district in which the public school is located and if the school board determines that there is sufficient space in the classroom.


(1)(a) Except as provided under pars. (b) to (d) and sub. (4), unless the child is excused under sub. (3) or has graduated from high school, any person having under control a child who is between the ages of 6 and 18 years shall cause the child to attend school regularly during the full period and hours, religious holidays excepted, that the public or private school in which the child should be enrolled is in session until the end of the school term, quarter or semester of the school year in which the child becomes 18 years of age.


(1) In this section:

(b) “School attendance officer” means an employee designated by the school board to deal with matters relating to school attendance and truancy.
(c) “Truancy” means any absence of part or all of one or more days from school during which the school attendance officer, principal or teacher has not been notified of the legal cause of such absence by the parent or guardian of the absent pupil, and also means intermittent attendance carried on for the purpose of defeating the intent of s. 118.15.

(2) The school attendance officer:

(a) Shall determine daily which pupils enrolled in the school district are absent from school and whether that absence is excused under s. 118.15.
(e) Shall have access to information regarding the attendance of any child between the ages of 6 and 18 who is a resident of the school district or who claims or is claimed to be in attendance at a private school located in the school district.

(3) All private schools shall keep a record containing the information required under s.115.30(2) and 120.18. The record shall be open to the inspection of school attendance officers at all reasonable times. When called upon by any school attendance officer, the school shall furnish, on blanks supplied by the school attendance officer, such information in regard to any child between the ages of 6 and 18 who is a resident of the school district or who claims or is claimed to be in attendance at the school.

Section 118.165 PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

(1) An institution is a private school if its educational program meets all of the following criteria:

(a) The primary purpose of the program is to provide private or religious-based education.
(b) The program is privately controlled.
(c) The program provides at least 875 hours of instruction each school year.
(d) The program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health. This subsection does not require the program to include in its curriculum any concept, topic or practice in conflict with the program’s religious doctrines or to exclude from its curriculum any concept, topic or practice consistent with the program’s religious doctrines.
(e) The program is not operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory school attendance requirement under s. 118.15(1)(a).
(f) The pupils in the institution’s educational program, in the ordinary course of events, return annually to the home of their parents or guardians for not less than 2 months of summer vacation, or the institution is licensed as a child welfare agency under s. 48.60(1).

(2) An institution may request the state superintendent to approve the institution’s educational program as a private school. The state superintendent shall base his or her approval solely on the criteria under sub.(1).



If an association that regulates or accredits private educational institutions in this state submits an affidavit to the state superintendent attesting that the institution meets or exceeds all of the criteria under s. 118.165 and the state superintendent finds that the institution does meet all of the criteria under s. 118.165, the state superintendent shall determine that the institution is a private school. If at any time the state superintendent finds that an institution determined to be a private school under this section no longer meets the criteria under s. 118.165, he or she may withdraw the determination.


(1) Annually at such time as the department prescribes but after the end of the school year and no later than September 1, the school district clerk of a common or union high school district shall file a verified annual school district report with the department, on forms supplied by the department....
The report shall contain: (s) Such other facts and statistics in relation to the schools, public or private, in the school district as the department requires.


(2)(b) 1. Except as provided in sub. (1) or otherwise provided in this subsection, the school board of each district operating high school grades shall provide transportation to and from the school he attends for each pupil residing in the school district who attends any elementary grade, including kindergarten, or high school grade at a private school located 2 miles or more from his residence, if such private school is a school within whose attendance area the pupil resides and is situated within the school district or not more than 5 miles beyond the boundaries of the school district measured along the usually traveled route.

(2)(b) 3. By April 1, 1986, and annually thereafter by that date, each private school shall submit its proposed attendance area for the ensuing school year to the school board of each school district having territory within the proposed attendance area. If a proposal is not submitted by April 1, the existing attendance area shall remain in effect for the ensuing school year.

(2)(b) 4. No later than May 15 in each year, each private school shall notify each school board of the names, grade levels and locations of all pupils, if any, eligible to have transportation provided by such school board under this paragraph and planning to attend such private school during the forthcoming school term. The school board may extend the notification deadline.


(1) A school board or the governing body of a private school may provide pupil transportation services by the following alternative methods:

(a) A motor vehicle transporting 9 or less passengers in addition to the operator.
(b) A motor vehicle transporting 10 or more passengers in addition to the operator and used temporarily to provide transportation for purposes specified under s. 340.01(56)(a) when the school board or the governing body requests the secretary of transportation to determine that an emergency exists because no regular transportation is available. The secretary of transportation shall approve or deny the request in writing. Any authorization granted under this paragraph shall specify the purpose and need for the emergency transportation service.


Private schools participating in the Private School Choice Programs or the Special Needs Scholarship Program are subject to other requirements - see and   

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