Approximately five hundred private schools operate in Washington, serving over 80,000 students. A private school is a non-public school that conducts a program of kindergarten and at least grade one, or a program of any or all grades one through twelve. Private schools must be approved by the State Board of Education as offering a program that ensures a sufficient basic education to meet usual graduation requirements and that meets reasonable standards for the health and safety of private school students.
Private schools are required to submit reports each year to comply with Washington state law. Only some of the paperwork is required by the Washington State Board of Education, listed below. Schools may also need to submit information to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Private School Participation in Federal Programs) and will need to report to the Department of Health (School and Child Care Immunization).
For the State Board of Education:
- SPRING—Annual Approval Applications are submitted in the spring. After initial approval or reapproval, your application will be reviewed at the June State Board of Education meeting.
- FALL—Annual Enrollment Reporting is due later in the year—the number of pupils enrolled at your school on October 1, 2021. The enrollment reporting will be submitted through an application here (coming later this summer) not through EDS.
Private School Approval
All private schools are approved annually by the State Board of Education. Applications for approval for the 2021-2022 school year will be accepted from March 15 through April 16, 2021.
Safe Return to School
Public and private schools in Washington are developing plans for a safe return to school so they can deliver the best possible educational experience to their students. All schools will follow safety guidelines of official state and local health agencies. While all schools will follow the same guidelines, each school will make their own decisions about opening and interacting with students based on the needs of families and the community.
- Find information and resources about COVID-19 in the SBE news section.
- Download the new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document created for Private Schools.
- Get updates about COVID-19 from the Washington Federation of Independent Schools.
How to Change Private School Information
By submitting the following form, a private school may change the Head of School, the Head of School contact information, the school address, and/or the school contact information.
In response to COVID-19 disruptions, the Spring 2021 emergency waiver program allows school districts to waive certain credit and subject area graduation requirements on an individual student basis for students who were on track to graduate. Schools whose educational program was disrupted so that the school will be unable to meet hour or day requirements may also waive this requirement. Schools who use this waiver program must notify the State Board of Education by filling out this Private School Emergency Waiver Notification by July 31, 2021.
To follow developments, please consult the Emergency Waiver Program page.
Please comply with local health department, Department of Health, and Governor Inslee’s school closures guidelines.
- Sortable list of schools approved for the 2020-2021 school year.
- Find approval certificates approved on July 9, 2020 on SBE's drive. (Once there, select "grid view" for easier access to your school's certificate)
- Find approval certificates approved on May 14, 2020 on SBE's drive. (Once there, select "grid view" for easier access to your school's certificate)
- Sortable list of schools approved for the 2019-2020 school year, as of the end of the September 2019 SBE meeting. See also the full data from schools approved for the 2019-2020 school year, as of the end of the September 2019 SBE meeting.
- Sortable list of schools approved for the 2018-2019 school year, as recommended to the State Board of Education by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- 2018-2019 Enrollment Data by School
- 2019-2020 Enrollment Data by School
- 2020-2021 Enrollment Data by School
- Approved private schools from previous years are listed in private school enrollment reports available on the OSPI Data and Reports webpage.
Private schools that are closing must complete the closure form. Please ensure that records from the closing private school are transferred to a reliable person/entity for storage and that students and parents/guardians understand how to request their records.
To access certain state programs, such as fingerprinting and the free or reduced lunch programs, private schools will need to use the Educational Data System (EDS), which is supported and maintained by OSPI. For instructions on how to gain access or receive a particular user role, please visit our EDS access page.
Depending on the topic, different offices in different state agencies may be the most appropriate to provide information and supports to private schools. The following is a list of topics with links to resources within state agencies, as well as with other organizations that work with private schools:
- Educational Data System
- Private School Frequently Asked Questions
- Fingerprinting--OSPI Office of Professional Practices
- Teacher Certification—OSPI Certification Office
- Special Education—OSPI Special Education Office
- Clock Hour Provider Information—OSPI Certification Office
- Free or Reduced Lunch Program—OSPI Office of Child Nutrition
- Federal Programs—OSPI Title and Federal Accountability Offices
- Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS)
Private School Laws
- RCW 28A.195 Private Schools
- WAC 180-90 Private Schools
- WAC 392-335 Pupils—Uniform Entry Qualifications
- WAC 392-300-070 Private School Fingerprint Process
- RCW 28A.150.220 Basic Education Act—Program Requirements—Program Accessibility—Rules
- WAC 392-410 Courses of Study and Equivalencies
- WAC 180-51 High School Graduation Requirements
- RCW 28A.225 Compulsory School Attendance and Admission
- WAC 392-134 Finance—Apportionment for Part-Time Public School Attendance
- WAC 180-38 Pupils—Immunization Requirement
- RCW 28A.210 Health—Screening and Requirements
- WAC 392-182 Student—Health Records
- WAC 246-366 Primary and Secondary Schools (Minimum Environmental Standards for Educational Facilities)
- RCW 9.41.280 Possessing Dangerous Weapons on School Facilities
- WAC 181-85 Professional Certification—Continuing Education Requirement