While the Alabama legislature made it clear they do not want the State Board of Education (SBOE) regulating nonpublic schools, there are still some requirements that local superintendents must fulfill to keep track of the number of students in nonpublic schools.
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice sent a memo to all superintendents in mid-July reminding them of which information state law requires local superintendents to collect on students who are of mandatory school age but are not attending public school.
Here’s what has to be collected and who has to report to whom:
Private schools and private tutors (not church schools) must provide to the local superintendent (of the district in which the students reside):
- Names and addresses of all children of mandatory age that are enrolled
- Weekly report of students that were absent without being excused (or whose absence was not satisfactorily explained by the parent or legal guardian)
- Weekly report of newly enrolled students
Parents must provide the following information to the local superintendent (of the district in which they reside) if their child is enrolled in a church school:
- The child’s address
- The church school’s address
- A form, signed by the administrator of the church school, certifying the child is attending the church school
- If the child stops attending the church school, the parent must notify the superintendent
These are not new requirements. What is new, though, is the reminder.
Better Numbers and More Reliable Data?
Hopefully this reminder will result in better numbers and more reliable data being collected and reported on the number of nonpublic school students in a given attendance area.
What makes me question the reliability of available data in the first place?
Well. Local superintendents are required to submit an affidavit each year showing the total number of students enrolled in private school from their attendance zone. Here’s the February 2014 memo requesting that information.
After a public records request revealed the 2013 numbers (scroll down the page to the table), and after reading a June 2014 article by Challen Stephens of al.com related to data requested by the federal judge looking at Huntsville’s rezoning request, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the reported numbers…even though the numbers were for consecutive years.
Huntsville City Schools superintendent reported to the ALSDE that 1,424 students attended non-public schools during the 2012-2013 school year, while the numbers for 2011-2012 were 4,709. So either 3,200 students returned to Huntsville’s public school system in 2012-2013 or the 2012-2013 numbers are, well, incomplete.
That’s why I yearn for better numbers.
The Forms the ALSDE Provided
Forms to be used for reporting were included in the memo and are depicted below.