Private School Approval
A private school is a nonpublic school that conducts a program of kindergarten and at least one grade, or a program of any or all grades one through twelve. Under RCW 28A.195.010:, the Legislature requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to annually approve private schools to operate in Washington. Private schools must not only be annually approved by the State Board of Education, but also maintain a program that ensures a sufficient basic education for students to meet usual state graduation requirements, and meet reasonable standards for health and safety of private school students.
The online 2024 - 2025 Private School Approval Application will be available March 2024.
To check the approval status of a private school application, download the list:
- 2023-2024 approval application statuses (updated November 1, 2023 at 2:45 p.m.)
Below you will find information concerning:
- New Schools
- Existing Schools Opening a New Campus
- Existing Schools Renewing Approval
- Required Paperwork for All Approval Applications
- Approval Notification & Certificates
- Online-Only Private Schools
Individuals or groups interested in opening a schools should first review:
See also a one-page description of private school approval in Washington state.
To apply to be a private school, the Head of School (the principal, chief school administrator, or superintendent of the private school district) will submit an initial private school application online. Preview the 2023 - 2024 sample application.
The Head of School is the main point of contact between the State Board of Education and the school, and is the person responsible for correctly conveying information about the school to the State Board of Education.
From December to February, the Private Schools Manager hosts a monthly Zoom open house to answer questions about the approval process for new private schools. Dates and a link to the open house will be posted here in the last week of November.
The online 2024 - 2025 New Private School Approval Application will be available in March 2024.
Note that existing schools seeking approval for an existing additional campus or a new additional campus / location will use the 2024 - 2025 New Private School Approval application, available in the spring. No login is required. Your new campus will be assigned a building code after approval.
Renewing private schools will log in to submit a separate application for each campus or location using its unique building code as the password.
You will be asked to upload various documents to your approval application. Note that if you have difficulty downloading or uploading, please try a different browser.
Health and Fire Inspection Documentation
If your school is new, has changed location, or has undergone a major renovation, you will need to submit inspection documentation.
In some counties, the health inspection may be called “school safety inspection” or other names depending on local policy.
Identifying an appropriate health inspection organization is straightforward. Each county has a health department. Contact either the county health department directly or contact the building code personnel at the county/city to be directed to the health department. Please keep in mind that local health codes may differ from area to area. Some counties offer school health inspections and others do not.
Identifying a licensed fire inspector or an appropriate governmental fire inspection organization can sometimes be challenging due to the varying type and availability of fire inspectors differs throughout the state. A good start would be to contact the building code personnel at the county / city and ask to be directed to a licensed fire inspector or an appropriate governmental fire inspection organization based on the private school building address. Options that may be available are a county, city, or other licensed fire inspector.
Please retain documentation of health and fire inspections in the school's main office.
See our bulletin for more information about Teacher Certification Requirement for Private Schools.
If your school employs teachers who are not certificated in Washington state, you must submit a completed staffing report, including the following information:
- The name of each non-Washington state certificated teacher (column C).
- The circumstances by which the private school program is improved by employing the non-Washington state certificated teachers (column D). Minimum qualifications must include at least one of the following:
- Teaching a religious course without a counterpart in the public school system
- Bachelor's degree, under the general supervision of a certificated staff member
- One year or more of experience in a specialized field, under the general supervision of a certificated staff member
- Certificated in another state, under the general supervision of a certificated staff member
- The name of the Washington state certificated educator who will supervise this teacher (column E).
- The certification number of the Washington state certificated educator who will supervise this teacher (column F).
Certificate of Compliance
At the end of the application, you will be asked to upload the Certificate of Compliance Signature page that can be downloaded then signed and scanned for upload. By signing this document, you certify that your private school is in compliance with all requirements.
You will receive a confirmation email after your approval application is submitted, at which point you may assume your application file is complete. If there are any issues with your application, you will be contacted by the Private Schools Manager and given ample time to complete your application file.
If your application is received by the deadline, April 26, 2024, the State Board of Education will review and vote to either fully or provisionally approve private schools at the June 2024 board meeting. Applications received after the April deadline will be reviewed and considered for approval at a later State Board of Education meeting. See our website for a complete list of 2024 Board Meetings | SBE (wa.gov).
The online 2024 - 2025 Private School Approval Application will be available in March 2024, and applications will be due Friday, April 26, 2024. Although late applications will be reviewed and presented to the board for approval, note that per WAC 180-90-130:, at least 90 days before the beginning of the annual school term or period, the school “shall file with the state board of education a certificate of compliance as set forth in WAC 180-90-160.”
You will be notified of your approval within two weeks of the meeting. Note that we do not email Certificates of Approval to schools. Instead, Certificates of Approval will be available for download on the private schools page.
Schools may contact the private schools manager for a web badge indicating approval.
An approved Washington private school may have an online program. (RCW 28A.195.090). A completely online school, or a school with physical facilities located only outside of the state, may not be an approved Washington private school. Washington private school law assumes a physical facility in the state of Washington where students are enrolled and regularly attend (RCW 28A.195.010(6))
Please refer to the private schools web page for a list of FAQs. If your concern is not addressed, please contact the private schools manager.