Starting a Private School in California

Regulations, Resources, & Support

Our team has curated the best resources and information available about starting a private school in California. Enjoy!

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We’ve curated the laws and regulations about starting a private school in California.


What resources and associations are available to help new education entrepreneurs?

Starting a School Guide

See what else you need to know about starting a private school. From your curriculum to your marketing, and everything in-between.

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California State Regulations

General Regulations

California state

  • Accreditation and approval in the state of California is optional, but nonpublic, nonsectarian special education schools can enroll public school students and therefore must be certified by the state as a special education provider. All private schools must also file with the state annually.

  • The California Department of Education has assembled a page of detailed requirements for private schools.

  • The US Office of Innovation & Improvement has assembled a summary of regulations for private schools operating in California

  • California requires home schooling be completed by a licensed tutor, or that students attend a charter school with an independent study option, or enroll in a private school

  • The  California DOE has no published requirements for school insurance — consult a professional for guidance in this area.

State Funding Sources & Support

California does not provide funding for private education

Curriculum Requirements

The state requires that private school students receive instruction in the same branches of study offered in the public school system.

Teacher Certification & Hiring

Teacher certification is optional for nonpublic schools but must be “persons capable of teaching.”

Food Services / Lunch

In California, school lunch requirements, including funding for schools offering the National School Lunch Program, are managed by the Department of Education.

Length of School Year

In order to meet the state’s compulsory school attendance law, students must attend full-time school. The specifics are left up to each individual school.

Recordkeeping & Reports

Healthy & Safety Requirements

Nonpublic schools must follow state fire marshal standards for carbon monoxide monitoring and be inspected for fire hazards each year. All students must be vaccinated and the school must keep a copy of the immunization records. Students must also be instructed in earthquake safety and schools enrolling 50 students or more may be subject to earthquake inspections of the buildings.


County superintendents can choose to provide transportation to private school students if they wish.


Nonpublic schools are not required to administer standardized tests, nor do they have access to testing systems.

Helping Educators Do the Work That Matters

Califonia State Resources

State & Regional Associations

  • Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC): A world-renowned accrediting association and one of the six regional accrediting agencies in the United States, works closely with the Office of Overseas Schools under the U.S. Department of State.

  • California Association of Independent Schools: Supports and challenges its schools through an innovative accreditation program that provokes deep reflection, analysis, and institutional commitment to action, as well as through the offering of professional development, relevant research, and informed counsel to the heads and trustees who endeavor to lead those schools effectively.

  • California Association of Private School Organizations is the voice of K-12 private education in California. Its primary mission is to preserve the independence of California’s private schools and to uphold parental choice in education

  • California Private Schools Professional Development: A collaborative effort between California Department of Education and the California Private Schools Advisory Committee. The program provides statewide professional development services using funds provided by Title II, Part A of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

  • CAPSES: Incorporated in 1973 as a California non-profit corporation, CAPSES’ primary mission is to promote the delivery of quality special education and services in both the non-public and public sectors of education.

  • Homeschool Association of California: A a nonprofit volunteer-run homeschool organization that supports the entire spectrum of homeschooling

Read the Ultimate Guide to Starting a Private School

We've put together one of the most comprehensive guides to starting a private school. Ready to open your school? Read our free guide!

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Guide Quick-Nav

Introduction to Starting a School


We’ve developed these 10 topics to help you along the way. Take them all in at once, or start with the areas most relevant right now.

Creating Your School Identity

School Identity

There’s plenty you can do to develop your own brand, starting right from your personal ideals and goals for your school.

Creating Your School Curriculum


Our curriculum pages include ideas on where to go to find materials, and different associations and educational models you may want to consider.

Legal & Operating Requirements

Legal & Operating Requirements

You need to know the requirements at both the federal level and for your state. Here are the basic details for every state.

Introduction to Starting a School

Funding & Finance

Here we share ideas for possible funding sources, and ways you might be able to start with less than you thought necessary.

Creating Your School Identity

Business Plan & Budget

Having a plan for how you’ll operate and a budget to predict and allocate funds is critical for all businesses, schools included. We’ve pulled together resources here to help with both.

School Facilities


What facilities are right for your school? We encourage new schools to get creative, and have compiled some considerations to take into account.

School Staffing


How can you find and recruit the right talent for your school? What qualifications or certifications are required?

School Policies & Procedures

Policies & Procedures

Thinking about more than just a student handbook and conduct code, we've included recommendations & templates to help you develop your school policies & procedures

Marketing & Online Presence

Marketing & Online Presence

Having a plan for how you’ll operate and a budget to predict and allocate funds is critical for all businesses, schools included. We’ve pulled together resources here to help with both.

School Associations


What facilities are right for your school? We encourage new schools to get creative, and have compiled some considerations to take into account.