2006 Code of Virginia § 63.2-1717 - Certification of preschool or nursery school programs operated by accredited private schools; provi...

63.2-1717. Certification of preschool or nursery school programs operatedby accredited private schools; provisional certification; annual statementand documentary evidence required; enforcement; injunctive relief.

A. A preschool or nursery school program operated by a private schoolaccredited by a statewide accrediting organization recognized by the Board ofEducation or a private school or preschool that offers to preschool-agedchildren a program accredited by the National Association for the Educationof Young Children's National Academy of Early Childhood Programs; theAssociation of Christian Schools International; the American Association ofChristian Schools; the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation; theNational Accreditation Council for Early Childhood Professional Personnel andPrograms; the International Academy for Private Education; the AmericanMontessori Society; the International Accreditation and Certification ofChildhood Educators, Programs, and Trainers; or the National AccreditationCommission and is recognized by the Board of Education, shall be exempt fromlicensure under this subtitle if it complies with the provisions of thissection and meets the requirements of subsection B, C or D.

B. A school described in subsection A shall meet the following conditions inorder to be exempt under this subsection:

1. The school offers kindergarten or elementary school instructional programsthat satisfy compulsory school attendance laws, and children below the age ofcompulsory school attendance also participate in such instructional programs;

2. The instructional programs for children of and below the age ofeligibility for school attendance share (i) a specific verifiable commonpedagogy, (ii) education materials, (iii) methods of instruction, and (iv)professional training and individual teacher certification standards, all ofwhich are required by a state-recognized accrediting organization;

3. The instructional programs described in subdivisions 1 and 2 have mixedage groups of three-year-old to six-year-old children and the number ofpupils in the preschool program does not exceed 15 pupils for eachinstructional adult;

4. The instructional program contemplates a three-to-four-year learning cycleunder a common pedagogy; and

5. Children below the age of eligibility for kindergarten attendance do notattend the instructional program for more than four hours per day.

C. A school described in subsection A shall be exempt from licensure if itmaintains an enrollment ratio at any one time during the current school yearof five children age five or above to one four-year-old child as long as nochild in attendance is under age four and the number of pupils in thepreschool program does not exceed 12 pupils for each instructional adult.

D. A private school or preschool described in subsection A shall meet thefollowing conditions in order to be exempt under this subsection:

1. The school offers instructional classes and has been in operation sinceJanuary 1984.

2. The school does not hold itself out as a child care center, child daycenter, or child day program.

3. Children enrolled in the school are at least three years of age and do notattend more than (i) three hours per day and (ii) five days per week.

4. The enrolled children attend only one program offered by the school perday.

5. The school maintains a certificate or permit issued pursuant to a localgovernment ordinance that addresses health, safety and welfare of thechildren, such as but not limited to space requirements, and requires annualinspections.

E. The school shall file with the Commissioner, prior to the beginning of theschool year or calendar year, as the case may be, and thereafter, annually, astatement which includes the following:

1. Intent to operate a certified preschool program;

2. Documentary evidence that the school has been accredited as provided insubsection A;

3. Documentation that the school has disclosed in writing to the parents,guardians, or persons having charge of a child enrolled in the school'spreschool program the fact of the program's exemption from licensure;

4. Documentary evidence that the physical facility in which the preschoolprogram will be conducted has been inspected (i) before initial certificationby the local building official and (ii) within the 12-month period prior toinitial certification and at least annually thereafter by the local healthdepartment, and local fire marshal or Office of the State Fire Marshal,whichever is appropriate, and an inspection report which documents that thefacility is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations pertaining tofood services, health and sanitation, water supply, building codes, and theStatewide Fire Prevention Code or the Uniform Statewide Building Code;

5. Documentation that the school has disclosed the following in writing tothe parents, guardians, or persons having charge of a child enrolled in theschool's preschool program, and in a written statement available to thegeneral public: (i) the school facility is in compliance with applicable lawsand regulations pertaining to food services, health and sanitation, watersupply, building codes, and the Statewide Fire Prevention Code or the UniformStatewide Building Code, (ii) the preschool program's maximum capacity, (iii)the school's policy or practice for pupil-teacher ratio, staffing patternsand staff health requirements, and (iv) a description of the school's publicliability insurance, if any;

6. Qualifications of school personnel who work in the preschool program; and

7. Documentary evidence that the private school requires all employees of thepreschool and other school employees who have contact with the childrenenrolled in the preschool program to obtain a criminal record check asprovided in subdivision A 11 of 19.2-389 as a condition of initial orcontinued employment. The school shall not hire or continue employment of anysuch person who has an offense specified in 63.2-1719.

All accredited private schools seeking certification of preschool programsshall file such information on forms prescribed by the Commissioner. TheCommissioner shall certify all preschool programs of accredited privateschools which comply with the provisions of subsection A.

F. A preschool program of a private school that has not been accredited asprovided in subsection A, or which has not provided documentation to theCommissioner that it has initiated the accreditation process, shall besubject to licensure.

The Commissioner shall issue a provisional certificate to a private schoolwhich provides documentation to the Commissioner that it has initiated theaccreditation process. The provisional certificate shall permit the school tooperate its preschool program during the accreditation process period. Theissuance of an initial provisional certificate shall be for a period not toexceed one year. A provisional certificate may be renewed up to an additionalyear if the accrediting organization provides a statement indicating it hasvisited the school within the previous six months and the school has madesufficient progress. Such programs shall not be subject to licensure duringthe provisional certification period.

G. If a school fails to complete the accreditation process or is deniedaccreditation, the Commissioner shall revoke the provisional certificationand the program shall thereafter be subject to licensure.

H. If the preschool program of a private school which is accredited asprovided in subsection A fails to file the statement and the requireddocumentary evidence, the Commissioner shall notify the school of itsnoncompliance and may thereafter take such action as he determinesappropriate, including notice that the program is required to be licensed.

I. The revocation or denial of the certification of a preschool program shallbe subject to appeal pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative ProcessAct ( 2.2-4000 et seq.). Judicial review of a final agency decision shall bein accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act.

J. Any person who has reason to believe that a private school falling withinthe provisions of this section is in noncompliance with any applicablerequirement of this section may report the same to the Department, the localdepartment, the local health department, or the local fire marshal, each ofwhich may inspect the school for noncompliance, give reasonable notice to theschool of the nature of its noncompliance, and thereafter may takeappropriate action as provided by law, including a suit to enjoin theoperation of the preschool program.

K. Upon receipt of a complaint concerning a certified preschool program of anaccredited private school, or of a private school to which provisionalcertification has been issued, if for good cause shown there is reason tosuspect that the school is in noncompliance with any provision of thissection or the health or safety of the children attending the preschoolprogram is in danger, the Commissioner shall cause an investigation to bemade, including on-site visits as he deems necessary of the services,personnel, and facilities of the school's program. The school shall affordthe Commissioner reasonable opportunity to inspect the school's program,records, and facility, and to interview the employees and any child or parentor guardian of a child who is or has been enrolled in the preschool program.If, upon completion of the investigation, it is determined that the school isin noncompliance with the provisions of this section, the Commissioner shallgive reasonable notice to the school of the nature of its noncompliance andthereafter may take appropriate action as provided by law, including a suitto enjoin the operation of the preschool program.

L. Failure of a private school to comply with the provisions of this section,or a finding that the health and safety of the children attending thepreschool program are in clear and substantial danger upon the completion ofan investigation, shall be grounds for revocation of the certification issuedpursuant to this section.

M. If a private school operates a child day program outside the scope of itsinstructional classes during the school year or operates a child day programduring the summer, the child day program shall be subject to licensure underthe regulations adopted pursuant to 63.2-1734.

N. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a preschool operated by orconducted under the auspices of a private school from obtaining a licensepursuant to this subtitle.

(1993, cc. 730, 742, 63.1-196.3:1; 1994, cc. 837, 940; 1999, c. 454; 2002,c. 747; 2003, c. 467.)

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