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How are requirements on public and private schools different?

Posted Date: 04/29/2021

How are requirements on public and private schools different?

As the Kansas Legislature has been considering expanding public funding for students to attend private schools, people have been asking about differences in requirements between public and private schools. Here are some of the most important areas. 

Students Served 

Public school districts are required to enroll and provide courses and services to all children who are residents of the district, from kindergarten through twelfth grade (except for the Ft. Leavenworth school district). 

Private schools may select and recruit students and are not required to offer specific grade levels or programs, or curricula. 

Suspension, Expulsion, Discipline 

Public schools may only suspend or expel students for specific disciplinary reasons, for a maximum of one year, and must give students due process provided in state law. 

Private schools may suspend, expel, or counsel out students for any disciplinary or academic reasons, for any period of time, without due process. 

Special Education 

Public schools must provide a free, appropriate public education, regardless of cost, to children with disabilities and gifted children, based on services in an individualized education plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or accommodations under Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, including services to students enrolled in private schools if requested. 

Private schools are not required to identify the need for or provide special education services or accommodations for students with disabilities or gifted students. If private schools accept students who qualify for special education, public schools are required to provide services if requested by the parents. 


Public schools are required to provide free transportation to students who live more than 2.5 miles from schools and are required to provide transportation to private school students if they ride on the regular bus route.  They are not required to take students to the private school. 

Private schools are not required to provide transportation to students. 

Tuition, Fees, Textbooks 

Public schools may not charge tuition to students who are required to attend and may only charge fees for specific purposes such as textbooks. If parents are unable to pay such fees, the local school boards must waive them. 

Private schools may charge tuition and fees for attendance and materials. 


Public schools are required to provide breakfast programs, with limited exceptions. All public schools provide lunch programs, including free and reduced-price meals to qualifying students. 

Private schools are not required to provide meals but may participate in the national school lunch program. 

Bilingual Education 

Public schools are required by federal law to identify English learners and provide them services. Districts may not unnecessarily segregate English learners and must ensure students have equal educational opportunities. 

Private schools are not required to accept or provide services to English learners. 

At-Risk Services 

Public schools receive extra funding based their number of low-income students but must use those funds to provide services to students with greater academic or other educational needs. Funds that school districts receive under the federal Title I program must be proportionately used to serve students in private schools. 

Private schools are not required to provide extra services for low income or other at-risk students, but such students may receive services from public schools. 


Public schools are maintained, developed and operated by local elected school boards, under the general supervision of the elected State Board of Education. School districts must follow open meeting and open records requirements for budgeting, contracts, policies and other documents. 

Private schools are independent institutions with their own governance structures and few public reporting requirements.