Nonpublic Schools

Starting a School

New Nonpublic Schools

To be recognized as a school in New York State, new nonpublic schools must obtain incorporation, verify that they are located in a safe, educationally appropriate environment, and have their local public school district certify that they are educationally equivalent to a public school.

 Please read the Manual for New Administrators of Nonpublic Schools.

Incorporation

Nonpublic schools must incorporate in one of the three following ways.  See the diagram below for an illustration of the process.

     

Nonpublic Schools:

Religious

Independent

 

 

Not-for-Profit

For-Profit

Incorporation type

Via affiliated religious institution            e.g. church, synagogue, mosque, temple—by county or NYSDOS

Educational Corporation= NYS Board of Regents Charter

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) via NYS Dept. of State (DOS);
Need NYSED Commissioner’s Consent, to file with NYS DOS

 

 

 

 

Initial incorporation process

Religious institution incorporates by filing with county or NYSDOS

1.  School sends Petition + fee to NYSED Office of Counsel.

21 Items may be sent with petition & fee to Office of Counsel, or separately to NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools (“Program Office”)

2.  Office of Counsel sends petition & 21 Items to NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools (Program Office)

3.  When petition & 21 Items approved, Board of Regents votes to approve provisional charter, usually 3 year term, & charter is sent to school

3. When Petition & 21 Items approved, Consent is issued by NYSED Office of Counsel

4. When provisional charter expires, school must extend charter, by filing petition & fee with NYSED Office of Counsel,

4. Incorporation & Commissioner’s Consent filed with NYS DOS

5.  After at least 1 extension, school may apply for absolute charter: file petition & fee with NYSED Office of Counsel, changes in 21 Items with NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools

 

 

 

 

 

Changes, e.g. name, address, grade level, additional buildings

 

Charter amendment:
1. file petition & fee with NYSED Office of Counsel,
2. changes in 21 Items to Office of Nonpublic Schools
3. Once petition, fee, & 21 Items approved, Board of Regents votes to grant charter amendment

Amend Commissioner’s Consent:
1. file petition & fee with NYSED Office of Counsel,
2. changes in 21 Items to Office of Nonpublic Schools
3. Once petition, fee, & 21 Items approved, amended Consent issued
4. Amended Consent filed with NYS DOS

                                                                                                                                                                  

Types of Nonpublic Schools:

1. Religious schools: Schools affiliated with a specific religious institution, e.g. church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other religious institution are considered incorporated under the auspices of their religious institutions.  Religious institutions may be incorporated by their county or the New York State Department of State.

If a religious school wishes to be independent, it may obtain a charter and have separate incorporation as an educational corporation, but this is not required.

2. Independent schools: Independent schools may be either not-for-profit or for-profit. 

a. Not-for-profit: A not-for-profit independent school must obtain a provisional charter from the New York State Board of Regents, which serves as incorporation as an education corporation.  See section below on Forming an Educational Corporation.

b. For-profit: A for-profit must incorporate with the New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) as a limited liability company (LLC).   A NYSED Commissioner’s Consent is needed for the incorporation.  See section below on Commissioner’s Consents.


Forming an Educational Corporation
(Commonly referred to as Provisional and Absolute Charters)

The New York State Education Department, under the Board of Regents, has oversight for incorporating nonpublic not-for-profit schools as Education Corporations.   A not-for-profit school must first obtain a provisional charter, usually for 3 years.  It should then be extended for 3 more years.  Typically, after one or more extensions, the charter will be converted to an absolute, or permanent, charter, if the school meets the requirements for an absolute charter. (See section on Absolute Charters below.)

See the diagram above for an illustration of the process.  To obtain a provisional charter, a petition and the required fee must first be submitted to the NYSED Office of Counsel.  These will be processed by the Office of Counsel, then sent to the NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools (the “program office”).  The “21 Item Checklist” (See link below) will need to be sent with the petition, or under separate cover, to the Office of Nonpublic Schools, which reviews them and the petition.  Once the 21 Items are complete and have been approved, the petition is sent back to the Office of Counsel with a recommendation to approve it.  The recommendation is then scheduled for a vote at the next Regents meeting with available time. After the vote, the school will receive the charter document.

It is important to specifically describe the purpose for the incorporation in the petition. The petition should include the age of the students to be served,  grades to be operated, the physical address of the school, and the type of education that will be provided, i.e. education for typically developing students or education for students with special needs, etc.,

Information on submitting a petition for a Provisional Charter or Absolute Charter, amendments to both types of Charters, and other related information can be found on the NYS Education Department’s Office of Counsel’s website.

While all the information is important and those interested are encouraged to read information connected to each link, Sample Forms, provides petition prototypes for submitting Provisional and Absolute Charters, Charter amendments, Provisional Charter extension, and related issues. Petitions must follow the format(s) provided.

Please consult the Questions and Answers document which explains where to send petitions, costs, and additional important information.

 Commissioner’s Consent to Nonpublic Schools, Nursery Schools, Preschools, and Related Entities Seeking Incorporations under the New York State Department of State

To incorporate as a for-profit by the New York State Department of State, schools must seek and obtain the Commissioner’s Consent from the State Education Department when the proposed corporation has educational purposes and/or uses terms associated with education in its name, such as school, academy, nursery school, preschool, etc. Similarly, schools seeking to file amendments, e.g. adding grades or changing address, if incorporated by the Department of State, must also obtain Commissioner’s Consent.

To obtain Commissioner’s Consent, a petition and fee should be submitted to the NYSED Office of Counsel, 89 Washington Ave., Room 146 EB, Albany, NY 12234.  Information, including sample forms and associated fees, can be obtained on the New York State Education Department’s Office of Counsel’s website.

Once the Office of Counsel has processed the petition and fee, the petition is forwarded to the NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools (the “program office”).  The program office requires documentation from the "21 Item Checklist" (see link below) , to be submitted to the address specified on the form.

See the Office of Nonpublic Schools website, Click on Starting a School & scroll down to the links for the 21 Item Checklist.

When the Office of Nonpublic Schools has approved the 21 Items, a recommendation to approve the petition is sent to the Office of Counsel.  Consent is then granted after further Office of Counsel review and approval.  The Consent must then be filed with the NYS Department of State to complete the incorporation process.

Extension of Provisional Charter

Typically, Provisional Charters are issued for a three year period, but may range for one year to a maximum (by law) of five years. To obtain an extension of a provisional charter, a nonpublic school must submit a petition and fee to the NYSED Office of Counsel.  Please see the website of the Office of Counsel for information and sample forms.

As with a new Provisional Charter, once the Office of Counsel has processed the petition and fee, the petition is sent to the Office of Nonpublic Schools (the “program office”).  If there are no changes to the most recently issued Provisional Charter, program office requirements for recommending an extension include:

  • Current Fire Inspection Report by the Code Enforcement Official - municipality in which the nonpublic school is located, showing that the premises are safe;  If the school is outside of New York City, the fire inspection must be on the form used by the Office of Facilities Planning.  The form and instructions are at the following links:

Fire Safety Inspection Letter from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (53KB)

Fire Safety Inspection Form from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (269KB)

  • a list of the number of students at each grade level the corporation is authorized to operate;
  • current staff and their qualifications; and
  • the most current audited financial statement for the corporation
  • any changes to the 21 Items since the charter or last extension was granted, e.g. new curriculum, new calendar and schedule, or changes in enrollment, tuition.

    When the program office has received these items and approved the petition, it is returned to the Office of Counsel for a final check, and placed on the agenda for the next available meeting of the Board of Regents.  After the Regents vote, the school will be notified of the approval and receive documentation.

Amendments to Provisional and Absolute Charters

A petition to amend a Charter must be submitted to the Office of Counsel if the Education Corporation seeks to modify its Charter. Information and sample forms can be found under “Forming an Education Corporation” discussed above. A change in the location of the school or a change in the grade levels to be offered, including the addition of prekindergarten or after-school programming, etc., are the most common types of amendments.

Again, the petition must be submitted to the NYSED Office of Counsel with the required fee.  Once Office of Counsel has processed these, the petition is sent to the program office (Office of Nonpublic Schools).

Program office requirements for recommending that an amendment be adopted by the Board of Regents are:

  • Change of location – Certificate of Occupancy, showing that the premises are zoned and approved for use as a school, and a current Fire Inspection Report, showing that escape routes are clear and adequate and all alarm systems are working, by Code Enforcement Officials of the municipality in which the nonpublic school is located.  Usually, this will entail both the Buildings and Fire Departments, although in some jurisdictions, a combined certificate may be issued by Code Enforcement.  If the school is outside of New York City, the fire inspection must be on the form used by the Office of Facilities Planning.  The form and instructions are at the following links:

Fire Safety Inspection Letter from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (53KB)

Fire Safety Inspection Form from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (269KB)

  • Addition of grades – Curriculum guidelines for proposed additional grades; qualifications of additional staff; description of floor plans to serve additional students; and any other items from the “21 Item Checklist” that are pertinent.
  • Other amendments – Program related materials from the “21 Item Checklist” that are applicable to the changes noted in the amendment.

    The process is the same as the initial application for a provisional charter.  Once that information listed above has been approved, the  program office returns the petition to the Office of Counsel for a final review,  If everything is approved, the matter is placed on the next available agenda for the meeting of the Board of Regents, and the school receives notice of the vote after the meeting and documentation.


Program Requirements for Nonpublic Schools Seeking an Absolute Charter

A nonpublic school which is incorporated under the Board of Regents as an Education Corporation with a Provisional Charter, and, typically, has extended its Provisional Charter at least once, and can document that it operates a sound educational program, has class enrollment at every grade level that it is authorized to operate, and can demonstrate fiscal solvency, may wish to be considered for the Absolute Charter. An Absolute Charter is an Education Corporation in its final stage and does not need to be extended. Details on the program requirements required for recommending that an Absolute Charter  PDF icon  (51 KB) be granted by the Board of Regents.

Program Requirements for Nonpublic Schools Seeking an Absolute Charter

In addition to the documentation required in the Absolute Charter document, please also submit documentation of the items delineated on the "21 Item Checklist."

21 Item Checklist in Word  Word document icon  (39 KB)
21 Item Checklist in PDF  PDF icon  (22 KB)


The process is the same as the initial application for a provisional charter.  The petition and fee should be sent to the NYSED Office of Counsel, where they are processed.  The petition is then sent to the Office of Nonpublic Schools, where the information from the 21 Item Checklist is reviewed.  Once that information has been approved, the materials are sent to the Office of Counsel for a final review.  When approved, the matter is placed on the next available agenda for the meeting of the Board of Regents, and the school receives notice of the vote and the charter document after the meeting.


Commissioner’s Consent to Nonpublic Schools, Nursery Schools, Preschools, and Related Entities Seeking Incorporations under the New York State Department of State

To incorporate as a for-profit under the New York State Department of State, schools must seek and obtain the Commissioner’s Consent from the State Education Department where the proposed corporation has educational purposes and/or uses terms associated with education in its name, such as school, academy, nursery school, preschool, etc. Similarly, filing amendments to existing corporations under the Department of State must also obtain Commissioner’s Consent.

To obtain Commissioner’s Consent, a petition and fee should be submitted to the NYSED Office of Counsel, 89 Washington Ave., Room 146 EB, Albany, NY 12234.  Information, including sample forms and associated fees, can be obtained on the New York State Education Department’s Office of Counsel’s website.

Once the Office of Counsel has processed the petition and fee, the petition is forwarded to the NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools (the “program office”).

The program office requires documentation from the "21 Item Checklist" (see link below) , to be submitted to the address specified on the form.

21 Item Checklist in Word  Word document icon  (39 KB)
21 Item Checklist in PDF  PDF icon  (22 KB)

When the Office of Nonpublic Schools has approved the 21 Items, a recommendation to approve the petition is sent to the Office of Counsel.  Consent is then granted after further Office of Counsel review and approval.  The Consent must then be filed with the NYS Department of State to complete the incorporation process.


Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) Number

A new school may apply for a Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) Number through the NYSED Office of Nonpublic Schools. The school must complete an initial addendum, as well as the BEDS Report of Nonpublic Schools for the current year.  See below for links to these forms. As described in the BEDS addendum form, nonpublic schools must also submit copies of the following:

    • Incorporation papers: Religious schools will be incorporated through their affiliated religious institution such as a church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other religious institution.  Not-for-profit independent schools will have a provisional or absolute charter (in some cases, older schools have incorporation with NYS Department of State), and for-profit independent schools will have incorporation through the NYS Department of State.  If the name of the school differs from the name of the religious institution, the school will also need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name (dba) with the county or DOS, and send it and proof of filing with the remainder of the application.
    • A Certificate of Occupancy or equivalent (e.g. Certificate of Use or Compliance or in New York City, Certificate of No Objection) showing that the premises are zoned and approved for educational use, e.g. mention of school or classrooms;
    • A fire inspection report from within the last 12 months by the local fire department, showing that escape routes are clear and adequate, and all alarm systems working. In some jurisdictions, the Certificate of Occupancy and fire inspection may be issued as one document.  Education Law 807-A requires annual inspection of all grade 1-12 schools with at least 25 students and all nurseries and kindergartens with at least 6 students outside of New York City.  Please see the links below for the Instructions and Form for the Inspection Report.

Fire Safety Inspection Letter from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (53KB)

Fire Safety Inspection Form from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (269KB) 

In some cases, additional information, such as a Certificate of Assumed Name, copy of a rental agreement or lease, may be required. After the Office of Nonpublic Schools (the “program office”) approves the application, the Office of Information and Reporting Services will assign a BEDS code number. The number, or code, which serves as a means of identification, is based on the nonpublic school's public school district of location and reflects its affiliation, if any, with a State agency or a religious group. In each subsequent year, schools submit the BEDS Report, which counts enrollment as of the first Wednesday in October each year.  Online submission of the BEDS Report is the preferred method for delivery, and the Office of Information and Reporting Services issues instructions on filing the report each year.  These are sent to the principal of each nonpublic school with a BEDS code each year.  Information from these reports is useful in determining the status and educational needs of students in the schools of New York State. It is also the basis for allocation of aid under Chapter 2 and is invaluable for planning purposes.

If a nonpublic school with a BEDS code moves to another facility, it will need to complete a BEDS Change of Address form, and per the instructions above, send a Certificate of Occupancy and fire inspection report for the new location to the Office of Nonpublic Schools.  See the links below for the forms.   If the school changes its name, it should also contact the office of Nonpublic Schools and submit necessary documents such as a Certificate of Assumed Name, and amendment to a Consent or Charter, so that NYSED records can be updated.

Forms and instructions for completing the BEDS Report on Nonpublic Schools, the BEDS Addendum for schools applying for a BEDS code, and the BEDS Change of Address form for may be found on the Office of Information and Reporting Services website.

Fire Safety Inspection Letter from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (53KB)

Fire Safety Inspection Form from Facilities Planning  WORD ICON (269KB)

Questions about the BEDS forms should be addressed (emailed) to the Office of Nonpublic Schools, or to the Office of Information and Reporting Services.


State Education Department Reference File (SEDREF)

The SEDREF Portal provides a great deal of information about different types of schools in New York State. To access information about a school, follow the directions of placing a "percentage, i.e., %, sign" after the name of the school (do not leave any spaces between the words). You may also search by address or SED (BEDS) code.  

Last Updated: April 24, 2014