Proposed Regulations on Substantial Equivalency
In 2019, the State Education Department released proposed regulations regarding equivalency of instruction in nonpublic schools. These regulations are required as Section 3210 of Education Law stipulates that if a child attends school in a setting other than a public school, the instruction must be substantially equivalent to the instruction provided in the public school. In 2015, students and teachers in NYC claimed that some religious schools were not meeting statutory requirements. Subsequently, SED released guidance on this issue and such guidance was found to inadequate by the Albany County Supreme Court. The Department then released proposed regulation, however the 2019 proposed regulations raised substantial concerns and opposition from many stakeholders, including SAANYS. Our comments to NYSED expressed concern for the undue burden on school districts for determining equivalency of instruction in nonpublic schools in their districts. NYSED received over 140,000 responses, at which time the proposed regulations were withdrawn and the Department undertook a series of regional meetings for stakeholders, with the goal of revising the original proposed regulations. SAANYS attended several of the regional meeting and also sat on an NYSED task force convened to provide input into the regulatory development process.
New Proposed Regulations
Yesterday, NYSED released draft regulations that provide multiple pathways for nonpublic schools to demonstrate substantial equivalency of instruction. The following provides a summary of key elements of the proposed regulations:
- Nonpublic schools may demonstrate substantial equivalency by:
- Accreditation by the NYSED,
- Approval as a Private Special Education School, State Operated, or State- Supported School
- Registration as a high school by the Board of Regents
- Participates in the International Baccalaureate program,
- Providing approved instruction by the U.S. government on a military facility
- Demonstrating student academic progress by regularly using SED approved assessments
- If a nonpublic school does not choose to use one of the above, the local school authority must conduct a review of the nonpublic school’s instructional program. Upon completion of the instructional program, the local school district must provide written notification to the nonpublic school and NYSED.
A public comment period on the proposed regulations will conclude on May 30,2022 and it is anticipated that the regulations will be presented to the Board of Regents in September 2022.