Non-Public Schools


In Tennessee, non-public schools include private, church-related, and independent home schools. Unlike public schools, the state’s approved non-public schools are not operated by a local education agency (LEA) or the Tennessee Department of Education (department). Instead, they are privately operated entities, primarily funded through school tuition paid by families and private donations from individuals and organizations.

Private schools are accredited by, or are members of, an organization or association approved by the state board of education or those that are directly approved by the department.

Church-related schools are operated by denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organizations required to meet the standards of accreditation or membership of specific agencies listed in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-801. Home school umbrella programs are operated by some church-related schools.

Independent home schools are conducted by a parent or guardian who oversees the education of their own children in settings other than a school. To learn more about home school options, visit the department’s Home School webpage.

State Board of Education Rules Chapter 0520-07-02 divides private and church-related schools into five categories. To satisfy the requirements of the state’s compulsory attendance law, private and church-related schools must be approved for operation under at least one of the five categories of non-public schools. Families wishing to enroll their children into a private or church-related school can verify a school’s approval status in Tennessee by checking the approved list of non-public schools on this webpage.

Read more about each of the five category designations here: Category Descriptions

Non-Public Schools Directory

Non-Public Schools Directory Archives: Access past lists of approved non-public schools by downloading a PDF or Excel spreadsheet from the dropdown menu.

See Non-Public School Forms for guidance on how to update a school’s directory information.

Non-Public School Approval or Category Change

Non-public school candidates may receive approval for operation through direct application to the Tennessee Department of Education or by applying through a Tennessee State Board of Education authorized accrediting or membership agency. Approved non-public schools wishing to apply for a category change would follow the same procedures.

Regardless of which method a school candidate selects for approval, all categories must do the following:

1.     Submit an Initial Request for Fire Marshal Inspection to the department prior to school approval. Once a school candidate has secured a school site location, the request form must be emailed to to initiate the appropriate type of inspection.

2.     All non-public schools must conduct fingerprint or social security number based criminal history checks for teachers and staff. The checks must also include a check of the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, National Sex Offender Registry, and the Tennessee Department of Health Abuse Registry. To access information on how to obtain fingerprint based checks, visit TBI’s Background Checks webpage. A public search of TNCompass will allow school administrators to determine if an applicant has had a Tennessee educator license suspended or revoked for misconduct.

3.     Non-public schools are responsible for ensuring compliance with all health and safety rules, laws, and regulations. Food safety inspections are required in schools that prepare and serve food. Contact the local health department for information on required inspections.

A school candidate must obtain a certificate of accreditation or letter of approval before being added to the directory as an approved non-public school option.

Step 1: Submit an Initial Application during the application window. For the 2024-25 school year, applications were accepted from January 8 through May 31, 2024. The application window is now closed.

Step 2: Submit an Initial Request for Fire Marshal Inspection to by May 31, 2024. Also, initiate any additional inspections required under city, county, or state law if they have not already been requested.

Step 3: Upon receipt of the email from the non-public team, begin compiling and submitting the requested documentation for review by the department. Respond timely to requests for additional documents or clarifying questions.

Step 4: Ensure all teachers and staff have received fingerprint or social security number based criminal history record checks.

Step 4: Participate in a scheduled preoperational site visit from the department’s non-public team.

Step 5: Promptly address any findings following the preoperational site visit.

Step 6: An approval or denial letter will be issued.

Non-public school candidates interested in Category II or III accreditation or Category IV approval should contact authorized agencies directly for information about their approval processes. Category II and III accrediting agencies generally require a candidacy period; therefore, school candidates may apply for approval under another category until full accreditation by the chosen accrediting agency is awarded.

Categories II and III: List of State Board of Education authorized accrediting agencies

Category IV: List of approved membership agencies (see subsection a)

School applicants wishing to apply directly to the State Board of Education for Category IV approval should email for more information. Home school umbrellas are approvable only under Category IV.

Non-Public School Monitoring and Annual Reporting

Non-public schools approved by the state are monitored by the Tennessee Department of Education through an annual reporting process. This reporting includes schools approved in Categories I, I-SP, V, and any State Board of Education approved Category IV church-related schools.

Non-public schools approved through an accrediting or membership agency are monitored by the approving agency. Accredited or church-related schools are subject to re-accreditation processes based on the agency’s schedule for re-accreditation and any additional monitoring requirements that may be implemented by an individual agency.

If the department receives a report of non-compliance, it will:

-  Address the issue(s) of non-compliance directly if the report involves a state-approved non-public school.

-  Notify the school’s accrediting or membership agency if the report involves an accredited or church-related school.

Non-Public Schools Monitoring Handbook (coming soon)

Appeal Form for Revocation of Non-Public School Approval (coming soon)

Resources and Information

Non-Public School Directory Data Form: Non-public schools should report changes to the school’s directory information by submitting this form to All categories of private schools should submit a Directory Data Form at least one time annually to ensure the school’s most updated information is recorded in the directory.

Non-Public Schools LEA Reporting Form: All non-public schools, regardless of category, must submit this form to all enrolled students’ LEA of residence each school year by September 15. Reports must be sent to the director of schools (or designee) and the district’s home school coordinator.

Non-Public School Ownership Change Form: This form should be submitted when a non-public school changes ownership.

Closing Form for Approved Non-Public School: All categories of closing non-public schools should submit this form to the department at least 30 days prior to the school’s final date of operation.

If you are an administrator of a school interested in applying for participation in either the Tennessee Education Savings Account (ESA) Program or the Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program, you must complete the approved applications for both programs.

Tennessee law requires non-public schools to provide parents and legal guardians with information about meningococcal disease annually. Use the links below to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and transmission of meningococcal disease and influenza.

About Meningococcal Disease

HHS Meningococcal Vaccine Information

Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine Information Sheet

Influenza Information for Schools & Childcare Providers

Influenza Everyday Preventive Actions

Non-public schools are not required to provide transportation for students. If a non-public school chooses to transport students to and from school, to school related or non-school related activities, it is essential that non-public schools understand and follow the laws, rules, and regulations on student transportation and driver licensure.

Non-Public Transportation Memo