A. A preschool or nursery school program operated by a private school accredited by a statewide accrediting organization recognized by the Board of Education or a private school or preschool that offers to preschool-aged children a program accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s National Academy of Early Childhood Programs; the Association of Christian Schools International; the American Association of Christian Schools; the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation; the National Accreditation Council for Early Childhood Professional Personnel and Programs; the International Academy for Private Education; the American Montessori Society; the International Accreditation and Certification of Childhood Educators, Programs, and Trainers; or the National Accreditation Commission and is recognized by the Board of Education, shall be exempt from licensure under this subtitle if it complies with the provisions of this section and meets the requirements of subsection B, C or D.
1. The school offers kindergarten or elementary school instructional programs that satisfy compulsory school attendance laws, and children below the age of compulsory school attendance also participate in such instructional programs;
2. The instructional programs for children of and below the age of eligibility for school attendance share (i) a specific verifiable common pedagogy, (ii) education materials, (iii) methods of instruction, and (iv) professional training and individual teacher certification standards, all of which are required by a state-recognized accrediting organization;
3. The instructional programs described in subdivisions 1 and 2 have mixed age groups of three-year-old to six-year-old children and the number of pupils in the preschool program does not exceed 15 pupils for each instructional adult;
C. A school described in subsection A shall be exempt from licensure if it maintains an enrollment ratio at any one time during the current school year of five children age five or above to one four-year-old child as long as no child in attendance is under age four and the number of pupils in the preschool program does not exceed 12 pupils for each instructional adult.
5. The school maintains a certificate or permit issued pursuant to a local government ordinance that addresses health, safety and welfare of the children, such as but not limited to space requirements, and requires annual inspections.
3. Documentation that the school has disclosed in writing to the parents, guardians, or persons having charge of a child enrolled in the school’s preschool program the fact of the program’s exemption from licensure;
4. Documentary evidence that the physical facility in which the preschool program will be conducted has been inspected (i) before initial certification by the local building official and (ii) within the 12-month period prior to initial certification and at least annually thereafter by the local health department, and local fire marshal or Office of the State Fire Marshal, whichever is appropriate, and an inspection report which documents that the facility is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations pertaining to food services, health and sanitation, water supply, building codes, and the Statewide Fire Prevention Code or the Uniform Statewide Building Code;
5. Documentation that the school has disclosed the following in writing to the parents, guardians, or persons having charge of a child enrolled in the school’s preschool program, and in a written statement available to the general public: (i) the school facility is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations pertaining to food services, health and sanitation, water supply, building codes, and the Statewide Fire Prevention Code or the Uniform Statewide Building Code, (ii) the preschool program’s maximum capacity, (iii) the school’s policy or practice for pupil-teacher ratio, staffing patterns and staff health requirements, and (iv) a description of the school’s public liability insurance, if any;
7. Documentary evidence that the private school requires all employees of the preschool and other school employees who have contact with the children enrolled in the preschool program to obtain a criminal record check as provided in subdivision A 11 of § 19.2-389 as a condition of initial or continued employment. The school shall not hire or continue employment of any such person who has an offense specified in § 63.2-1719.All accredited private schools seeking certification of preschool programs shall file such information on forms prescribed by the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall certify all preschool programs of accredited private schools which comply with the provisions of subsection A.
F. A preschool program of a private school that has not been accredited as provided in subsection A, or which has not provided documentation to the Commissioner that it has initiated the accreditation process, shall be subject to licensure.The Commissioner shall issue a provisional certificate to a private school which provides documentation to the Commissioner that it has initiated the accreditation process. The provisional certificate shall permit the school to operate its preschool program during the accreditation process period. The issuance of an initial provisional certificate shall be for a period not to exceed one year. A provisional certificate may be renewed up to an additional year if the accrediting organization provides a statement indicating it has visited the school within the previous six months and the school has made sufficient progress. Such programs shall not be subject to licensure during the provisional certification period.
G. If a school fails to complete the accreditation process or is denied accreditation, the Commissioner shall revoke the provisional certification and the program shall thereafter be subject to licensure.
H. If the preschool program of a private school which is accredited as provided in subsection A fails to file the statement and the required documentary evidence, the Commissioner shall notify the school of its noncompliance and may thereafter take such action as he determines appropriate, including notice that the program is required to be licensed.
I. The revocation or denial of the certification of a preschool program shall be subject to appeal pursuant to the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). Judicial review of a final agency decision shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act.
J. Any person who has reason to believe that a private school falling within the provisions of this section is in noncompliance with any applicable requirement of this section may report the same to the Department, the local department, the local health department, or the local fire marshal, each of which may inspect the school for noncompliance, give reasonable notice to the school of the nature of its noncompliance, and thereafter may take appropriate action as provided by law, including a suit to enjoin the operation of the preschool program.
K. Upon receipt of a complaint concerning a certified preschool program of an accredited private school, or of a private school to which provisional certification has been issued, if for good cause shown there is reason to suspect that the school is in noncompliance with any provision of this section or the health or safety of the children attending the preschool program is in danger, the Commissioner shall cause an investigation to be made, including on-site visits as he deems necessary of the services, personnel, and facilities of the school’s program. The school shall afford the Commissioner reasonable opportunity to inspect the school’s program, records, and facility, and to interview the employees and any child or parent or 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 is in noncompliance with the provisions of this section, the Commissioner shall give reasonable notice to the school of the nature of its noncompliance and thereafter may take appropriate action as provided by law, including a suit to 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 the preschool program are in clear and substantial danger upon the completion of an investigation, shall be grounds for revocation of the certification issued pursuant to this section.
M. If a private school operates a child day program outside the scope of its instructional classes during the school year or operates a child day program during the summer, the child day program shall be subject to licensure under the regulations adopted pursuant to § 63.2-1734.
1993, cc. 730, 742, § 63.1-196.3:1; 1994, cc. 837, 940; 1999, c. 454; 2002, c. 747; 2003, c. 467.