Substantial Equivalency Determination is the responsibility of the local school board as the “school authority” to determine whether a substantially equivalent education is being provided in religious or independent schools.

    • Local School Authority (LSA) may specify a designee e.g., BOCES
    • If the school is Registered, it does not require a review
    • During an initial review by local school officials or their designees, any religious and independent school that believes they meet the criteria for the Commissioner to make a determination regarding substantial equivalence should inform the LSA representatives at the outset of a review
      • The LSA (or BOCES) will use the Checklist tool to confirm and document this eligibility. To be eligible for a determination by the Commissioner, nonpublic schools must meet the following criteria:
        1. They must be a non-profit corporation
        2. They must have a bilingual program
        3. Elementary and middle schools must have an educational program that extends from no later than nine a.m. until no earlier than four p.m. for grades one through three, and no earlier than five-thirty p.m. for grades four through eight on the majority of weekdays; and
        4. Secondary schools must have been established for pupils in high school who have graduated from an elementary school that provides instruction as described in Education Law §3204 and have an educational program that extends from no later than nine a.m. until no earlier than six p.m. on the majority of weekdays
    • Substantial Equivalency Reviews will begin during the 2019-2020 school year. LSA and non-public school leaders are expected to attend trainings offered by SED or BOCES
    • Recommends that new nonpublic schools be reviewed within three years of operation
    • Existing schools be reviewed by the end of the 2022 -2023 school year or as soon as practicable and regularly thereafter
    • Requires LSAs to annually file a list of nonpublic schools subject to their review and Commissioner’s review by Sep. 1, 2020 and each September 1 thereafter
    • Requires LSAs to file an annual update regarding the status of substantial equivalency reviews by Sep. 1, 2024 and each September 1 thereafter 
    • Superintendents or designees should plan to re-visit the religious and independent schools in their district on a five-year cycle. Between visits, school districts and their local religious and independent schools should keep each other informed of important information, such as changes in leadership, curriculum, school building locations, grade levels served, etc. LSA and schools should collaborate on federal Title services to build a sustained and collaborative working relationship for the benefit of all students