Hawaii Association of Independent Schools

Licensing Overview


Until June of 1995, private schools in Hawaii were licensed by the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) in accordance with procedures given by Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 8, Department of Education, Chapter 100, August 1988 (known as “Rule 100”). In 1993, the Legislature began to explore the possibility of transferring this and other responsibilities related to Hawaii’s private schools from the DOE to another group, in order to allow the DOE to focus its resources on the needs of the public schools. To that end, House Bill #1819 and Senate Bill #995 were drafted and eventually became Act 188, which Governor Benjamin Cayetano signed into law on June 16, 1995.
Act 188 repealed the law that gave the DOE responsibility for both licensing private schools and certifying private school teachers and led to the establishment of a task force responsible for the development of a plan for private school self-regulation. This task force was composed of private school administrators representing all sectors of Hawaii’s private school community, and its recommendations resulted in:
  1. The formation of a new Hawaii Council of Private Schools whose purpose would be to implement the provisions of the plan for private school self-governing, and
  2. The development and publication of specific standards and procedures, for the licensure and re-licensure of private schools.

Why is Licensing Important?

Licensing of elementary and secondary educational institutions is important because it provides an independent, third-party assessment of a school’s safety, sustainability and program quality.
About 160 private and parochial schools are registered in Hawai‘i. HAIS licenses about 120 of them through its subsidiary, the Hawai‘i Council of Private Schools (HCPS). At least once every three years, educators from other licensed schools visit campuses to make sure the school’s fire safety, health department certificates, financial records, academic programs and certificates of occupancy are in order and up to date. The process helps to determine if the school provides a safe, secure and healthy learning environment, has a documented curriculum with faculty qualified to present that curriculum.

If schools choose to be accredited, the licensing process is usually part of the accreditation process. Licensing and accreditation together help ensure parents and students that their school will be safe, secure and sustainable.

Most colleges and universities will not take transcripts from unlicensed schools.

Hawaii Council of Private Schools

Standards for licensure and procedures regulating the license approval process have been developed by HCPS to ensure that all licensed private schools in Hawaii are of a certain level of quality. These standards apply to all private schools seeking licensure or re-licensure, regardless of whether these institutions are also accredited by an established accrediting body.
It is important to note that these standards are used only to determine whether a school should be granted a license to operate and should not be confused with the standards required for accreditation, which provide assurance of an even higher level of quality than licensure and are evidence that a school improvement plan is in place.
For information on how to begin steps toward the possible licensure of a school by the Hawaii Council of Private Schools, please refer to the HCPS Manual: Standards and Procedures for the Approval of Hawaii Private Schools.
Please contact Kelley Rahn for more information.
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