Although licensure of private schools had been mandatory when performed by the DOE, Act 188 did not specifically state that licensing was mandatory and, as a result, licensure was considered to be optional once HCPS took responsibility for it. During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Senate/House Conference Committee passed SB 980, which was written into law as ACT 227,
on July 2, 2019, and clarified that all private schools, both non-profit and for-profit, must be licensed by HCPS and/or accredited by a nationally-recognized accrediting agency. Act 227 will become effective on July 1, 2020, which provides schools a year to comply with licensure.
The primary change in the law is in how a private school is defined. The final paragraph of Act 227 states:
"As used in this section, "private school" means an educational institution that teaches students in any grade from kindergarten through grade twelve and that is licensed or accredited by the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, Hawaii Council of Private Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Western Catholic Educational Association, Association of Christian Schools International, or a similarly recognized entity that meets or exceeds the standards set by the aforementioned entities."
Thus, under current Hawai'i state law, any child between the ages of 5 and 18 who is not enrolled in either a public school or a private school that meets the afore-mentioned criteria will be considered truant. In other words, students attending a private school that provides any part of a kindergarten through 12th grade program that is not licensed or accredited by one of the above-mentioned agencies will be considered truant and may be referred to Family Court.
The State of Hawaii's compulsory attendance law (Hawaii Revised Statutes 302A-1132) can be viewed here.