School Law & Legal Definition


A "school" includes all institutions of learning, but usually refers to lower levels of study and not universities, colleges, or other institutions of higher education. A public school is an institution free and open to all on equal terms, organized and maintained as one of the institutions of the state, generally limited to grammar schools or high schools. Schools not included in this classification are private and parochial schools, and colleges and universities.

Education is recognized as a function of state government, and the public school system is therefore governed by the state through local administrative authorities such as school districts and their governing boards. The duty of administering the law governing public schools within a particular district generally lies with an administrative body consisting of local officers known as superintendents, trustees, or directors. State constitutional and statutory provisions must be complied with in choosing school officers, their qualifications, their terms of office, and the method of filling vacancies. Teaching contracts are govrned by the general law of contracts and the rules and regulations of the school district or part of that contract if the teacher knew or should have known of such rules and regulations.

Matters requiring the action of a school board must be considered at a properly held meeting Failure to comply with statutory requirements of notice of a board meeting, specifications concerning the business to be transacted, or designation of a meeting place will make the actions void.

Statutes may provide for the compulsory attendance of children in schools, prescribe the conditions for attendance at public schools, provide for the formulation of rules and regulations for the conduct of students, and the extent of disciplinary action that may be imposed on students.

Legislative authority with respect to private schools, and the power to regulate them is subject to the same limitations as exist in the case of private property or rights, generally. The obligation to pay tuition fees and suspend or dismiss students in private schools depends on the terms of the contract between the parties.