Appeal of Adverse Action
Applying for Candidate for Accreditation
Under normal circumstances a school seeking affiliation with the Association would first go through the Candidate for Accreditation process. The category of Candidate for Accreditation is not to be confused with membership in and accreditation by the Association. It is a temporary status. An institution so recognized is entitled to make public this fact in its catalog and other publications. This candidacy is subject to annual review and may not be continued beyond five years.
The conditions for recognition as a Candidate for Accreditation are as follows:
1. For a school to be recognized as a Candidate for Accreditation, it must meet the following criteria:
a. It must be a nonpublic school that is separately incorporated under the relevant laws of the state in which it is located or a member of a school system.
b. At least one year of operation of the school program must have been completed.
c. The institution must be developing in accordance with the general Standards for Accreditation for independent schools in NEASC.
d. The school must provide academic programs leading to a diploma or appropriate certificate issued by the school being considered.
e. It is expected that the majority of students spend at least one year enrolled in such a program or for a full semester in a semester-length program.
f. In the case of a proprietary school, that the school has a governing body which meets the criteria set forth in the Commission Policy on Governing Bodies for Proprietary Schools.
2. Such an institution would be required to:
a. Host a preliminary visit by a staff member and receive approval by the Commission to proceed with the application.
b. Following that approval, submit an Application for Candidate for Accreditation. An evaluation fee equal to the annual fee for a member school with that enrollment is assessed following receipt of the application.
c. Host a one-day visit from representatives of the Commission to determine the readiness of the school to be accepted into Candidate status and to move toward full accreditation and membership in the Association. The Committee will prepare a written report to the Commission which will include a recommendation as to acceptance of the school into Candidate status.
d. Pay all costs of the visiting committee — travel, meals, and lodging.
e. Pay an annual fee set by the Board of Trustees of the Association while the institution remains in this category. This fee is equal to the dues for a member school with that enrollment.
3. The Commission on Independent Schools grants Candidate status to those institutions which appear to the Commission to merit it. When this status is conferred, the school may attend, without vote, the Annual Meeting and other meetings of the Association. The institution will submit annual reports to the Commission on Independent Schools and may be visited by representatives of the Commission. Failure to submit these reports as requested or inadequate progress in the development of the school toward meeting the Standards for Accreditation in the Association may be cause for dropping a school from this category of affiliation.
4. A school may remain affiliated with the Association as a Candidate for Accreditation for a maximum of five years, in the course of or at the end of which period an institution must apply for membership and undergo evaluation in accordance with established procedures.
5. The visiting committee must be able to assess the total program of the school. With a school that is adding grades, a visit may proceed, at the discretion of the Commission, if complete plans are in place.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2009
Complaints against Affiliated Institutions
Independent schools accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges are expected to operate in the public interest and in accordance with recognized ethical and legal practices.
The Commission on Independent Schools occasionally receives requests to investigate member institutions' alleged injustices to individuals. Its attitude toward such requests depends upon the nature of the charges and the evidence offered. Only substantially supported allegations of practices that could seriously impair the quality and effectiveness of an institution's program and are in conflict with the standards of the Association can be considered by the Commission, and then only as a basis for further inquiry. The Commission will not intervene on behalf of individuals.
If the alleged circumstances do appear to be of the nature above described, the Commission may conduct a confidential inquiry with the knowledge of and in conference with those concerned. Findings will be reported to the Commission for its consideration. Should the Commission's deliberations lead to a recommendation for a change of the institution's status with the Association, the institution has available the appeals procedure established and published by the Association.
In the event that a complainant has instituted litigation against the institution, no action will be taken on the complaint while the matter is under judicial consideration.
1. A complaint received by the Commission will be acknowledged in writing and initially reviewed by the Director of the Commission.
2. If the Director finds the complaint to be outside of the scope of the policies of the Commission, the complainant will be so informed. This decision may be appealed, in writing, directly to the Commission.
3. If the complaint appears to be within the scope of policies of the Commission, a copy of the complaint will be forwarded to the chief administrative officer of the institution who will be asked to respond to the complaint.
4. The Director of the Commission will review the response from the institution and recommend to the Commission that (a) the matter be closed, or (b) the complaint should be investigated further, or (c) the complaint should be referred to a special Commission committee for consideration.
Conflict of Interest
In carrying out its accreditation responsibilities, the Commission on Independent Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges seeks to ensure that its decisions are based solely on the application of professional judgment to the information resulting from its processes. Therefore, it seeks to avoid both the reality and the appearance of conflict of interest. For purposes of this policy statement, conflict of interest is defined as:
A circumstance in which an individual’s capacity to make an impartial or unbiased accreditation decision may be affected because of a prior, current, or anticipated institutional affiliation(s), other significant relationship(s), or association(s) with the institution under review.
The following examples are meant to be illustrative:
- employee, board member, appointee, consultant, or graduate
Other Significant Relationships:
- affiliation with another institution in the same educational system;
- having a close relative affiliated with the institution under review;
- sought or seeking a position at the institution under review;
- knowledge or personal interest concerning the institution under review which might prejudice decision making.
Members of the Commission on Independent Schools are committed to full disclosure and restraint in any institutional consideration involving a conflict of interest. Members of the Commission absent themselves from deliberations or votes on decisions regarding institutions with which they are affiliated. They do not participate in discussions or vote on decisions on institutions where it would reasonably appear that they have a conflict of interest. Commission members who are uncertain regarding the possible appearance or reality of conflict of interest shall seek the advice of the Director of the Commission. At the request of the Chair, the Commission can determine the question by vote. In general, however, if there is any doubt on the part of a Commission member, it should be resolved by the member refraining from any discussion or action to the institution under review. All school-related materials made available to Commission members; e.g., self-studies, visiting committee reports, etc. must be turned in to the Commission staff at the conclusion of every meeting. Visiting Committee Reports available to Commission members at a secure page of the NEASC website are removed and passwords disabled immediately after each meeting. Members are instructed to destroy all electronic notes and information regarding schools reviewed at each meeting.
Revised and Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2010
Extending Accreditation Across Commissions
If an institution accredited by one NEASC commission develops a division or branch campus that falls within the authority of another NEASC commission, the latter commission may conduct a staff inquiry into the quality of the new entity and then may extend accreditation to it, subject to a full accreditation review at the commission’s discretion, but no later than that scheduled for the originating institution.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, November 2014
A university accredited by CIHE establishes a lab school serving elementary and/or secondary students; after a staff visit to confirm the quality of the new entity, CIS (or CIE) may extend accreditation to the lab school, subject to a full accreditation review at the commission’s discretion, but no later than the review scheduled for the university. An independent school accredited by CIS establishes a branch campus overseas; after a staff visit to confirm the quality of the new entity, CIE may extend accreditation to the branch campus, subject to a full accreditation review at the commission’s discretion, but no later than the review scheduled for the originating school. (In this case, CIE and CIS may choose to grant joint accreditation.)
CIS currently has a policy to extend accreditation to cover substantive change (adding a division, merging with another institution, establishing a new campus, etc.) subject to a report with staff visit in one year.
Financial Reporting Requirements
The Commission is sensitive to its responsibility to monitor the financial health of member schools, but also to limit the cost to schools of reporting requirements. With these dual objectives in mind, the Commission has established a reporting calendar that reduces the requirement for externally validated financial reports to five-year intervals, at the times of the decennial visit and the five year interim evaluation report.
The Commission currently accepts:
1. A full-opinion audit
2. An independent auditor’s review with a management letter
3. A Diocesan Report on School Finances
4. A Report on School Finances from a Religious Order
For reports other than the decennial visit and the five-year interim evaluation report, the Commission accepts internally generated balance sheets, budgets, and operating statements.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, 2002
Focused Visit Review
The Role of the Visiting Committee
The Commission on Independent Schools will, from time to time, request a small team of evaluators to visit a member school to obtain information or verify a report submitted by the institution. This focused visit is different from a regular comprehensive evaluation visit as follows:
- The visit is typically scheduled for one day
- The visiting committee is small in number
- The entire institution is not evaluated
Material to assist in preparation for a focused visit is in the form of a progress report submitted by the school, any communication between the Commission and the institution, and the charge to the visiting committee by the Commission.
One member of the visiting committee is identified as the Chair and that person is responsible for making necessary arrangements for the Committee and for all communications with the school to assure an efficient and meaningful visit. The Chair is expected to be in contact with the other members of the committee and with the chief administrative officer of the institution prior to the visit.
It is expected that team members will review all materials provided by NEASC prior to the onsite visit. Upon arrival at the school, the Chair will hold an organizational meeting and assign responsibilities to the members of the committee.
Because the visit is very brief, it is important that a schedule be established with opportunities to meet with appropriate school personnel and review necessary written material. It is expected that the Committee will be prepared to write a report and make a formal recommendation to the Commission on Independent Schools at the conclusion of the visit.
Although it is not necessary to communicate all the findings of the committee to the chief administrative officer, it is certainly appropriate to schedule an exit interview with him or her prior to departing. Care should be taken that the content and tone of the exit interview are consistent with the written report.
The Focused Visit Report
Each Focused Visit Report should contain a narrative section describing the school and the issues that were identified as the focus for the work of the Committee. Strengths of the school and areas of concern should be mentioned, particularly as they relate to the charge by the Commission. Recommendations and suggestions may also be made which are intended to strengthen the school. It is certainly appropriate to relate any comments to the Standards for Accreditation. The report should conclude with a specific recommendation to the Commission.
The Chair of the visiting committee is responsible for the preparation of the report. The completed report and the recommendation of the committee should be submitted by the Chair within thirty days of the visit to the Director of the Commission on Independent Schools at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Any expense vouchers should be submitted to the school.
When the Focused Visit Report is submitted to the Director of the Commission, the committee's assignment is complete.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, December 1997
Governing Body for Proprietary Schools
It is the policy of the Commission on Independent Schools that each proprietary school granted accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. have a governing board.
Essential to the proper conduct and public trust of an accredited proprietary school is a governing body charged with these responsibilities:
• Collaborates in sustaining the mission of the school to assure a clear and commanding commitment to education;
• Assures continuity and provides evaluative feedback on leadership which may include appointment and evaluation of the Head of School;
• Collaborates with the owner of the school in assuring the school's fiscal health;
• Reviews the policies by which the school is conducted;
• Reviews, assesses, and constructively comments on the school’s effectiveness in accomplishing its mission and goals.
The governing board shall have as at least a third of its members people who represent the public interest, that is, who have no contractual, employment or personal financial interest in the institution (other than an enrollment contract in the case of a current parent). Public representatives should be free from present or potential conflict of interest.
Accreditation through the Commission on Independent Schools is granted expressly to a particular institution with clearly defined and identified ownership and/or control. A change in ownership or control automatically results in a self-executing, immediate discontinuance of accreditation unless the new owner or controlling authority provides adequate written assurance and evidence that the standards of the Commission will be maintained. Such assurances will be validated by a Focused Review Committee appointed by the Commission to visit the institution at a time designated by the Commission.
Revised and Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, February 2006
The NEASC Commission on Independent Schools (CIS) accredits individual schools. That accreditation does not extend to additional campuses, branches, partnerships, or other related entities except with the explicit authorization of CIS and in accord with published Commission policies.
The Commission is aware that member schools are exploring opportunities to share their expertise and experience with new and existing schools abroad. Member schools have been generous in assisting in hiring and training faculty, in providing curriculum, and in participating on boards of trustees. The Commission applauds these initiatives; however, it wishes to make clear that in general the member school’s accreditation cannot be included in a package of services provided to another entity and that the member school is responsible for making sure that no such claim of accreditation is made or suggested. Further, on one specific matter, a member school may not award (or authorize the award of) its diploma to graduates of another entity.
There are two circumstances in which a member school may extend its accreditation to an international campus and may issue diplomas in its name:
- The international school meets fully the provisions of the “Multi Campus School” policy, subject to confirmation by a site visit by CIS staff or a visiting team appointed by CIS.
- The international campus has been approved for accreditation by the Commission on International Education (CIE) and thereby receives joint NEASC accreditation from CIS and CIE.
(NOTE ON EXPEDITED INITIAL APPROVAL: For expedited initial approval, the member school must demonstrate that the international school or program is an integral part of the member school; that there is a formal agreement with the international school or program, signed by both boards; and that the member school provides the required curriculum (fully aligned with that of the member school), participates in the recruitment, training, and evaluation of faculty, and oversees the general operation of the school or program to assure that it meets acceptable standards with regard to the student experience. In this circumstance, the international school or program may gain initial approval from CIE (and jointly from CIS) on the basis of a successful two-three day Eligibility Visit by CIE, with the understanding that the school or program must achieve full accreditation by CIE within two years.
The Commission holds schools accountable to its Standards for Accreditation and determines the terms of its award of the status of school accreditation; it does not otherwise restrict activities sponsored or conducted by the member school.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, February 2016
Making Changes to Visiting Committee Reports
When CIS staff deems it necessary to make substantive editorial changes to a Visiting Committee Report to ensure clarity and appropriateness, the staff will make the change(s) and provide a memo listing those changes for the Commission. The memo will be included with the report when it is sent to the Reviewer. In addition, the memo will remain as part of the Visiting Committee Report record.
The staff will continue to make grammatical corrections to Visiting Committee Reports as necessary.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2014
The Commission is aware of plans to consolidate existing schools in various ways or to add campuses. Some plans call for combining two or more schools into a single school with more than one campus. Recently, schools have opened branch campuses abroad. The Commission recognizes that such arrangements may make sense for administrative, governance, and/or financial reasons. However, the Commission reserves the right to determine how it will view these new entities for purposes of accreditation.
The Commission has adopted the following policy:
Pending further review, the Commission will regard each campus location as a separate school for purposes of accreditation (reports, visits, dues, etc.) regardless of nomenclature suggesting one school on more than one campus.
A school may demonstrate that the multiple campuses are in fact one school by documenting in writing on the attached form how each of the Commission’s Standards for Accreditation is met by the multi-campus entity as though it were a single school. Upon receipt of the report, the Commission will review the information at its next scheduled meeting, make a determination, and notify the school in writing of its decision.
Unless and until a school demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commission that a branch campus is part of the accredited school, as though the two campuses were a single school, the Commission will consider the branch campus as a separate school and does not authorize the awarding of transcripts or diplomas with the name of the accredited school to students at that branch campus. The award of such a transcript or diploma suggests the endorsement of the accrediting agency and is unacceptable.
Revised and Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2014
Nomination of Commission Members
From Minutes, Commission on Independent Schools, October 16, 1973.
On MOTION made and seconded, it was VOTED:
To adopt the nomination procedure as amended. The text of the policy as adopted follows:
"A letter is to be sent to the head of each member or affiliate school, diocesan school superintendent(s), state or regional association of independent schools, and other interested parties. This letter will spell out some of the expectations of the Commission, solicit their suggestions, and ascertain their personal interest and availability.
- In all letters there will be a statement of the fact that we are soliciting names for a member-at-large. (A sample letter will be prepared for review by the Commission.)
- In states where CIS vacancies will exist, a special paragraph will be inserted in the letter requesting nominations to fill the vacancy in that state.
- An Ad Hoc nominating committee appointed by the Chair of the Commission would meet prior to the fall meeting of the Commission, review the suggestions and any other names they might have to consider and prepare a slate of suggested candidates. These people would be approached to ascertain their interest and availability if nominated. The suggestions would be presented to the Commission at its fall meeting. The Nominating Committee will report at the meeting of institutional delegates at the Annual Meeting of the Association. A vote for nominees will follow."
Postponement of Visits to Merging or Consolidating Accredited Schools
(When the merge/consolidation moves the school beyond its scheduled decennial visit and the one year postponement allowed by the Commission)
The Commission is aware of plans to merge or consolidate existing schools in various ways. Some plans call for combining two or more schools into a single school or closing two or more schools and reopening them as a new school. The Commission recognizes that such arrangements may make sense for administrative, governance, and/or financial reasons. The Commission understands that some of these mergers may come at the same time as the normal accreditation decennial visit. Schools which find themselves in this situation may ask for an extraordinary extension; complete a report explaining the circumstances; and host a small focused visiting committee, composed of a staff member and a member of the Commission, to recommend a timetable for proceeding with the full accrediting process and any intermediate reports that might be required. The Commission reserves the right to determine the appropriate timetable and procedure for the accreditation process. The school’s accreditation will be continued until the time set by the Commission.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, November 2007
Postponing the Decennial Evaluation and Interim Reports
Member schools in CIS are engaged in a decennial cycle of accreditation activities. Schools have the choice of fall or spring for the visit. Schools may request in writing, a postponement of no more than one calendar year for the scheduled visit; such a postponement requires a vote of the Commission. Schools in the state of Vermont may postpone visits and reports only if the Commission receives state approval for the delay.
The Two and Five Year Interim Evaluation Reports are scheduled from the date of the Commission action. The Commission may, at the staff’s discretion, grant postponement in due dates for Two and Five Year Interim Reports. Such postponements will be granted if, in the judgment of the staff, a postponement is likely to result in a more positive experience/outcome for the school.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, November 2014
Probation is a public status signifying that the Commission on Independent Schools has found that conditions exist at the school which if left uncorrected pose a direct and immediate threat to the school's ability to retain its accreditation.
A school holding probationary status is subject to close scrutiny by the Commission. The school is expected to take appropriate corrective action within a specified time period. Failure to resolve the cause for probation will lead to an action asking the school to show cause why its accreditation should not be removed.
Probation is a public status indicated in any Association publication or communication about the affected school. The Association will also provide in its relevant publications notice of the availability of a statement regarding the school's probationary status as well as a plan to monitor the school. This statement will be developed by the Commission, and the Commission reserves the right to make final determination as to its nature and content.
A school on Probation is obliged to disclose its status as well as the availability of additional information on its probationary status to prospective students, those currently enrolled, and the public in its catalog and recruitment materials. The following statement will be used:
(School Name) is accredited on Probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, effective (date), because it has not fully met the accreditation standard(s) on________. A statement providing further information about the probationary status will be made available upon request by:
Commission on Independent Schools New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
Burlington, MA 01803-4514
Revised and Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, 2009
Public Disclosure of Information about Affiliated Institutions
Upon inquiry, the Commission on Independent Schools through its Director will release the following information about affiliated institutions:
Descriptive information as contained in the Commission database:
- Date of founding
- Contact information (address, phone, fax, email, website, etc.)
- Grade levels included
- Type of school, e.g., boarding or day, coeducational or single-sex, denominational, etc.
- Enrollment (as of the preceding October)
- Name of Chief Administrative Officer
- Name and address of the Chair of the Governing
Body Information concerning the school’s accreditation status:
- Current status – Member or Candidate (Probation is a public status, Warning is not)
- Dates of candidacy or initial membership and accreditation by NEASC; most recent full visit and confirmation of accreditation; next regularly scheduled report
- In the event of an adverse recommendation (probation, denial of membership, dropping from membership) where final action has been taken and no appeal is pending, the reasons for the adverse status and the effective date are released. For schools placed on Probation, the Commission’s plans to monitor the school are stated.
The self-study, Visiting Committee Report, and notification letters regarding Commission/Association action are the property of the school. Neither the Association nor the Commission releases copies of any material relating to an individual school’s evaluation without the express permission of the school.
However, the self-study is an exercise in analysis and planning that should be inclusive of professional staff and should engage others as the school deems appropriate. The self-study presupposes work done in advance that provides background information, including surveys of parents, students, and staff. The Visiting Committee Report and the letter from the Commission regarding its review respond to the self-study and add recommendations that are to be integrated with the conclusions of the self-study. The Commission encourages that, in the spirit of inquiry and institutional improvement, the school will provide access to these documents relating to the evaluation process to the professional staff and to other responsible parties in the school community, as appropriate.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, November 2008
Sale or Distribution of NEASC Mailing List
It is the obligation of NEASC to protect the privacy of its members through control of the association’s membership list. In view of this obligation, the NEASC membership list will be distributed or sold in the following circumstances only:
- The membership list may be released to NEASC members who are engaged in survey research projects of benefit to evaluation/accreditation with the approval of the President/CEO. In such cases, the researcher may obtain the list providing that said researcher agrees to: a. “one-time” usage of the list b. maintenance of confidentiality regarding membership information c. sharing of research results with the association.
- The membership list may be released to other professional associations with the approval of the President/CEO on a reciprocal exchange basis. In such cases, neither association may resell the other’s listings or use it for any purpose except that agreed upon in writing.
- The membership list may be sold to educational publishers for the purpose of book distribution. In such cases upon the NEASC President/CEO’s receipt of a publisher’s request, the list may be sold at a cost of 25 cents per name.
- With approval of the President/CEO, the membership list may be released/sold to other educational agencies/organizations that are engaged in activities directly related to education.
The NEASC membership list will not be released for any purpose other than those noted above without special permission from the President/CEO of the Association.
Adopted by NEASC Board of Trustees, May 1992
Schools Affiliated with Other Governing or Accrediting Entities
Many member schools of the Commission on Independent Schools have responsibilities to other accrediting associations, diocesan central offices, and/or to government entities. NEASC seeks to communicate and, where possible, to cooperate with these groups in ways that will minimize the duplication of effort for schools. However, the Commission accredits schools as individual and independent institutions according to the policies of NEASC.
- The Commission will not enforce the requirements of other associations, offices, or entities as part of its accreditation process.
- The Commission will not waive or modify its standards to correspond with the requirements of other associations, offices, or entities.
In certain circumstances, the Commission has agreed to cooperate with another accrediting association to conduct a joint visit to a school. The Commission has agreed to include representatives of the other association on the visiting committee and has allowed the school to add sections to its self-study at the request of the other association. All elements of the NEASC accreditation process are followed, however, and granting of NEASC accreditation is based solely on the NEASC components of the jointly-conducted evaluation.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, February 2005
Semester and One-Year Schools
The Commission on Independent Schools accredits schools that are an integral part of the kindergarten – grade twelve continuum. To achieve accreditation, limited-time schools must demonstrate that students do not step out of the continuum, but transfer in from and back to sending schools while receiving academic credit for their time away.
Applicants must meet all Standards for Accreditation and the following:
Approval to Apply for Candidacy
Semester or One-Year Schools seeking accreditation from NEASC must, prior to being approved to apply for candidacy, submit evidence that independent schools who are now members of NEASC routinely grant full credit to those students who attend the limitedtime school so that those students do not lose time in the normal school progression.
Documentation of Program Continuity
Semester or One-Year Schools seeking accreditation from NEASC must provide along with their self-study documentation of the curriculum for the current and three prior years that demonstrates program continuity.
Semester or One-Year Schools seeking accreditation from NEASC must provide survey data from students and parents from the previous three years.
Semester or One-Year Schools seeking accreditation from NEASC must document sufficient continuity of staff to assure consistency of program.
Observation of Off-Campus and/or Out of New England Programs Semester or One-Year Schools seeking accreditation from NEASC that conduct their programs in significant part away from a central New England campus must host separate visiting committees or representatives of a central visiting committee at all sites.
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2011
Standards for Accreditation Policy
Accreditation has as its purpose quality assurance and school improvement. As a tool to assure quality, the Commission on Independent Schools maintains Standards for Accreditation against which a school is measured. These standards are reviewed and updated on a regular basis through a participatory process with accredited schools and adopted by the Commission.
The voluntary accreditation process provides the opportunity for a school, through its self-study, to demonstrate that it meets the accreditation standards of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and also demonstrate that it carries out its mission in an appropriate fashion.
The Commission on Independent Schools in its decisions regarding accreditation has the expectation that each accredited school will meet all Standards for Accreditation. If a school seeking continued accreditation does not meet all standards at the time of the accreditation visit, it is expected that all standards will be met within one year. If a school seeking initial accreditation does not meet all standards at the time of the evaluation visit, action by the Commission will be tabled and the school will be asked to report on the status of compliance with all standards within one year.
A school that has an “unmet” standard with a rating of SU1 or SU2 should notify the Commission office within one year when it believes it has taken necessary action to warrant a “met” rating. At that time:
- A staff visit to the school will be made to assess whether the standard(s) is met with a SM1 or SM2. If the staff member finds that the school is clearly in compliance, the staff member will recommend to the Commission that the standard is met and propose any further recommendations related to the standard to which the school should be asked to respond and a date for the response. The Commission may accept the recommendation of the staff member or may direct a focused visit by a visiting team of two or three, possibly including a Commission member.
- If the staff member finds that the school is still not in compliance, the school will be notified of the outstanding issues and asked to submit a further report when ready. The Commission will be informed. If the school disagrees with the finding of the staff member it may request that a visiting team of two or three conduct a focused visit to assess compliance with the standard(s).
Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, November 2011
Substantive Change Policy
A school which has undergone a substantive change (e.g. adding a division, adding a residential/homestay program, merging, etc.) must provide the Commission with a Substantive Change Report after completing one year of the substantive change. Receipt of this report may be followed by a staff visit and a report presented to the Commission who will determine if further action is warranted.
Revised and Approved by the Commission on Independent Schools, June 2012
Use of Visiting Committee Reports and Notification Letters
Following an evaluation for membership or accreditation, initial or continued, the school is provided the following documents in sequence:
- The Visiting Committee Report to which the school is asked to respond as to its factual accuracy, the nature of the recommendations, and comments relative to the work of the visiting committee and the votes on Standards for Accreditation;
- Following Commission action, a letter from the Director of the Commission, outlining the action taken, the continuing responsibilities of the school to the Association, and the recommendations to be dealt with in future reports; and,
- A brief letter from the President of the Association noting the action taken regarding initial membership and accreditation. These last two letters may be expected some weeks following receipt of the Visiting Committee Report.
The Visiting Committee Report and notification letters regarding Commission/Association action are the property of the school. Either the report or the notification letter may be used in whole or part by the school for external purposes. However, if excerpts are to be released to the public, they must present a balanced view of recommendations as well as commendations.
Association policy as approved by the Board of Trustees, May 12, 1978, and as amended, December 10, 1981 states:
“If something is publicly released by an institution that misrepresents or distorts the Commission recommendation, the appropriate Director of the Commission should contact the chief administrative officer of the institution and request that corrective action be taken. If the misrepresentation or distortion is not promptly corrected, the Director of the Commission should so notify the Executive Director who is the chief executive officer of the Association and who speaks on behalf of the Association.”
Neither the Association nor the Commission releases copies of any of the material relating to an individual school's evaluation without the express permission of the school. In certain cases, such as the institution seeking approval by the appropriate state department of education, or membership in or recognition by another agency, there will be sent, at the request of the Head of School, a copy of the Visiting Committee Report and the letter of notification regarding membership and accreditation from the Director of the Commission. In the event of a request being made for a research study, the material may be made available for use at the Association office only with the specific approval of the Head of School.
Within the framework of the above policy, the Commission encourages, in the spirit of inquiry and institutional improvement, access to the documents relating to the evaluation process to interested parties in the school community.
When the Commission finds that an institution is in direct and immediate danger of losing its accreditation because of conditions that threaten its ability to comply with the requirements of affiliation and/or Standards for Accreditation and/or other policies, but when the Commission feels that it is not appropriate to use the Probation status, the Commission may place the school on Warning. (It is noted that Probation status is a matter of public record and must be made public by the school. Warning has no such requirement.)
The school that is placed on Warning will be required to file frequent reports and undergo, at a minimum, an annual visit from representatives of the Commission. If the institution does not show progress in correcting the conditions, the Commission will review its decision on Warning and will report to the Board of Trustees of the Association that the school has been placed on Probation, unless there are mitigating circumstances which would indicate a more appropriate course of action.