The member schools of the New York Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) are expected to operate in the public interest and in accordance with the relevant Principles of Best Practice.
NYSAIS occasionally receives requests to investigate member schools’ alleged injustices to individuals. Only substantially supported allegations of practices which are both in conflict with the Association’s Principles and could seriously impair the quality and effectiveness of a school’s programs can be considered.
Independent Schools are by necessity responsive to the families they serve—every parent freely chooses to have their child participate in the programs provided by the school. In addition, independent schools are structured in such a way that there are many levels at which to resolve a concern or complaint. It is likely, therefore, that a person or persons with complaints about a school will be able to resolve any concerns with a school at one level or another at the school itself. Accordingly, NYSAIS will not hear complaints unless all means of appeal are exhausted at any given school.
A person or persons who believe they were seriously wronged by a school may file litigation against a school. NYSAIS will take no action on any complaint while the matter is under litigation or judicial consideration.
In the event that a complainant may have exhausted all avenues of communication at a school and does not want to litigate the matter, he/she may approach NYSAIS to review the issue by lodging a formal complaint. As an accrediting agency, NYSAIS is concerned that each of its schools is acting in the best interests of its students and families as defined by the mission of the school and the standards of the association. Therefore, the association will hear complaints that contain substantially supported allegations of practices that could seriously violate the school’s mission, student life, and/or the association’s standards.
- Oral complaints can be discussed with the Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation or the Executive Director at any time. NYSAIS will explain the policies and procedures outlined herein.
- To be acted upon, complaints must be in writing to NYSAIS and signed with a copy to the head of school the complaint is against. Included in the written complaint must be an accurate reconstruction of the events leading to the complaint including information about the various levels of review (e.g. division head, head of school, board of trustees, etc.) at the school that were undertaken by the complainant. NYSAIS will acknowledge all such complaints and an initial review will be made by the Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation or Executive Director of NYSAIS.
- If NYSAIS finds a complaint to be outside its policies and procedures for complaints or that the complainant did not adequately attempt to fully resolve the complaint at the school, the complainant will be so informed. The decision may be appealed, in writing, to the executive committee of the NYSAIS board of trustees.
- If the complaint appears to fall within NYSAIS policies and procedures for complaints, the head of school at issue will be asked to respond to the complaint to NYSAIS.
- On review of the response from the head of school, the NYSAIS Executive Director will determine (a) that the matter be dropped, or (b) that the complaint should be investigated further by the NYSAIS office, or (c) that the complaint will be referred for consideration to a special review committee (SRC) composed of the NYSAIS Executive Director, the NYSAIS Associate Director for Evaluation and Accreditation, the chair of the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation and the vice–chair of the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation.
- If either step (b) or (c) is taken, a report will be made to the SRC committee after the investigation and/or consideration is completed. The complainant will be informed of any action taken by the SRC. Any decisions may be appealed, in writing, to the NYSAIS executive committee, whose word is final.