Independent schools accredited by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (“PAIS” or the “Association”) strive to operate in the interest of their constituents and the public interest in accordance with recognized and applicable ethical and legal practices. A goal of PAIS is to support accredited schools in all phases of the operation and execution of the school’s program.

PAIS occasionally receives requests to investigate member school’s alleged misconduct toward individuals or members of the school constituency. Complaints describing allegations against a PAIS member school must be written, signed, dated, and submitted to the PAIS Executive Director (the “Executive Director”) at [email protected] The Association will not consider anonymous complaints. PAIS cannot investigate a complaint if the matter is under police investigation or is in litigation.

PAIS’s authority over its member schools is solely based on its accreditation process for such schools; therefore, it should be understood that PAIS’s sole remedy for responding to complaints against member schools is to ensure compliance with accreditation standards and membership criteria.

PAIS does not intervene on behalf of any employee, individual, or family in issues or disputes they may have with a member school. Since independent schools are entities that govern themselves, many accredited schools have processes for addressing the concerns of individuals and families. If an individual reports a complaint about a member school to the Executive Director concerning such matters, which are within the school’s purview to address and resolve through its own policies and procedures, the Executive Director will direct the reporting individual to address their concerns directly with the school.

PAIS will only investigate complaints against member schools which contain serious, substantiated allegations that could justify revocation or revision of the school’s accreditation status. The Executive Director, in their sole discretion, shall determine whether PAIS will commence an investigation of a complaint against a member school.

If PAIS commences an investigation of a complaint against a member school, PAIS will follow the following procedures:

  1. The Executive Director will notify the PAIS Commission for Accreditation (the “Commission for Accreditation”) of the complaint.
  2. A copy of the complaint will be forwarded to the Head of School and Board Chair of the school that is the subject of the complaint.
  3. The school will be provided the opportunity to submit a written response to the Executive Director within 30 days of receipt of the complaint.
  4. The Executive Director will review the response from the school and recommend to the Commission for Accreditation that: (a) the matter be closed; (b) the complaint should be addressed by the Executive Director; or (c) the complaint should be referred to a special PAIS Accreditation Committee established by the Executive Director or their designee for additional consideration (the “Special Committee”).
  5. If the complaint is referred to a Special Committee for further consideration, the Executive Director or their designee will designate PAIS members to serve on the Special Committee. Once formed, the Special Committee and the Executive Director or their designee shall establish the next steps in the investigatory process, which may include but are not limited to the following: a review of the school’s previous accreditation report; a visit by the Special Committee to review the school’s compliance with PAIS’s accreditation standards; an interview with the complainant; and/or an interview with relevant school officials regarding the allegations of the complaint.
  6. The Executive Director or the Special Committee, if established, shall report their findings of the steps outlined above to the Commission for Accreditation at a special meeting called for this purpose. The Commission for Accreditation is responsible for determining whether the school has violated PAIS’s accreditation standards and any remedial action to be imposed, if any.
  7. In the event that the Commission for Accreditation finds that a school is not compliant with PAIS’s accreditation standards, a series of actions will be undertaken with the school including but not limited to a request to remedy the noncompliance issue, placing the school on warned status or probation, or revoking the school’s accreditation and/or membership.
  8. PAIS will make every effort to share its findings with the school in a timely manner.
  9. If a school disagrees with PAIS’s findings and/or resolution of the complaint, the school may appeal PAIS’s decision using the appeals process outlined in the PAIS Accreditation Handbook.
Any investigation undertaken by PAIS or a special PAIS Commission for Accreditation Committee as the result of a written report or complaint shall be confidential. The decision whether to notify an individual or family or make any public comment concerning the status of a member school or any other issue considered by PAIS shall be within the discretion of the Executive Director.

All documents received or generated by PAIS as part of the complaint will be retained as confidential material. The complaint, the school’s response and any action taken will be maintained in the school’s file in the PAIS Office. If appropriate, and as determined by the Executive Director, the materials will be made available to the accreditation team as part of any subsequent accreditation visits.

Complaints against member, non-accredited schools should also be sent to the Executive Director at [email protected]. The Executive Director reserves the right to revoke the subject school’s PAIS membership if a complaint contains serious, substantiated allegations that may impact the school’s PAIS membership eligibility. Such determinations shall be made in the sole discretion of the Executive Director or their designee.

Adopted October 2022