Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools
Policy on Complaints
Membership in Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) is voluntary and requires all schools to be accredited by either/both Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools or/and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS).
Independent schools accredited by Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS), formerly Pennsylvania Association of Private Academic Schools (PAPAS), strive to operate in the interest of their constituents and the public interest in the accordance with recognized and applicable ethical and legal practices.
PAIS occasionally receives requests to investigate member school’s alleged injustices to individuals. Its attitude toward such requests depends upon the nature of the allegations and the verifiable factual information offered. PAIS will only investigate complaints against a member school accredited by the Association and only substantially supported allegations of practices that could seriously impair the quality and effectiveness of a school’s program and are in conflict with the standards set by the Commission for Accreditation under PAIS can be considered. PAIS’ response to receipt of such information is limited to making further inquiry; PAIS will not intervene on behalf of individuals and does not mediate contractual disputes. PAIS cannot investigate a complaint if the matter is in litigation.
If the alleged circumstances appear to be of the nature described above, PAIS may conduct a confidential inquiry with the knowledge of and in conference with those concerned. The results of such an inquiry will be reported to the PAIS Commission for Accreditation for its consideration. Should Commission deliberations lead to a recommendation to the PAIS Board of Directors for a change of the school’s status with the Association, the school may pursue the appeals procedure established and published by the Association.
Protocol for Reviewing Complaints for Schools
1. A complaint describing the allegations against a PAIS school must be written, signed, dated, and received at the PAIS office address.
2. A complaint received by the PAIS office will be evaluated and initially reviewed by the Executive Director of the Association.
3. If the complaint is filed against a school not accredited by the Association, the Executive Director will acknowledge the complaint in writing and will refer the complainant to the school’s accrediting agency.
4. If the complaint is filed against a school accredited by the Association, the Executive Director will acknowledge it in writing. The protocol outlined in steps 4 through 10 will be followed.
5. If the Director finds the complaint to be outside the scope of the policies of the Association, the complainant will be so informed. This decision may be appealed, in writing, directly to the PAIS Commission for Accreditation.
6. If the complaint appears to be within the scope of the policies of PAIS, a copy of the complaint will be forwarded to the chief administrative officer of the school who will be asked to provide the Executive Director, or, if deemed appropriate and necessary, written to the Commission for Accreditation, a response to the complaint.
7. The Executive Director of PAIS will review the response from the school 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 PAIS Commission for Accreditation Committee for additional consideration.
8. After the foregoing steps are taken, a report will be submitted to the PAIS Commission for Accreditation at a regular meeting or the PAIS President may call a special meeting. The complainant will be informed of steps and/or actions taken by the PAIS Commission for Accreditation.
9. At any point in the process, the complaint may be referred to the PAIS legal counsel.
10. All documents received or generated by PAIS as part of the Policy and process will be retained as confidential material. The complaint, the school’s response and any action taken will be maintained in the school’s file until the next full scale accreditation on-site committee visit report is heard and acted upon by the PAIS Commission for Accreditation.