Claire Leheny from the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) joined the Committee to discuss their accreditation process. They have 265 schools across New England (17 in VT) that are members of their organization. However, currently only 79 of their schools are accredited through AISNE (none in VT yet). Members who are not accredited by them must be through NEASC as a condition of membership.
She emphasized that they are committed to equity and inclusion, and it runs through everything they do.
AISNE has eight criteria for accreditation, a school must:
- Have a clear statement of mission and philosophy.
- Consist of three or more consecutive grades in kindergarten through grade twelve or equivalent.
- Be incorporated as a not-for-profit organization as attested by federal and state records.
- Have a non-discrimination statement as required by law.
- Be governed by an appropriately constituted and substantially independent governing board, in accordance with the by-laws of the corporation.
- Have policies and procedures to ensure that any perceived or actual conflicts of interest for board members are disclosed and managed appropriately.
- Have an annual audit of the school's financial statements, performed by an independent certified public accountant.
- Have a process for the ongoing monitoring of its compliance with all federal, state, and local legal and regulatory requirements.
A visit team does an on-site review of the standards at the school. These teams are experienced teachers and educators from the region, a sort of peer review. AISNE continues to support schools throughout the process even in-between their accreditation cycle (which is every 10 years). Schools must also complete an annual report to affirm that they are continuing to comply with the standards of accreditation.
In addition to accreditation, AISNE also provides training for teachers and boards as well as job postings.