Religious and Independent Schools

I. General Guidelines for Administrators

The Building Administrator

The titles of administrators of nonpublic schools are almost as varied as the types of schools themselves. Many are called heads or principals or chief faculty persons. For consistency in this manual, the term "administrator" will be used to indicate the supervisory head of a nonpublic school. In referring to public school district personnel, the term "district official" will be used.

Research on characteristics of effective schools reveals that the administrator occupies a pivotal position. The administrator is the key to high academic achievement and a model for academic excellence. A wealth of opportunities exist for the administrator to develop a school and to supervise its progress. In addition to overseeing the daily functioning of the school, the administrator is responsible for the myriad of elements that comprise a school's operation. These generally include:

  • developing and ensuring adherence to the school's philosophy and policies
  • guiding the development of the instructional program
  • managing the financial affairs
  • supervising the school buildings and grounds
  • demonstrating staff leadership
  • developing in-service programs
  • assigning duties to faculty and staff
  • holding faculty and staff meetings
  • relating to school board and parents
  • acting as liaison with public school personnel
  • furthering public and community relations
  • participating in community and professional organizations and associations

Statement of Philosophy and Goals

Each nonpublic school has unique purposes and unique ways of operating. The school will function most effectively if these purposes are clearly enunciated. Why was the school established? Who does it intend to serve? What outcomes does it pursue? These are some of the questions to be answered in a school's statement of philosophy and goals. The statement is the broad foundation for formulating policies that will affect all aspects of a school's operation. It need not be lengthy or complex, but it should explain the rationale of the school and identify its major goals. Research has shown that the most effective schools have clearly-defined academic and curricular goals.

The development of a statement of philosophy should involve every part of the school community--parents, faculty, staff and students. These groups should be asked to contribute their views as it is formulated. If the school is affiliated with other nonpublic schools, its individual school policies, as well as rules and regulations, should be in harmony with the general policies which apply to all schools in the group.

Once the school's statement of philosophy and goals is written and adopted, it is essential that every member of the school community be aware of that statement and the policies which flow from it. It should be reviewed periodically by the school community.

It is the responsibility of the administrator to see that all school policies, rules and regulations are available to different groups as appropriate. This is usually done by publishing and distributing parent/student handbooks and faculty handbooks. Misunderstandings can be avoided by stating clearly in these handbooks the rights and responsibilities of students, parents and staff. It is recommended that the following items be included in the handbook:

Parent/Student Handbook

  • School Philosophy School History, Motto, Colors, Song
  • School Phone Numbers
  • School Calendar, including Holidays and Teacher Inservice Days
  • School Time Schedule
  • School Map
  • School Policies, Rules, Regulations and Procedures on:
    • Attendance and Absence
    • Discipline
      • Authority of the Administrator
      • Infractions and Consequences
      • Detention
      • Suspension
      • Expulsion
      • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
      • Dress Code
    • Emergency Procedures -- Parent Notification
      • Student Illness or Accident
      • School Closings
    • Grievances
    • Insurance
    • Lockers
    • Medication
    • Participation in Religious Exercises
    • Policy of Nondiscrimination
    • School Trips and Fees
    • Telephone Messages
    • Textbooks and Supplies
    • Tuition and Fees
    • Visitors
  • School Academic Program and Policies
    • Course Offerings and Prerequisites
    • Grading Policies
    • Grade Reports to Parents
    • Guidance Services
    • Homework
    • Parent/Teacher Conferences
    • Promotion/Graduation Requirements
    • Parents'/Students' Rights to Review Records
    • Release of Records
    • Transfer Procedures
  • Services to Students
    • Cafeteria - Breakfast/Lunch Program
    • Health Services
    • Gifted and/or Remedial Programs
    • Textbooks
    • Transportation
  • Extracurricular Activities
    • Athletics Eligibility and Requirements
    • Clubs
    • Contests
    • Fund-raising
    • Honor Society
    • Religious Activities
    • Student Council
  • Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Parent Groups
    • Boosters
    • Classroom Aides/Volunteers
    • Clubs
    • School Advisory Board

Faculty Handbook

  • Absence and Tardiness - Faculty Procedures
  • Administrative Staff - Roles and Responsibilities
  • Attendance Procedures and Reporting for Students
  • Calendar: Holidays, Teacher Inservice, Faculty and Department Meetings, Reporting Periods
  • Cheating
  • Child Abuse
    Mandated Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Conference Attendance
  • Copy and Duplicating Services
  • Daily Class, Duty and Lunch Schedules
  • Disciplinary Procedures
  • Discipline and Classroom Responsibilities
  • Dress and Appearance
  • Emergency Plans
  • Faculty Meetings
  • Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
  • Fire Drills and Procedures
  • Fund-raising Activities
  • Grade Averaging and Reporting
  • Grievance Procedures
  • Guidance Services
  • Health Insurance and Other Benefits
  • Hiring Procedures
    Fingerprinting legislation
  • Homework
  • In-service Training
  • Keys
  • Map of School
  • Media Center: Materials and Equipment
  • Medication in School, Drugs, Alcohol
  • Membership in Professional Organizations
  • Moderators of Extracurricular Activities
  • New Teacher Orientation
  • Nondiscrimination Policy
  • Observation and Evaluation
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Pay Dates
  • Personal and Sick Days
  • Personnel Matters
  • Philosophy and Objectives
  • Progress Reports
  • Record Keeping
  • Reimbursement Policy - Procedures and Forms
  • Requests for Supplies
  • Resignation-Termination
  • Salary Schedule
  • School Trips
  • Smoking
  • Student Illness, Accident Procedures
  • Student Requirements for Promotion/Graduation
  • Substitute Teachers
  • Telephone
  • Use of Computers
  • Vehicles-Parking
  • Visitors

Administrator's File

It is important for every administrator to have immediate access to certain data and information. It is recommended that the following be kept in the file and be readily available at all times:

  • Faculty Handbook
  • Map of School
  • Parent/Student Handbook School Directory - Names, Addresses and Phone Numbers for:
    • Child Abuse Hotline
    • Fire and Police
    • Frequently-called Businesses
    • Instructional and Noninstructional Personnel, including emergency numbers
    • School Board and/or Home School Officers
    • Students, including emergency numbers
    • Substitute Teachers
    • Superintendents/Principals/Coordinators of Special Programs
    • Public and Nonpublic Schools in the Area
    • Teacher Aides and Volunteers
    • State Education Department, Office of Nonpublic Schools, Coordinators of Special Programs
  • Attendance Reports
  • Board Minutes and Membership
  • Bulletins Issued
  • Bus Schedules - Lists of students by district and bus stop
  • Class Lists
  • Communications sent and received, dated
  • Computer Software Requests
  • Course of Studies and Outlines
  • Daily Class Schedules
  • Fire Drill and Fire Inspection Reports
  • In-service Plans
  • Library Materials Requests
  • Minutes of Faculty and Department Meetings
  • Personnel Files including:
    • Education and certification
    • Evaluations, observations
    • Recommendations, commendations
    • Salary level
  • School Evaluation and Reports
  • School and Department Budgets
  • State, Federal and District Reports
  • Student Lists by District with Addresses
  • Student Schedules
  • Teacher Schedules
  • Testing Information
  • Textbook Lists-Requests, Procedures
  • Transportation Requests

Records Retention

It is important that a secure place be provided for records which are to be retained in the school building and that a systematic procedure be adopted to gain access to these records as needed. Some records should be kept for longer periods than others. Records include:

  • Emergency Cards
  • Final Examination Papers
  • Health Records
  • Permanent Records:
    • Individual Pupil Cumulative Achievement Record Card
    • Testing
    • Transfers of Students
  • Transfers of Students
  • Personnel Records
  • Promotion and Graduation Lists
  • Registers of Attendance
  • Reports Sent to Area Office, Public School District, State Education Department
  • School Lunch/Milk Program Records
  • Suspension and Expulsion of Students with Record of Related Meetings With Parents
  • Teacher Grade Books
  • Written Excuses for absence, field trips, leave during day
  • Information on record retention and disposition may be obtained by writing to:

    The State Education Department
    State Archives and Records Administration
    Local Government Records Services
    Albany, NY 12230
Last Updated: November 5, 2012