Principles of Good Practice: Independent School Trustees

View this PGP as a PDF file.

Preamble: The following principles provide common ground for interaction between independent school professionals and their many constituents (parents, students, colleagues at other schools, and the public). The NAIS Principles of Good Practice for member schools define high standards and ethical behavior in key areas of school operations to guide schools in becoming the best education communities they can be, to embed the expectation of professionalism, and to further our sector’s core values of transparency, excellence, and inclusivity. Accordingly, membership in NAIS is contingent upon agreement to abide by the spirit of the PGPs.

Overview: The following principles are set forth to provide a common perspective on the responsibilities of individual members of independent school boards.

NAIS Principles of Good Practice:

  1. A trustee actively supports and promotes the school’s mission, vision, strategic goals, and policy positions.
  2. A trustee is knowledgeable about the school’s mission and goals, including its commitment to equity and justice, and represents them appropriately and accurately within the community.
  3. A trustee stays fully informed about current operations and issues by attending meetings regularly, coming to meetings well prepared, and participating fully in all matters.
  4. The board sets policy and focuses on long-range and strategic issues. An individual trustee does not become involved directly in specific management, personnel, or curricular issues.
  5. The trustee takes care to separate the interests of the school from the specific needs of a particular child or constituency.
  6. A trustee accepts and supports board decisions. Once a decision has been made, the board speaks as one voice.
  7. A trustee keeps all board deliberations confidential.
  8. A trustee guards against conflict of interest, whether personal or business related.
  9. A trustee has the responsibility to support the school and its head and to demonstrate that support within the community.
  10. Authority is vested in the board as a whole. A trustee who learns of an issue of importance to the school has the obligation to bring it to the head of school, or to the board chair, and must refrain from responding to the situation individually.
  11. A trustee contributes to the development program of the school, including strategic planning for development, financial support, and active involvement in annual and capital giving.
  12. Each trustee, not just the treasurer and finance committee, has fiduciary responsibility to the school for sound financial management.
Download a PDF of the complete set of NAIS Principles of Good Practice.