Writing policy and procedures for schools is a part of an administrator's job. School policies and procedures are essentially the governing documents by which your school district and school building is run. It is essential that your policies & procedures be current and up-to-date. These should be reviewed and revised as necessary and new policies and procedures should be written as needed. The following guidelines are tips and suggestions to consider when you are evaluating old policy or writing new policy.
Why is this important?
Every school has a student handbook, support staff handbook, and certified staff handbook which are loaded with policies and procedures. These are vital pieces of each school because they govern the day-to-day occurrences that happen in your buildings. They are important because they offer the guidelines for how the administration and school board believes their school should be run. These policies come into play every single day. They are a set of expectations that each constituent within the school are held accountable too.
What makes good policy?
A good policy is both informative and direct meaning that the information is not ambiguous and it goes straight to the point. It is also clear and concise. A well written policy will not create confusion. A good policy is also up-to-date. For example, policies dealing with technology probably need updated frequently due to the rapid evolution of the technology industry itself. A good policy is easy to understand. The readers of the policy should not only understand the meaning of the policy, but understand the tone and the underlying reason the policy was written.
When do you add new policies or revise old ones?
Policies should be written and/or revised as needed. Student handbooks and such should be reviewed on a yearly basis. Administrators should be encouraged to keep documentation of all policies and procedures that they feel need added or revised as the school year moves along. There are times to put a piece of new or revised policy in effect immediately within a school year, but the majority of time, the new or revised policy should go into effect the following school year.
What are good procedures for adding/revising policies?
The majority of policy should go through several channels before it is included within your proper district’s policy book. The first thing that has to happen is that a rough draft of the policy has to be written. This is usually done by a principal or other school administrator. Once the administrator is happy with the policy, then it is a good idea to form a review committee made up of the administrator, teachers, students, and parents.
During the review committee, the administrator explains the policy and its purpose, the committee discusses the policy, makes any recommendations for revision, and decides whether it should be submitted to the superintendent for review. The superintendent then reviews the policy and may seek legal counsel to make sure the policy is legally viable. The superintendent may kick the policy back down to the review committee to make changes, may kick out the policy completely, or may send it on to the school board for them to review. The school board can vote to reject the policy, accept the policy, or may ask that something be revised within the policy before they accept it. Once it is approved by the school board, then it becomes official school policy and is added to the appropriate district handbook.