Reviewing Policy Manuals for Alignment with Practice
Inconsistencies between school district practice and policy can cause problems. Learn what you need to know to keep your policies up to date.
Each year, districts should review key policies to confirm that they match district practices and align with other district documents, such as student and employee handbooks. In addition to this regular upkeep, Policy Service recommends a thorough review of your policy manual at least every five to seven years.
Why is it important to review policies regularly?
Changes in law, district practice, staffing, or other factors may require changes in district policy. Reviewing key policies before the start of each school year while you update student and employee handbooks can help verify if your district’s policy manual matches district practice and documentation.
Why is it important for policy and practice to align?
- Board policy requires that practice and policy align. BP(LOCAL) addresses the superintendent’s responsibility to ensure that administrative regulations (which detail the district’s practices and procedures) are kept up to date and are consistent with board policy.
- Local policies reflect the practice of the district and the intentions of the board. BF(LOCAL) states that “the district shall be guided by board-adopted written policies,” meaning districts must regularly reference policy to support local decisions. An inconsistency between practice and policy can be problematic if your district is ever challenged on its practice. BP(LOCAL) clarifies that policy prevails in a conflict between regulations and policy.
Where should you start?
TASB Policy Service publishes a Policy Alert to identify which key policies need annual review. The alert details specific areas of the policies that should be verified. Some policies listed require regular review by law, and the alert helps you meet those legal requirements.
The Annual Review of Key Policies is updated every year at the end of July. If you identify a need to revise policy during your annual review, your Policy Service consultant is happy to help.
If your district already has a Policy Service membership, find out who your policy consultant is by logging to your TASB Dashboard.
What should you do if you discover significant discrepancies between policy and current practice?
Your policy consultant can conduct a comprehensive review of your policy manual, known as a Policy Review Session (PRS). A PRS is an extensive and interactive review of your policy manual, where your consultant can travel to your district to meet with the administration and discuss recommended policy revisions. The process verifies whether policies in the manual align with current district practice and highlights any misalignments.
A PRS also familiarizes administrators with the structure and content of the policy manual. Policy Service recommends that districts contract for a PRS every five to seven years, sometimes sooner if your district’s local practices or philosophies have shifted. This ensures that your entire policy manual is up to date and aligned with current district goals and practice.
It is time for a PRS when:
- The district finds significant discrepancies between board policy and current administrative practice.
- It has been five to seven years since the district’s last policy review session.
- There has been a change in district leadership.