Nonpublic School Leaders Attend Annual Forum

On September 27th, the Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) hosted the 8th Annual Private School Leadership Conference at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Each year, the invitation-only event brings together 100 of the nation’s top private and home school educational leaders from across the country. We also welcomed representatives from state education agencies who are responsible for administering federal education programs on behalf of private school students. The conference provides a forum to address Department of Education programs and initiatives, listen to the concerns of the nonpublic school community, highlight innovative practices, and facilitate discourse between the Department and nonpublic school leaders.

Dialogue with ArneSecretary of Education Arne Duncan (center) discusses issues affecting nonpublic schools with (l. to r.) ONPE Director Maureen Dowling, Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union, NCEA’s Dale McDonald, and Robert Witt of HAIS.

This year’s event featured a dialogue between Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and national private school leaders representing the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Catholic Educational Association , and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools about a variety of topics including private and public school partnerships and equitable services. Secretary Duncan acknowledged the role that private schools play in educating America’s youth and encouraged them to “challenge our team to be the best partner possible.”

The conference also included a session on practices used to administer equitable services under the uniform provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was collaboratively delivered by Jane Ross of the California Department of Education (CDE) and Sr. Patricia Supple, a representative from the private school community in California. The session included details about CDE’s efforts to enhance the delivery of equitable services, including a private schools homepage on the CDE’s website where private school officials can access pertinent documents and resources. One such document is a letter charging local educational agencies to fulfill their obligations to provide equitable services and adhere to federal statutory requirements, along with key resources to facilitate the process. In addition, CDE established the California Private School Advisory Committee (CPSAC). CPSAC includes leaders from statewide private school associations who represent the interests of California’s nonprofit private school students and teachers. CPSAC disseminates information, provides support to improve educational services to private school students and teachers, and facilitates communication among CDE, private school leaders, and school districts.

Other featured presentations at this year’s conference included anti-bullying and creating communities of respect, teacher loan forgiveness, the Federal Reserve System, and private schools that received recognition under the new ED Green Ribbon Schools program.

The ONPE team hopes that all who attended this year’s conference found it beneficial to the work they do on behalf of private school students and teachers. We’re also grateful to all of the presenters for making this year’s conference a top priority in their busy schedules. As we reflect on this year’s conference and begin to plan for the next one, we encourage participants to submit topics that they would like to see on the 2013 agenda. Please submit your comments to

Maureen Dowling is the director and Pamela Allen is an education program specialist in the Office of Non-Public Education.