Archdiocese Publishes Comprehensive New Policies for Catholic Schools

Policies focus on Catholic identity, academics, governance, affordability and accessibility

August 31, 2009

The Archdiocese of Washington released comprehensive new policies for Catholic schools today. The policies, which cover Catholic identity, academics, school governance, and affordability and accessibility, will go into effect starting October 1, 2009. They are the outcome of 18 months of planning and consultation with thousands of educators, clergy, parents and parishioners from across the region, and mark the first comprehensive policy revisions since 1976.

“This is a significant moment for our schools,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools. She added, “These policies will be instrumental as we move forward to ensure our schools continue to be truly Catholic, academically excellent, well governed and, to the best of our ability, affordable and accessible.”

In October 2007, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl called together 500 school and parish leaders for a Convocation on Catholic Education. That led to an extensive planning process, involving surveys sent to over 12,000 parishioners and parents, focus groups, discussions with six different consultative groups as well as principals and priests, and regional meetings to which 1,000 people were invited to review and discuss draft policy options.

The 45-page document addresses key issues such as what makes a school Catholic, including religious education, unity with the bishop, the celebration of sacramental life and a faith-filled school environment. It outlines the different types of Catholic schools, both archdiocesan and independent, and how a school applies to become Catholic.

The section on academic excellence covers academic, instructional, assessment and professional standards, as well as a variety of other topics, including admissions, school handbooks and school safety. The affordability and accessibility policies cover tuition assistance and tuition rates, budgeting, parish support for Catholic schools and school-level planning requirements. The affordability policies are designed to more equitably distribute support for Catholic schools across the archdiocese and to support healthy Catholic schools.

The entire policy is online at, along with brief questions and answers.

The Archdiocese of Washington includes 96 Catholic schools educating 29,000 students in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Susan Gibbs or Kathy Dempsey
Office of Communications
[email protected]