3 rules regarding nondiscrimination statements for private schools

A recent question was sent to our firm’s faithful steward blog: Is it ok for private schools to post a nondiscrimination statement on a Web site instead of using a local newspaper or broadcast media?

The answer is ‘no.’ Here are the three rules that you must abide by to be compliant with Revenue Procedure 75-50:

  1. You must have a racially nondiscriminatory policy toward students in your charter, bylaws, other governing instrument, or in a resolution of your governing body.
  2. You must include a statement regarding nondiscrimination for race on all brochures, catalogues and other written communications with the public dealing with student admissions, programs and scholarships.
  3. You must publicize your racially nondiscriminatory policy through newspaper or broadcast media during the period of solicitation for students, or during registration if there is no solicitation period.

There are specific rules regarding publicizing the policy:

–         The announcement must occur at least once annually, and in all the communities that are served by the school.

–         If newspaper is used, the announcement must appear in a section likely to be read by prospective students and their families and it must occupy at least three column inches. It must be captioned in at least 12 point boldface type as a “Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students.” The text must be at least 8 point type.

–         If broadcast media is used, the announcement must reach all segments of the general community the school serves. The school must maintain documentation that the means by which the policy was communicated was expected to be effective. Documentation may include tapes or scripts, and records that show the adequate number of announcements and time segments used to reach the general community. Failure to maintain appropriate records creates the presumption that the school failed to comply with the Revenue Procedure.

An example of a nondiscriminatory policy statement is:

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students

The (name) school admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Your school will need to fulfill these policies and demonstrate compliance on the Schedule E of the Form 990 or 990-EZ. The Officer siging the Form 990 or 990-EZ will have to certify under penalties of perjury, that, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, the school satisfied the applicable requirements of Revenue Procedure 75-50. Failure to comply with the requirements of Revenue Procedure 75-50 will ordinarily result in the proposed revocation of your school’s tax-exempt status and/or Title IV funding.