The Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) was organized in 1974 as the Virginia affiliate of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), a national nonpublic school advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The VCPE role in approving appropriate accreditation processes for private schools in the Commonwealth evolved through a long standing relationship with the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE). The VBOE transferred accreditation oversight for private schools to the VCPE in 1985. Full approval was granted on July 1, 1987. In November 1993, the VBOE reconfirmed its relationship with VCPE in the form of a resolution. The 2000 General Assembly passed language granting oversight of nonpublic school accreditation to VCPE in §22.1-19 of the Code of Virginia. In September 2003, the VCPE Board of Directors determined, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), that VCPE was also responsible for comprehensive Distance Education schools. In 2009, the General Assembly passed HJR 843 commending the VCPE on the occasion of its thirty-fifth anniversary.
Many private schools in Virginia believe it is desirable to seek accreditation as a means of strengthening their programs and facilities and assuring the public that the published purpose and philosophy of a school are being fulfilled.
Seventeen different associations currently comprise the 2011-2012 VCPE membership. Fourteen of these associations have VCPE approved accreditation processes that are in turn, recognized by the Virginia Board of Education. All VCPE member associations must be non-profit and have a racially nondiscriminatory membership policy.
VCPE, while recognizing and encouraging a diversity of beliefs, a variety of educational philosophies, and the independence of each member association, strives to represent and speak on educational issues of common concern and interest. VCPE is committed to the preservation of pluralism in American education and to the right of parents to choose an education appropriate for their children. To ensure and promote the vitality that freedom of choice allows, VCPE makes known to the public the aims and goals to which its member organizations jointly subscribe.VCPE monitors legislation affecting private schools. VCPE is available to members of the legislature, to the VBOE, and to the VDOE to furnish information about and to articulate the private school viewpoint on educational matters relating to the private sector. It also serves as a vehicle through which the public school viewpoint may be conveyed to the nonpublic school constituency.
VCPE is the umbrella association representing state-recognized accredited private schools and candidates for accreditation as well as many other non-accredited private preschool, elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. A list of schools in each category is available on the VCPE website: www.vcpe.org.
VCPE is the only organization that has recognition from the Virginia Board of Education through §22.1-19 of the Code of Virginia to oversee the accreditation of private elementary and secondary schools in Virginia.
VCPE reviews and monitors the accrediting processes of approved accrediting associations and offers additional memberships to associations that do not provide accreditation services or those that may be in the application process.
VCPE is recognized as the principal resource for public information on private schools by the Virginia Departments of Education, Social Services, and Health as well as the public school divisions and other professional educational organizations and agencies.
VCPE's database of schools is widely requested by members of the public sector, including various news media across the state and businesses offering programs of interest to private schools.
VCPE has a strong voice in the Virginia General Assembly and is often consulted in matters concerning regulatory and/or code changes that may affect private schools in Virginia.
VCPE informs legislators of the interests of private schools, often preventing or quietly eliminating well-meaning but potentially damaging bills, thus ensuring that VCPE's position of oversight of private education in Virginia continues without local or state intervention.
VCPE is the Virginia affiliate of CAPE, a coalition of national organizations and state affiliates serving private elementary and secondary schools.
VCPE acts as Virginia's voice for private schools and collaborates on efforts initiated by CAPE to support private education on the national level.
VCPE is the private education organization that is approached by state agencies for nominations from its member schools to advisory boards and committees; a few of which include: the Virginia Education and Technology Advisory Committee (VETAC), the Child Day Care Council (CDCC), and the Advisory Board for Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL).
VCPE provides regular attendance by representatives at State Board of Education meetings and legislative hearings.
VCPE acts as a sounding board for complaints regarding individual schools and, where necessary, follows through on complaints with the representative associations.
VCPE handles questions from the general public about locations of private schools, start-up procedures, regulations, financial aid and scholarships resources.
VCPE staff members are available to speak at state gatherings and address concerns regarding various state regulations and/or policy issues.