Dear San Domenico Community Members,
Earlier today, the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael issued the following statement:
During the past several months, the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael has prayed, reflected, studied, and consulted on the best way forward for San Domenico School's accreditation.
They have determined that the School will no longer be a Catholic school and will not be recognized by the Archdiocese of San Francisco as such. Likewise, the School will no longer be accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA).
Going forward, the School will continue to be an Independent School and remain accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). San Domenico School will continue to be a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
San Domenico School has honored, and will continue to honor, its Catholic and Dominican heritage. The Dominican Sisters and San Domenico School are deeply committed to remaining in relationship with one another and to the Mission of the School. The Sisters also explained their decision to the San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and remain deeply committed to their relationship with the Archdiocese.
While this decision was a difficult one for us to make, we feel confident it is the right one at this time for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and San Domenico School.
This decision may raise questions for you, which we have tried to answer below. Please know that together with the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, we will continue to carry forward the Mission of our School, which reflects our 167-year tradition of innovative and values-based education that responds to the needs of the times.
This change in accreditation will not impact the current programming at San Domenico and the inclusive spiritual education will continue. The School's Mission, location, ownership, and other accreditations remain unchanged and the School's financial health remains in solid condition.
Anchored by the Dominican-inspired values of study, reflection, community, and service, a San Domenico education will continue to be defined by not only rigorous, college preparatory academics, but also by curricular programming that asks its students, "How can we engage in respectful inquiry and discourse?" "How can we be models of service to a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world?" "What does it mean to find, and live with, a sense of purpose?"
We move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit for the common good. Thank you for your ongoing support and participation in our San Domenico community.
As always, please reach out if you have any further questions or concerns you would like to discuss on the phone or in person. We also hope to see you on campus this week for the many events we have previously scheduled, from PSA Class Parent meetings to the annual Kindergarten Candle Lighting, and of course, the prayer service and loading of the food trucks in culmination of the Food Drive.
Sister Maureen McInerney, O.P.
Cecily Stock '77, M.A., J.D.
Head of School
Questions You May Have
- Will this change in accreditation impact San Domenico's programming? No. To reiterate, this change in accreditation will not impact the current programming at San Domenico and the inclusive spiritual education will continue. The School's Mission, location, ownership, and other accreditations remain unchanged and the School's financial health remains in solid condition.
- Why this change in accreditation? What are some of the WCEA accreditation standards San Domenico would not meet? To live out our Mission and to best prepare students as global citizens of the world, we believe our School's curriculum must cover inter-faith studies and create a safe space for individuals of varied backgrounds and faith traditions to explore their personal beliefs. We also believe our students are best served by a diverse community, including faculty who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience.
San Domenico's prayer services and teachers reflect a diverse and inclusive community and the School's curriculum offers a wide breadth of programming which includes the study of philosophy, ethics, social justice, and world religions.
San Domenico School's approach does not align with WCEA standards which require: "the permeation of Catholic values in all aspects of school life," "a Religion curriculum instruction that is faithful to Roman Catholic Church teachings and meets the requirements set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)," and "all school personnel are actively engaged in bringing the Good News of Jesus into the total educational experience."
For many years, the spirit in which San Domenico carried out these standards was sufficient for WCEA accreditation. Under current interpretation, that is no longer the case.
- What does this mean for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and their relationship with San Domenico? The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and the administrative leadership of San Domenico are deeply committed to remaining in relationship. Together, they will continue to carry forward the Mission of the School and confer on how best to do that. The Sisters who serve on the San Domenico Board of Trustees will continue their service and Sisters will continue to live on campus.
- Is San Domenico going in a completely secular direction? No. Our School was founded in 1850, three years before the founding of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. San Domenico will continue its 167-year tradition of academic excellence anchored by our core values of study, reflection, community, and service, and the Dominican motto, Veritas.
The Board of Trustees, the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, and the administrative leadership know that one of the reasons San Domenico continues to thrive (while many other schools founded in 1850 have closed), is because of San Domenico's commitment to innovative education combined with spiritual education, including instruction in world religions, philosophy, ethics, and Dominican values. It is this unique combination that provides San Domenico students an exceptional education and a sense of purpose.
- What does this mean for San Domenico's independent school accreditation? The School, K-12, will continue to be accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and remain a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
- Does SD receive any funds from the Catholic Church? How will this change? San Domenico does not receive any funding from the Catholic Church, so there will be no change.
- Is this change because of the moving of the statues? No. The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and San Domenico School administrative leadership have been in conversation around future WCEA accreditation for some time, dating back to 2010 when the Mission Statement was updated and 2012, when the School's future relationship with the Archdiocese was identified by the Board of Trustees as a focus area for consideration. Out of respect for their strong relationship with the Archdiocese and their deep commitment to the School, the Dominican Sisters believe it is in everyone's best interest to make this change at this time.
- What does this change mean for Catholic families? This change in accreditation does not change the religious curriculum, which embraces Catholic traditions as well as a diverse exploration of other faiths and philosophies.
- How will SD carry on the School's traditions? The School will continue to carry forth many of the traditions that reflect its rich history of Dominican education, and as always, will continue to integrate new customs that also meet the needs of the times.
- What does this change in accreditation mean for the employees of San Domenico? The School's program and support of its teachers will continue to strengthen, in keeping with the goals of the Strategic Plan to "Attract, develop, and retain exceptional faculty who embody and support the Mission and vision of San Domenico."
- Will the School continue to have tax-exempt status? Yes. The School will remain a tax exempt organization.
- What is the Mission Statement (referred to above) that was approved by the Board of Directors in 2010?
Dedicated to being California's leading independent school, serving Kindergarten through twelfth grade students of all faiths, San Domenico is committed to excellence in education, preparing the next generation of global leaders.Founded in 1850 by the Dominican Sisters, San Domenico reflects our Dominican and Catholic heritage which calls us to uphold the values of study, reflection, service and community.
In the Dominican tradition of Veritas (truth),
We inspire inquiry and provide a strong academic
foundation for lifelong intellectual growth.
We explore and develop the unique gifts of each
individual in mind, heart, body, and spirit.
We celebrate diversity, recognizing God's presence
in ourselves and in all of creation.
We recognize what it means to be human in a global
community and respond with integrity to the needs and
challenges of our time.
- Whom should I contact if I have any more questions? If you have any additional questions, please contact Sister Maureen McInerney, O.P., Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, or Cecily Stock, Head of School.
Thank you again for your ongoing support of, and participation in, our San Domenico community.