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Student Advisory Council

Mission Statement:
"The Massachusetts State Student Advisory Council to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is an organization of democratically elected students from across the Commonwealth which advocates for the interests of all K-12 students in Massachusetts. We seek to improve the quality of the educational experience through student initiative, legislative outreach, and collaboration with the educational community. In doing so, we ensure that the largest stakeholder in public education, the student, is adequately represented in the decision-making process."

By-laws of the State Student Advisory Council to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

I. Purpose

  1. The purpose of the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC) is to consider all matters that its members deem appropriate concerning education at the local, state and national levels; to make proposals and recommendations to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education concerning such matters (BESE); and suggest guidelines and legislation to improve the quality of education throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  2. The SSAC encourages, supports and works with the Regional Student Advisory Councils (RSACs), interested student organizations, and concerned individuals in matters of common concern; and maintains close liaisons with the appropriate organizations in the educational, legal and social communities.
  3. The SSAC pursues the above objectives through the following activities:
    1. Researches, introduces, supports and aids in the implementation of state and national legislation of interest to the SSAC.
    2. Establishes, strengthens and maintains avenues of communication among agencies concerned with or involved in the administration of education throughout the Commonwealth and the nation.
    3. Endorses and/or conducts conferences and meetings that deal with important student issues.
    4. Provides opinions, ideas, proposals, suggested guidelines, and other information of concern to students throughout the state to the chair and Massachusetts BESE.
    5. Assist the SSAC's chair, the BESE representative of the SSAC.

II. Membership

  1. The membership of the SSAC consists of four delegates elected by each of the eleven RSACs.
  2. All delegates have the right to vote and the right to hold office.
  3. Each of the eleven RSAC elects at least one alternate to serve in the absence of SSAC delegates. Alternates will assume the role of delegate at a meeting in which the delegate is not in attendance. This includes the right to vote.
  4. Each RSAC is invited to select two RSAC representatives who are not SSAC delegates to attend monthly SSAC meetings. These additional representatives will be invited to participate in the discussion, but will not have voting privileges.
  5. Attendance at SSAC meetings should be the top priority of SSAC delegates. Failure to attend (or fulfill responsibilities) greatly compromises the SSAC's progress and success and may lead to removal from office.
  6. Attendance at the Summer Leadership Conference is mandatory. Missing the conference will result in loss of membership as a SSAC delegate, RSAC chair and/or RSAC communications coordinator.
  7. All SSAC members will hold office from the time of election at their RSAC until June 30th of the following school year, the end of the council year, or when another student is elected to take his/her place.

III. Officers:

  1. The chair of the SSAC has the following responsibilities:
    1. Serves as the SSAC's representative to the State BESE
    2. Serves as the SSAC's representative to all appropriate groups, seminars or meetings.
    3. Submits verbal and written reports to the Massachusetts BESE on activities undertaken by, or of concern to the SSAC. At minimum, the chair is to present a yearend report of the SSAC's work to the BESE.
    4. Assists the vice-chair in conducting SSAC meetings.
    5. Reports regularly to the SSAC on the activities of the Massachusetts BESE.
    6. Meets regularly with workgroup facilitators to stay abreast of their activities.
    7. Represents the SSAC's opinion to the best of his/her ability when dealing with the BESE or any other group on behalf of the SSAC.
    8. Calls special planning meetings as needed, which all regional and workgroup facilitators or their designees are expected to attend.
    9. Is well informed of current events, and pending educational legislation.
  2. The vice-chair of the SSAC has the following responsibilities:
    1. Conducts SSAC meetings
    2. Assists the chair in appropriate matters.
    3. Attends meetings, conferences and/or activities if the chair is unable or opts not to.
    4. Remains aware of all activities of the SSAC and RSACs
    5. Meets regularly with workgroup facilitators to stay abreast of their activities.
    6. Oversees the work of committees including delegates serving as SSAC representatives on advisory councils to the BESE and/or other groups.
    7. Assumes the communications coordinator's responsibilities in his/her absence.
  3. The communications coordinator of the SSAC has the following responsibilities:
    1. Ensures that minutes are taken at SSAC meetings and are distributed to members.
    2. Assists the vice-chair and chair in all appropriate matters.
    3. Assumes the vice-chair's responsibilities in his/her absence.
    4. Notifies members of their unexcused absence from SSAC meetings. For a second absence, notifies, via meeting minutes, the principal of the delegate's school and the chair of the delegate's RSAC.
    5. Works with the SSAC Advisor to establish and maintain a phone and email list detailing workgroup membership and positions for use by all the members of the SSAC.
    6. Create and/or maintain a form of online communication that is deemed most effective and/or easily accessible to the majority of the SSAC and RSAC members. Within this form of online communication, the Communications Coordinator shall post meeting notes, action steps and assignments due for the next meeting and/or in between meetings.
    7. With help of the SSAC Chair and Vice-chair, post current educational topics pertinent to students and the SSAC; including items of discussion before the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
  4. The chair, vice-chair and communications coordinator have the following responsibilities:
    1. Prepare current event updates.
    2. Notify the SSAC about pending or upcoming legislation of significance to Education in the Commonwealth or in the nation.
    3. Prepare written summaries of important current and past educational legislation.
    4. Work with the SSAC to keep in close contact with State House (state senators, representatives and/or their staff) in order to find out about current pending legislation including the state budget.
    5. Work with the SSAC to maintain contact information of other similar councils to the SSAC, and contact them (as well as other student BESE members) when deemed necessary by the SSAC.
  5. The SSAC will establish voting procedures prior to elections. All officers must receive a majority vote to be elected.
  6. An officer's term ends on June 30th or when a new student is elected to take his/her place
  7. No more than two officers may serve from the same RSAC.
  8. When a SSAC officer is removed in the middle of his/her term, an election may be open to all delegates.

IV. Workgroups:

  1. The SSAC members may divide into workgroups at the beginning of the SSAC year. Each member of the SSAC, except the chair and vice-chair will belong to one workgroup. The communications coordinator may join a workgroup if he/she chooses.
  2. The workgroups achieve specific objectives through researching issues, working with the department staff, educators, students, and other appropriate people, developing proposals and making recommendations to the SSAC and the chair for presentations to the BESE. Each workgroup elects at least one facilitator and a communications coordinator with the option of electing other officers if the workgroup deems it necessary. All officers work closely with the advisors to ensure goals and objectives are being addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.
  3. The facilitator of a workgroup has the following responsibilities:
    1. Works closely with the chair and vice-chair of the SSAC to keep them abreast of workgroup activities.
    2. Works closely with the advisors to ensure goals and objectives are being addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.
    3. Works with its members to create an operational plan for the workgroup.
    4. Designates special workgroup meeting times and locations.
    5. Notifies all workgroup members of meetings and assigned work.
    6. Prepares an agenda for each workgroup meeting
    7. Conducts workgroup meetings
  4. The communications coordinator of a workgroup has the following responsibilities:
    1. Reports to the SSAC monthly concerning workgroup progress.
    2. Ensures communication among workgroup members.
    3. Writes and submits minutes of workgroup meetings for inclusion in monthly SSAC minutes.
    4. Assists the workgroup facilitator in his/her duties.
    5. Works closely with the advisors to ensure goals and objectives are being addressed in a timely and appropriate manner

V. Ad Hoc Committees:

  1. When the majority of the SSAC present at a meeting deems it necessary, a committee may be formed consisting of any interested members of the SSAC.
  2. The committee will elect a facilitator, a communications coordinator, and any other office of which the committee finds necessary.
  3. The duration of the committee will be from the time of its formation until the task is completed or until the end of the SSAC year

VI. Executive Committee:

  1. There is an Executive Committee of the SSAC. The Executive committee consists of one member from each of the eleven RSACs. Members are elected at the summer leadership conference. The chair, vice-chair, and communications coordinator are members.
  2. The Executive Committee advises and works with the chair in his/her preparation of SSAC initiatives.
  3. Members of the Executive Committee receive and review BESE packets and advise the chair on all appropriate matters.
  4. Members of the Executive Committee provide an oral report at their respective RSAC meetings to keep RSAC members abreast of BESE deliberations.
  5. Members of the Executive Committee solicit comments and feedback at their respective RSAC meeting to incorporate RSAC opinion in advice and comments provided to the chair.
  6. The Executive Committee will receive from the Communications coordinator matters for review related to membership and serve as the initial forum for the impeachment and removal of delegates.

VII. Meetings:

  1. On an annual basis, the SSAC, in collaboration with the advisors, will determine the number of meetings the Council will hold each school year. The SSAC is required to meet at least bi-monthly.
  2. Notice of meetings is sent to all members as well as any organization or individual who so requests a week prior to the meeting. The advisor (with the communications coordinator's help) is in charge of notifying the SSAC's members of upcoming meetings.
  3. Unless otherwise stated, a quorum consists of fifty (50) percent of the voting members of the SSAC, including one or more voting member(s) present from each of the 11 RSACs.
  4. All SSAC votes will be preceded by discussion.
  5. SSAC votes will be called and recorded in the minutes by region in all cases, except when a motion to bypass this clause is unanimously agreed upon. In that case, the vote will be cast by either show of hands or voice.
  6. Members can be excused from the meetings as necessary with a note or communication from the sending school's advisor or principal.
  7. Absent members, at their next meeting, may present a written note from school or home to count as an excused absence. Members who wish to have early dismissal must present a note from home or school on the day of the (early dismissal) meeting.
  8. Members who know that they cannot attend a future meeting must present a note from a parent/guardian and/or school administrator to the advisors at least one week prior to a scheduled meeting.

VIII. Impeachment and Removal of Delegates:

  1. If a delegate is removed by his/her RSAC, he/she will no longer be a delegate in the SSAC.
  2. Delegates who incur two (2) unexcused absences from SSAC meetings are subject to impeachment and possible removal from the SSAC. The communications coordinator will notify both the delegate and the sending region prior to impeachment proceedings.
  3. The member will be given the opportunity to resign from the delegate position prior to the impeachment proceedings.
  4. All SSAC delegates who have had two unexcused absences must abide by the following rules for failing to attend a scheduled meeting without an excuse:
    • After receiving a notification from the Communications Coordinator, the member will be able to write an appeal to the SSAC leadership, RSAC leadership and advisors either one week after receiving notice or three weeks prior to the next scheduled SSAC meeting.
    • One member from each council in each region will be elected by ballot at the beginning of the year to work with the advisors and the SSAC leadership on the impeachment and removal review process.
    • In order for a member to be removed from his/her position, the advisors, one member from each council of the RSAC leadership and SSAC leadership would meet to vote on whether or not said member will be removed from their respective position.
    • In order for a member to removed from his/her position, the advisors would need a 2/3 majority along with a unanimous decision from the RSAC and SSAC leadership in favor of removing the delegate. If the advisors or leadership fail to reach such majority, the member would remain on probation for the remainder of the year. The member will receive notice of the decision two weeks prior to the next scheduled meeting.
    • If any member on probation fails to attend another scheduled meeting without an excuse, said member would automatically be removed from their respective position without contention or appeal.
  5. Any SSAC delegate removed from SSAC will be replaced by his/her alternate; if an alternate is unable to replace him/her or if an alternate has not been elected, the region represented by the removed delegate will elect a replacement delegate by majority vote.

IX. Censure of the Chair:

  1. If the SSAC deems the chair excessively absent from SSAC or BESE meetings, or finds another pressing reason to deem the chair incompetent, the SSAC can determine a course of action by a 2/3 vote. Reasons for censure can include, but are not restricted to, violation(s) of the chair's duties listed in Section III, A and D. A motion can be made to remove the chair and upon a second, the motion can pass with a 2/3 vote.
  2. Any delegate can propose censure by notifying the chair and vice-chair in writing at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the SSAC meeting. During the meeting, the chair will leave the room and the vice-chair will read the written statement and call for a vote to signify whether or not the matter should be further considered. A 1/3 vote is required for the SSAC to begin the process for censure.
  3. The chair will be allowed five (5) minutes to speak to the SSAC and will be permitted to call a maximum of three (3) persons (delegates, RSAC chairs or RSAC communications coordinators) to speak on her/his behalf, each with a maximum of five (5) minutes to speak. A maximum of ten (10) questions will be directed towards all those speaking on behalf of the chair, and a maximum of another ten (10) questions for the chair. The chair will have a maximum of three (3) minutes to respond to each question.
  4. After the chair and those acting on his/her behalf have spoken, any delegate may speak for a maximum of five (5) minutes presenting information that he/she finds relevant.
  5. Prior to close of the discussion, a majority vote of the SSAC will determine if more time is needed for deliberation. If more time is needed the vice-chair will determine how much.
  6. When the SSAC has determined that no more deliberation is needed, the SSAC will vote by means of a secret ballot. A ¾ majority (a minimum of 19 members based on a quorum) is needed for the censure of the chair.
  7. The SSAC will notify the BESE of the Censure of the chair.
  8. As dictated by state law, MGL C.15, S.1E, censure of the chair results in the loss of the seat on the BESE.
  9. The vice-chair will be directed to attend the BESE meetings and present the opinion of the SSAC on pending matters during the public comment period.

X. Censure of the Vice Chair or Communications coordinator:

  1. If the SSAC deems the vice chair or communications coordinator excessively absent from SSAC meetings, or finds another just reason to deem the vice chair or communications coordinator incompetent, the SSAC can determine a course of action by a 2/3 vote. Reasons for censure can include, but are not restricted to, violation(s) of their duties as listed in Sections III, B, C and D, a motion can be made to remove the Vice Chair or Communications coordinator and upon a second, the motion can pass with a 2/3 vote.
  2. Any delegate can propose censure by notifying the Advisor, Chair, Vice Chair and Communications coordinator in writing at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the SSAC meeting. During the meeting, the officer who may be facing censure will leave the room as the written statement is read aloud by the delegate who proposed censure followed by a call for a vote to signify whether or not the matter should be further considered. A 1/3 vote is required for the SSAC to begin the process for censure.
  3. The officer whose censure is being discussed will be allowed five (5) minutes to speak to the SSAC and will be permitted to call a maximum of three (3) persons (delegates, RSAC chairs or RSAC communications coordinators) to speak on her/his behalf, each with a maximum of five (5) minutes to speak. A maximum of fifteen (15) questions may be directed towards the officer and/or all those speaking on behalf of their behalf with a maximum of three (3) minutes to respond to each question.
  4. Following the questions, any delegate may present information that he/she deems relevant to the censure process.
  5. Prior to close of the discussion, a majority vote of the SSAC will determine if more time is needed for deliberation. If more time is needed the chair will determine how much. Otherwise the SSAC will close the discussion with a majority vote.
  6. When the SSAC has determined that no more deliberation is needed, the SSAC will vote by means of a secret ballot. A ¾ majority (a minimum of 19 members based on a quorum) is needed for the censure of the chair.
  7. The Chair will notify the BESE of the Censure of the Vice Chair or Communications coordinator.
  8. An election for replacement of the officer may be held after the conclusion of the censure proceedings.

XI. Amendments:

These by-laws may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the council as established in VII c. The SSAC must be informed of any proposed amendments at one SSAC meetings prior to a vote on the amendment(s). The SSAC must be informed of the meeting at which the vote will take place.

Bylaws Revised September, 2013
Approved, January, 2014



Last Updated: September 22, 2014
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