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School Councils Questions and Answers

Appendix A: Statutory Language For School Councils

Chapter 71, Section 59C: School Councils
At each public elementary, secondary and independent vocational school in the commonwealth there shall be a school council consisting of the school principal, who shall co-chair the council; parents of students attending the school who shall be selected by the parents of students attending such school who will be chosen in elections held by the local recognized parent teacher organization under the direction of the principal, or if none exists, chosen by a representative process approved by the school committee. Said parents shall have parity with professional personnel on the school councils; teachers who shall be selected by the teachers in such school; other persons, not parents or teachers of students at the school, drawn from such groups or entities as municipal government, business and labor organizations, institutions of higher education, human services agencies or other interested groups, including those from school age child care programs, and for schools containing any of the grades nine to twelve, at least one such student; provided, however, that not more than fifty percent of the council shall be non-school members. The principal, except as otherwise provided herein, shall have the responsibility for defining the composition of and forming the group pursuant to a representative process approved by the superintendent and school committee and for convening the first meeting no later than forty days after the first day of school, at which meeting a co-chairman shall be selected. School councils should be broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school building and community. For purposes of this paragraph the term "non-school members" shall mean those members of the council, other than parents, teachers, students and staff of the school.

Nothing contained in this section shall require a new school council to be formed if an existing school council fulfills the intent of this section, the parent and teacher members thereof were selected in a manner consistent with the provisions of this section and the membership thereof complies with the aforesaid fifty percent requirement.

Meetings of the school council shall be subject to the provisions of sections twenty three A, twenty-three B, and twenty-three C of chapter thirty-nine.

The school council shall meet regularly with the principal of the school and shall assist in the identification of the educational needs of the students attending the school, in the review of the annual school budget, and in the formulation of a school improvement plan, as provided below.

The principal of each school, in consultation with the school council established pursuant to this section shall adopt educational goals for the schools consistent with the goals and standards including the student performance standards, adopted by the board pursuant to section one D of chapter sixty-nine, and consistent with any educational policies established for the district, shall assess the needs of the school in light of those goals, and shall formulate a school improvement plan to advance such goals, to address such needs and to improve student performance. The plan shall include an assessment of the impact of class size on student performance, and shall consider student-to-teacher ratios and other factors and supportive adult resources, and may include a scheduled plan for reducing class size. The plan shall address professional development for the school's professional staff, the allocation of any professional development funds in the annual school budget, the enhancement of parental involvement in the life of the school, safety and discipline, the establishment of a welcoming school environment characterized by tolerance and respect for all groups, extra-curricular activities, the development of means for meeting the diverse learning needs of as many children as possible, including children with special needs currently assigned to separate programs, within the regular education programs at the school, and such further subjects as the principal, in consultation with the school council, shall consider appropriate. In school districts with language minority student populations the professional development plan under this section shall specify how the plan will address the need for training and skills in second language acquisition and in working with culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. Each school improvement plan shall be submitted to the school committee for review and approval every year. If said school improvement plan is not reviewed by the school committee within thirty days of said school committee receiving said school improvement plan, the plan shall be deemed to have been approved.

Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the school committee from granting a school council additional authority in the area of educational policy; provided, however, that school councils shall have no authority over matters which are subject to chapter one hundred and fifty E of the General Laws.

Appendix B:

Chapter 71, Section 37H: Publication of School Committee Rules and Regulations Relative to the Conduct of Teachers and Students.
In each school building containing grades nine to twelve, inclusive, the principal, in consultation with the school council, shall prepare and distribute to each student a student handbook setting forth the rules pertaining to the conduct of students. The school council shall review the student handbook each spring to consider changes in disciplinary policy to take effect in September of the following school year, but may consider policy changes at anytime. The annual review shall cover all areas of student conduct, including but not limited to those outlined in this section.

Table of Contents

Last Updated: January 27, 1994

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