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Student Advisory Council

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

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."

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 to 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.
  4. Establishes, strengthens, and maintains avenues of communication among agencies concerned with or involved in the administration of education throughout the Commonwealth and the nation.
  5. Endorses and/or conducts conferences and meetings that deal with important student issues.
  6. Provides opinions, ideas, proposals, suggested guidelines, and other information of concern to students throughout the state to the chair and Massachusetts BESE.
  7. 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 councils within the five RSACs.
  2. All delegates have the right to vote and the right to hold office.
  3. Each of the eleven RSACs 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. Should one of the five RSAC regions lack sufficient delegates and alternates to fill those spots, RSAC chairs and communication coordinators may adopt voting powers. The RSAC Chair from Council A for a given geographical region will be granted first priority in voting, followed by the RSAC communications coordinator, the RSAC chair for Council B of that region, and then the RSAC chair for Council C of that region as applicable.
  5. All RSAC delegates are welcome to attend SSAC meetings. It is strongly recommended that RSAC Chairs and Communications Coordinators attend. RSAC delegates/leadership may participate in discussion at the SSAC meetings but may not vote.
  6. 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.
  7. Attendance at the Summer Leadership Conference(s) is mandatory. Missing the conference(s) will result in loss of membership as a SSAC delegate, RSAC chair or RSAC communications coordinator.
  8. All SSAC members will hold office from July 1st following their election by their RSAC until June 30th of the following school year or when another student is elected to take her/his place.
  9. SSAC delegates-elect are still required to participate in SSAC orientations held prior to July 1st but are not required or expected to participate in meetings of the previous council year.
  10. During the middle of an SAC term, RSACs may recruit new members from schools not already represented in the SAC.
  11. It is strongly recommended, but not mandatory, that RSACs follow the SAC Midyear Recruitment Guidelines attached as Addendum A.
  12. If an RSAC's bylaws or constitution lays out a different recruitment process, the RSAC may follow its own bylaws or adopt the Recruitment Guidelines.
  13. RSAC leadership must coordinate with SSAC leadership and DESE advisors when recruiting new members.

III. Officers:

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 year-end 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 her/his ability when dealing with the BESE or any other group on behalf of the SSAC.
  6. Calls special planning meetings as needed, which all regional and workgroup facilitators or their designees are expected to attend.
  7. Is well informed of current events and pending educational legislation.

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 her/his absence.

The communications coordinator of the SSAC has the following responsibilities: 1. Ensures that minutes are taken at SSAC meetings and are distributed to members.

  1. Assists the vice-chair and chair in all appropriate matters.
  2. Assumes the vice-chair's responsibilities in her/his absence.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The communication coordinator invites and schedules when guests will visit the council and will share that information with the chair and vice-chair when planning meetings.

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.

The SSAC will establish voting procedures prior to elections. All officers must receive a majority vote to be elected.

An officer's term ends on June 30th or when a new student is elected to take her/his place

No more than two officers may serve from the same RSAC.

When a SSAC officer is removed in the middle of her/his term, an election may be open to all delegates.

IV. Election Procedures:

  1. Nominations are self-nominations or nominations from the floor and must be submitted 48 hours before the start of the second SSAC orientation.
  2. Elections for SSAC chair, SSAC vice chair, and SSAC communications coordinator will be conducted on the second SSAC orientation day in that order.
  3. Candidates will give speeches in alphabetical order by last name.
  4. All candidates are entitled to up to five minutes for a speech, unless the combined length of the five-minute allotment for each candidate shall exceed 45 minutes, in which case the 45 minutes will be divided evenly among candidates.
  5. Candidates may use a digital slideshow, one poster (no larger than 24" by 36"), and/or one sheet of paper to hand out to each member watching (no larger than 8½" by 11") should she/he desire.
  6. Should the council decide by majority vote, up to fifteen minutes are set aside after the conclusion of all speeches for an office for questions from all SSAC members. Questions may be posed to an individual candidate or to all candidates. Candidates for the same office are not allowed to ask questions. Up to one minute is allowed for each candidate's response to a question.
  7. Questions directed to all candidates will allow response alphabetically by candidate last name. Each successive question directed to all members will rotate up alphabetically to the next candidate.
  8. Time for questions may be extended by majority council vote.
  9. Elections must be held using ranked-choice voting. All SSAC delegates and eligible alternates will vote by secret ballot.
  10. Tallies should be made by outgoing SSAC leadership and faculty advisors based on the first-preference choice of the candidate. For the candidate who receives the least number of first-preference votes for each office, the votes of delegates who selected her/him as their first-preference vote should be distributed to their second-preference vote.
  11. Through successive eliminations of candidates with the least first-choice votes, delegate votes will be redistributed accordingly based on the next-highest ranked candidate for a specific office.
  12. Once the successive elimination process yields two candidates for an office, the remaining candidate with the most votes allocated to her/him will be elected to that office.
  13. Should a tie occur at the end of the ranked-choice voting process, the two remaining candidates will be allowed up to two (2) minutes each to give a speech to the council. Speeches will be conducted in alphabetical order by last name.
  14. At the end of tie-breaking speeches, delegates and appropriate alternates will vote via secret ballot for one of the two remaining candidates for that office. 15. Should the tie-breaking vote not yield a different result; the election will be decided by a coin toss.

V. 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 she/he 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.

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.
  4. Notifies all workgroup members of meetings and assigned work.
  5. Prepares an agenda for each workgroup meeting
  6. Conducts workgroup meetings

The communications coordinator of a workgroup has the following responsibilities: 1. Reports to the SSAC monthly concerning workgroup progress.

  1. Ensures communication among workgroup members.
  2. Writes and submits minutes of workgroup meetings for inclusion in monthly SSAC minutes.
  3. Assists the workgroup facilitator in her/his duties.
  4. Works closely with the advisors to ensure goals and objectives are being addressed in a timely and appropriate manner

VI. 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.
  2. 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

VII. Executive Committee:

  1. There is an Executive Committee (or Board) 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 her/his 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.

VIII. 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.

IX. Impeachment and Removal of Delegates:

  1. If a delegate is removed by her/his RSAC, she/he 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.
    1. One member from each council in each region will be elected by ballot at the Summer Leadership Conference to work with the advisors and the SSAC leadership on the impeachment and removal review process.
    2. In order for a member to be removed from her/his 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.
    3. In order for a member to be removed from her/his 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.
    4. 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 her/his 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.

X. 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 her/his behalf have spoken; any delegate may speak for a maximum of five (5) minutes presenting information that she/he 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.

XI. 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 she/he 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.

XII. 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 meeting 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 March 2021

 

Addendum A: SAC Midyear Recruitment Guidelines

In order for the SAC to recruit members from schools not already represented in the SAC, any appropriate division of SSAC is strongly advised to follow these procedures.

  1. When reaching out to individual students:
    1. The recruiter shall ensure that the prospective member's school does not already have representatives on the SAC. The recruiting member(s) are only to recruit persons whom they think will be effective and passionate members of the SAC.
    2. The recruiter is to inform the SSAC chair of the prospective member, who will consult with the SSAC and RSAC advisors based on the most recent DESE guidelines.
  2. The prospective member's membership is contingent on the approval of their principal.
    1. Should the prospective member meet all aforementioned requirements, the SSAC leadership shall add their name to the official member registry, and they shall become an RSAC delegate.
    2. The new member will not be eligible to vote at SSAC meetings but is welcome to attend.
    3. The new member will be allowed to vote at SSAC meetings if they are elected a delegate following the removal, resignation, or election
    4. process of another delegate.
  3. When reaching out to school faculty/administration:
    1. Only SSAC officers, in conjunction with appropriate RSAC officers and advisors, are to contact schools to invite them to elect representatives to the SAC.
    2. Based on the most recent DESE guidelines, the SAC advisor is to detail election/appointment procedures to the principal of the prospective school. c. The principal of the prospective school is to contact the SSAC chair and advisor and inform them of the two students who were either elected or selected to serve on the SAC.
  4. The chair or the advisor will then add the new members to the official membership registry with the appropriate distinctions.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023

 
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