The Parker Constitution
Ratified by the Student Body 03-08-06
Amended June 2013
During the first month of the operation of Parker, the students met together to create a school constitution. Their task was to create a document that would describe how the students, teachers and parents would work together to make a fair, democratic and safe school. The students were divided into four committees: the executive, legislative, judicial, and preamble committee. Each group spent two to three days writing the document that would bring the students together as a community. In 1997-98, the constitution was looked over and amended. Most of it remained the same, but a list of Rights and Responsibilities was added and the judicial branch was modified. In 1998-99, a “Decision making process” was amended to the constitution. In 2005-06, the Parker Constitution was once more amended with several revisions regarding the realistic operations of the CC & JC in Parker. The current Parker Constitution reads as follows.
We, the members of the Parker community, in order to form an outstanding learning environment, hereby write this Constitution to establish equality, to encourage educational and verbal freedom, and make this school a safe place where the members feel respected. As a whole, we maintain the balance between order and freedom and grant each individual their own respect, rights and responsibilities, in order to attain this exceptional environment we call the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School.
BILL OF RIGHTS
We, the Bill of Rights committee, establish the Bill of Rights to ensure students and teachers understand their rights and recognize that they are equal.
Student and Teacher Rights
- The Community Congress cannot make laws against rights of free speech, religion and others, such as respect, fairness and equal treatment.
- People have the right to defend themselves at Justice Committee hearings. The difference between defensive action and offensive action shall be decided by the Justice Committee.
- People cannot be searched and belongings cannot be taken from them without reasonable proof.
- People have the right not to answer questions that incriminate them or put them in danger.
- People have the right to have their case be heard by the Justice Committee.
- No consequences may be given that are cruel or unreasonable.
- People have the right to a safe learning environment.
- People have a right to vote on all school wide elections and to be represented in the CC.
- Students have a right to learn at their own pace.
- The right to give any type of input.
- The right to remove their children from Parker.
The Community Congress (hereafter ‘CC’) of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School is the legislative branch of the government. Its main purpose is to maintain the welfare and productivity of the Parker community.
The CC shall be composed of one Representative from each advisory.
The CC shall meet once every school week, on Wednesday.
Visitors are allowed to take part in CC/JC meetings as per the Visitor Policy in the Community Handbook.
Representatives shall be elected into office by manner of secret ballot. Every student and teacher will be allowed one vote each. Elections will take place at the beginning of the year. See Election Policy in Community Handbook for further information.
- The co-advisors in consultation with the JC, faculty and the CC membership will set the legislative agenda for the year. Modifications can be made over the course of the year as the group sees fit.
- All new bills are proposed to the co-advisors for filtering.
- If at least one co-advisor backs the consideration of the proposed change, it will be reviewed and updated by the policy committee.
- The proposed bill is presented to the CC for feedback.
- The policy committee makes amends if necessary based on the feedback then bring the policy to the JC leaders.
A. Reasons for Impeachment of Co-advisors and CC members
- If a member of the CC fails to regularly attend meetings;
- If a member of the CC commits a crime against the school;
- If a member of the CC is found to be repeatedly disrespectful of their position on the CC and is found to be uncommitted to the welfare of the Parker community and the government;
B. Impeachment Process - “secret ballot”
- A person of the Parker Charter School charges a member of the CC with one of the offenses listed above, at which point the CC may vote or hold a ballot to decide the merit of the complaint.
- If the merit of the complaint is agreed upon by a majority vote by the CC, the member is asked to resign from their position.
- If the member fails to resign, the complaint will be passed to the Justice Committee for a final decision.
Enforcement of Laws
Everyone will be expected to enforce the laws and procedures of the school if the government or any other people or person commits or attempts to commit an injustice against you, you should file a report and follow judicial procedure. If it is observed that a person or a group of people are breaking a school law, then a report of this should be reported to a person involved in the executive branch. The executive branch may take a person or people to court for violating the rights of the school in whole or in part.
Constitutional Review – Process
- All amendments are proposed.
- Proposed amendments are brought back to the CC and the JC to discuss the possible changes.
- Principal reviews the proposed amendments then either approves or suggests changes.
- CC makes modifications as per the requests of the principal.
- Divisional meetings run by CC representatives are held to discuss the proposed changes and to seek feedback.
- The revisions and amendments are brought back to the principal for final approval.
- The CC votes on amendments and final revisions.
- The final version of the revised constitution comes before the entire school as a referendum vote.
The Community Congress Archive will contain copies of the Constitution from each school year.
THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The Justice Committee (hereafter ‘JC’) of the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School is the judicial branch of the government. Its main purpose is to maintain peace and civility in the Parker community.
A. The Justice Committee
- The JC will be run by students with 2-3 faculty members in an advising role.
- The JC is responsible for resolving and/or mediating violations of Parker rules, community norms of safety and respect, and personal conflicts.
- The JC does not have jurisdiction in certain areas that are regulated under state and/or federal law (i.e. Weapons, sexual harassment, and controlled substances). All inappropriate cases will not be handled by the JC.
- The JC does not have the authority to suspend or expel students. However, if the JC decides that a student has committed a suspendable or expellable offense, they may recommend that consequence to the principal for a suspension/expulsion hearing (for a list of the suspendable and expellable offenses, see Suspension and Expulsion Policy for the Parker School).
- Students have the right to have two JC members present at a suspension/expulsion hearing.
- The JC is responsible for interpreting the Constitution in a hearing when there is a disagreement over the meaning of a part of the Constitution.
- The JC is responsible for ensuring that the Constitution is upheld at all times during a hearing.
- The JC is responsible for administering all school-wide elections.
- The JC will provide a yearly written report to ensure that the Parker community is kept informed of JC decisions and business. To ensure that confidentiality is maintained, this report will not contain the names of any offenders.
- The JC has the authority to assign detentions. (See Detention Policy in Student Handbook)
- The JC will have hearings where a member(s) of the Parker community can bring another member(s) of the Parker community to have a case heard in front of a group of JC and faculty member. (Members will include all students and faculty members in the Parker School.)
- There will be no more than four and no less than two student JC representatives sitting on a case. There will be one faculty member per case.
- All JC members will be trained in mediation and counsel hearings.
- All JC members will take an oath of confidentiality.
- Attendance at JC hearings is mandatory. The accuser and the accused must be present at the hearing. Any other parties/witnesses will be determined by the JC on a case-by-case basis.
- Individual students participating in JC hearings have the right to bring another person to the hearing or mediation with them as a witness, faculty member or JC representative, to the proceedings.
- Consequences will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
- All parties must agree to mediation if the JC determines that mediation is appropriate.
- Mediation will be done on a case-by-case basis. Community members involved in the mediation may decide whether they require JC members and/or the guidance counseling staff.
- Elections for the JC Leaders, by secret ballot, will take place in the month of May.
- The JC will meet once a week.
- The faculty will select 2-3 teachers interested in serving on the JC in any way that they choose.
- Any member of the Parker Community may recommend the impeachment of a JC member. This recommendation should be made to a JC Leader.
- Possible reasons for the impeachment recommendations:
- A member breaks his/her oath of confidentiality.
- A member breaks the Parker community norms and/or is brought to the JC repeatedly.
- Members of the JC may be asked to resign if a majority of the JC finds a violation of the standards listed in the above section. They will be impeached if there is a lack of cooperation.
- Impeachment votes must be done by secret ballot, which all members vote on.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
A. General Rights and Responsibilities
At the beginning of each school year, all members of the Parker community are asked to sign the Parker Community Contract of Rights and Responsibilities. This document is meant to serve as a compilation of norms by which the Parker community members agree to abide. These are “guidelines” for appropriate behavior (not “rules”, for which punitive consequences exist).
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to be treated with courtesy by all members of the community and the responsibility to treat all faculty, parents, visitors, and students with courtesy.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to believe what s/he wants and the responsibility to employ thoughtful habits of mind/learning.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to express concern and the responsibility to do so using an appropriate time, place, tone and attitude.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to have their personal belongings respected by others.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to enjoy and participate in the Parker community and the responsibility to not disrupt the enjoyment and the participation of others.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to be supported in his/her learning style and the responsibility to do his/her own work well, ask for help, and give appropriate help.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to use materials in the classroom and resources at Parker and the responsibility to use them wisely and return them in the same condition in which they were found.
- Every member of the Parker community has the right to have his/her voice heard and the responsibility to listen to others.
B. Classroom Responsibilities
- Students have the responsibility to turn in assignments when due and teachers have the responsibility to return assessed work within a reasonable period of time. If assessed student work is not returned in a reasonable time, additional time for revision of work should be provided to students.
- Both student and teachers should show effort to participate fully in class.
- Both students and teachers should show sufficient effort to be on time for class.
- A reasonable break time should be provided to both students and teachers during fullblock classes.
The Community Congress
The CC serves as the legislative branch of the Parker School Government. It is made up of advisory representatives who are elected by their advisory, six “all school” representatives who are elected by the student body and nine faculty representatives who are elected by the faculty. This group comes together once a week for one hour to make legislative decisions on proposals sent to it by the Principal and Co-Advisors. The CC works together in small committees to form proposals and as a whole group to debate and vote on these proposals based on the feedback of each advisory.
CC Officials Policy
It has come to the attention of the Community Congress that it requires certain members to play specific roles in helping the CC run more effectively. At present the officials required will be a clerk, a treasurer and an archivist, although these can be changed at the discretion of the CC. It is recommended that this proposal be approved by the Community Congress, since it applies only to the internal direction of the CC.
These officials will be elected by the members of the Community Congress at least once a year in a manner to be decided by the Community Congress. Each position created in this policy must be filled by a different CC representative. While these positions are intended for students who have a working knowledge of the functioning of the Community Congress, any member may be considered for these positions. The roles of these officials shall be as follows:
Treasurer: The treasurer of the Community Congress shall be responsible for recording all transactions involving the monetary assets of the CC. The treasurer will need to meet regularly with the Business Manager to aid in the management of these assets, including but not limited to their collection, dispersal and any issues involving taxation. While the treasurer may or may not directly handle these assets, the treasurer must still be honest, organized and responsible. The treasurer will also present a report of recent transactions and current assets to the CC on a regular basis.
Clerk: The clerk of the Community Congress shall be responsible for recording the present business of the CC. This job will mainly involve taking detailed (but not exhaustive) minutes of meetings and presenting them at each successive meeting. This will allow the CC to keep track of its previous business when deciding the agenda for a meeting. The clerk will also work with the archivist, especially to make sure that the minutes are stored in a safe location. The clerk will need to be very organized and responsible in order to fulfill the requirements of this position.
Archivist: The archivist of the Community Congress shall be responsible for recording all previous business of the CC. The archivist will need to organize all existing records and recommend corrections if there are discrepancies between policies. If an interim policy has been in effect for an extraordinary period of time, the archivist should recommend a review of the policy by the CC. The archivist will also work with whoever is writing the Student Handbook to make sure that all policies in the Handbook are up-to-date and accurate. The archivist will work closely with the clerk as new records are accumulated to assure that they are organized and in a safe location. Like the clerk, the archivist will need to be organized and responsible to succeed in this position.
The Justice Committee
The Justice Committee‘s function is to serve as the judicial branch of the Parker Government. The JC is made up of students and teachers. Students may sign up for JC, which happens during choice block. The JC‘s job is to maintain a tone of trust and decency in the school, enforce norms and rules, and interpret the gray areas of the constitution and the school‘s norms. It is very important to understand that all JC proceedings are confidential from the rest of the school.
The Justice Committee fulfills its purpose through disciplinary hearings. The JC hears “cases” that arise when a member(s) of the Parker community feels that another member(s) of the community has violated a Parker rule or norm. The Justice Committee has three or four students and one faculty member on each case. The JC members hear each party‘s arguments and are allowed to ask questions afterwards. Then, the two parties involved in the case are asked to leave while the JC members deliberate whether the individual(s) was in violation of any rules or norms. If so, the JC devises a consequence appropriate for the violation. The JC does not have the power to suspend any students, but in the event that they decide a student should be suspended, the members could recommend suspension to the school principal.
The Justice committee also hears appeals to disciplinary consequences made by other authorities in the school (e.g. detention, lateness, unfair consequences). Hearings are structured in a pattern as mentioned in the “Disciplinary Hearings” section. The JC has the authority to change the original consequence or uphold it. Students or teachers can appeal consequences in previous JC hearings.
Mediation is a form of conversation between two or more people in a conflict. The role of the mediator is to stay neutral and to help both parties work through their anger, disappointment, conflict and other problems that could come up during school. Mediation is an option for all students and teachers at the Parker school. It is a confidential environment where members of the Parker community can work through their problems. Students can also request that the school‘s counseling staff conduct the mediation instead of student mediators.
If a person has been brought the Justice Committee multiple times and has a developing pattern of repeating incidents, the JC has the right refer the student to the principal or guidance counselor to discuss the underlying issue(s) surrounding the repeat offender‘s behavior and to discuss the possibility of harsher consequence.
At most middle and high schools across the country, each grade has its own class officers with the senior class president sitting at the head of the Student Council. Since Parker doesn’t have separate grade levels, there are no such positions. Instead we have advisory representatives in our Community Congress, as well as “all-school representatives” (one for every 60 students) and
The Co-Advisors play many different roles in our community. They work with the school principal to make decisions about which pathway proposed policies, submitted by members of the community, should follow, as they become school policy. They are ambassadors to visitors who come to the school and represent the student body at formal events. Because the student body elects them, they are expected to work with the students to better the school community. Their actions as Co-Advisors should be solely in the best interest of the other students. Any student can run for the position of Co-Advisor. If one co-advisor leaves during his/her term, the remaining coadvisor will nominate a replacement within two weeks. The CC will vote on the replacement and a majority of the representatives must approve the nominee. If both co-advisors leave during their term new elections will be held within two weeks.