School councils should consider strategies to solicit opinions from and get information to a wide range of parent and student groups. The responsibility for communication to and from school councils fall squarely on the Chairperson of the school council; however, Ottawa Catholic School Board policy states that no communication can go to parents via the children without the express permission of the school principal.
So, at its best, school councils are effective when the principal and council chair are in daily/weekly contact, and no one member of council acts independent of the whole. When the school council “advises” a school principal, and if the advice cannot be implemented, it is recommended that the principal attempt to explain why. This shows respect for the input given and helps the council see the principal’s point-of-view.
School councils are not vehicles for personal or personnel issues. They are not vehicles for a one on one issue between any one parent or student and any one teacher or principal. School councils are governed by provincial regulations (Reg 612.), Board policies, and independeant school council constitutions and by-laws. That means that all constitutions must comply with Board policy, which must comply with Reg. 612.
School councils are ‘advisory’ bodies. There is no issue on which you cannot advise the principal on or approach the Board on; however, it is strongly recommended that you ask the following two questions first:
- Does the issue affect most or all of the children in the school?
- Does the issue deal with a personal or personnel issue?
School councils form a partnership. It is a euphemism that “we are here for all the kids,” but that is really true of a school council. We are not here for just your child; we are here to attempt to enhance the education of every child at the school. In fact, if your council is trying to sort out whether an issue is ‘appropriate’ or ‘relevant’ for the council’s attention, just ask yourself those two questions and that should help.
School Council Insurance
Every year, a few councils raise the question of whether they need to buy liability insurance for council activities. The short answer is that Board sanctioned activities are covered under the Board’s insurance policy. School Council activities such as dances, private parties, conventions, etc. that are NOT approved or sanctioned by the Board (through the school principal) require a school council to obtain their own liability insurance coverage.
OCSB Policies and Procedures for Catholic School Councils: