3.1 SCHOOL COMMITTEE – LEGAL STATUS AND AUTHORITY. The authority of the School Committee is derived from the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL). The School Committee maintains authority when they serve as a legal body. Individual members of the School Committee have no authority over school affairs when acting as individuals. School Committee members are considered elected, special municipal employees.

Powers and Duties

The School Committee shall:

1. Have the power to select, to evaluate, and to terminate the Superintendent.
2. Review and approve the school budget.
3. Establish educational goals and standards consistent with the requirements of the law and state-wide goals, regulations and standards established by the MA Board of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
4. Conduct collective bargaining with all school department bargaining units. See Procedures 3.3A for role of Salary & Negotiating Subcommittee.
5. Employ legal counsel for collective bargaining and other general purposes.
6. Submit an Annual Town Report on the state of the schools.

1. MGL C.71s, 37, 37E, 37F

The School Committee shall have such additional powers and duties as may be authorized by the Bylaws of the Town of Hingham or by other vote at Town Meeting.

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3.2 GOAL AND OBJECTIVES. The School Committee’s goal is to establish and operate an educational system and educational programs which conform to the Massachusetts General Laws and DESE regulations and to provide for all public school students an opportunity to develop their abilities so that they may attain their greatest possible fulfillment as individuals and provide the greatest possible service to society.

The School Committee works to attain this goal by:

1. Establishing and periodically reviewing policies which are consistent with sound educational and business practices and in alignment with the HPS District Mission. See Procedures 3.3A for the role of the Policy Subcommittee.
2. Assuring that the Superintendent employs competent and conscientious personnel and evaluates their performance in implementing School Committee policies.
3. Adopting budgets which will provide sufficient funds to operate the school system economically and effectively to the extent possible given fiscal constraints.
4. Overseeing the school administration’s implementation of established policies and procedures.
5. Setting and evaluating annual School Committee performance objectives and annual and longer term goals and priorities.

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3.3 COMMITTEE ORGANIZATION. The School Committee shall function as a unit and within the spirit of the mission of the Hingham Public Schools. Subcommittees, appointed annually, may assist in accomplishing the work of the Committee and bring recommendations to the full committee for its approval. Appointments to subcommittees, the number and nature of which are to be determined annually by vote of the committee, will be made by the chair. A non-exhaustive list of examples of such subcommittees and their functions is listed under Procedure 3.3A

Membership

The Hingham School Committee consists of seven members chosen by ballot from the registered voters of Hingham to serve without compensation.

Term of Office of School Committee Member

The term of office is for three years;1 and expires upon the swearing in of the successor member. Swearing in typically occurs at the first regular School Committee meeting following the Annual Town Election. Each member shall, before entering upon his official duties, be sworn to the faithful performance thereof. 2

1. MGL C.41, S1
2. MGL C.41, S107
3. MGL C.41, S109

Resignations

Resignations from the School Committee shall not become effective until the resignation is filed with the Town Clerk or such later time as may be specified in the resignation. 1

1. MGL C.41, S109

Vacancies

If there is a failure to elect or if a vacancy occurs on the School Committee, the remaining members of the School Committee shall give written notice within one month of the vacancy to the Selectmen who, with the remaining members of the School Committee shall, after no less than one week’s notice, fill such vacancy by roll call vote at a mutually scheduled meeting. A person so appointed or elected shall be a registered voter of the town and shall serve until the next annual election. 1

1. MGL C.41, S11

Election of Officers

At the first regular meeting following the annual town election, the School Committee shall choose a chair, vice-chair, and a secretary in that order. Candidates shall be self-nominated (using forms under procedures 3.3A, B) and the election shall be by roll call vote. A majority of those present and voting shall be required for election to each office. The senior ranking member shall run the election and chair School Committee meeting(s) until the election of a new chair. In the event there is more than one senior ranking member then all such members’ names shall be written on equal size pieces of paper which shall then be placed in a container. The Superintendent shall draw a name from the container. The member selected by means of this lottery process shall run the election and chair School Committee meeting(s) until the election of a new chair. In the event of a tie on the vote for any particular School Committee office, the vote on that office will be deferred to the next meeting of the Committee.

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Orientation

In May after the annual town election there shall be an orientation for new members conducted by Central Office Staff and the Chair of the School Committee. New members shall be provided with a policy manual, copies of negotiated contracts, a copy of the Open Meeting and Conflict of Interest Laws, and any other documents affecting the Committee.
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All School Committee members elected or appointed after March 2004 shall, within one year of their initial appointment or election, complete at least eight hours of approved training/orientation concerning the responsibilities of their office. Documentation of the required training under M.G.L. Chapter 71, Section 36A, shall be filed with the Town Clerk.

1. MGL C. 71, S36A
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Each School Committee member is required to sign a written acknowledgement that he/she received the Conflict of Interest Law summary and must file such acknowledgement with the Town Clerk. All School Committee members shall, within 30 days of their swearing in, complete the online training program for the Conflict of Interest Law and provide notice of such completion as required.

MGL C. 268 S27 -28
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3.4 SCHOOL COMMITTEE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. (See Procedures 3.4A and 3.4B)

3.4.1 Officers. The term of each officer shall be until the first meeting of the new School Committee year, typically held in May.

CHAIR:

The Chair shall:

1. Preside at Committee meetings and perform all duties imposed by the Massachusetts General Laws and School Committee policies.
2. Appoint personnel to serve on subcommittees, temporary subcommittees, and sign personnel warrants and serve as an ex-officio member of such committees.
3. Keep members informed of upcoming topics, agenda items and developments.
4. Provide leadership to foster an environment in which individual School Committee members work together as an effective policy-making body.
5. Serve as the official spokesperson for the Committee and represent the Committee at public events or occasions.
6. Ensure that regulations of the DESE Educator Evaluation process for the Superintendent are followed fairly, effectively and in a timely fashion.

The position of chair shall not be held by the same individual for more than two consecutive years.

VICE-CHAIR:

In the absence of the chair, the vice-chair shall assume the duties of the chair.

SECRETARY:

The secretary shall:

1. Keep or cause to be kept a permanent record available to the public upon request in which a full and accurate record of the meeting date, time, place, members present or absent, and all votes, orders and proceedings of the School Committee, including executive sessions, shall be recorded. 1
2. Send out or cause to be sent out notices of meetings.
3. Review and recommend minutes to the full School Committee.
4. Maintain or cause to be maintained the manuals of policies, by-laws, or administrative regulations affecting Committee and system operation.
5. Sign all documents calling for his/her approval.
6. In the absence of the chair and vice-chair, assume the duties of the chair.

1. MGL C.71, S36

3.4.2 Members

Each member of the School Committee shall:

Recognize that his/her primary responsibility is to secure the resources necessary to provide a sound education for the children of the Hingham Public Schools.
Recognize that his/her primary function is policy making and endeavor to establish sound, clearly defined policies which will direct and support the administration.
Be familiar with the Massachusetts General Laws relating to school committees and with the policies and procedures of the School Committee.
Abide by Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law MGL c. 268. Every two years complete the Conflict of Interest online training program and provide notice of such completion as required. Be familiar with Conflict of Interest disclosure statements, forms and exemptions allowed.
Work harmoniously with other board members, vote and act impartially for the good of the school system, and accept the will of the majority vote.
Represent the School Committee in the community to promote both interest in and support for the Hingham Public Schools. See Procedures 3.3A for role of Community Outreach Subcommittee.
Refer complaints to the proper school authorities and abstain from individual counsel and action.
Uphold the intent of executive sessions and respect the privileged communication that exists in Executive Sessions and other confidential communications.
Be encouraged to attend school functions and events.
Foster civil interactions and hold themselves and school employees to high standards of ethical behavior.

The School Committee derives its statutory authority from the Commonwealth and acts on behalf of the citizens of the Town with respect to all matters concerning education.

The Committee shall be responsible to the community but not at the expense of sound educational concepts or philosophies. It shall make decisions based on the present needs of the students of the community, while at the same time being attentive to new developments, concerns and issues that require planning for the future.

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3.5 COMMITTEE-SUPERINTENDENT RELATIONS. The School Committee and the Superintendent recognize the importance of mutual trust and respect in defining a cooperative and productive relationship. Both parties clearly understand their roles, with the School Committee responsible for developing and adopting policies to guide the operation of the school system and the Superintendent responsible for implementing policies and managing day-to-day operations.

The School Committee expects that the Superintendent shall:

1. Serve as its chief executive officer and as its professional advisor on all matters.
2. Recommend appropriate policies for consideration by the Committee and implement and execute all policies adopted by the Committee.
3. Keep the Committee fully and accurately informed about the school system.
4. Interpret the needs of the school system and present professional recommendations on all problems and issues.
5. Ensure that all school system personnel conform to the policies adopted by the Committee

(See Procedure 1.3A – Superintendent’s Job Description)

The Superintendent expects that the School Committee will:

1. Assist with counsel and advice.
2. Consult on all matters concerning the school system.
3. Delegate responsibility for all executive functions, and refrain from handling administrative details, and give authority commensurate with the Superintendent’s responsibilities.
4. Hold the Superintendent responsible for the day-to-day administration of the school system.
5. Evaluate the Superintendent in accordance with the standards and protocols of the MA Educator Evaluation system, informing the Superintendent promptly if there are any concerns about her/his performance.
6. Support the Superintendent loyally and actively in actions which conform to proper professional standards and the policies of the Committee and assist the Superintendent in protecting the school system.

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3.6 TEMPORARY COMMITTEES AND REPRESENTATIVES. The Chair shall appoint temporary or “ad hoc” committees from time to time as required.

The Chair shall appoint Committee representatives as required for such activities as:

Liaison with other committees
Liaison with educational groups and organizations
Attendance at conventions and workshops
Hearings and meetings
Special projects

Temporary committees and representatives shall report to the full Committee at regular or special meetings and shall present the views of the committee in all matters in which they are participants. Such committees shall conduct studies, make recommendations and act in an advisory capacity, but such committees shall not take action on behalf of the School Committee unless specifically authorized to do so.

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3.7 MEETINGS. All School Committee meetings, including executive sessions and subcommittee meetings, are governed by the provisions of the “Open Meeting Law” (M.G.L. Chapter 30A, Sections 18-25). All meetings shall be appropriately posted and recorded and all meetings, except executive sessions which meet one or more of the ten criteria for holding a closed meeting, shall be open to the public. Under the Open Meeting Law, any deliberation (defined by statute as “an oral or written communication through any medium, including electronic mail”) between or among a quorum of members of the Committee or subcommittee on a matter within the Committee’s jurisdiction constitutes a “meeting” and is therefore subject to the provisions of the law.

1. MGL C 30A, S 21

Regular meetings of the Committee shall be held at previously announced locations in the Town of Hingham according to the approved calendar of School Committee meetings. Notice of all meetings shall be given in accordance with the provisions of MGL Chapter 30A, S 20. Student School Committee representatives shall be appointed each school year and are welcome to attend and participate in regular School Committee meetings.

1. MGL C30A, S20(c)
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3.7.1 NOTICES. Except in the case of an emergency, a notice of every meeting (regular, special, subcommittee, and temporary committee) of the Hingham School Committee shall be filed with the Town Clerk and made public in accordance with MGL C30A, S20. Notice of emergency meetings shall be posted as soon as reasonably possible prior to the meeting.

1. MGL C30A S20
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3.7.2 ADJOURNED MEETINGS. Any meeting may be adjourned to any succeeding day or time by a majority vote of the membership in attendance. Notice of adjourned meetings shall be given to absent members.

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3.7.3 RULES OF ORDER AND QUORUM. Roberts’ Rules of Order shall govern the proceedings of the Committee, except when those rules are in conflict with approved policies.

Each action of the Committee shall be taken on the basis of a motion duly made and seconded.

1. All presentations, with the exception of program reviews, made by any person or persons to the School Committee shall be limited to not more than ten (10) minutes. The Chair shall have the sole power to grant a waiver of this rule.
2. After a main motion has been brought before the School Committee and duly seconded, debate will begin immediately. The Chair will recognize the maker of the main motion if he/she wishes to speak first, otherwise each member will be recognized and permitted to speak on the motion as determined by the Chair. Debate on any main motion will be limited to not more than three (3) minutes per member with no limitations placed on the number of times each member may speak.

Quorum

A quorum for the transaction of business by the Hingham School Committee shall be a simple majority of the Committee. If at any point during a Committee meeting a member or members must leave such that there is no longer a quorum present, then in absence of such a quorum a number less than the majority can vote solely for the purpose of adjourning a meeting.

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3.7.4 ORDER OF BUSINESS AND AGENDA.

Order of Business

Normally, the order of business shall be as follows, but the Chair may change the order with the consent of a majority of the Committee.

  1. Call to order
  2. Approval of minutes
  3. Communications
  4. Questions and comments from the public on matters not on the agenda
  5. Superintendent’s report
  6. Unfinished business
  7. New business
  8. Financial Report
  9. Other items as may not be reasonably known 48 hours in advance.
  10. Subcommittee Reports.
  11. Executive session (if needed)
  12. Adjournment

Agenda

The agenda for each meeting shall be prepared by the Superintendent, in consultation with the Chair. Any member may request the inclusion of one or more items on the agenda, in writing by using the suggested form under Procedure 3.7.4A. The Chair will respond in a timely fashion to the individual with respect to when the requested agenda item will be accommodated.

The agenda and related information shall be forwarded by the Superintendent to each member of the Committee not later than 72 hours prior to the meeting. If a discussion topic is proposed after a meeting notice is posted, and it was not reasonably anticipated by the Chair more than 48 hours before the meeting, the Committee should update the posting and inform each member with as much notice as possible of what subjects will be discussed during the meeting. Items not appearing on the agenda shall be considered by the Committee only with the unanimous consent of the Committee members present.

1. MGL C30A S20
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3.7.5 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

Participation

All meetings of the committee for the transaction of business shall be open to the public and held in an accessible location. School Committee meetings will be televised for greater public access to the extent that resources allow. The Committee may, by recorded roll call vote, meet in executive session to discuss only such matters as authorized by the Massachusetts General Laws.

The Committee strives for ongoing, two-way communication between the Hingham Schools and the community at large. Constructive dialog between the schools and those who are served by and provide support for the schools ensures that the schools reflect the community they serve, and that our programs are of the highest possible quality.

Questions and comments from the public that do not relate directly to an agenda item should be presented in writing to the Superintendent prior to the beginning of the meeting. Persons in attendance may ask questions and comment after the School Committee has had an opportunity to discuss an agenda issue provided they are recognized by the Chair and identify themselves. Public comments shall be limited to three minutes. The Committee will not hear personal comments against any individual. Anonymous communications will be disregarded.

The School Department website, School Committee page on the Town website and the availability of a School Committee email account are other resources for public information and communication.

Complaints

Although no member of the community will be denied the right to bring their complaints to the Committee, they will be referred through the proper administrative channels for investigation and resolution prior to being presented to the Committee. Exceptions will be made when the complaints concern Committee actions or Committee operations only.

The Committee believes that complaints are best handled and resolved as close to their origin as possible, and that the professional staff should be given every opportunity to consider the issues and attempt to resolve the problem prior to any presentation to the Committee.

The proper channeling of complaints involving instruction, discipline or learning materials will be as follows:
1. Teacher
2. Immediate Supervisor
3. School Building Administrator
4. Superintendent

The proper channeling of complaints involving personnel who are not teachers will be as follows:
1. Immediate Supervisor
2. School Building Administrator or other District Supervisor
3. Superintendent

Matters referred to the Superintendent and/or School Committee must be in writing and should be specific in terms of the action desired. Anonymous complaints will be disregarded.

The Committee expects the Complainant to communicate in a courteous manner when submitting a complaint. Further, the Committee expects the professional staff to receive any such complaints courteously and to reply to the Complainant in a reasonably timely fashion.

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3.7.6 EXECUTIVE SESSION. No executive session as authorized under Massachusetts General Law C 30A, S 21 shall be held unless:

1. The School Committee has first convened in an open session for which notice has been given.
2. A majority of the members has voted to go into executive session and the vote of each member is recorded on a roll call vote and entered into the minutes.
3. The Chair has cited the purpose for the executive session and that purpose shall meet one or more of the ten criteria under MGL C 30A, S 21.
4. The Chair has stated before the executive session if the School Committee will reconvene after the executive session.

1. MGL C30A S21

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3.7.7 VOTES AND MINUTES. All votes shall be by voice or show of hands. In the event of a non-unanimous vote, members’ votes shall be recorded at their request.

The Secretary shall maintain accurate records of the actions taken at each meeting and shall make them available, in the form of minutes for review and approval at the first subsequent meeting as is reasonably possible. Such records shall become public records upon being approved; provided, however, that the records (including minutes approved by the School Committee) of any executive session shall remain confidential if their publication would defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session, but such records shall not remain confidential and shall become public records after the point at which any such lawful purpose is found to no longer exist by a then majority of the sitting School Committee.
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3.8 POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. Policies shall be adopted by the Hingham School Committee to provide guidance for the operation and maintenance of the school system.

Procedures shall be prepared by the school administration to implement the policies adopted by the School Committee.

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3.8.1 PREPARATION OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.

Policies

Draft policies shall be prepared by the Chair of the Policy Subcommittee in the format shown in information item 3.8.2.

Procedures

Draft procedures shall be prepared by the appropriate supervisor in the format shown in information item 3.8.3. Drafts shall be reviewed by the Superintendent of Schools for proper style and format.

Revisions

Revisions of policies and procedures shall retain the original adoption date followed by the date of the revision adoption.

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3.8.2 FORMAT FOR POLICIES.

The item number shall be in the left corner of the policy.
The title of the item shall be in upper case letter and underlined following the item number.
The adoption date shall be at the bottom right.
If the item is revised, the approval dates of the revision(s) shall follow the original approval date(s).

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3.8.3 FORMAT FOR PROCEDURES.

The item number shall be in the left corner of the procedure.
The title of the item shall be in upper case letters and underlined following the item number.
The date of the Superintendent’s approval shall be at the bottom right.
If the item is revised, the adoption date of the revision shall follow the original adoption date.

Procedures are to be located in a separate section at the end of the policy book and referenced in appropriate policy section(s).

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3.8.4 DISSEMINATION AND USE OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. Policies and procedures shall be distributed throughout the school system as required to ensure adequate dissemination. Each school shall maintain an up-to-date copy of all policies and procedures for use by staff, students, and parents.

All school system personnel are required to be familiar with and comply with the policies and to follow the implementing procedures as standard operating practice.

A policy waiver or exception shall be made only upon the vote of a majority of the School Committee members present.

A procedure waiver or exception shall be made only with the authorization of the Superintendent of Schools.

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3.8.5 REVIEW AND REVISION OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. Policies and procedures shall be under continuous review by the administration and the School Committee. Subcommittee recommendations which set policy or change established policy shall be prepared in proper form and draft policies shall be presented to the School Committee for adoption at regular School Committee meetings by inclusion in the agenda.

Procedures shall be prepared or revised as necessary to reflect changes in policy or to improve the implementation of policy.

Policy changes or new policies shall require a two-step process, with feedback and discussion at one or more regular School Committee meetings and action at a subsequent, regular School Committee meeting, allowing for a period of public input. After such period allowing for public input, at the subsequent meeting, the draft policy shall again be presented to the School Committee by inclusion on the agenda at which time a vote for adoption may be taken. A majority vote of the entire Committee shall be required for adoption.
Procedures shall be prepared or revised as necessary to reflect changes in policy or to improve the implementation of policy. In addition, draft procedures shall be presented to the Superintendent for approval by designated members of the Staff.

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3.9 ABSENCE OF POLICY. In the absence of policy the Superintendent is authorized to take action as he/she deems appropriate. He/she is responsible for reporting such action to the School Committee and recommending a related policy for future action if the School Committee so desires.

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3.10 SCHOOL YEAR AND SCHOOL DAY. In accordance with DESE regulations, the school year shall contain not less than 180 days of school during which both students and teachers shall be present and engaged in regular teaching-learning activities.

The school day for elementary students shall be not less than five hours exclusive of lunch periods but including recess periods. Elementary students shall be assigned a minimum of 900 hours of instructional time.

The school day for middle school and high school students shall be not less than 5 ½ hours exclusive of lunch or other recess periods. Middle school and high school students shall be assigned a minimum of 990 hours of instructional time.

Early dismissals may be authorized on the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving and on other approved days for staff meetings, pupil/parent/teacher conferences or faculty in-service training. If early dismissal days are scheduled, the total number of school hours at each level shall be at least the minimum number required by the DESE regulations.

1. MGL C.71, S1
2. DESE 603 CMR 27.00
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3.11 SCHOOL CALENDAR. The School Committee shall adopt annually a schedule of school days for the ensuing year.

At the first meeting in May of each year the Superintendent shall present to the School Committee for consideration a proposed schedule of school days for the ensuing school year.

The schedule shall take into consideration the possibility of days for emergency closings throughout the year and the last day of school shall be scheduled to ensure compliance with DESE regulations. Nothing in this policy shall prevent the School Committee from exceeding the state minimums.

The School Committee shall also adopt annually a schedule of regular School Committee meetings for the ensuing year.

1. MGL C. 71, S1

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3.12 APPROVAL OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS. The School Committee shall approve private schools within the boundaries of the Town in accordance with the Massachusetts Compulsory Attendance Law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 76, Section 1. The approval process shall include a site visit by a School Committee/school administration team, criteria checklist ratings, and development of a descriptive report and recommended School Committee action, based upon criteria as defined under Procedures 3.12A.

1. MGL C76 S1

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