No. According to section 47 of the Education Act, the representative to the Parents’ Committee must be elected among the parent representatives on the Governing Board. A substitute parent representative is not a member of the Governing Board.
IN RELATION TO THE PARENTS’ COMMITTEE
Can a substitute parent representative on a Governing Board be a parent delegate or a substitute parent delegate to the Parents’ Committee?
Can the parent representative to the Parents’ Committee be elected at the first GB meeting?
No. The representative to the Parents’ Committee must be elected by all parents attending the annual general assembly (AGA). If no representative to the Parents’ Committee was elected at the AGA, a second AGA can be held for this purpose.
Can an employee of the SWLSB be a member of the PC? What are the rules regarding conflict of interest?
Section 47 of the Education Act states that, during their general assembly, the parents shall elect a representative to the Parents’ Committee established under section 189 from among their representatives on the governing board. A substitute may also be designated.
Under section 42 of the Education Act, members of the school staff are only prohibited from being elected as parents’ representatives on the Governing Board of the school in which they work. Therefore, a school board employee who is not a member of the school staff can be a member of the Governing Board of said school as a parent representative. Section 56 of the Education Act stipulates that the Governing Board chair cannot be a member of the school board personnel. Such a prohibition does not exist for the Parents’ Committee. No provision therefore prevents a school board staff member from becoming to be a member of the Parents’ Committee.
Regarding the notion of conflict of interest, the Education Act does not contain any provisions concerning the Parents’ Committee. In our view, the Parents’ Committee can prescribe rules in order to prevent conflicts of interest as long as these rules are in concordance with the Education Act. For example, the Parents’ Committee cannot prohibit a school board staff member from sitting on the Parents’ Committee as this is authorized under the Education Act. The Parents’ Committee may also establish in their internal rules of procedure an obligation for members to declare their personal interests, including the fact that they are working for the school board.
COMPOSITION AND FORMATION
Can an employee of the school be elected as parent representative on the Governing Board?
No. According to section 42 of the Education Act, parent representatives on Governing Board cannot be members of the school staff. They may however be staff members of another school or centre. In this case, according to section 56 of the Education Act, they cannot hold the position of Chair of the Governing Board.
Can community representatives live outside the territory of the school or of the school board?
Section 42 of the Education Act states that two representatives of the community who are not members of the school staff can be appointed by the other members of the Governing Board. The Education Act does not establish any criteria for the appointment of community representatives. This means that the other members of the Governing Board have complete discretion as long as they do not appoint a member of the school staff as a community representative.
Considering the above, the community representatives can live outside the territory of the school or of the school board. However, community representatives are normally persons interested in the school or the services offered to the students of the school (ex.: city councillors and representatives of social or sports organizations). Normally, the Governing Board should select persons who can bring complementary skills that are complementary to those of the other members of the Governing Board.
Can the Governing Board remove a member who was duly elected?
No. The Education Act does not allow a Governing Board to remove a member who was duly elected. Moreover, the internal rules of procedure the Governing Board cannot contain such a power or a procedure for removing a member. Such a provision exists, however, for commissioners under section 193 of the Act respecting school elections: The term of a commissioner who fails to attend three consecutive regular sittings of the council of commissioners ends at the close of the following sitting unless the commissioner attends that sitting (…). Since no section of the Education Act contains a similar explicit power for members of the Governing Board, the Governing Board does not have the right to act in such a manner.
In such a situation, we recommend to contact the member who fails to attend the Governing Board meetings in order to reiterate the importance of his or her presence. A formal letter could also be sent by the chairperson. Unfortunately, from a legal point of view, there is nothing more to do in such a situation
CAN A SUBSTITUTE MEMBER VOTE TO FORM THE QUORUM?
No. Section 51.1 of the Education Act stipulates that substitute members are elected to replace the members who are unable to take part in a Governing Board meeting. A substitute member may therefore only vote when replacing a member who is unable to attend a governing board meeting.
DOES THE TERM OF OFFICE OF THE CHAIR OF THE GOVERNING BOARD END AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR?
No. According to section 58 of the Education Act, the term of office of the Chair is of one year.
When can a Governing Board secretary be remunerated?
All persons can be remunerated through the Governing Board operational fund to take Governing Board minutes, except employees who already receive compensation (time or money) as Governing Board members.
The principal should inform Governing Board members in this regard within the limits of the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information. This means that the principal may tell members that an employee is remunerated as a Governing Board secretary but cannot, for example, give details regarding the type of compensation the employee receives, as this is personal information regarding this employee.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW FOR APPROVING THE MINUTES WHEN MEMBERS ARE ABSENT?
Sections 170 to 172 of the Education Act are the pertinent sections with regard to the minutes of each meeting of the Council of Commissioners. Although these sections mention that the e approval of minutes are approved at the beginning of the following meeting, the law does not give any precisions with regard to specify who can approve them (members that were present or absent, for example). The same comment applies to section 69 of the Education Act which is specific to the concerns the minutes of the governing boards. Furthermore, there are no specific sections of the law with regard to other committees such as the Parents’ Committee.
Therefore, since the law is silent on this topic, deliberative bodies such as the council of commissioners, governing boards and committees should refer to their internal rules of procedure with regard to minutes and their approval.
For example, for the Council of Commissioners of the SWLSB, section 5.2 of its rules of order stipulates that only Council members who were present at the meeting can motion to approve the minutes (Robert’s Rules of Order only apply for any rule or regulation not covered by our own rules of order). Therefore, it does not prevent the Council members from voting on their approval.
In the newly revised version (the 11th Edition) of Robert’s Rules of Order, the following is stated regarding this topic.
It should be noted that a member’s absence from the meeting for which minutes are being approved does not prevent the member from participating in their correction or approval.
Therefore, the first step for any deliberative body under the Education Act is to verify their own internal rules of procedures. Internal rules of procedures remain applicable until revised. Should there be specific provisions with regard to the approval of minutes as it is the case for the Council of Commissioners, they must be applied. If there are no specific provisions, it is suggested to revise the internal rules of procedure as to avoid any ambiguity. In the absence of provisions, deliberative bodies can always decide to base themselves on well-known deliberative procedure guides such as Robert’s Rules of Order.
FUNCTIONS, POWERS AND VARIA
When approving a rental contract, can the Governing Board decide how the money will be used?
Section 93 of the Education Act states that the Governing Board may enter into an agreement for the use of the premises or the immovables placed at the disposal of the school. If the term of the agreement exceeds one year, the school board must authorize the agreement. Section 93 of the Education Act does not make any mention of the power to decide how the money from the rental contract will be used.
We must therefore refer to the general powers regarding the budget of the school. While the Governing Board is “responsible for adopting the school’s annual budget proposed by the principal (…)” (section 95, Education Act), the school principal is the one responsible for administering the budget and rendering an account thereof to the Governing Board.
Considering all relevant sections of the Education Act, the Governing Board does not have the power, while approving a rental contract, to decide how the money will be used. The power of the Governing Board is to adopt the school budget, not to administer it.
What are the differences between a PPO and a home and school association regarding the management of funds?
A parent participation organization (PPO) is established as per section 96 of the Education Act. The decision to establish a PPO is made at the general assembly of parents, who must also determine the name, composition and operating rules of the PPO and elect its members. Membership is open to all parents.
The purpose of a PPO is to encourage parents to collaborate in developing, implementing and periodically evaluating the school’s educational project and to participate in fostering student success.
The PPO may advise the parents sitting on the Governing Board regarding any matter of concern to parents or any matter on which the organization is consulted by the parents’ representatives on the Governing Board.
Even though the PPO may help in raising funds, it cannot manage funds since it is the Governing Board who has the power to solicit voluntary contributions (Education Act, section 94). It is also the Governing Board that has the power to manage the fund established for that purpose. This is done through the school board.
A home and school association is a non-profit entity dedicated to enhancing the well-being and protecting the interests of children and youth. It is an entity distinct from the school and the school board and has no power under the Education Act. To establish a home and school association, an application must be made to the Québec Federation of Home and School Associations (QFHSA). A volunteer organization and independent voice for parents on issues of education in Québec, the QFHSA promotes, encourages and assists home and school organizations and their activities in the school.
The difference regarding the management of funds is the following:
A PPO deposits all monetary contributions in a fund established for this purpose through the school board. Section 94 of the Education Act states that the management of such a fund is supervised by the Governing Board.
A home and school association manages its own funds separately. This is not done through the school board. Although a home and school association is a distinct entity from the school and the school board, it is important to specify that it should not act regarding fundraising activities without the approval of the Governing Board, in keeping with the spirit of section 94 the Education Act. This can be done notably through an agreement.