Acceptance of the School Committee Code of Ethics implies the understanding of the basic organization and intent of school committees under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By taking the oath of office, a Committee member must adhere to applicable state laws because school committees are agencies of the state.
This Code of Ethics delineates three areas for which Committee members are responsible in addition to what is implied above:
- Responsibility to the community
- Responsibility to school administration
- Relationship with fellow Committee members
Responsibility to the community means that Committee members will:
- Consider students to be members’ primary responsibility.
- Operate on a transparent, no-surprises basis with the public, engaging in dialogue that is open and respectful.
- Communicate with the public in a timely, professional, and confidential manner, using his or her understanding of pertinent legal requirements.
- Exhibit professionalism in dress, behavior, writing, and speaking that models high-quality standards.
- Produce high-quality communications with accurate grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Act as ambassadors for the district, sharing successes and challenges in a constructive way using a positive tone to support district improvements.
- Recognize that a member’s basic function is policy making and not school district administration.
- Remember that a member is part of a team and must abide by, and carry out, all Committee decisions once they are made in a prompt and professional manner.
- Be well-informed concerning the duties of a Committee member on both a local and state level.
- Represent the entire community rather than individual stakeholder groups at all times.
- Accept the office of Committee member as a means of unselfish service with no political intent or personal benefit.
- Share appropriate and relevant information with other Committees to support educational outcomes in other districts.
- Respect that there is one official Committee voice to the media with no other member representing the Committee as a whole.
Responsibility to school administration means that members will:
- Exercise leadership in vision, planning, policy, budgeting, evaluation, and advocacy with a focus on enhancing teaching and learning to improve student achievement.
- Establish sound, clearly defined policies that direct and support the administration.
- Recognize and support the administrative chain of command by refraining from acting on complaints as an individual outside the administration.
- Direct questions, requests for information, and all correspondence with district staff members through the Superintendent. The Superintendent will respond in a timely manner and will determine by whom and through what channels this information will be gathered and disseminated.
- Act only on recommendations of the Superintendent in the matters of employment or dismissal of staff members that fall under the purview of the Committee.
- Give the Superintendent full responsibility for discharging his or her professional duties and hold him or her responsible for achieving results.
- Refer all complaints to the Superintendent for resolution and discuss them at Committee meetings if such solutions fail.
- Exhibit professional behavior at all times and expect professional behavior in return.
Relationship with fellow Committee members means that members will:
- Participate in open and respectful dialog.
- Always assume positive and constructive intent from others.
- Respect dissent.
- Be open to new ideas.
- Endeavor to be transparent.
- Commit to a no-surprises philosophy with the administration and each other.
- Respect each other’s responsibilities as well as decisions of the Chairman on matters over which the Chairman has authority.
- Keep debate in the meeting focused on issues rather than personalities.
- Decline the use of outside sources to air disagreements with other members or the district.
- Strive to avoid factions.
- Share information with each other about district matters and information from outside educational opportunities.
- Recognize that action at official meetings is binding and that members alone cannot bind the Committee outside of such meetings.
- Withhold statements or promises on voting intentions regarding matters that will come before the Committee in the future.
- Uphold the intent of executive sessions and respect the privileged communication that exists in them.
- Come to meetings prepared.
- Be mindful at meetings of agenda topics and allotted time.
- Present alternate proposals when possible to increase understanding of the issues.
MSC first vote: 8/20/13
MSC second vote: 8/27/13