9000 Bylaws of the Board of Education
Policy # 9221
Supersedes / Amends: 12/11/2007
For a Board of Education to be effective and productive, it is essential to fill vacancies promptly and with the best possible candidates. It is also essential that the process for filling vacancies be fair and equitable to all candidates. By virtue of establishing this policy, the Board hopes to instill an expectation of how vacancies should be filled in the future and to insure that the process used identifies the most qualified candidate and the candidate who can contribute the most to the successful operation of the Board. The Board hopes to achieve a non-partisan Board and, to this end, has structured this policy which seeks to elect the most qualified candidate regardless of his/her political party.
IDENTIFICATION OF VACANCY
A Vacancy on the Board occurs when a Board Member:
- resigns from the Board
- is no longer be eligible to serve because he/she has moved from Winchester or is no longer resident in Winchester under state law
- becomes incapacitated and is unable to serve.
The Chairman of the Board shall endeavor to obtain the written resignation of such Board Member. The vacancy shall begin either on the date when it is received by the chairman or on the date specified by the resigning member. When a written resignation cannot be obtained, the Chairman shall advise the Board of the relevant facts at a properly noticed meeting. The vacancy shall then be deemed to occur as of the date of such meeting.
PROCESS FOR FILLING A VACANCY
- In accordance with Connecticut State Statues, the remaining Board shall have 30 days from the effective date of the vacancy to select a replacement for the remainder of the departing member’s term.
- When a vacancy occurs the Board shall:
- file notice of such vacancy with the Office of the Winchester Town Clerk
- shall publish such notice in one or more local newspapers
While not always feasible, the Board is encouraged to contact each of the political parties known to be active within the community in order to solicit possible candidates.
- Any candidate expressing interest in filling the vacant position shall be encouraged to provide a written letter of interest, declaring their candidacy and highlighting their qualifications for the position. All candidates will be requested to provide a resume of their background and past positions within the Town of Winchester.
- The effective date of the vacancy will be determined at the onset of this process in the manner set forth above and a deadline for the submission of applications will be set by the Chairman.
- As soon after this deadline as is practical the Chairman shall place on the agenda of a posted regular or special session of the Board an item titled “Interview and possible selection of a candidate to fill the vacant position on the Board”. For the purposes of this and subsequent meetings, a quorum of the Board shall be a majority of the remaining Board members.
- Each candidate will be interviewed using a standard format.
- The Board may meet in executive session for some or all of this process, provided, however, that each candidate shall have the right to have his or her portion of the interview process held in open session and may elect to do so by advising the Board of that fact at the time of the interview.
- Following the interviews, the Board may discuss the candidates which may be in executive session. The Chair may call an end to discussion and if there is only one candidate the Board by voice vote may elect such candidate. If there is more than one candidate the Chair shall distribute ballots containing the name of each candidate and identifying the member vacancy to be filled. Each Board Member will sign his or her ballot and will vote for one candidate or may abstain from voting. In the event of a tie the Board shall discuss the candidates and re-vote by another written ballot. In the event the tie continues for three votes the Board Chair shall select the candidate to fill the vacancy from among those candidates submitting an application.
SWEARING IN OF NEW MEMBER AND SUBCOMMITTEE PARTICIPATION
- As soon as practical after completion of the selection process the selected candidate will be sworn in as a member of the Winchester Board of Education and he or she shall assume a seat on the Board until the next regular town election, at which election a successor shall be elected for the unexpired portion of the term.
- The Chairman may consider the newly appointed Board Member for assignment to subcommittees that may or may not be the subcommittees which had been assigned to the Member whose resignation or other event created the vacancy.
Conflict of Interest
Policy # 9270
Supersedes / Amends: New Policy
A Board member shall not have any direct pecuniary interest in a contract with the school district, nor shall he/she furnish directly any labor, equipment, or supplies to the district.
In the event a Board member is employed by a corporation or business, or has a secondary interest in a corporation or business, which furnishes goods or services to the school district, the Board member shall declare his/her interest and refrain from debating or voting upon the question of contracting with the Company.
It is not the intent of this policy to prevent the district from contracting with corporations or businesses because a Board member is an employee of the firm. The policy is designed to prevent placing a Board member in a position where his/her interest in the public schools and his/her interest in his/her place of employment (or other indirect interest) might conflict, and to avoid appearances of conflict of interest even though such conflict may not exist.
The Board will not employ or accept application from any teacher or other employee on a permanent basis if such teacher or other employee is a member of the Board or is the father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, domestic partner of a civil union, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law of the Superintendent or of any member of the Board.
This shall not apply to any person within such relationship or relationships who has been regularly employed by the Board prior to the inception of the relationship, the adoption of this policy, or a Board member's election.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes 7-479 Conflict of interest.
10-156e Employees of boards of education permitted to serve as elected officials; exception
10-232 Restrictions on employment of members of the board of education
P.A. 05-10 An Act Concerning Civil Unions
Code of Ethics
Supersedes / Amends:
Bylaws of the Board
Code of Ethics
The success of every school system depends on an effective working relationship between the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools. This code incorporates those standards and responsibilities most critical to productive Board and Superintendent relations.
• Boards members and the Superintendent ensure the opportunity for high quality education for every student and make the well being of students the fundamental goal of all decision-making and actions.
• Board members and the Superintendent are staunch advocates of high quality free public education for all Connecticut children.
• Board members and the Superintendent honor all national, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to education and public agencies.
• Board members and the Superintendent recognize that clear and appropriate communications are key to the successful operation of the school district.
• Board members and the Superintendent will always carry out their respective roles with the highest levels of professionalism, honesty and integrity.
• Board members recognize that they represent the entire community and that they must ensure that the community remains fully informed on school-related matters.
• The Superintendent and Board members recognize that the Superintendent serves as the Board of Education's agent and will, in that role, faithfully apply the policies and contracts adopted by the Board.
• Board members adhere to the principle that they shall confine the Board's role to policy-making, planning and appraisal while the Superintendent shall implement the Board's policies.
• Board members and the Superintendent both recognize that they serve as a part of an educational team with mutual respect, trust, civility and regard for each other's respective roles and responsibilities.
• Board members are committed to the concept that the strength of the Superintendent is in being the educational leader of the school district.
• Board members and the Superintendent practice and promote ethical behavior in the Boardroom as a model for all district employees.
• Board members and the Superintendent consider and decide all issues fairly and without bias.
Bylaw adopted by the Board:
Supersedes / Amends:
Bylaws of the Board
Board of Education policies translate beliefs and desires of elected officials into action through the Superintendent of Schools and the school staff. Except for specific meeting decisions, policies are a Board’s best means of shaping district education through specifying in Board policy “what will be done.” The Superintendent’s administrative regulations provide the administrative “how it will be done” to accompany Board of Education policies.
Policies also make it clear, at least by implication, that the Superintendent is expected to follow the direction of the entire Board as it is expressed through its policies. On a daily basis, Board policies, except for bylaws, are primarily for the guidance of the Superintendent of Schools and his/her staff. It is, however, the Board’s responsibility to ensure the Superintendent uses policies in making decisions; it is, similarly, the Superintendent’s responsibility to insist that both policies are their amplifying regulations are followed by everyone in the school system.
Organization and Contents of Policy Manuals
Policy manuals contain three basic types of entries – Board of Education policies, Superintendent of Schools regulations, and Board of Education bylaws:
1. Policies are guides for discretionary action by the Superintendent of Schools and staff; not all policies require administrative regulation;
2. Regulations are the Superintendent’s amplifications of Board policies into specific staff actions; not all administrative regulations require policies;
3. Bylaws are rules governing Boards of Education’s internal operations.
Development of Board Policies
The development of sound educational policies is one of the primary duties of the Board of Education. Policies serve to promote democratic and responsive school governance and constitute a major method by which the Board exercises its leadership. Policies are guides for discretionary administrative action by the Superintendent of Schools and his/her staff. Policy development and revision should follow these principles:
1. Policies and regulations shall be given high priorities by the Board and by the Superintendent of Schools;
2. Many people at different levels shall be given opportunities to participate in development and review of policies and regulation;
3. Procedures for development and revision of policies and regulations shall be clear and well understood; participants shall know their roles and authority; lines of communication shall be observed;
4. Use of policies and regulations as guides to action shall be stressed at all organizational levels, and policy or regulatory violations shall not be overlooked or condoned;
5. Policy and regulatory effectiveness shall be monitored regularly by the Board of Education, The Superintendent of Schools, and by other staff members;
6. Board members and administrators shall guard against intrinsic problems of policies and regulations. (rigidity and inflexibility, bureaucratic or insensitive administration of policy, etc.)
Anyone may propose a new policy or policy changes – members of the community, the staff, students, Superintendent, or Board members. Proposed new policies and policy changes from staff shall be forwarded to the Superintendent for presentation to the Policy Committee of the Board. Although the Board encourages and welcomes community, staff and student involvement, only the Board may establish policy.
The Superintendent is encouraged to submit recommendations for new policies and for revision of existing policies as necessary for the effective operation of the public schools.
Approved policies shall be in writing and coded according to the policy codification system approved by the Board, and made part of the official policy manual maintained by the Superintendent. Policy manuals and copies of new and changed policies shall be distributed to all members of the Board of Education and school administrators, and shall be made available to the staff, students, and general public.
Adoptions and/or Amendment of Board of Education Policies
Procedure for the adoption of a new policy or the amendment of existing policy shall be:
1. Upon referral to the policy committee, the committee will develop a statement of policy or change of existing policy based on the following
a. Suggestions and requests from Board members;
b. Recommendations from the Superintendent of Schools;
c. Statutory requirements;
d. Citizen input.
2. The policy committee shall present a policy statement, or revised policy statement, with its recommendations to the Board at a regular Board meeting.
3. The Board shall act on proposed policies at regular meetings of the Board at which time amendments to the policy proposals may be made and the policies approved if the changes are not a departure from the essence of the policy proposal; if the proposed changes are major, a policy should be brought back for a second review at the next regular meeting with further recommendations from the Board’s policy committee. Proposed policy changes approved by majority vote of the Board shall take immediate effect.
4. For proposed policy statements, new or revised, because of changes or additions to Connecticut General Statutes or State Board of Education Regulations, approval may be given at the initial presentation.
Formal adoption of policies and/or amendments of policies shall be recorded in the minutes of the Board meeting. Only those written statements so adopted and recorded shall be regarded as official policies.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
10-221 Boards of Education to prescribe rules, policies and procedures.
Bylaw adopted by the Board:
Supersedes / Amends:
Bylaws of the Board
Formulation, Adoption, Amendment of Administrative Regulations
The Board of Education does not adopt administrative regulations unless specifically required to do so by law, or unless requested to do so by the Superintendent. Adoption
and amendment of such Board of Education adopted regulations shall be by the same
procedure as that specified for policies in 9311.
The Superintendent is responsible for the formulation, issuance, amendment and deletion of administrative regulations to implement the policies of the Board. The Superintendent shall determine the need to bring to the attention of the Board any new, revised or deleted administrative regulations.
The Board of Education reserves the right to review and direct revisions of administrative regulations should they, in the Board of Education's judgment, be inconsistent with the policies adopted by the Board of Education. If the Board directs the Superintendent to issue, amend or delete administrative regulations, it shall do so upon majority vote of all members in attendance at a meeting provided that prior notification of such proposed revision has been described in writing in the call of the meeting, or upon majority vote of all members of the Board when no such written notice has been given.
Board of Education Policy Regarding:
Bylaws of the Board – Time, Place, and Notification of Meetings
Electronic Board of Education Meetings
“Meeting” is defined as a hearing or other proceeding of the Board, any convening or assembly of a quorum of the Board and any communication by or to a quorum of the Board, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. Communications between and among a quorum of members convening on electronically linked personal computers or by telephone conference call are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This definition includes hybrid, remote and in-person meetings.
“Public Notice” Each Board member and each person who has duly requested such notification shall be notified no later than twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting of the time, date, location, and the agenda of any regular or special meeting. The twenty-four hour notice shall also be posted in the Board office, delivered to newspapers designated by the Board, and filed with the Town Clerk, except that such notice is not required where the time, date, and location of the meeting has been published in the annual list of meetings approved by the Board and filed with the Town Clerk not later than January 31 of each year in accordance with law. The meeting agenda must be filed at least twenty-four hours before the meeting convenes. (In an emergency meeting, the Board may proceed to conduct business if and to the extent required by the emergency.) The expectation shall also be adhered to in the event of a Board meeting held through electronic means as described in this bylaw. When hybrid in-person meetings are held, the meeting notice should suggest that the public participate by remote means in order to avoid a situation where demand for space at the meeting by the public exceeds the in-person capacity limit.
“Voting” All Board actions requiring a vote may be conducted by voice, show of hands, or roll call provided that the vote of each member is recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Proxy voting shall not be permitted. Voice voting must occur in the event of a BOE meeting held through electronic means as described in this bylaw. Votes will be verbalized into the record by the Board Secretary. Abstentions shall not be counted as votes but shall be recorded.
“Internet (Chat) Discussions” In the event of a Board meeting held through electronic means as described in this bylaw, under no circumstances are members of the Board to have private chats while engaged in the public session of the meeting. All comments, inquiries, and votes must occur in the public forum for all to hear. All Board member(s) are expected to comply with the guidance of this bylaw.
Bylaws of the Board
Time, Place, and Notification of Meetings
Electronic Board of Education Meetings (continued)
The Board of Education, at the Chair’s discretion, may hold a public meeting that is accessible to the public by means of electronic equipment or by means of electronic equipment in conjunction with an in-person meeting.
In accordance with Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the following provisions will be implemented so that a remote or “hybrid” meeting can occur:
1. Board of Education members shall make every attempt to participate through a technology portal where they can be viewable, or at a minimum heard, for each other and members of the public. The Board of Education will accomplish this through use of an electronic videoconferencing program, such as, but not limited to, ZOOM, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Onboard, where members of the public can call and/or submit comments or questions electronically.
2. Notice of the Board meeting’s virtual or in-person location, when a hybrid approach is utilized, shall be published through the traditional means and outlets as well as being noticed on the District website and in the Board of Education Office no less than 48 hours in advance.
3. The District shall post the agenda for the meeting no later than 24 hours in advance for review and reference by members of the public. The agenda will also be posted on the District website. Such notice and agenda shall include instructions for the public, to attend and provide comment or otherwise participate in the meeting, by means of electronic equipment or in person.
4. When the Board conducts a meeting, other than an executive session or special meeting, solely by means of electronic equipment, it shall (1) provide any member of the public (A) upon a written request submitted not less than twenty-four hours prior to such meeting, with a physical location and any electronic equipment necessary to attend such meeting in real-time, and (B) the same opportunities to provide comment or testimony and otherwise participate in such meeting that such member of the public would be accorded if such meeting were held in person; (2) ensure that such meeting is recorded or transcribed, excluding any portion of the meeting that is an executive session, and such transcription or recording is posted on the Board’s Internet website and made available to the public to view, listen to and copy in the Board’s office or regular place of business not later than seven days after the meeting and for not less than forty-five days thereafter; and (3) if a quorum of the members of the Board attend a meeting by means of electronic equipment from the same physical location, permit members of the public to attend such meeting in such physical location.
Bylaws of the Board
Time, Place and Notification of Meetings
Electronic Board of Education Meeting
Policy Statement (continued)
5. The Board, when conducting hybrid meetings, will make provisions to allow at least some members of the public and press to attend in the same location as the Board members conducting the meeting in a manner consistent with any public health guidance. The number of the public allowed to attend the in-person or hybrid meeting will be limited to capacity limits put in place consistent with public health and social distancing guidance, determined by local health officials.
6. If the Board conducts a special meeting it shall include in the notice of such meeting whether the meeting will be conducted solely or in part by means of electronic equipment and, not less than twenty-four hours prior to such meeting, shall post such notice and an agenda of the meeting. If such special meeting is to be conducted by means of electronic equipment, such notice and agenda shall include instructions for the public, by means of electronic equipment or in person, to attend and provide comment or otherwise participate in the meeting.
7. Any vote taken at a meeting during which any member participates by means of electronic equipment shall be taken by roll call, unless the vote is unanimous. The minutes of the meeting shall record a list of members that attended such meeting in person and a list of members that attended such meeting by means of electronic equipment.
8. Any member of the Board or the public who participates orally in a meeting of the Board conducted by means of electronic equipment shall make a good faith effort to state such member’s name and title, if applicable at the outset of each occasion that such member participates orally.
9. Executive session will be held, when necessary and for the statutorily allowed reasons, in a second videoconferencing meeting open only to Board of Education members, and those individuals determined by the Board to be necessary to participate in such executive session.
10. Pursuant to PA 22-3 a Board member shall not be denied the opportunity to participate and vote in any meeting or proceeding using remote technology if such member requests to do so.
When public health conditions improve, the Board may initiate a return to in-person meetings, or in the alternative, hybrid in-person meetings in which Board members may either attend in person or participate remotely. In hybrid meetings, members of the public and the press will be allowed to attend, up to the capacity limits in place to comply with social distancing guidance and local public health department determination.
Options and instructions on how to access Board of Education virtual meetings will be posted on the District’s website. A recording of Board meetings shall be made available within seven (7) days on the Board’s Website and/or the Town of Winchester’s Website.
Bylaws of the Board
Time, Place and Notification of Meetings
Electronic Board of Education Meeting (continued)
(cf. 1120 - Public Participation at Board of Education Meeting)
(cf. 9321 - Time, Place, Notification of Meetings)
(cf. 9322 - Public and Executive Sessions)
(cf. 9323 - Construction of the Agenda)
(cf. 9324 - Advance Delivery of Meeting Materials)
(cf. 9325 - Meeting Conduct)
(cf. 9325.1 - Quorum)
(cf. 9325.2 - Order of Business)
(cf. 9325.4 - Vote Recording)
(cf. 9325.43 - Attendance at Meetings via Electronic Communications)
(cf. 9326 - Minutes/Taping/Broadcasting)
(cf. 9326.1 - Taping/Recording Board Meetings)
(cf. 9327 - Electronic Mail Communications)
(cf. 9327.1 - Board Member Use of Social Networks)
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
1-200 (2) Definitions. “Meeting.”
1-206 Denial of access to public records or meetings.
1-225 Meetings of government agencies to be public.
1-226 Broadcasting or photographing meetings.
1-227 Mailing of notice of meetings to persons filing written request.
1-228 Adjournment of meetings. Notice.
1-229 Continued hearings. Notice.
1-230 Regular meetings to be held pursuant to regulation, ordinance or resolution.
1-232 Conduct of meetings.
10-218 Officers. Meetings.
10-238 Petition for hearing by board of education.
PA 22-3 An Act Concerning Public Meetings Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act
Board of Electronic Mail Usage and Retention
Supersedes / Amends: New Policy
The Board of Education believes when used properly, electronic mail is an effective communications tool for Board members, and represents an efficient and convenient method of communication. The main goal of electronic mail (“e‑mail”) is to expedite the passage of information. E‑mail gives Board members quick access to one another. Communication among Board members via e-mail should conform to the same standards as other forms of communication (e.g., Board and committee meetings), consistent with the Freedom of Information Act and state law governing the retention of public records.
Guidelines for Board E-Mail Usage
The Freedom of Information Act mandates that all meetings of public bodies such as the Board of Education be open to the public. It is the policy of the Board of Education that e-mail shall not be used in such a manner as to deprive the public of the rights given to it under the Freedom of Information Act. For this purpose, this bylaw sets forth guidelines for the uses intended to be made of e-mail by Board members when communicating with other Board members.
1. E-mail, like other written forms of communication relating to the conduct of the public business is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and subject to disclosure.
2. Electronic messaging services including but not limited to email, internet web forums (such as social networks) and internet chat rooms shall not be used by a majority of a quorum of the members of the Board (currently three members) or any of its subcommittees for the purpose of discussing or sharing opinions on Board business. Such actions could be considered as constituting a meeting under the Freedom of Information Act and could be considered illegal unless held in compliance with the requirements of the Act.
Messaging between or among Board members shall be limited to the dissemination of information or to messages which do not involve deliberation, debate or decision making.
3. E-mail can be used to pass along factual information.
4. Security of e-mail communication cannot be assured. Board members shall not reveal their passwords to anyone else. If any Board member has reason to believe a password has been lost or stolen, or that e-mail is being accessed by someone without authorization, he/she shall notify the Superintendent, who will notify the District’s technology specialist.
5. Personnel issues and other sensitive subjects should never be discussed on-line. The confidentiality of employee data, student data, and other sensitive subjects must always be maintained.
Each Board member will be responsible for paying all consumable expenses associated with e-mail usage (for example, office supplies, reproduction, and printing). In the event a Board member elects not to access e‑mail, a hard copy of all e-mail directed to “the Board" will be placed in the Board packet and will also be available at the Board of Education Central Office.
Records Retention and Deletion
The Connecticut State Librarian has developed retention guidelines with respect to the length of time that electronic records (including e-mail) should be retained. The records retention schedule, as revised from time to time, is available through the State Library/Public Records Administrator and its website. The Board adopts the retention guidelines established by the Connecticut State Librarian. Records may not be destroyed unless and until permitted by these retention guidelines.
Under the records retention guidelines, e-mail messages sent and received by public officials fall within three broad categories:
- Transitory messages, including copies posted to several persons such as “junk mail” and publications, notices, announcements, and casual and routine communications similar to telephone conversations.
- Public records with a “Less than Permanent” retention period; and
- Public records with a Permanent or Permanent/Archival retention period.
Retention guidelines for each of these categories are as follows:
- Transitory messages - No retention requirement. Board members receiving such communications may delete them immediately without obtaining the approval of the Office of the Public Records Administrator. However, transitory e-mails may still be subject to FOIA requests and must not be deleted in order to avoid the Board’s duties under the FOIA. Thus, Board members may not delete transitory messages after an FOIA request has been made
- Less than Permanent - Follow retention period for equivalent hard copy records as specified in an approved retention schedule. The record must be in hard copy or electronic format which can be retrieved and interpreted for the legal retention period. When there is a doubt about the retrievability of an electronic record over the life span of that record, the record should be printed out. The Board may delete or destroy the records only after the legal retention period or if the Board has received signed approval from the Office of the Public Records Administrator. Similar to transitory e-mails, less than permanent records may still be subject to FOIA requests and must not be deleted in order to avoid the Board’s duties under the FOIA. Thus, Board members may not delete such messages after an FOIA request has been made for them.
- Permanent or Permanent/Archival - Retention may be in the form of a hard-copy printout or microfilm that meets microfilm standards. The information must be eye readable without interpretation.
If a record is a permanent or less than permanent, it is only subject to destruction based upon the applicable provisions of the record retention schedule. Any non-transitory e-mail messages related to the conduct of the Board’s business should be transferred to a paper copy and retained by the Board in accordance with the law.
In addition, requirements under federal court and evidentiary rules (in particular, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure) apply to such e-mails. As such, upon receipt of 1) notice that the District is involved in litigation as a party to a lawsuit, or 2) a subpoena from a party to a lawsuit in which the District is not a party, or if the District receives information that would lead it to reasonably anticipate the possibility of future litigation, the District must take steps to ensure that both paper and electronic records are preserved from deletion or destruction. Regardless of whether such records would otherwise be eligible for destruction under the routine guidelines and records retention schedules, the District must put in place a “litigation hold” to ensure the preservation of relevant documents. The Superintendent shall designate a Records Custodian, who will be responsible for ensuring implementation of these requirements.
Rules 34 and 45, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (as amended)
Connecticut General Statutes §1-200 The Freedom of Information Act. Definitions.
Connecticut General Statutes §1-210 Access to public records. Exempt records.
Connecticut General Statutes §1-211 Disclosure of computer-stored public records.
Connecticut General Statutes §7-109 Destruction of Documents.
Connecticut General Statutes §1-18 Disposition of Original Documents.
Connecticut General Statutes §11-8 Records Management Program.
Connecticut General Statutes §11-8a Retention, destruction and transfer of documents.
General Letter 98-1, Advisory Opinion of Public Records Administrator on Electronic and Voice Mail.
Board of Education Policy Regarding:
Bylaws of the Board
Policy: 9327.1 (a)
Adopted New: 12/11/2018
Board Member Use of Internet Social Networks
The Board of Education (Board) recognizes that reliance on social media as a means of communication is rapidly becoming the norm for school districts. Many school board members are active users of social media, including, but not limited to, such online platforms as Facebook and Twitter, as well as other media such as blogs and personal websites. The Board understands that social media can be a positive tool for fostering community engagement with the school district. However, Board members need to operate with appropriate guidelines when they are communicating online about school district business.
While social networking sites can be an effective and efficient means of communication, Board members need to be aware of the obligations and requirements that arise when using this form of communication. Board members’ personal use of social networking sites may be limited or prohibited because of the need to comply with Connecticut statutes pertaining to public records and open meetings as described in the Freedom of Information Act.
Compliance with Public Records Law
Any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of public’s business prepared, owned, received, or retained by the Board or the school district, whether handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photo-stated, photographed or recorded by any other method is by definition a “public record” and access thereto during normal hours of business shall be granted to any citizen. This includes communication that school board members and district employees send or receive relating to the affairs of the school district and the official acts of school officials and employees. Electronically stored information generally constitutes a “record” within the meaning of the public records law provided such recorded information is created or kept in connection with school business. The substance of the information, not the format, controls whether it is a public record. As an elected official, a school board member’s information contained on a social networking site or a blog that is created or kept by the Board member regarding the affairs of the district is likely to be considered a public record.
Compliance with the Freedom of Information Act
Board members must be mindful of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when using social networking sites. The FOIA defines a “meeting” as any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power (C.G.S. 1-200(2)).
Board members using social networking sites may inadvertently violate the FOIA if they are not vigilant about the content and subject matter posted on the site and aware of the users of the site. Online posting by Board members can result in a meeting of the Board if the postings discuss school district business and a sufficient number of school board members are involved on the site to determine the course of action that will be taken by the Board.
Board members will not have online conversations that violate or to seek to circumvent the FOIA. Board members may not use online websites to communicate with one another about official Board business.
Social Networking Websites
Board members need to periodically review the importance of maintaining proper decorum in the online digital world as well as in person. This review is to give special emphasis to Board member use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
Code of Ethics
Use of social media sites by Board members shall be consistent with the Board’s Code of Ethics (Bylaw #9270).
Board members will refrain from inappropriate conduct in making public statements on Facebook and other social networking sites, and will refrain from any disparagement of fellow Board members or others on a personal, social, racial, or religious basis. Board members shall not send messages that contain material that may be defined by a reasonable person as profane or obscene; messages that are racist, sexist or promote illicit, illegal or unethical activity included but not limited too.
Board members will recognize that authority rests with the Board of Education and will make no personal promises on social media sites nor take any private action which may compromise the Board.
Board members will exercise care not to divulge confidential information about students, school employees, or Board business on social media sites. Board members who have access to student information, like District employees, are prohibited from disclosing that information without the consent of the adult student or parent/guardian of a minor. In general, all records related to the individual student maintained by a school constitute confidential student records.
Board members are not to expect that their online conversations will remain private. Discussion of investigations into school issues will not be conducted online. Extreme care must be taken not to disclose confidential information related to students or employees while interacting online.
Social Media Guidelines for Board Members
The following guidelines are for Board members to consider when using social media in their role as public officials. In using social media to communicate about school district activities, a Board member shall:
1. Clarify that the communication is as an individual member of the Board and not in the role of an official District spokesperson.
2. Avoid deliberating school district business with a quorum of the Board.
3. Direct complaints or concerns presented online from other individuals to the appropriate administrator.
4. Avoid posting content that indicated the reaching of an opinion on pending matters.
5. Ask for community input through appropriate channels, but will not allow the social network site to direct decisions as a Board member.
6. Post only content that the District has already released to the public.
7. Clarify, when attempting to restate what happened at a previous Board meeting, that the posing on the social media site is not an official record of such meeting. Share information only from the open portions of the meeting.
8. Conduct himself/herself online in a manner that reflects well on the District; avoid posting information that has not been verified and made public by the District; and never post anonymously about school business.
9. Report immediately harassing or defamatory communications to the Superintendent if they involve school officials, staff, students or District business.
10. Retain electronic records, including the Board member’s own posts and content others post to the Board members account, when required to do so by the District’s retention policy
11. Report immediately to the District any potential security breaches if the Board member loses control or possession of a District-issued or personal electronic device on which confidential District records could be accessed.
12. Comply with the District’s acceptable use policy when using District-issued devices or technology resources, including District Internet access on a personal device.
(cf. 1100 – Communications with the Public)
(cf. 1114 – District-Sponsored Social Media)
(cf. 3543.31 – Electronic Communication Use and Retention)
(cf. 4118.5/4218.5 – Staff Acceptable Computer Use)
(cf. 4118.51/4218.51 – Social Networking)
(cf. 5125 – Student Records)
(cf. 6141.321 – Acceptable Computer Use)
(cf. 6141.324 – Posting of Student Work/Photographs)
(cf. 6141.326 – Online Social Networking)
(cf. 9271 – Board Code of Ethics)
(cf. 9327 – Electronic Mail Communications)
(cf. 9330 – Board/School District Records)
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
The Freedom of Information Act.
10-209 Records not to be public.
1-210 Access to public records. Exempt records.
Public Law 94-553, The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 101 et. seq.
Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
Dept. of Education. 34 CFR. Part 99 (May 9, 1980 45 FR 30802) regs. Implementing FERPA enacted as part of 438 of General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g) parent and student privacy and other rights with respect to educational records, as amended 11/21/96.
General Social Media Etiquette
As use of blogs, micro blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and cell phone message texting has become more commonplace, it is important for Board members, as elected officials, to make sure there is a clear definition between the school district’s and board member’s own accounts.
Board members need to keep both communication etiquette and legal restraints in mind when writing in their personal accounts. Remember:
1. The printed word, even if it is written and distributed via the Internet, is ‘discoverable’, meaning it can be retrieved and used as evidence in lawsuits.
2. Don’t assume that you can post any opinion you want citing ‘freedom of speech’. More and more headlines are reporting defamation suits filed as the result of those postings.
3. Lawsuits are also being filed against social media users who have not obtained copyright permission prior to posting copyrighted materials (articles and photos). Make sure you have written permission for reproducing information and that you follow a publication’s reprint/use guidelines, even if you are using only a small portion of a lengthy article about school improvement or other education-related topic from a publication.
4. Follow district guidelines and state and national privacy laws concerning the release of student information (including use of photos) if you post anything about school district events on a social media outlet. Obtain written permission from parents or guardians prior to posting photos or other identifying information on your personal accounts even if the school district has permission forms on file. Parents may not feel that a Board member’s personal account is a place to display their children’s information.
5. Don’t solicit discussion among fellow Board members on any school district business using social media. While discussion of certain topics may be permitted, err on the side of caution so that you don’t find yourself violating legal requirements for open meetings.
6. Even if you are posting to your personal websites, such as Facebook and Twitter accounts, remember that nothing is really personal on the Internet. People have a way of accessing the information, forwarding, copying and pasting and possibly distorting what you have written. Even though you use a personal page 2 account, as long as you are on the school board you are a ‘public face’ of the district and your comments could be misconstrued as reflecting views of the district.
a. Include a statement or disclaimer on your account that the opinions you post are yours as an individual.
b. Avoid posting your opinions about school district business or Board actions.
c. At a Board meeting, discuss with the district’s legal counsel the legalities regarding use of a personal social media account while serving as an elected official.
7. If you have a reason to post information about the district, double check to make sure the information is correct. It is easy to transpose numbers, get a date or time incorrect even on the most well-intentioned post, blog entry, or tweet.
a. Once an error is discovered, make the correction and then note the date/time of the correction at the top of the post or blog. If you’ve sent an incorrect Tweet, send a new one with ‘Correction’ at the lead.
b. To avoid putting incorrect information on your personal blogs, use links to the school district’s home page or blog directing readers/followers to get information from the ‘official’ source.
8. Commenting on school district business while using one’s own computer can put you in a precarious position if a public records request is made of all communications concerning a particular topic. Your personal computer and hard drive, and other data memory equipment could be subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit discovery process.
9. Remember that once a thought, idea, claim, or suggestion has been distributed via social media, it takes on a life of its own. Think twice when writing anything. Ask yourself if you would want your comments to appear on the front page of the morning paper or as a lead item on the television news.
10. Don’t continue school board discussions or debates using your social media as a vehicle for voicing your dissent or approval of an issue. The Boardroom is the place for discussion and decision, not the Internet.
11. If you want public comment on a particular issue with which the school board is dealing, don’t ask readers/followers to comment on your own message boards or comment sections. Instead, tell readers/followers how to contact the district through e-mail or phone calls that will allow comments to be forwarded to all board members. Be sure to include information on deadlines for submitting comments.
12. Refrain from using your personal social media account to inflame or incite a public outcry on a topic that is being discussed by the board.
13. Never post any information gleaned during an executive session, such as that related to personnel, business negotiations, and employee contract negotiations.
14. If you post to other sites and social media outlets — not under your control — make sure those site’s topics and photos are considered to be politically correct as well as socially acceptable for readers of all ages.
Board of Education Policy Regarding:
Bylaws of the Board – Hearings / Public Hearings
The Board of Education (Board) upon written petition signed by one percent of the electors of the municipality or fifty such electors, whichever is greater, the signatures thereon to be verified by the Town/City Clerk, shall hold a public hearing on any question relating to the provision of education offered by the Board-specified in the petition.
Such hearing shall be held at a time and place designated by the Board, not later than three weeks after the Board receives the petition.
All requests for public hearings to come before the Board of Education shall be presented to the Superintendent of Schools and the Chairperson of the Board in writing, stating clearly and definitely the purpose(s) of such requests and the action(s) desired thereon. Failure to adhere to these standards shall be the reason for the Board to reject the request for a hearing.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes
10-288 Petition for hearing by the board of education (as amended by PA 21-95 Section 1)
BYLAWS OF THE WINCHESTER BOARD OF EDUCATION
AS AMENDED & APPROVED November 15, 2022
The Winchester Board of Education (the “Board”) recognizes and accepts full responsibility for all duties imposed on it by law. The purpose of these Bylaws is solely to provide for the organization of the Board, and for an orderly and efficient method of performing its lawful functions, to the end that a sound program of public instruction in the schools may be most effectively developed and administered.
In general, the Board will study and discuss the educational needs of the school district; will establish, promote and activate such programs, policies and procedures as in its judgment are best designed to meet such needs.
Nothing in these Bylaws shall be interpreted to limit or modify in any way or to any degree, the duties and responsibilities imposed on this Board by law.
ORGANIZATION AND OFFICERS
Section 1. Organization
a. The new Board shall organize at a special meeting scheduled by the outgoing Board for that purpose within two weeks after the biennial election of School Board members in the Town of Winchester. At such meeting, the Board shall elect by ballot from its membership a chairperson and a secretary to serve as permanent officers. The current chairperson (or in his or her absence, the Secretary) will call the meeting to order and serve as moderator until the new chairperson is chosen.
Section 2. Officers
The Officers of the Board shall be a Chairperson and a Secretary. They shall be elected by signed ballot and shall take office immediately upon election. Officers shall serve for two years or until their successors are chosen and qualified. If any office is vacated for any cause during the term of the holder, another member of the Board shall be elected to fill the vacancy at the next regular meeting of the Board.
Section 3. Duties of Officers
a. The Chairperson shall preside over all meetings of the Board. The Chairperson shall be the official spokesman for the Board and unless the Board shall otherwise direct, shall make or authorize all announcements concerning Board policy or action. The Chairperson’s right to vote at Board meetings shall not be affected by the duties as presiding officer. The Chairperson shall serve as an ex-officio member of all Board committees and may be counted in the quorum requirement.
b. The Secretary shall function as Chairperson in the absence of the Chairperson. If the office of Chairperson is vacated, the Secretary shall act as Chairperson until the office is filled by vote of the Board.
1. The Secretary of the Board shall perform all functions prescribed for that office by the statutes of the State of Connecticut and other such duties as the Board shall prescribe. The Secretary shall be responsible for the minutes of Board meetings and shall certify by signature the minutes of each meeting in the official record. The minutes shall be open to public inspection under such regulations for the safe guarding of its records as the Board shall adopt consistent with state law.
Section 4. Committees
There may be Standing or Special Committees of the Board. At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board in December each year, the Chairperson of the Board shall propose to the Board which Standing Committees shall exist for the year and shall establish the purpose for each committee. The Chairperson shall propose the members to serve on each such Standing Committee and shall appoint a Chairperson for each Standing Committee.
a) The Board shall approve or disapprove each such Standing Committee and appointment thereto by a majority vote.
b) Special Committees are established from time to time by a majority vote of the Board for such specific purposes as the Board shall prescribe. The Chairperson of the Board shall propose the members to serve on each such Special Committee and shall appoint a Chairperson for each Special Committee. The Board shall approve or disapprove each such appointment thereto by a majority vote. When the business of the Special Committee has been completed, the Chairperson of that Committee shall make a final report to the Board at a regularly scheduled meeting or at a meeting of the Board called for that purpose and the Special Committee shall then automatically cease to exist.
c) Any Standing or Special Committee may be discharged at any time by a two-thirds vote of the entire Board of Education. Unless the Committee is discharged, no member of a Committee can be removed without the consent of that member, but vacancies on a Committee can be filled by appointment by the Chairperson of the Board, which appointment shall be approved or disapproved by a majority vote of the Board.
d) Negotiating Committees may be established by the Board as Special Committees charged with developing contracts for Board approval with bargaining units or other organizations. Any Special Committee tasked with negotiating the contract with The Gilbert School may consist of members who also serve as directors of The Gilbert School Corporation, but need not necessarily include such members.
e) Each Standing or Special Committee shall report to the Board on its activities at each regularly scheduled meeting of the Board.
f) The Board may appoint non-members to serve on Board Standing or Special committees, but such non-members shall serve in an ex-officio capacity without vote.
g) Under the By-Laws of The Gilbert School Corporation, the Town of Winchester has the right to propose four members to serve on The Gilbert School Corporation Board of Directors. Any Winchester Board of Education member can nominate themselves or another board member to serve on The Gilbert School Board. In the event that at least four members of the Winchester Board of Education are not able or willing to serve on The Gilbert School Corporation Board, any member of the Winchester Board of Education can nominate a resident of Winchester to serve. Winchester Board of Education Members, as elected officers, take priority in placement on the Gilbert Corporation Board over resident/non-board members.
Any resident interested in being nominated for one of the Winchester Board Seats on The Gilbert School Corporation shall submit a written letter of interest and resume to the Winchester Board of Education. The letter of intent must be submitted to the Board of Education Chairperson no less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled Board of Education meeting at which such nominations will be offered.
At the end of the term, the individual will submit a letter of interest to continue to serve or a letter of resignation.
Elections by the full Winchester Board of Education for representatives to The Gilbert School Corporation will be held as vacancies occur and after the town elections to the Winchester Board of Education.
Term of Service:
* Winchester Board of Education members shall serve for the balance of their terms or two years, whichever is shorter, subject to re-nomination and election.
* Non-Winchester Board of Education members shall serve one year, subject to re-nomination and election by the Winchester BOE.
Members of the Winchester Board who sit as Directors of The Gilbert School Corporation shall not constitute a Standing or Special Committee of the Board of Education. They serve in their individual capacity and have duties and responsibilities to The Gilbert School Corporation separate and apart from their duties and responsibilities as Winchester Board members.
Section 5. Removal of Officers
Upon a motion duly made and seconded, an officer may be removed at any time for any reason by a two-thirds majority vote of the then current total membership of the Board, provided that the meeting and agenda item is duly noticed.
Section 6. Member to Hold One Office Only
No member shall hold more than one of said offices during the same term of office or any part thereof, but any officer or member may, during his term of office, serve on any other Town Board or Commission, whether as representative of the Board of Education or otherwise, provided that such membership on any other Town Board or Commission is permitted by law or is in conflict of interest with service on the Board of Education.
Section 1. Conduct
Board meetings shall follow Roberts Rules of Order unless other-wise required by these Bylaws or by state law. In case of a conflict between these Bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order, these Bylaws will control.
Section 2. Meeting Schedules
There shall be a regular meetings of the Board each month for at least eleven months of the year, at a time and place designated by the Board, as set forth in Connecticut General Statutes §1-225 (the Freedom of Information Act).
Special meetings of the Board may be held at any time and shall be called in the manner prescribed by law. The Board Chairperson or any three members of the Board may call for a special meeting (Connecticut General Statutes §10-218). Reasonable notice of any special meetings and of the purpose thereof, shall be given to members of the Board, as set forth in Connecticut General Statutes §1-225 (the Freedom of Information Act). In case of emergency, a special meeting may be held without complying with the notice requirements stated above. A copy of the minutes of any such “emergency” meeting adequately setting forth the nature of the emergency and the proceedings occurring at such meeting shall be filed with the Town Clerk not later than 72 hours following the meeting. In addition, such written notice delivered to the Town Clerk less than 24 hours in advance of the meeting must also be delivered to the residence of each Board member, unless at, or prior to, the time the special meeting convenes a Board member files with the Town Clerk or Secretary or the Board of Education a written waiver of such notice.
Section 3. Agenda
The agenda of any regular or special meeting of the Board will be prepared by the Board Chairperson in collaboration with the Superintendent and shall list all proposed action for the meeting. Additional items of business for the Agenda of a regular meeting which are supported by at least three Board members and submitted more than 7 (seven) days before the proposed meeting shall be included on the agenda.
Items may be added to the agenda at any regular meeting of the Board by a two-thirds vote of those present. No items may be added to the agenda of a special meeting. (Connecticut General Statutes §1-225)
Section 4. Quorum
A majority of the then current total membership of the Board shall constitute a quorum for any regular or special meeting.
Section 5. Order of Business
The order of business at each regular meeting shall be determined by the Superintendent and Board Chairperson. The agenda shall further specify and apprise the members and the public at large of the business to be conducted, consistent with the Freedom of Information Act and state and federal law.
Section 6. Meetings Open to the Public
Meetings of the Board shall be open to the public, provided, however, that the Board may, by a two-thirds vote of those present at any meeting, hold hearings or conduct business in executive session, consistent with those purposes permitted by Connecticut General Statutes §1-200 (the Freedom of Information Act).
Section 7. Duration of Meetings
No new item of business may be taken up after 10 PM without the approval of two-thirds of the members present.
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
Section 1. Employment and General Function
The Board shall employ a qualified Superintendent of Schools upon such terms as it shall deem proper in the public interest, and otherwise provided by law. The Superintendent of Schools shall be the sole executive agent of the Board, shall have direction and control of all administrative and teaching personnel, and such other duties as are provided for by law or by these Bylaws, or as the Board may designate.
Section 2. Other Duties
a. The Superintendent shall specify and assign duties to teaching and administrative personnel, and shall be responsible for the enforcement of such rules as the Board may establish for the proper and efficient operation of the school system.
b. The Superintendent shall execute contracts as agent of the Board as permitted by law in accordance with such rules and policies which are established by the Board.
c. The Superintendent shall have authority to engage, suspend, terminate employment, or accept the resignation of all non-certified personnel. He/she will inform the Board about such changes.
d. The Superintendent shall have authority to engage, suspend, terminate employment, or accept the resignation of all certified personnel, provided that the provisions of Article VI shall apply as to Administrators. He/she will inform the Board about such changes.
e. The Superintendent shall be present at and participate in all meetings of the Board except when his/her personal status is under consideration. He/she may attend and participate in Board committee meetings at his/her discretion.
f. The Superintendent shall make a report to the Board at each of its regular meetings, such report to include:
1. The names, salaries, and assignments of all personnel engaged since the last previous meeting;
2. Reports and recommendations in other matters, as and when the same are prescribed or authorized by law, by these Bylaws or by vote of the Board.
g. The Superintendent shall remain current with research in connection with student achievement; curriculum development; building needs; personnel qualifications; professional development; and all other matters tending to improve the schools and shall report on the same regularly to the Board.
h. The Superintendent is authorized to make such emergency decisions not specified in these Bylaws as he/she may deem necessary in the public interest. Such decisions shall be reported to the Chairperson of the Board as soon as practical and to the Board at its next regular or, if on the agenda, special meeting.
i. The Superintendent and his/her staff shall adhere to Policies established by the Board.
FINANCE AND BUSINESS
Section 1. Budget Preparation
The Superintendent of Schools shall prepare and present to the Board annually a complete and itemized budget, at the time designated by the Board.
The Superintendent shall nominate candidates for appointment as school principal, Director of Special Education, School Finance Director and other similar professional Administrators (the “Administrators”). The Superintendent will also make recommendations for the termination of any Administrator pursuant to the terms of such Administrator’s contract. The Board will have the right to approve any hiring of an Administrator and the terms and conditions of such Administrator’s contract. The Board shall have the right of approval of any involuntary termination of an Administrator’s employment. Such personnel shall aid the Superintendent in his duties and shall have such other duties as the Superintendent shall prescribe.
The Board may establish qualifications for its certified and non-certified personnel, provided that such qualifications shall in no case be lower than those established by law or by the State Board of Education for the same classifications, and shall be consistent with state and federal law and U.S. and State Department of Education guidelines.
The Board may establish such rules governing applications, examinations, and records affecting appointment of personnel, and may prescribe such conditions of employment, consistent with law and with these Bylaws, as it shall deem necessary.
USE OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS
School buildings shall be open for use by the public, subject to such regulations as shall be established by the Board in accordance with State and Federal Law.
These Bylaws may be amended by the affirmative vote of a majority of the entire membership of the Board at any regular or special meeting of the Board, provided that a copy of the proposed amendment shall have been included in the call for such meeting, and provided that the meeting and agenda item is duly noticed.
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