The participation of parents at the school
level is the cornerstone of the Board's approach to building school
community involvemen t. School councils are seen as an important
mechanism for involving all the members of the local school community in
the affairs of the school which impact the education of the students.
School councils will play both an advisory role and an advocacy role for
the benefit of the students. It is important that school councils
function in an open and inclusive way and that they actively promote the
participation of all members of the school community. In this policy and
procedure, all parents of students enrolled in the school have a right
to participate as members of the school council, and the school council
Executive may not limit this participation. The school principal is
expected to take a proactive role in bringing to the council those areas
of school decisionmaking which would benefit from the advice of parents,
community representatives, students and staff. The school council model
described in this Policy is designed to be flexible and adaptable so
that each school community can develop a structure that suits its own
needs while conforming to the guiding principles for School
Guiding Principles for
- Each school shall establish and
maintain a school council made up of elected parents, staff and
students (senior elementary and secondary), and appointed community
members, and a general membership, which includes all parents of
children enrolled in the school.
- The Chair or Co-chair shall be a parent of a student enrolled in
the school and parents shall form a majority of the school council
- The school council shall play an advisory role to the principal,
staff, senior administration and the Board, and an advocacy role in
representing the interests of the students and the local school
- The school council shall not be mandated nor expected to perform
managerial or administrative responsibilities that belong to the
principal or to other school administrators.
- The school council and its activities shall be conducted in a
democratic manner, be accessible to its member groups, and shall
reflect the diversity of the school community.
- The school council shall ensure opportunities for participation
and input by all parents in the school, students, staff and other
members of the school community.
- The principal shall be responsible for facilitating the formation
of the school council and for supporting its overall operation.
- Each school council shall have the flexibility to develop a
structure that meets its own needs and circumstances as determined by
the school community.
- The existence of a school council shall not preclude the right of
other individuals or groups, e.g. a parent, a co-existing parent group
in the school or a family-of-schools group, to have their own separate
communication and access to the school administration, to the trustee
and to the Board, on any matter they deem necessary.
- School councils shall operate under the guidelines contained in
Ward forums will provide an ongoing opportunity
for communication between the local school councils and the trustee, on
the needs and issues affecting local school communities. Because of the
size of the wards in the TDSB, most trustees will not be able to meet
regularly with their school councils. Due to the diversity of
communities and the size of wards in the TDSB, a variety of ward forum
models need to be considered for implementation: some forums will choose
to be formally structured councils; others will prefer to be organized
around trustee-convened town hall style meetings. It is expected that
representatives of school councils and other participants in the ward
forums will share information discussed at the ward forum meetings with
their constituent groups.
Guiding Principles for Ward Forums
- Ward forums shall be established for communication and
consultation on educational policies, programs and services, and for
discussion of the needs and issues of concern to parents, communities,
students, staff, trustees and the Board.
- Ward forums shall be structured according to one of the following
- A single ward council with a parent-trustee steering
committee and membership made up of parents elected or delegated by
each local school council and with the opportunity for
representation from students, staff and other parents and community
- Family-of-schools councils within the ward each with a
parent-trustee planning committee and membership made up of parents
elected or delegated by the local school councils and with the
opportunity for participation by students, staff and other parents
and community members-at-large.
- A schedule of ward or families-of-school meetings convened by
the trustee, in consultation with a parent agenda-setting committee
where possible, to which parents of local school councils are
invited, and with the opportunity for participation by students,
staff and other parents and community members-at-large.
- An adaptation of the above models to accommodate particular
circumstances in the ward such as combined family-of-schools
meetings and special town hall-style meetings
- The model adopted by each ward shall be (a) subject to final
approval at an open meeting of the school council representatives and
other members of the school community in the ward, and (b) subject to
change at any time, after an appropriate review, consultation and
approval process by the parties concerned.
- Ward forums shall operate under the guidelines contained in
- Community Liaison Groups
that form around special interests will desire access to the Board in
order to have input into the development of specific Board policies
and practices. Recognition as a Community Liaison Group would give
such groups an opportunity to work with the Board on matters of
interest to the group and to the school system.
- Community Liaison Groups shall be established to permit
system-wide community groups to work with the Board in contributing
to the development of educational policies and practices of interest
to those groups and to the Board.
- Criteria and a procedure shall be developed for the recognition
of system-wide community groups as Community Liaison Groups of the
TDSB. The procedure shall require a written request from the group
stating its objectives, how it wishes to work with the Board, its
represented constituencies, and the name, address and telephone
number of its chairperson(s) and other appropriate
- A list of all recognized Community Liaison Groups shall be
maintained for the purpose of communication and involvement and this
list shall be reviewed and updated annually.
- Parent-Community Network
The formation of a
Parent-Community Network supports the recommendation for a city-wide
parent group that was approved by the Board in February 1998. It is
recognized that parents and community members who participate in local
school councils and in ward forums across this large school system,
need to come together periodically, to share information, to discuss
issues, and to share what they have learned with their own local
groups. This exchange of information, ideas and experiences across the
system helps to connect lo cal school communities and promotes a
shared understanding of issues affecting all students and schools. The
Parent-Community Network will invite participation from each ward
forum in order to ensure system-wide involvement, and will be open to
participation by any local, or system-wide parent or community group
who wishes to participate. The Parent-Community Network is not a
committee of the Board, and the Board is not required to refer matters
to the Network for input, unless it so chooses.
- The Board shall support the formation of a system-wide
Parent-Community Network made up of parents designated by each ward
forum and other system-wide parent-community groups whose purpose is
to provide an ongoing forum for parents and community members across
the system to share information and to network on issues of concern
- The Parent-Community Network shall operate under the guidelines
contained in Appendix C.
- Public Consultation Forums
The Board will
occasionally need to hold special system-wide consultations with
parents, communities and with other stakeholders, as part of the
process of promoting community input into the development of major
policies. Under this policy, Public Consultation Forums may take a
variety of forms: a mixture of local school council and ward forum
discussions; system-wide meetings or conferences; town hall meetings,
public hearings; focus groups, work teams, task forces, written
submissions or any combination of these.
- The Board shall convene system-wide Public Consultation
Forums, when necessary, in order to promote system-wide community
discussion and response to major policy directions under
- When necessary, the Board shall invite parent, community and
student representatives from the appropriate groups across the
system to participate in the planning and resourcing of system-wide
Public Consultation Forums.
Principals, school superintendents and other
supervisory staff who will assume overall responsibility for the
operation of the structures outlined in this policy will require the
support of field staff to assist them in co-ordinating the work of
setting up and maintaining these structures, and in providing front-line
advice and assistance to the schools, students, parents and communities
involved. Similarly, trustees will count on the availability of staff
support to ensure that ward forums are representative, inclusive and
The Board shall ensure the allocation
of school-community staff and other appropriate resources to help
parents, community members, students, principals, supervisory officers,
and trustees to develop and sustain the school-community structures,
forums and procedures outlined in this policy, and these shall be
allocated on an equitable basis across the Toronto District School
- Annual Review
order to facilitate ongoing system support for the involvement of
parents, community and students, there should be an opportunity to
review periodically, the progress made in the implementation of the
structures, forums and procedures for such involvement. This review will
allow the Board to assess what changes are required, and what further
supports are needed in order to maintain and enhance parent, community
and student involvement in the Board.
Director of Education shall prepare an annual progress report on the
implementation of the policy and procedures for parent, community and
student involvement in the Toronto District School Board, and this report will
include recommendations for change, if necessary.
Operating Guidelines for School
Notes: (a) It is understood that the implementation of
school councils is subject to the policies and by-laws of the Toronto
District School Board (TDSB) and the appropriate legislation of the
Province of Ontario. (b) It is further understood that these guidelines
describe ideal goals to be achieved. The inability of any school council
to meet all of these guidelines does not invalidate the group.
- Naming the School Council
Where possible, each school should incorporate the title "School
Council" in the name of its school-community group.
- Membership of the Elected and Appointed
The membership of the Executive shall be as follows:
- Parents of students in the school (majority)
- Teaching staff
- Support staff/education workers
- Secondary or senior elementary students (optional at elementary
- The school principal
- Community representative(s)
Notes: (a) The term "parent" includes guardians or any
caregiver legally recognized as acting in the place of a parent. (b) A
community representative may be any member, not necessarily a parent of
a child enrolled in the school, who is appointed to represent a
community group, program, agency or business working with or connected
to the school, or any individual resident of the community who is
actively supportive of the school. (c) The school council should define
its elected and appointed officers as its school council's Executive,
while designating all parents of children enrolled in the school as
members of the school council. (d) The school council may appoint
subcommittees drawn from the general membership, and may appoint
representatives of those committees to the council's Executive.
- Term of Office
One or two years
- Election and Appointment of Officers
- Parent representatives shall be elected by parents of
students currently enrolled in the school
- Teaching staff representatives shall be elected by teaching staff
- Support staff/education workers representatives shall be elected
by support staff/education workers
- Student representatives shall be elected by students
- The school principal shall be designated by the Board
- Community representatives shall be appointed by the school council
Notes: (a) A school council election is defined as any
process of selection based on nominations or volunteering to serve,
which takes place at a meeting advertised to the school community (or to
the staff or student group where applicable). This process only involves
the casting of votes or ballots when there are two or more candidates
agreeing to stand for the same position. Eligible nominees or volunteers
who stand unopposed for school council positions are said to be
"acclaimed" to those positions. The fact that all the parents and
community members of the school council Executive are acclaimed, does
not make the process invalid as long as this occurs at a meeting
advertised to the school community. (b) Where the community member is
appointed as a representative of their community group (program, agency
or business), the group itself is invited to choose that member. (c) The
chair or co-chairs must be parents of children currently enrolled in the
school and shall not be members of the school's teaching, administrative
or support staff.
- Time of election
be held in May-June or September-October.
Note: A May-June election has the advantage of allowing the council
to begin its activities early in September, including selection of
representatives for the ward forum. However, if May-June is selected,
then an opportunity to actively participate should be extended to new
members of the school community in September-October.
The school council shall
hold a minimum of four (4) general meetings per year and they shall be
open to all members of the school community. Notices of meetings, or a
schedule of meeting dates, should be distributed to all parents and
posted on the school's bulletin board.
- The school council shall inform the school community
- The names of elected and appointed members (phone numbers
are a local option);
- The dates of all general or special meetings of the school
council (if the year's schedule has been established);
- The mandate and operating procedures of the council;
- A report summarizing the work of the school council including
major decisions or achievements.
- The school council shall inform the school community on an ongoing
- Notices, agenda items and minutes of meetings (posted on
school bulletin board);
- Any change in meeting dates;
- Decisions or recommendations of the school council, and of the
TDSB where relevant;
- Dates of relevant TDSB meetings and ward forum meetings.
Note: Where necessary, school council communications should be
translated by the school into the primary languages of the local school
The school council will
provide advice to the school principal, and where appropriate, to the
local trustee and to the Board, on such matters as:
- Equity issues affecting students and parents such as school
and curriculum activities reflecting the diversity of the community
- School-community communication strategies
- School planning committees, e.g. safety, budget, curriculum
- Participation in the ward community forums
- School building and renovation plans
- Extra-curricular activities
- Selection of principals and vice-principals
- School-community relations reviews
- School staffing process
- Development, implementation and review of Board policies
- Curriculum and program goals and priorities
- Student achievement results and follow-up plans of the school and
- Methods of reporting to parents and the community
- School budget priorities
- School-based services and community partnerships (child care,
social, health, recreation, nutrition)
- Local code of student behaviour
- School safety and security issues
- Local school-year calendar
- Other items as determined by the school, the community, or the
Note: The school council is not required to address all of the items
on the above list, but has the discretion to select those which it
considers as priorities at any given time. Some items may be mandated
for school council input by the Board. Consult the local trustee, or
school superintendent of the Board's Administrative Services Office, for
a current list of mandated items.
- Responsibilities of Members
- The Chair or Co-chairs:
- Calls and chairs school council meetings
- Prepares agendas in consultation with the principal and other
- Ensures that minutes of council meetings are recorded and
- Communicates with the principal on matters relating to the
business of the council
- Ensures regular two-way communication between the council
executive and the rest of the school community
- Ensures democratic procedures for decision making and for the
overall conduct of the business of the council
- Liaises with senior staff members and trustees, as required and
takes information back to the local council for discussion and
action, where necessary
- Represents or speaks on behalf of the council on committees or
forums beyond the school, except where that responsibility is
delegated to other council members
- Ensures that the operation of the council is consistent with the
guiding principles for school councils as established by the Board
- Encourages maximum involvement of the entire council
- Ensures representation of the council on the ward forum
- The School Principal:
- Helps to establish the school council and assists in its
- Assists the chair or co-chairs in their responsibilities
- Supports and promotes the council's activities within the school
- Provides such information about the school, its programs and the
Board as is required to facilitate the business of the council
- Actively seeks the advice of the council in areas affecting the
education of the students
- Acts as a resource to the council on laws, regulations, board
policies, and collective agreements
- Encourages the participation of all members reflecting the
diversity of the school community
- Helps the school council communicate effectively with the school
- Ensures that copies of minutes of school council meetings and
reports of the council are kept at the school and are accessible to
members of the school community
- Arranges for the provision of available school resources to
support the operation of the council, e.g. access to typing, fax
machine, photocopier, school mail box, filing cabinet, storage and
- Maintains the authority, responsibility and obligations of the
principalship as mandated by Board policy, and by the appropriate
legislation and regulations of the Province of
- All School Council Executive Members:
- Participate in council meetings and in information and
training programs, where offered
- Act as a link between the school council executive and the
school community by consulting and reporting back, where appropriate
- Encourage others within the school community to participate in
the activities of the council
- Follow the operating rules or guidelines as agreed upon by the
council, including the guidelines for resolving differences of
- Communicate as effectively as possible with the various
communities in the school and work towards removing any barriers to
the participation of all members of the
Operating Guidelines for Ward
- Operating Procedures
- Where practical, the ward forum should consider using the
geographic name of the ward to facilitate identification.
- The selection process for parent and community members from the
local school takes place at a meeting of the school council to which
all parents are invited; a selection process in May or June is
- Ward and family-of-schools meetings are open to any parent of a
local school who wishes to attend.
- The ward forum actively promotes equity and diversity of
participation in its activities, such diversity includes elementary
and secondary school representation and participation by
ethnocultural communities within the ward.
- The ward or family-of-schools council elects or appoints a
parent chairperson(s) and a steering or planning committee.
- Parents form a majority of the steering or planning committee
for the ward or family-of-schools council.
- A minimum of four (4) meetings per year are held.
- Written notice of meetings with an agenda is sent to the school
council at least ten days in advance or within a reasonable time
frame to facilitate participation.
- Written record (minutes or notes and reports) is kept and made
available to local school councils and other interested parties.
- Where necessary, important communications should be translated
into the major languages of the ward.
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Parent, community, student and staff representatives have
input into the agenda-setting process through the steering or
planning committee, or through direct communication with the
- Parent and community representatives should assume
responsibility for reporting back to the school council on matters
discussed at the ward forum.
- The parent chairperson and the steering or planning committee
must be given the staff support necessary to ensure that they can
discharge their responsibilities effectively.
- The trustee is an ex officio member of the steering or planning
committee and may participate in the planning and agenda-setting
- The trustee attends meetings of the ward forum and assumes
responsibility for reporting to the forum on relevant matters under
consideration by the Board and for communicating the views of the
participants back to the Board, where necessary.
- The superintendent contributes to the planning and
agenda-setting process where necessary and attends the ward or
family-of-schools meetings where required in order to provide
information and guidance; the superintendent is also available to
arrange resources to support the operation of the ward forum and to
facilitate communication between the ward forum and local
- School community liaison staff attends meetings of the ward
forum and assume responsibility for assisting the trustee, parent
chairperson and steering or planning committee to establish and
maintain the ward forum for facilitating its activities and working
with local school councils to promote local
parent and community participation in its meetings.
Operating Guidelines for Parent-Community
- Each Ward Forum delegates parent representation to the
- Each Board Advisory Committee and Community Liaison Group is
invited to send representation.
- The Board may appoint a trustee liaison and an alternate to the
- Staff will be assigned to support the Parent-Community Network.
- The Parent-Community Network establishes a parent Chair or
Co-Chairs and an agenda-setting committee.
- The Network establishes a schedule of meetings as necessary
(minimum of one per term); the schedule is publicized in advance to
ward forums, Board Advisory Committees and Community Liaison Groups.
- The meetings of the Parent-Community Network are open to all
members of the community.
- Minutes of the meetings are distributed to members, trustees,
senior staff, and to interested parties, on request.
- Representatives from Ward Forums and other groups are expected to
take back information to their groups where appropriate.