Students at the Alternative Community School (ACS) in Ithaca, New York voted in 1998 on a Constitution that designates who makes which kinds of decisions at the school:
The ACS staff shall have purview over:
Joint student/staff curriculum committee to survey students, design curriculum, with final approval by staff
Which teachers teach which classes
Requirements and attendance policy of each committee
Requirements and expectations of each individual class (with input from classes)
Which projects are offered [Note: ACS “projects” are scheduled elective offerings by staff and students.]
Who teaches which projects
When each project is offered (Student project leaders decide what, when, and how they teach.)
Who leads each trip
All-School Meeting shall have purview over:
The “school look” (murals, permanent displays, flags, logos, school colors, etc.)
Trip funds and funds for student projects
Rules and regulations
The Site-Based Council shall have purview over recommendations to the ACS principal concerning:
Hiring and firing of staff
Buildings and grounds
The “two-thirds veto process” shall be used for:
Graduation requirements of the school
Goal-setting, policy statements
Amending the Constitution
The principal has purview over health and safety issues, as required by law.
The decision process for proposals relating to any areas not addressed here shall be determined by the Agenda Committee when such proposals are made, based on previous handling of such proposals and on common sense. If there are objections to that committees decision, the proposal will be put on hold and the Constitution must be amended to determine process for that area.
Sample path of a proposal by a student: The proposal goes to All-School Meeting. If it is not passed, the proposal dies; if it is passed, the staff votes on the proposal at the All-School Meeting for prompt consideration. The staff either approves the proposal or vetoes it by a two-thirds vote, in which case the proposal goes to a Compromise Committee.
Sample path of a proposal by a staff member: The proposal goes to a staff meeting. If it is not passed, the proposal dies; if it is passed, the proposal goes to All-School Meeting, where the student body may either approve the proposal or veto it by a two-thirds vote, in which case the proposal goes to a Compromise Committee.
The Compromise Committee includes three staff members and four students; the proposal’s author may join that committee. After listening to minority opinions, the Compromise Committee comes to consensus on a fair solution, and the proposal as adapted gets a trial run. A proposal may only go to the Compromise Committee once.