A democratic school often refers to a school in which students are valued as capable decision makers and given a forum to exercise their voice and authority. At the Village Free School, democratic process exists on a number of levels, each outlined below.
All School Meeting is arguably the most important decision making body at our school. All School Meetings are called as needed, by a student, advisor, or intern, and attended by everyone present in the building.
All School Meeting is a forum in which community members take up challenges and problems, or make decisions regarding the daily life of the school. Students, advisors, and interns are each given an equal vote, enabling every person affected by the outcome to have a say in how rules are formed and decisions made. All School Meeting uses a majority voting system, with two separate votes, allowing time for the minority to voice opinions and concerns before a final decision is made.
Staff Members also use democratic process in decision making during their biweekly meetings. While the staff regularly consult All School Meeting regarding any policies or rules that affect the student body, they also have the power to enact necessary laws and policies related to emotional and physical safety. Staff members use a form of consensus to make decisions.
The Circle is our largest decision making body, made up of students, parents, staff, volunteers, and Council members. Each member of the school community gets one vote on proposals such as amending the bylaws, budget recommendations, and Council nominations. Proposals are discussed during regularly held Circle Meetings, then put on a ballot which is distributed to every Circle member in the community. The Circle makes decisions by majority vote.
The Council is our Board of Directors made up of members elected by the Circle. They are legally responsible for the oversight of the school's financial and employment practices. The Council plays an important role in staff review, fundraising, and outreach. Internally, the Council ensures that Village Free School's practices and policies are in line with the bylaws, mission, and core principles. The Council makes decisions by consensus.
The Village Free School admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. This public benefit corporation does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs, employment policies, election of officers, membership, or election to the Council