Houston Independent School District Student Congress:
Article I – Name
The organization shall be called the Houston Independent School District Student Congress.
Article II – Object
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) Student Congress is a formal student-run, student-led communication mechanism between public high school students and the greater community. It will engage the entire HISD student body, affirming unilaterally that students have the most vested interest in their own education and that their input should be a vital part of HISD’s ongoing success.
Article III – Membership
The membership of the Student Congress of HISD will be comprised of passionate student leader-volunteers from all HISD high schools who are interested in the direction of their own education.
1. Outreach for Membership: Throughout the year, the Student Congress will use various strategies to inform HISD high school students of the Student Congress and request their participation. The Student Congress welcomes all high school students.
2. Eligibility for Membership: The Student Congress will intentionally recruit a diverse membership of high school students across trustee districts, socioeconomic status, and school grade level. In recruiting members, the Student Congress will not discriminate in any way on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. In addition to not discriminating on basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin, the HISD Student Congress will not be particular of students because of their academic performance, political beliefs, their school as long as it resides in the district, nor any other reason.
- Any HISD high school student who has attended at least one Student Congress meeting and has joined at least one committee gains membership in the HISD Student Congress. Students lose their membership at the end of each semester if they do not attend a meeting that semester. For election purposes, students must attend a meeting in January or February to be eligible to vote or declare candidacy for that year.
3. Rights and Responsibilities of Members: Student Congress members shall be called congressmen and congresswomen. All congressmen and congresswomen will retain the rights and privileges thereof for the duration of the school year while remaining subject to the guidelines set forth within this document. Members of the Student Congress must acknowledge that the congress will only achieve its objectives through the generosity and dedication of the students involved.
Article IV –Cabinet
1. The Cabinet serves as the leadership of the Student Congress. The Cabinet will be comprised of the Speaker and Chairs of the Standing Committees. These are the only elected positions within the Student Congress. The Cabinet must uphold the Congress’s values:
- Maintain an open, friendly, multicultural, and inclusive environment.
- Ensure diverse membership from across trustee districts.
- Preserve an open-door policy for all high school students of the community.
- Function in a democratic and equitable way.
2. Election of Cabinet members
- In March of each school year, the Student Congress will elect members of the Cabinet for the following school year by a majority vote of the membership present at that meeting. Each newly elected Cabinet member will begin their term at the conclusion of the school year. The incumbent will serve as a mentor to the newly elected Cabinet member. Candidates must hold official membership in the Congress before Election Day, according to Article III, Section 2a.
- The outgoing Speaker will conduct elections. In the event of a conflict of interests, elections will be conducted by the Governance Committee. Terms are held for one year. There are no term limits.
- A candidate for any Cabinet position must be a veteran member of the congress for at least one school year. People running for the Chair of any Committee must be a member of that Committee. Any person who has established membership in the congress, as defined by Article III, section 2a, is eligible to vote in the Congress. Only members of a specific Committee may vote for the chairs of that Committee. Members shall only vote in the election of one Chair.
- A candidate for a cabinet position must be in their junior or sophomore year of high school
- A member must declare their candidacy to the Cabinet by the 1st of March.
- In the HISD Student Congress, a majority constitutes a “yes” vote of more than 50% among the voting body present.
3. Alternative elections
- In the event of a resignation, there will be a new election that is conducted in the same manner as a regular election.
- In the event that a cabinet member is not upholding his or her duties, an impeachment can be proposed and voted upon in the same manner as a resolution.
- In the event of other unforeseen circumstances, the Governance Committee can propose to hold a special election for certain Cabinet positions. The congress must then vote on the proposition, and if it is approved, the special election will be conducted in the manner the Governance Committee decided upon in the proposition.
- In the event that there is a vacancy within the Cabinet, the Cabinet will appoint a student to fill the vacancy for the term. Vacancies are created if a Cabinet member resigns, if no one runs for a particular Cabinet position, or if a Cabinet member does not meet membership requirements as defined by Article III, Section 2a.
4. Cabinet responsibilities
- The Cabinet will select members for each standing committee from the pool of volunteer applicants.
- Cabinet decisions are made by a majority. In the event of a tie, the Speaker’s vote will break the tie.
- The Cabinet will ensure diversity among committee members according to Article III.2.
5. Speaker: The Speaker hosts congressional meetings, represents the Student Congress to the public, and ensures that congressmen and congresswomen feel welcome and are treated equitably.
6. Committee Chairs: Each Standing Committee named in the Constitution shall have one Committee Chair who convenes meetings with their committee, conducts the duties of their committee, and reports committee decisions to the public.
Article V – Committees
- Outreach Committee: The Outreach Committee manages publications, coordinates with media, and communicates with other education-based organizations.
- Finance Committee: The Finance Committee creates fundraising initiatives and manages fiscal policy. The Chair of the Finance Committee will serve as treasurer has the primary responsibility for maintaining appropriate records and safety of funds.
- Initiative Committee: the Initiative Committee develops and executes student orientated initiatives.
- Governance Committee: The Governance Committee oversees the Congress’ logistics and governing procedures, including matters of the Constitution, meeting spaces, transportation, meeting minutes, membership, and research for the Congress.
- Advocacy Committee: The Advocacy Committee determines key issues in education for the Student Congress and addresses student grievances for the entire HISD student body.
- Rights of Committee Members: Congressmen and congresswomen will apply for committee membership. Based on resources and skills needed for each committee, the Speaker will determine initial membership for each committee annually, and ensure adequate distribution of volunteer resources throughout the school year based on project needs.
Article VI – Operation
- The Governance Committee may intervene in actions committed by other members of the congress that are deemed unconstitutional, however members of the Congress may propose a motion of unconstitutionality to the Governance Committee.
- Projects are initiatives by congressmen and congresswomen to achieve a particular goal(s).
- The Agenda Committee will approve projects and assign them to a Committee or convene a special committee for completion.
- The size, duration, and membership of special committees will be decided by the Cabinet.
- All congressmen and congresswomen are encouraged to participate in projects as the Agenda Committee and respective special committee see fit.
- Resolutions are statements of position, intent, or action passed by a simple majority of the Congress present at a meeting that are then released to the public.
- Resolutions are proposed by the initiative of at least ten members. A resolution can also be proposed by the Governance Committee. After being proposed, a resolution will be voted upon in the same manner as a cabinet election.
- Once ten members have expressed their support for the resolution, it will be formally considered by the present members of the congress. Most resolutions are passed by a bare majority vote. However, a motion may be carried to the cabinet to change the status of the resolution to a “special” resolution, which requires a majority vote in the cabinet. If a resolution achieves “special” status, then it requires a supermajority (two-thirds) vote in the general assembly. Both amendments and impeachments always carry the “special” resolution status and require a supermajority to pass. Congressmen and congresswomen must be alerted to all proposed amendments and resolutions at least three days before voting is to take place by the Governance Committee.
- Publications and Social Media: The Outreach Committee will produce all forms of media created by and for the Houston youth community at large.
- Guest Speakers: The Student Congress may invite guest speakers for congressional meetings. All members are encouraged to recommend guest speakers to the Cabinet.
- Community engagement: The Student Congress will engage the entire Houston community of business, labor, civic leaders, parents, educators, school boards, and students, who play a vital role in student education.
- Congressional meetings: The Student Congress should have monthly meetings hosted by the Speaker. The agenda for meetings will be decided by the Cabinet.
- Congressional sessions: A new session opens at the beginning of each school year.
- Board Meetings: Representatives of the Student Congress should attend HISD’s monthly board meetings. The Cabinet may request the presence of the entire HISD Student Congress.
- Constitutional Amendments: Constitutional amendments are proposed and passed in the same manner as Resolutions. Amendments can change any part of this constitution.
- Quorum: There is no quorum.
- Procedures: All rules of operation not explicitly mentioned within this constitution, documented special rules, or documented orders of operation automatically follow those defined in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
Ratified on: 9/27/2014