The overarching governing body of the school is School Meeting, which is comprised of all enrolled students and staff. Hence, each member of the school is called a School Meeting Member, or SMM. School Meeting convenes weekly to vote on decisions related to running the school, such as rule changes, spending proposals, visitor approvals, election matters, and difficult judicial cases. Every SMM can cast one vote in every decision, regardless of the type or magnitude of the decision.
While School Meeting creates and amends the rules and policies of the school as needed, Judicial Committee (JC) enforces all the rules in the law book. Similar to jury duty, a rotating group of students and staff serve together on JC for one week at a time. Serving on JC is a requirement of all SMMs, from the 5 year olds to the staff. JC meets every day to handle report. When any SMM (child or adult) believes that another SMM (child or adult) has broken a rule from the rulebook, the reporter writes up a report and records details of the incident.
The case is usually heard the next day in JC, which is run much like a small court:
- all testimony from both sides is heard,
- evidence is presented,
- JC decides on what, if any, rules were actually broken, and
- JC also decides on the consequences such as a warning, cleaning up a mess, or being banned from a room.
The process is designed to make sure all involved understand and appreciate the rules involved. The action are chosen with a goal of restorative justice.
The third governing body of the school is called School Assembly, which consists of all School Meeting Members (students and staff) and parents. The School Assembly votes on decisions beyond the day-to-day running of the school, such as tuition and staff salary. The School Assembly meets at least once a year. In the annual spring meeting, Assembly discusses and approves the school budget in addition to any other pressing needs.
Much of the school’s day-to-day administrative needs are managed by clerks. Clerks are elected officials within the school who are designated to handle one particular duty impacting the whole school community. Some examples of clerkships are Admissions Clerk, Attendance Clerk, PR Clerk, Buildings Clerk, and Grounds Clerk. Most clerkships may be held by students or staff and are generally elected yearly; some clerkships, such as Finance Clerk or Medical Clerk, may only be held by staff for legal reasons. SM Clerk and JC Clerk, who are elected monthly, preside over School Meeting and Judicial Committee, respectively.
Corporations are groups of School Meeting Members that are given authority over a specific non-essential sphere of activity (e.g., cooking, electronics, gymnastics, etc.) and generally have a budget approved by School Meeting. Rather than legislated by the entire school, the governance of a corporation and its domain is done directly by those involved.
Staff are adults entrusted with ensuring the continued existence of the school and the safety of all School Meeting Members. Every year, all SMMs vote on whether to rehire each staff member for the following year. This is a true vote, taken with great care by all involved. Children seem to know when an adult is both useful to the school and respectful to all SMMs. Staff do not try to curry favor nor inflict control over children; their task is to maintain the community and to be authentic in their interactions with all.