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Since March 2020, due to the pandemic, our staff and board have provided increased guidance, clarity, information and answers to DPACs, PACs and individual parents via email, phone and social media channels. As a result, we have noticed, across the 60 school districts, there are many individuals who are unaware of the role of parents as stakeholders within the K-12 system, how it works, how to get more involved etc.
 
We hope that parents/guardians/caregivers will find informative and useful. 
 
We strongly encourage parents/guardians/caregivers to engage with their local school PAC and connect directly with their DPAC.
 
Part 1 - Parent Advisory Council (PAC)
 
The School Act - This is the starting place. The School Act requires that every PAC has Bylaws that specify how meetings are run, how the business is conducted, how dissolution is to be handled, and how executive reps are elected. They exist to ensure YOUR voice is heard and represented. There are also Regulations and Orders in Council related to School Act. The School Act lists the most important rights and responsibilities of parents and students, both individual and collective. Parents should read and understand the relevant sections.
 
Parents Rights
- The right to be informed of their child’s attendance, behaviour, and progress in school; On request, to receive a copy of the school plan for the school; To belong to the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) in their school; To consult with the teacher, principal, vice‐principal, or director of instruction with respect to their child’s educational program. Conversely, parents are required, if requested, to consult with the teacher, principal, vice‐principal, or director of instruction on their child’s educational program
Rights of students with special needs are covered under the Special Needs Students Order of the Minister of Education.
 
Parent Advisory Council (PAC)
PAC is the collective voice of parents in school community who has the legislative right to advise school administration on any matter relating to public education and whose role is to supports parents. All parents/guardians/caregivers with children registered in the school are members of the PAC. The PAC executive are those individuals, per the PAC Bylaws, who have been elected by their peers to represent them and to conduct business on their behalf.
 
PAC meetings (now virtual this school year) are for parents of children at that school. School administrators and staff representatives should be welcomed to attend PAC meetings as regular invited guests (they cannot vote). Similarly PAC Executives should be meeting regularly with their admin teams AND request to present to staff meetings as needed to share information, inform etc.
 
Recognized in the School Act, Section 8, PACs are required to have Bylaws under which they operate (self-governing) and are composed of, run and managed by parents. PACs can advise school staff/board of education respecting any matter relating to the school or provincial education. They can advise the school principal & staff on parents’ views and feedback about school programs, policies, plans and activities. They can organize PAC activities and events and endeavour to provide parent education. They encourage parent involvement in the school, and to support programs that promote parent involvement. And they communicate with parents, and to promote co-operation between the home and the school in providing support for the education of children. PACs also assist parents in accessing the system (could mean connecting to DPAC) and to advocate on behalf of parents and students, provide financial support for the goals of the PAC, as determined by its membership and will advise and participate in the activities of the DPAC.
 
Communication with Parent Community
Through their elected executives from parents in the school, PACs communicate with their parent community gathering and discussing issues of importance regarding their school in order to adequately advise those that influence their school. In addition to PAC meetings communication may also be done through, newsletters, telephone, email, and websites so that all parents have the opportunity for input. 
PACs can only communicate with parents once parents have provided their contact information or opted in to receive information. Schools cannot provide email or other contact information to PACs even though parents have provided it to the school; due to data privacy the data cannot be shared. It is common for schools to send out information on behalf of the PAC to their school families. But there is a need for the PAC to communicate directly with its parent community and for that, parents need to provide contact details to their PAC. This means, if individuals don’t provide email or other contact information to their PACs, the PAC is unable to communicate directly with you.
 
PACs fall under the Personal Information and Privacy Act (PIPA); they do not fall under FIOPPA.
 
Fundraising
PACs are NOT required or obligated to raise funds but this practice started many years ago and most continue to do some fundraising. There exists “haves and have nots” and inequity at schools so not all PACs have the same ability to raise funds.
There are many things a PAC can do that isn't connected to fundraising. During this particular school year, parents will be relying on their PAC to keep them informed and updated; they are a bridge between admin and parents and have the ability to push and pull information, bring forward issues, ensure parents have all the information they need.
 
Part 2 - District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC)
 
District PAC (DPAC) is the official representative body of parents/guardians of children in a school district. The School Act provides DPACs the power to advise the board of education respecting any matter relating to education within the district including educational policy. As a district stakeholder, DPAC, like other stakeholders, is entitled to have representation (on behalf of parents) on all standing Committees and on any advisory and ad-hoc committees or working groups.
 
Recognized in the School Act, Section 8, DPACs are required to have Bylaws under which they operate (self-governing) and are composed of, run and managed by parents. DPAC bylaws provide direction on the level of participation of invited guests and what to do if a trustee or school district employee is also a parent at a school. The DPAC is comprised of elected parent representatives from district PACs and serves as an umbrella organization for local PACs; all PACs in the district are by default members of the DPAC but many DPACs require member PACs to register with them.
DPACs can:
-Assist parents in forming/dissolving a PAC in every school
-Assist member PACs and parents in obtaining information and communicating with district personnel
-Help parents navigate the school system locally
-Advocate for greater parental involvement in the education system
-Support & encourage PACs and parents in accessing the school system at all levels by providing regular forums for the exchange of ideas and information to ensure that public education serves the best interests of all students
 
DPAC meetings (now virtual this school year) are for PAC representatives and parents of children enrolled in public school in the district. District administrators and Trustees should be welcomed to attend DPAC meetings as regular invited guests (they cannot vote). Similarly DPAC Executives should be meeting regularly with their senior district teams. DPAC can (and should) set up meetings with whomever they think is appropriate within the district. If there is ever opposition to a meeting between the Superintendent and DPAC, that issue must be resolved between the Superintendent and Board.
DPAC Execs
 Public representatives of DPAC
 Responsible for DPAC governance
 Have voting power at executive meetings
PAC Reps
 Represent their PACs to DPAC
 Help form DPAC policy through motions
 Have voting power at general meetings & DPAC elections
Any Parent/Guardian
 Contact DPAC with an issue requiring representation at the district level
 Attend any DPAC meeting
 
Communication with Member PACs
 
DPACs communicate directly with their PAC parent community gathering and discussing issues of importance regarding their district (such as Strategic Planning, District Budget, Long Range Facilities Plan etc.) in order to adequately advise those that influence their district decisions. In addition to DPAC meetings, communication may also be done through surveys, newsletters, email, and websites so that all PAC parents have the opportunity for input.
Just like PACs, DPACs can only communicate with their local PACs and school parents once individual parents and PAC executives have provided their contact information or opted in to receive information. Districts don’t gather that information nor can they share it; due to data privacy, parent information cannot be shared. It’s to the advantage of the local PACs and their parent communities to be connected with their DPAC – both electronically and through engagement. The DPAC needs to communicate directly with its PAC members and parent community and for that, parents need to provide contact details to their PAC. This means, if individuals don’t provide email or other contact information to their DPAC/PAC, both the DPAC and the PAC is unable to communicate directly with you.
 
DPACs fall under the Personal Information and Privacy Act (PIPA); they do not fall under FIOPPA.
 
Part 3 - Provincial Parent Advisory Council (BCCPAC)
 
The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) is a non-partisan, registered non-profit charity, since 1922. We are governed by a volunteer Board of directors elected annually by our membership (annual fee) which consists of District Parent Advisory Councils (DPAC) and Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) through which we represent the parents/guardians/caregivers of >565,000 children in provincial public schools. As the provincially mandated voice of parents in public schools, we have the authority to get involved and to share concerns directly with the Minister and Ministry staff.
 
BCCPAC is the provincial voice of parents on K-12 public education and related issues and we directly support DPAC and PAC members and individual parents. We promote, support and advance meaningful parent participation throughout the public education system in order to advocate for the success of all students; and through our membership, to promote leadership, communication, cooperation, and representation in British Columbia at the school, school district and provincial level.
We advocate for systemic changes at the provincial table. BCCPAC sits at that table with the education partners—School Trustees Association, Superintendents Association, School Business Officials Association, Principals and Vice Principals Association, Teachers Federation, CUPEBC and the First Nations Education Steering Committee—and the provincial government. BCCPAC has a credible and respected voice, and is uniquely positioned to ensure the parent perspective is heard loudly and clearly. We communicate and meet regularly with the Ministry of Education and education partners.
 
BCCPAC is invited to every meeting, asked to participate in every working group, sought for input which is often confidential, and we provide feedback directly whenever we believed it is needed.
We educate and inform parents and we help parents advocate for themselves and their child. We use the School Act, district policies and district bylaws to guide parents/guardians in advocating for their child’s educational program. Whether it's talking to parents about advocacy, spending 10mos pursuing a Section 11 to bring about equity for a child, meeting with a Superintendent regarding issues relating to children not receiving the supports they should, answering questions via email or social media or presenting at a DPAC meeting to ensure parents understand their role and responsibilities, the current Board and staff of BCCPAC are doing this and so very much more. During the pandemic our work has continued and the need for parent education and representation has increased.
 
This year, and for the coming year, parent advocacy and advocacy for school-aged children has never been more important. The parent/guardian/caregiver perspective at the provincial table with the education partners has been critical during the pandemic and the return to school. We are the only provincial group 100% dedicated to parents and their children in public school. All other education partners represent their members who are employees in the system – that is their primary mandate.
 
Since March 2020 we have been representing parents in all K-12 provincial discussions regarding education in our pandemic environment – we continue to regularly provide parent feedback directly with the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the other education stakeholders. We have emailed our members and posted to our social media channels and our website the important details parents need to understand and know in real-time as it’s released. We have provided guidance, clarity and answers to DPACs, PACs and individual parents via email, phone and social media channels.
We fought hard in provincial discussions for flexibility and remote/online options for parents while ensuring children have the opportunity to remain connected to their school community. We have brought forward district specific issues directly to the Deputy Minister and his team who have raised those issues with Superintendents. We secured shared Zoom licenses for all PACs across the province to enable PACs to continue meeting, hold their elections and annual meetings and serve their parent communities.
 
During the last 12months we have represented parents in provincial discussions and advisory groups such as curriculum and graduation assessments, the early learning framework for birth to age eight, child/youth mental well-being, framework for enhanced student learning, kindergarten transition resources and the inclusive education parent handbook. In June we once again made a submission and presentation to the Select Standing Committee regarding education funding specifically to safeguard stable funding and to increase both capital and operational funding. We continue to liaise directly with the Community Gaming branch to ensure PACs know of changes and updates which will affect their applications and reports and to try to influence the annual guidelines.
 
BCCPAC falls under the Personal Information and Privacy Act (PIPA); we do not fall under FIOPPA.
 
Communications
We email DPACs and PACs directly as they are members and have provided their contact details to us; we do not share this list. DPACs communicate directly with their PAC community and PACs communicate directly with their parent community. In all cases – communication with individual parents/PAC members/DPAC members can only occur when individuals/groups have provided their contact information or opted in to receive information. There is no master provincial list of parent contacts.
We endeavor to post as much as possible for parents to our website and to this public page. Depending on the issue and many other factors, we may seek input directly via a survey or other means; we just completed a survey with our DPAC leaders.
 
It’s to the advantage of parents/guardians to be connected with their local PACs.
It’s to the advantage of the local PACs and their parent communities to be connected with their DPAC.
It’s similarly to the advantage of DPACs and their PAC parent communities to be connected with BCCPAC.
 
In all cases, parents who are engaged in their school, district or provincial PAC are volunteers giving of their time for their community and who do not receive any remuneration.
 
We encourage parents/guardians/caregivers with children in K-12 to ensure they provide current contact information to their child’s school PAC, sign up for PAC blogs, newsletters etc., and sign up to receive information from your local DPAC. All the information can be easily found online.
 
If you believe you can do more and give some of your time to public education, then please consider joining or volunteering to help your PAC. They are parents just like you and they need your help; everyone in the community benefits from parent engagement. Our strength is in our collective voice.
 
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