“These materials have been reprinted from the Leadership Manual 2004 published by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.”  No part of this manual may be reproduced for commercial purposes. © 2004 BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils


Constitution and Bylaws

An organization’s constitution and bylaws are living documents, and should be well known to the members, executive, partners, and others interested in the organization.

Copies of the constitution and bylaws should be available at all meetings, posted in a conspicuous place, and included at the front of any manuals or guides frequently used by the membership or executive.

Purposes of a Constitution

A constitution states the reasons why an organization exists. A well written constitution

  • defines the organization’s reasons for being
  • clarifies its mandate and purposes
  • can be used to focus its activities.

A constitution should be brief (1-2 pages), and separate from the bylaws

Purposes of Bylaws

Bylaws are an organization’s operating rules. Well written bylaws

  • define the roles of the membership and executive
  • provide direction and authority to the membership and executive
  • provide a method for holding everyone in the organization accountable for their decisions and actions.

Requirements of the School Act

The School Act requires PACs and DPACs to make bylaws governing their meetings and the business and conduct of their affairs. The Act’s requirements are specific, as follows:

PACs—School Act, section 8(5)

A PAC’s bylaws are to be made in consultation with the principal, and must include rules governing

  • the dissolution of the PAC
  • election of members to represent the PAC on the school planning council
  • election of members to represent the PAC on the district parent advisory council.

Elections to the school planning council and DPAC must be by secret ballot [School Act, section 8(6)]

Involving Your Membership

It is important to involve your members in creating and reviewing your council’s constitution and bylaws. Both documents belong to the membership, not to the executive or constitution committee. You can involve your members through various means, such as

  • a letter or notice that the constitution and bylaws will be reviewed, with a survey or questionnaire on key issues. The survey or questionnaire can be dropped off at the school without coming to a meeting.
  • an informal get-together off school property to talk about the parent role in the school
  • a special meeting, or dedicated time at a regular meeting, where parents are invited to discuss the council’s mission, purposes, and operating rules
  • a committee to review the constitution and bylaws, and make recommendations to the executive and membership
  • a follow-up meeting to discuss the committee’s recommendations and approve any changes.

If you are creating a constitution and bylaws for the first time, or are undergoing a major review, plan to spend several months on the project. These documents require close attention to detail and plenty of discussion. All members should have the opportunity to consider the issues and express their views.

BCCPAC recommends that councils review their constitution and bylaws annually. A regular review focuses members’ attention on the council’s purposes and objectives, and encourages members to reconsider its mission. Members may find that the council’s needs have changed.

Should Our PAC or DPAC Become a Society?

A few PACs and DPACs in BC are registered societies under the BC Society Act.

PACs and DPACs created under the School Act can carry on all of their activities without registering as a society. This includes applying for grants and licenses.

A PAC or DPAC considering registering as a society should obtain legal advice. For information on incorporating a society, contact the Society/Cooperative Association Unit at 250-356-8673, (in Greater Vancouver, direct dial 604-775-1046), or consult Information for Incorporation of a British Columbia Society, available on the web at www.fin.gov.bc.ca/registries/corppg/forms/reg20.pdf

Sample Constitution and Bylaws

PDF file: Sample Constitution

PDF file: Sample Bylaws