I. ARTICLE I
Section 1. NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE ORGANIZATION
The name of this institution is COUNCIL OF BILINGUAL SCHOOLS, and its acronym is COBIS. It shall be referred to herein as “The Council.” The Association is a Non-Profit Organization, formed in 1981, in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida and ruled by its Charter and these By-Laws.
The postal address of the Council shall typically be the address of the President, or shall be determined by the Board of Directors at the annual Fall meeting.
Section 2. DEFINITION OF AN INDEPENDENT BILINGUAL SCHOOL
An independent, bilingual school is an educational institution substantially free from political or financial administration by government, with consequent liberty of purpose and practice. This independence implies that the school Administration shall have the freedom to set academic standards and curricula that meet or exceed the State's mandated Curriculum. They shall have the freedom to embark upon innovative educational programs, and shall have the option to give religious training, faith and the teachings of morals and ethics a central place in the educational process. The independent bilingual school shall ascertain that their students assimilate into the American culture, yet they should be strongly encouraged to learn, or to not lose, their Spanish language and culture. They shall participate in Hispanic community events and shall promote teachings that will enable students to learn about their Hispanic heritage. Bilingual schools must include Spanish as a required subject.
Section 1. OBJECTIVES OF THE COUNCIL
The Objectives of the Council shall be as follows:
a) To maintain the highest educational standards by providing an adequate orientation, supervision and improvement of our educational system.
b) To take into account the ethnic, language and culture of our students of Hispanic origin, taking into consideration their essential values while acquiring the American cultural values.
c) To emphasize the importance of bilingualism (English/Spanish) in the overall development and education of our students, not only as a means of communication, but also as an instrument of understanding and exchange between the countries of the Western Hemisphere.
d) To share information having to do with the improvement of our bilingual educational system and to deal with matters of mutual interest and concern.
e) To establish communication liaisons between the Association and the local, State, Federal and Regional Educational organizations.
f) To attempt to identify important service sources for the benefit of the member schools and to share this information with the members of this Council.
g) To provide a forum for the discussion of new practices in and problems relating to education and to publish the results of such discussions.
h) To coordinate the practices and achievements of schools of various types within the membership of the Council.
i) To exercise certain regulatory and supervisory powers over the independent schools of the Council.
j) To represent member schools before any and all State and Regional supervisory and accrediting agencies.
k) To assist non-member schools in problems of a professional nature.
l) to perform liaison services between the members of the Council and other educational organizations.
m) To interpret the role of the independent school to the public.
n) To foster good relations between the schools of the independent group and the schools of the public school system.
o) To publish a directory of member schools, the current By-Laws of the Council, and the “Accreditation Standards and Evaluation Procedures” Book.
p) To establish standards of accreditation for its member schools and to insure the maintenance of these standards through continuous communication and scheduled visitations.
q) To identify important service sources for the benefit of the member schools and to share this information will all members of the Council.
Section 2. FISCAL YEAR
The Fiscal Year of the Council shall start on the first day of September and shall end on the thirty-first day of August, the following year.
Section 1. MEMBERSHIP
Membership in the Council of Bilingual Schools is limited to independent academic schools that have been granted accreditation by the Council of Bilingual Schools. Schools must be up to date on their annual dues in order to be considered an “Accredited member”. The member schools shall be represented at all meetings by their Director or by a person specifically appointed by the Head of that school for that purpose. Accredited members shall enjoy all rights contained in these By-laws and they shall be the only members with the right to vote in the General Assemblies and in the elections.
Section 2. OBTAINING AND MAINTAINING MEMBERSHIP
a. Membership is conveyed only if approved by the majority of the COBIS members. An applicant school must obtain the endorsements of five (5) Directors of COBIS Accredited schools, go through the Self-Study process, must have been visited by the Evaluation Committee, must have met the standards for accreditation as published by COBIS, and must have been recommended by the COBIS Evaluation Committee and approved by the Board, before they can be granted “Provisional Member” or “Accredited Member” status. The accredited members that are past due ninety (90) days or more in the payment of their annual dues, after having been sent notice by Certified Mail, with return receipt requested, shall lose their status as active members and will not be reinstated until all dues have been paid in full.
b. The refusal to admit an applicant school cannot be understood as constituting an act of discrimination in any manner. The refusal means that the General Assembly, in use of its sovereign powers, consider that the Applicant has not met all Standards and/or does not fully meet the admission requirements. The decision of the General Assembly is final. If a school is turned down for membership because it failed to meet the standards, or to correct violations or recommendations noted by the Evaluation Committee, the school will not be able to re-apply to the Council for a minimum period of two (2) years.
c. Member schools shall comply with all the requirements as stated in the COBIS “Accreditation Standards and Evaluation Procedures” Handbook, including payment of all required dues.
d. Both “Provisional Member” and “Accredited Member” schools must pay annual dues prior to October 31st of each school year. New school applicants will be required to pay an “Application Fee.” The amount of all dues shall be established in advance by the majority vote of the General Assembly. The dues may be modified by the same entity.
e. Accredited Members who are past due ninety (90) days in the payment of their annual dues, after having been sent notice by Certified Mail, with Return Receipt, shall lose their status as active members and will not be reinstated until all dues are paid in full.
f. Member schools are committed to abiding by the highest quality levels of bilingual education, being aware of upholding high moral standards and ethics, and maintaining the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, customs and traditions.
g. A school may be considered for Accredited member status only after completing at least five (5) years of successful operation, with the same Philosophies and Administration, and with a framework consistent with its educational objectives.
h. Schools which are wholly or chiefly tutorial or vocational or that do not have at least five (5) Elementary grades, shall not be eligible for Membership in the Council.
i. New school candidates seeking accreditation must submit an Application with the Application Fee, provide a complete “Self-Study”, and be visited by the designated “Evaluation Committee.” This Committee will subsequently prepare a “Final Report” indicating their commendations, recommendations and/or violations noted in said visit. (see Article III, Section 2, item m. regarding process for new school applicants).
j. If the Board receives an adverse report about an accredited member school, the Board may require a visitation or inspection, or both, to determine whether there is a violation of Standards and whether accreditation status should be continued or not. Advance notice for such an inspection shall not be required.
k. In addition to all foregoing requirements and provisions, each Accredited member school must be re-evaluated once every five (5) year period. Prior to the year of the re-evaluation of a school, it is each school’s responsibility to begin working on its “Self-Study.” Dates of the visits will be coordinated by the President. In extenuating circumstances, re-evaluation for accreditation may be postponed for one (1) year by a two-thirds vote of the Membership.
l. NEW SCHOOL APPLICANTS. New school candidates seeking accreditation status will be mailed all pertinent information regarding the Council. Once they feel confident they can meet these Standards and Procedures, they must submit an “Application”, together with an application fee. At the annual Fall meeting, schools will be scheduled for an “Evaluation.” The school must submit copies of their “Self-Studies” to each member of the Evaluation Committee, at least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled dates of visitation. Within two weeks after the Evaluation Committee visits the school originally applying for Accreditation, the President will prepare and mail a “Final Report” indicating all commendations, recommendations and/or violations observed. If there are recommendations but no violations, the school will be granted “PROVISIONAL MEMBER” status for one (1) year, effective as of the date school was formally notified in writing. If there are any violations noted, the school shall be placed on “PROBATION” status. It will then have six (6) months to satisfy all violations. All recommendations made must be addressed in writing within a six (6) month period. If is the responsibility of each new applicant to notify the President in writing once all violations and/or recommendations have been corrected. Two members of the Evaluation Committee will then re-visit the school for verification of compliance. After this visit is completed, the Committee members will prepare and submit another “Final Report’ giving their recommendations to the Board. The school will then be either granted “Provisional Member” status for one (1) year, effective as of the date the school was formally notified, in writing, (Provisional Member dues are then due), or be denied accreditation.
m. ACCREDITED MEMBER SCHOOLS. Within six (6) weeks after a school is visited by the Evaluation Committee, the President prepares a “Final Report” based on each Committee Members written commendations, recommendations and/or violations, and mails it to the Head of the school that was evaluated and to each Committee Member. If there are no violations, the school will be granted “ACCREDITED MEMBER” status. All recommendations made must be addressed in writing within a one (1) year period. If there are any violations noted, the school will be placed on a “PROBATION” status. It will then have six (6) months to satisfy all violations noted in said Report. It is the responsibility of the school to notify the President in writing once all corrections have been made. At this time, two Evaluation Committee members will re-visit the school for verification of compliance. After this second visit, the Committee members will prepare another “Final Report” and give their recommendations to the Board. Schools will then be classified as follows: a) be renewed as an “Accredited Member” school; or b) be denied Accreditation. Written notice will be made of this accreditation denial to all member schools.
n. The refusal to grant Accreditation status to an applicant school cannot be understood as constituting an act of discrimination in any manner. The refusal means that the General Assembly, in use of its sovereign powers, and with the recommendations of the “Evaluation Committee”, considers that the Applicant school does not fully meet the Standards of the Council. The decision of the General Assembly is final. Once a school is denied Membership, a period of two (2) years must pass before the school can re-apply.
o. Each school shall be responsible for all costs incurred by the Evaluation Committee.
p. Candidates for Membership who meet the criteria of the Council and are elected to Membership by the Board of Directors shall become active members of the Council following receipt of notification of their accreditation and payment of their annual dues.
Section 1. RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERSHIP
a. The value of the Council to member schools and to the cause of independent education varies directly with the number of people taking part in Council activities.
b. It is agreed that schools accepting membership will:
1. Attend all regularly scheduled meetings.
2. Support Council-sponsored workshops by attending and by providing workers in various categories.
3. Maintain all Standards as outlined by the Council.
4. Be guided by the principles expressed in the Code of Ethics of the Council.
Section 2. REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERSHIP
a. All Accredited member schools must comply with all rules and Standards as established by the Council.
b. Only schools which do not discriminate in admission or employment on the basis of race, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin and which follow fair and non-discriminatory employment practices are eligible for membership. Schools must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All schools must publish and have on file a current, written statement confirming their adherence to such policies. The COBIS Board of Directors may take appropriate steps to determine that such a policy is actually being followed.
c. All Accredited member schools are committed to abide by the highest quality levels of bilingual education. Teachings of Hispanic heritage, customs, traditions, morals and ethics must be an integral part of the curriculum of each member school. Spanish shall be a required subject for all students in Grades 1 through 8, and it must be available for all students through Grade 12.
d. All Accredited members are authorized to use the logo of the Council as part of their advertising, thus indicating their accreditation status. However, schools are prohibited from advertising themselves as members of “FAANS” (Florida Association of Academic Non-Public Schools), as this organization does not recognize individual schools. COBIS, as an Accrediting Association, is the only entity that is a member of FAANS.
e. All Accredited member schools shall comply with all requirements as set forth by Local, State and Federal government laws, with regard to all facilities, programs and activities.
Section 1. Principles of Evaluation
a. Consideration shall be given to the consistency of the school’s operation and achievement in relation to its philosophy.
b. Consideration shall be given to the effectiveness with which the school meets the needs of its students and American society.
c. Consideration shall be given to the effectiveness of the program(s) and the adequacy of the facilities.
d. Consideration shall be given not only to the status of the school when evaluated, but also to its progress between evaluations.
e. Consideration shall be given to the financial standing of each school.
f. Consideration shall be given to the current operations of a school; not its future plans.
Section 2. Evaluative Criteria
a. Philosophy and Objectives. The school shall have a clearly stated written educational policy. This statement shall set forth the philosophy underlying the educational program designed to meet the objectives of the school.
b. Administration. The administration of the school shall organize, direct, and coordinate the school’s activities to provide an effective educational program.
c. Implementation of School Programs. The school shall have a carefully planned program of studies and activities consistent with its philosophy and objectives. The school day shall be planned as a unit; it shall be sufficiently long to include all required academic core subject, as established in the COBIS Standards. In addition, non-academic activities shall include periods for study, for physical education, for assemblies, for activities and recreation and for adequate extra-curricular activities.
d. Faculty. The faculty shall be large enough and their work shall be distributed in such a way as to provide satisfactorily for the program of each school. Student/faculty ratios muist be maintained in accordance with the COBIS Standards. The academic head of the school must have a Master’s Degree or at least a Bachelor’s Degree and several years of successful experience in teaching and administrative responsibilities. All teachers in grades K thru 12 must hold a Bachelor’s Degree, or a foreign equivalent. All Pre-School teachers must have at least a two-year college degree (or CDA equivalent), plus appropriate experience or training in Early Childhood education. It is recommended that all degreed teachers hold a valid State Certificate.
e. Achievements and Records. The school should be concerned with the success of its program evidenced by the success of its students and graduates. The school must maintain a program of grading and standardized testing, and must record the results on permanent records to be maintained at the school in a fire-resistant cabinet. Each Secondary school must concern itself with the social and emotional maturity of its students and with their achievements after graduation. College records should be kept through the first year, if possible, and compared with the school records. Records must be kept of alumni activities, and an active alumni association should be encouraged.
f. Plant and Equipment. The plant and equipment shall be suited to the purpose and adequate for the program of each school. Operation shall be such as to insure the health and safety of all, and should meet all state and local codes in these regards.
g. Finance. The financial resources and management of the school shall be such as to sustain an approved educational program consistent with its Philosophy and objectives. All evaluations shall include an inspection of the financial records by a member of the Evaluation Committee.
Section 1. The General Assembly
a. The General Assembly of Accredited Members shall meet at least once a year, during the month of October. Additionally, the General Assembly shall be called into session each time the circumstances require it, at the discretion of the President and/or the Board of Directors. Notice for these meetings must be mailed or faxed in writing, at least ten (10) days in advance, to the registered address of all Members. This notice shall include the date, time and place of meeting in addition to the known Agenda.
b. The General Assembly shall have a quorum in the first call whenever two-thirds of the Accredited Members are present. It shall be held on a second call whenever there is a quorum of not less than one-half of the members present. If the Assembly cannot be held due to lack of quorum, another Meeting shall be called to order with the subsequent fifteen (15) days and the Notice shall state that the Meeting shall be held with less than half of the members present.
c. Each Accredited Member shall have one vote in the General Assembly. The resolutions shall be adopted by an absolute majority of the members present, provided that the law, the Charter or these By-Laws do not provide otherwise.
d. The Board of Directors shall have five (5) members that will include the following:
A former President/Director of the Association
e. Committees: The President may appoint special and standing committees of such membership and with such duties and powers as he/she may deem necessary. The functions of all committees are to be established by resolution of the Board of Directors. The President shall be an ex-officio member of all committees.
f. Vacancies on the Board of Directors and unexpired terms of Officers may be filled by majority vote of the Directors and persons so elected shall serve the unexpired term of the member so replaced. The Directors may refer the filing of an unexpired term to the membership at the next special meeting or at the Annual Fall meeting.
g. The Board of Directors is the permanent executive branch of the Association, and its functions are geared to accomplishing the goals set forth in these By-Laws and in the COBIS Standards. The goals shall include:
1. To organize and conduct conferences, workshops or seminars with the objective sharing professional information relative to education.
2. To represent the official posture of the Association concerning educational matters and in relation to governmental agencies. It could use one or more representative to present its criteria before those organizations in order to achieve these objectives.
3. To require from the schools requesting accreditation the following information:
a. Completed Self-Studies (including school Philosophies & Objectives)
b. Copies of Teacher’s Degrees and their personal information
c. Curriculum for each Grade Level
d. Attendance Records
e. List of all Textbooks used
f. Copies of Evaluations, Progres Reports, Standardized Tests results, etc.
g. Copies of Menus, school Calendars, etc.
h. Description of Faculty Evaluations and Faculty Meeting Agendas
i. Evidence of School’s nondiscriminatory Policies and Disciplinary Policies
j. Descriptive statements regarding community involvement
k. Evidence of teachings regarding Hispanic heritage, morals and ethics
l. Any other information required, as per “Standards” Handbook.
4. To utilize all income derived from Annual Dues, for purposes beneficial to the entire Association.
5. To represent the majority criteria of the members of the Association without trying to act as a spokesman or instrument of any one school in particular.
Section 1. Elections
a. Elections shall be held during the third week of February, every two (2) years, with the objective of selecting the Officers that will constitute the Board of Directors. The positions mentioned in Article VI., Section 1. (d), will be nominated at this time.
b. Officers and Directors must be elected by a majority vote of the member schools. At the conclusion of each two (2) year term, Officers and/or Director wishing to run for re-election for an additional term, may do so only by majority vote of the General Membership.
c. Only Directors/Principals of an Accredited Member school shall be allowed to serve as an Officer or Director of the Council and have the right to vote.
d. During the month of January of each Election year, a General Assembly of members shall be called to order by the President with the intention of appointing an “Electoral Commission”. This Commission shall not have less than three (3) active members and not more than five (5). This Commission shall be in charge of the entire Electoral process. A “Chairperson” will also be appointed by the President to lead this Commission.
e. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission shall open a term for the presentation of candidacies which shall never be less than fifteen (15) days, nor longer than twenty (20) days. The candidacies must be sent to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission containing the list of the candidates, with the signature and/or official attestation of the acceptance of at least five (5) of the candidates.
f. The vote shall be secret and shall be deposited in person, after an identification procedure before the Electoral Commission. The Commission shall prepare the official ballots with the candidacies presented and an open ballot.
g. The previous Board of Directors shall remain in power until the newly elected Board is officially inaugurated.
h. The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission shall summon a General Assembly within the next fifteen (15) days after the day of voting with the purpose of inaugurating the newly elected Board of Directors. The newly elected Board will assume their roles as of this date.
Section 2. Duties of the Officers and Directors
a. All elected Officers and Directors are required to attend all Board Meetings and General Assembly meetings as set forth by the President.
b. The Past President. The Past President shall be an integral part of the new Board of Directors. He/she should bring his/her knowledge and expertise to all meetings and shall be available to offer guidance to the new President and the Board of Directors of the Association. With a majority vote of members present at the annual Fall meeting, The Past-President may be allowed to represent the Council at State-wide or National organization meetings. All expenses related to the attendance of said meetings or events shall continue to be covered by the Council.
c. The President. The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer. He/she shall prepare the program for the Annual Fall meeting and shall preside at all meetings of the Council. The President shall be the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, and shall set the time and place of the meetings of the Board. The President shall also be responsible to coordinate and lead the “Evaluation Committee” overseeing the Standards of the Council. Upon receipt of a petition of four or more Directors, the President must call a special meeting of the Board within the next three (3) weeks.
d. The Vice-President. The Vice-President shall assist the President. He/she shall perform all duties of the President in his/her absence or incapacity.
e. The Secretary. The Secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings of each meeting of the Board of Directors and of the General Assembly meetings. The Secretary is responsible for obtaining the signatures of all Members present at each meeting and for transcribing the Minutes of the meetings and sending them to all Accredited Member schools. He/she is responsible for approving these Minutes at the next General Meeting, and for obtaining the President’s signature at this time. An organized book containing the Minutes of all Meetings shall be maintained by the Secretary. The Secretary shall also work directly with the President and/or the Board of Directors in order to carry out any functions assigned to him/her.
f. The Treasurer. The Treasurer shall receive and disburse funds as directed by the President and the Board of Directors. He/she shall keep regular accounts of such transactions and report them to the Council at each meeting. The Treasurer shall be responsible to prepare written “Treasurer’s Report” detailing all monetary transactions of the Association, for the benefit of the General Assembly. These Reports will render information regarding the financial situation of the Council. The Treasurer will sign, jointly with the President, all checks of the Council. The Board of Directors may provide for an annual audit of the accounts of the Council.
g. The Directors. The two elected Directors will serve on the Board of Directors. They will be responsible for directing special Committees and assisting the Officers in areas specifically appointed by them.
Section 3. Committees
a. Committees may be appointed by the Board of Directors.
b. The Committees shall have a minimum of two (2) active members and shall serve for a minimum two (2) year period.
c. Standing Committees shall be as follows:
1. Evaluation Committee. This Committee shall have a minimum of three (3) Directors of Accredited Member schools, one of whom is the President of the Council The duties of this Committee shall include the visits of schools applying for either accreditation or re-accreditation status.
(See COBIS Standards Book for further description of this Committee’s responsibilities).
2. Membership Committee. This committee will be responsible for recruiting possible new school Candidates whom they feel should be able to meet the COBIS Standards.
3. Program Committee. This committee shall be responsible for planning and executing professional seminars, workshops or programs to benefit the general membership, as may be decided on by the Board of Directors.
4. Public Relations Committee. This committee shall be responsible for informing our community, through the media or by direct contact with community leaders, of the existence and the benefits of our Association.
Section 4. Dues
a. To meet the expenses of the Council, Annual dues shall be paid be each member school. Failure to pay dues, after written notification, shall constitute resignation. The membership, in a special or Annual meeting shall have the power, on the recommendation of the Board of Directors, to establish the amounts of all dues.
Section 1. Amendments
a. These By-Laws may be amended, modified or substituted during the annual Fall meeting or during any Special General Assembly meeting of the Council, where all members were duly informed of said intention(s) by written instrument, with fifteen (15) day advance notice. The vote of two-thirds majority of all members present, with a quorum being present, is required to amend any section of these By-Laws.
b. Copies of the amendments, modifications or substitutions of by-laws being proposed must be mailed to each Accredited Member school at least fifteen (15) days before the scheduled meeting is to take place.