Board of Education FAQs

  • What are the powers and duties of a school board?

    "Although there are many different types of school districts, the school boards are all similar in many concepts that they are all responsible for the proper education of the children that attend that respective school district. The general powers and duties of the school boards are outlined in the Educational Law, at which it assigns different powers and duties to the different types of school districts, but many of the jobs are very similar in many school districts. Consistent with the law, school boards have the authority and duty to adopt whatever policies, rules and bylaws they deem will best meet their responsibilities and secure the best educational results for the students in their charge. Generally, a school board is responsible for the admission, instruction, discipline, grading and, as appropriate, classification of students attending the public schools in its district; for the employment and management of necessary professional and support staff; and for purchasing, leasing, maintaining and insuring school buildings, properties, equipment and supplies. With the exception of large city school districts, school boards must also present a detailed statement of estimated expenditures for the ensuing school year, which must be submitted to the district voters annually for approval."

    Do individual members of the school board have the right to take an official action on the board's behalf?

    "Generally, no. A school board acting in its corporate capacity is required to transact its business in the same manner as the governing body of any corporation; that is, its acts are required to be authorized by resolutions or motions duly adopted or passed by a majority of the whole board. In addition, court decision invariably agree that a transaction has no legal effect and is not considered an official action unless made at a properly constituted meeting of the board. Therefore, unless the board has taken official action to designate an individual member as the representative of the board for the a particular purpose, an individual board member has no more authority than any other qualified voter of the district."

    What are the qualifications for membership on a school board?

    To qualify for membership on a school board in a common, union-free, central high school district, an individual:

    1. Must be able to read and write.
    2. Must be a qualified voter of the district; that is, a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years of age or older, and not adjudged to be incompetent.
    3. Must be or have been a resident (but need to not be a taxpayer) of the district for a continuous and uninterrupted period of at least one year.
    4. May not have been removed from any school district office within the preceding one year.
    5. May not reside with another member of the same school board as a member of the same family.
    6. May not be a current employee of the school board.
    7. May not simultaneously hold another incompatible public office.

    *In large city school districts and in New York City community school district, different rules of law and/or exceptions to the above rules may govern membership of the school board.

    **All information taken from: "School Law 27th Edition New York State School Board Association New York State Bar Association"