This article explores different ways to put students on school boards. It shares details about which states use which process, and what the outcomes can be.
How should students be chosen for school boards?
How do students get on board? When they are considering roles for students on school boards, policy-makers should consider whether school boards should elect or select student members. Here is a write up on what some states do, written for the SoundOut Students on School Boards Toolbox.
According to a 2012 survey by the National School Board Association provided to SoundOut, states vary widely for whether students are elected or selected to serve on local school boards.
The following states responded that they do have students on district boards, and they shared how they get there.
Elected Or Selected?
|Alaska||Selected—Appointed by the local school board.|
|Arizona||Election then selection—Student body president.|
|Arkansas||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|California||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Deleware||Election then selection—Student body president.|
|Florida||Selected—By the local school board.|
|Iowa||Selected—By the local school board.|
|Maryland||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Massachusetts||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Minnesota||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|New Jersey||Both—Under 18, selected; over 18, elected.|
|New York||Both—Under 18, selected; over 18, elected.|
|North Carolina||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Oregon||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Pennsylvania||Election then selection—Student body president.|
|South Carolina||No response.|
|Tennessee||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Utah||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Vermont||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
|Virginia||Elected by the local high school.|
|Wyoming||Both—Process determined district-by-district.|
In Maryland, generally, student representatives from each secondary school gather in a kind of mini-election convention and put forth three names for consideration by the local board and/or superintendent. As many as seven counties have student members on board in some fashion.
Students in New Jersey who are under 18 serve in an advisory capacity that is appointed for a one-year term. They have no voting representation. Students who are 18 years old or olde r and meet the voting requirements are elected for a three-year term. They may vote on anything not directly relating to their own school.
In New York, students who are over 18 years old and meet other minimum requirements can be officially elected. Students who are under 18 are appointed as ex-officio representatives, typically with non-voting status. The selection of a student representative is a bit complicated. He/she can be identified by a variety of methods, must be recommended by the superintendent and ratified by a majority of the board. The student must be a senior who has attended a high school in the district for at least the last two years.
North Carolina local boards mostly select the class president at local high schools to serve as a student representative on the school board. In Oregon, most local boards appoint student representatives.
Students on School Boards Toolkit
- Students on School Boards Toolkit Homepage
- Students on School Boards Fact Sheet
- Terms Related to Students on School Boards
- Activities for Students on School Boards
- Rationale for Students on School Boards
- How to Get Students on School Boards
- Options for Student Voice on School Boards
- Should School Boards Elect or Select Student Members?
- Barriers to Students on School Boards
- Outcomes from Students on School Boards
- Quotes about Students on School Boards
- Critical Questions about Students on School Boards
- Data Related to Students on School Boards
- State Directory of Laws Affecting Students on School Boards
- State Directory of Students on School District Boards
- State Directory Students on District School Boards
- Directory of Students on State Boards of Education
- Sources for the Students on School Boards Toolkit
- Publications about Students on School Boards
- Additional Info Related to Students on School Boards
Students on School Boards in Canada
- Directory of Canadian Province Laws Affecting Students on School Boards
- Guide to Students on Canadian School Boards [PDF]
You Might Like…
- Intro to Meaningful Student Involvement
- Student Involvement in Education Agencies
- Intro to Student Tokenism
- “Students on School Boards Resource Kit” by the Michigan Association of School Boards in 2018.
- Guide to Student Voice in Education Governance by the Vermont School Boads Association in 2015.
- Students Serving on Local School Boards survey by the National Association of School Boards in February 2009.