School Boards

Students on School Boards in California

Here are different facts about roles for students on school boards in California. This information was compiled by SoundOut for the Students on School Boards Toolbox.

District School Boards

  • Today, district boards in California are required to include at least one high school student on the board whenever the district is petitioned by the district’s high school students pursuant to Education Code 35012.
  • In 1972, the California state department of education reported that they encouraged local school boards to consider roles for students on school boards. They also reported that there was a student member on the state board of education, as well as on 80 local school boards statewide.
  • A 1975 study found that forty-three percent of California school districts with one or more high schools have some sort of student representation on the board of education.
  • In 2003, the California School Board Association estimated that 50% of California district school boards with high schools have a student board member.
  • Today, students in California can join district school boards.
  • Students can legally vote; however, most local boards report that student members have preferential voting, meaning they vote prior to adult board members to voice their opinions. Their vote does not count though.
  • Some districts select students to serve, and others elect their student representatives.
  • Students serve one year terms.
  • When students petition to join the school board, the student board member is to be elected by the students enrolled in the high school(s) in accordance with procedures prescribed by the board. In the absence of a petition, a board may, at its discretion, choose to appoint a student to the board.
  • California state laws AB 261 (Ch. 257) and SB 468 (Ch. 283) automatically grant preferential voting rights to student board members.
  • Student board members may formally express their opinion on any matter except those subject to closed session. Their preferential vote is cast before the official vote of the board, but does not affect the final numerical outcome of the board’s vote.
  • SB 468 also adds a requirement that student board members receive meeting materials and briefings at the same time as other board members.

State Board of Education

  • In 1975, a student was also found to be selected annually to sit in a nonvoting capacity with the ten-member California State Board of Education.
  • Today, there are 11 voting members of the California State Board of Education, including the voting student member.
  • Law: According to the California Education Code 33000.5, the Governor is:
    • Required to appoint one student to serve on the California Board of Education with full voting rights.
    • The student must be a high school senior enrolled in a public school during his or her term.
    • The student serves a one-year term.
    • Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement, and California offers a $100 stipend for each day the student spends on official business.

California School Board Association

  • Students are not formal members of the state school board association, but are offered specific training to support their involvement.
  • There is a special strand of sessions just for student board members at the annual school board conference.


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Please cite this information as follows:

Fletcher, A. and Kunst, K. (2015) Students on School Boards Toolbox. Olympia, WA: SoundOut. Retrieved [xx/xx/20xx] from

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