Youngest-Ever Candidate

Calling for student voice in educational decision-making, Sonia Yaco was the youngest-ever documented candidate for a publicly-elected school board position in the United States.

In 1972, at the age of 16, she ran for the Ann Arbor, Michigan school board. After announcing her campaign, Yaco completed the procedural requirements for candidacy. However, Ann Arbor Public Schools denied certification of Yaco’s candidacy to stop her from running for the school board. A local district court judge allowed their decision to stand, and the election happened without Yaco. She received 8% of the total votes as a write-in candidate.

In 1973, another lawsuit found that school boards can exclude students under eighteen from running for school-board seats, primarily because of concerns about “maturity.”

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Published by Adam Fletcher

Adam is the founding director of SoundOut. An author, speaker and consultant, he has worked with K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits and others for more than 15 years. Learn more about him at

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