Should School Boards Elect or Select Student Members?

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.

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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.

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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.
Connecticut Selected—Principal appoints.
Deleware Election then selection—Student body president.
Florida Selected—By the local school board.
Iowa Selected—By the local school board.
Kansas No response.
Maryland Both—Process determined district-by-district.
Massachusetts Both—Process determined district-by-district.
Michigan No response.
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.
Wisconsin Selected—Superintendent chooses.
Wyoming Both—Process determined district-by-district.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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