The following are facts about students on school boards in Massachusetts.

District School Boards

  • In 1972, the Massachusetts state department of education reported that they encouraged local school boards to consider roles for students on school boards.
  • Today, students can join district school boards but cannot vote.
  • They are selected by the student government in local high schools. Students can join and vote on the state school board.
  • Student members cannot vote on local school boards.
  • They serve one year terms.

State Board of Education

  • There are 11 voting members of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, including one high school student elected by student advisors.
  • 44 students serve as advisors to the Massachusetts Board of Education and Massachusetts Commission of Education.
  • The student member has full voting rights.
  • Students are selected to serve as advisors by the Massachusetts Regional Student Advisory Councils.
  • Student advisors are 9th – 12th graders.
  • Students are elected for one year terms with a three year term limit.
  • Student advisors have been in place since 1972.
  • Law: The General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 15, Section 1E requires:
    • The establishment of five to fifteen Regional Student Advisory Councils and one State Student Advisory Council.
    • Each public secondary school is required by law to elect two students to its respective regional council.
    • All grade levels (9th – 12th) are eligible to vote and run for office.
    • The Regional Student Advisory Councils are charged with advising the State Student Advisory Council.
  • Once the regional councils are established, each will elect four of its own members to the State Student Advisory Council.
  • Of the four, one student must be from a vocational school.
  • The State Student Advisory Council is charged with advising the Massachusetts Board of Education.
  • Additionally, the State Student Advisory Council elects a chairperson who serves as a full voting member on the Massachusetts Board of Education.
  • The State Student Advisory Council meets with Department of Education staff once each month of the school year.
  • Student members of both regional and state councils are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.
  • The legislation also states that students should be awarded academic credit for their involvement.
  • As stated above, each year all public secondary schools elect two student representatives to serve a one-year term on their Regional Student Advisory Council.
  • All public high school students (grades 9-12) are eligible to vote and run for office.  In a letter from the Department of Education notifying schools of the upcoming elections, it is noted that “Special encouragement might be given to students who belong to linguistic, cultural and racial groups that have historically been under-represented on the Student Advisory Council.”

Massachusetts School Board Association

  • Students are formal members of the state school board association, and can receive specific training to support their involvement.
  • The state school board association has facilitated student school committee member orientation sessions in the past.
  • Student representatives are invited to attend, without fee, the state school board association’s “Day on the Hill” at the state house.

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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 http://soundout.org/Adam

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