Can we sum up what’s known about students on school boards?

Following is a summary of students on district school boards, written for the SoundOut Students on School Boards Toolbox.

In 2009, in the United States 24 states have specific laws addressing roles for students on district school boards, while three states have no related laws at all. Eight had laws that sort of addressed the issue, while the remaining 11 states did not respond to the question.

The National School Board Association sporadically conducts a survey of their 50 member organizations across the United States to find out how students on school boards are doing. In 2009, they asked them some of the following questions.

They found that students in seven responding states could potentially vote on district school boards, while in 27 states student members of school boards could not vote at all, if they actually sat on school boards in those states. One state respondent wasn’t sure and the remaining 15 states didn’t reply to this question.

When asked whether the vote of student members would be limited to student-specific issues, five states reported that it was, while three states said it was not, if they had students on school boards. 26 states replied that this question was not applicable, probably because their student representatives cannot vote at all if they had student representatives at all. One state wasn’t sure.

Finally, 24 states replied that student members’ role was only as advisors with no real authority. 11 replied that students were treated as regular members of the board.

Following are details of how states answered each question.


  • State = States that responded to the survey
  • Law? = Are there laws affecting student representatives?
  • Voting? = Can students vote as full members?
  • Limited? = Are students’ votes limited to student-specific issues?
  • Age? = How old do you have to be?
  • Advisory? = Are students members, or are they representatives, or on Advisory Committees?


State Law? Voting? Limited? Age? Advisory?
Arizona No specific law Y Y – Voted in only Y (18 +) N
Alaska Y N N/A Y
California Y Y N N
Colorado N
Connecticut Y N N/A Y
Delaware Y N N/A Y
Hawai’i N
Idaho N
Illinois Y Y Y – Voted in only Y (18 +) Y
Indiana Y N N/A Y
Iowa No specific law UNDETERMINED Y
Maine Y N N/A Y
Maryland Y Y Y – District-by-district basis Y
Massachusetts Y N N/A Y
Michigan Y N N/A Y
Minnesota Y N N/A Y
Nebraska N
Nevada Y N N/A Y
New Hampshire Y N N/A Y
New Jersey Y Y Y – Voted in only Y (18 +) Y
New Mexico Y N N/A Y
New York Y N N Y
North Carolina Y N N/A Y
Ohio Y Y N N
Oklahoma N
Oregon Y N N/A Y
Pennsylvania Y N N/A Y
Tennessee Y N N/A Y
Texas N
Utah Y N N/A Y
Vermont No specific law Y Y – Voted in only Y
Virginia Y N N/A Y
Washington Y N N/A Y
West Virginia N
  Y = 24N = 8No specific law = 3 Y = 7N = 27Not sure = 1 Y = 5N = 3N/A = 26Not sure = 1 Y = 3 Y = 24N = 11

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School Boards of the Future by Adam Fletcher


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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