Media Backgrounder: NYS School Board Member Removal Process
FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2017
- How is a school board member removed from office?
A board member may be removed from office either by the commissioner of education or the school board. A school board’s authority to remove one of its members from office is separate and distinct from the commissioner’s authority to remove a board member. A school board member removed from office may not be appointed or elected to any district office for one year from the date of his or her removal.
- Under what circumstances may the commissioner of education remove a school board member?
The commissioner of education may remove a school board member from office for the willful violation or neglect of duty, or the willful disobedience of a law or a decision, order, or regulation of the commissioner or rule of the Board of Regents.
To be considered willful, a school board member’s actions must have been “intentional and with a wrongful purpose” to disregard a lawful duty or violate a legal requirement. For example, the commissioner has removed a board member for behavior that interfered with the board’s ability to function in a situation where that board member threatened and initiated a physical altercation with another board member during a board meeting. The disruptive behavior must occur during a board meeting and disrupt the meeting or interfere with the board’s ability to function to warrant removal.
- What is the process for removing a school board member?
The removal may take place only after a hearing on the charges either before the board of education or the commissioner of education. A written copy of the charges must be served at least 10 days before the hearing. The board member must be afforded a “full and fair opportunity to refute such charges before removal.”
- May a school board member resign from office?
A school board member may resign at an annual or special school district meeting, or by filing a written resignation with the district superintendent, which becomes effective only upon the approval of the district superintendent and the filing of the resignation with the school district clerk. Alternatively, a school board member may resign under the Public Officers Law by filing a written resignation with the district. A successor may not be appointed or elected until after the resignation becomes effective.
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