Loudoun County epitomizes the off-the-rails thinking going on in many parts of the United States right now. Critical thinking skills anyone? After two years of students learning from home, the school board is focusing on evoking a full-on war with parents. Asking the for SWAT to be present at every school board meeting. A prime example of a sledge hammer for a house fly. Furthering the illogical thinking, the Governor said that “parents don’t have a right in the child’s education.” This is astounding and part of a much bigger flaw in logic.
So you may be asking what is the purpose of the school board?
Well, simply to ensure that the school district itself serves the parents by educating the students. The parents bring forth educational concerns and desires and it is the job of the school board to ensure that the Superintendent gets it done. You are an elected public official when you are a school board member. You are not law enforcement. You are not the parent.
In California, Educational Code spells out the duties of school board members. The main focus is to be consistent with the purpose of bringing the school district into existence. The other focus is to follow the law by discharging duties assigned to it and also by NOT breaking the law.
The law also asks school board to make its educational activities know to citizens of the district. That is a far broader reach than just parents. In addition, Freedom of Information Act requires for certain information to be provided to requestors in a specified amount of time. It is the backstop for when information is not given freely to its citizens.
The bigger issue for risk managers
The bigger issue at hand is this – lack of training. For the last 20 years, I and my colleagues have been advocating for educational requirements for new school board members. There should be training to understand the roles and responsibilities of their positions. This goes a long way to avoiding knee-jerk reactions to upset parents and other challenges faced during the discharge of your duties.
We recently produced such as training and you can use it for your school boards to ensure that they are helping the Superintendent succeed as well as all parents.
The governing board of any school district may:
(a) Conduct studies through research and investigation as are determined by it to be required in connection with the present and future management, conditions, needs, and financial support of the schools; or join with other school district governing boards in the conduct of such studies.
(b) Install and maintain exhibits of educational programs and activities of the school district at any county fair held in the county in which the district is located in whole or in part, or at any agricultural district fair held in the county in which the school district is located in whole or in part.
(c) Inform and make known to the citizens of the district, the educational programs and activities of the schools therein.
(d) Subscribe for membership for any school under its jurisdiction in any society, association, or organization which has for its purpose the promotion and advancement of public or private education.
(e) Subscribe for membership in, or otherwise become a member of, any national, state or local organization of governing boards of school districts or members thereof which has for its purposes the promotion and advancement of public education through research and investigation, and the cooperation with persons and associations whose interests and purposes are the betterment of the educational opportunities of the children of the state.
(f) Select a member or members of the board to attend meetings of any society, association, or organization for which the school district has subscribed for membership, or any convention to which it may pay the expenses of any employee.