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Filling board vacancies

Kentucky School Advocate
October 2021

By John Powell
KSBA staff attorney

Eventually every board is faced with a vacancy. A board member may resign because he/she is moving, because of health concerns, or because a loved one is being considered for a position in the district. Whatever the reason, the board must move quickly to fill the position. Visit KSBA’s Board Vacancies resource page at ksba.org/BoardVacancies.aspx for helpful tools, from procedures and communications templates to frequently asked questions and a handy vacancy checklist.

If a board member resigns, and the school board is left with a vacancy, what should the board do first?*

First things first, the board must vote to accept the resignation at a regular or special called meeting. From the day the resignation is accepted, the board has 60 days to fill its own vacancy. Following the vote to accept the vacancy, formally notify the (1) Secretary of State, (2) your County Clerk, (3) Commissioner of Education, and (4) the Director of Board Team Development at KSBA. Use the “Form to Provide Notice That A Vacancy Exists” provided in Administrative Procedure 01.3 AP.2.

What if the effective date of the submitted resignation letter is prior to the board meeting?

There is an attorney general opinion that addresses this very question (OAG 81-316). The 60-day timeline the board will use to fill its own vacancy will not start until the board takes action to accept the resignation, regardless of when the resignation letter is submitted or its expressed effective date.

How does our board begin the process of soliciting applicants for the vacant board seat?*

Within 30 days of notifying state officials of the vacancy (and the sooner, the better), the board should advertise the vacancy on the school district’s website and in the newspaper with the largest general circulation in the county or district. Ensure public advertisement is in place for at least two weeks, including information on where to access the application and deadline for submissions. (Refer to “Sample Newspaper Advertisement Announcing Board Vacancy; Application for Board Vacancy; and County Clerk’s Certification” in Administrative Procedure 01.3 AP.21.)

What happens if the 60-day deadline expires before our board is able to fill the vacancy?

After the 60-day window, the commissioner of education assumes authority to appoint a qualified candidate to fill the position. If 60 days have passed before the board has successfully appointed someone to the vacant seat, the district should notify the Kentucky Department of Education (Office of the Commissioner) to discuss next steps.

What questions should our board team ask if we opt to interview candidates for the open seat?

Inquire as to why candidates are seeking the position. Ask candidates about their understanding of the responsibilities of school boards. Discuss their experience with budgets or their views on school taxes. Ask them about how they handle disagreements or how they typically deal with criticism. I highly recommend KSBA’s example interview questions, available via our board vacancy resources page.

*See KRS 160.190

Questions? Contact KSBA Staff Attorney John Powell at (800) 372-2962. The KSBA staff is here to assist boards in any way to make sure the appointment process goes smoothly. Please let us know if we can provide additional support during your search such as facilitation of interviews or reorientation of new board teams.

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