December 7, 2007 at 6:46 pm #811
Does a school board have to advertise a vacant seat before appointing someone? Although many school districts seem to do so, it is unclear whether an advertisement is legally required…December 8, 2007 at 12:16 am #1302
I believe public school boards are free to appoint members to fill vacancies without going through a formal job search (i.e., advertising the vacancy), because it is an elected position. As you note, many do advertise it or send a news release out, in any case, in an attempt to get a field of candidates to choose from. I’m not 100 percent certain of this, so I’ll try to get a definitive answer on Monday.
The Pennsylvania Public School Code (written in 1949) contains no requirement that the vacancy be advertised. It says only the following about vacancies:
24 P.S. § 3-315
§ 3-315. Filling of vacancies
In case any vacancy shall occur in any board of school directors by reason of death, resignation, removal from the district, or otherwise, such vacancy shall, in a school district of the first class, be filled for the unexpired term by the court of common pleas of the county in which such school district is situated from the qualified electors of the district;
and in a school district of the second, third, or fourth classes, the remaining members of the board of school directors shall, by a majority vote thereof, fill such vacancy from the qualified electors of the district within thirty (30) days thereafter.
In a district of the second, third, or fourth class, the person selected to fill such vacancy shall be a qualified elector of the district and shall hold his office, if the term thereof so long continues, until the first Monday of December after the first municipal election occurring more than sixty (60) days after the vacancy shall have occurred. At such election an eligible person shall be elected for the remainder of the unexpired term.
If, by reason of a tie vote or otherwise, such vacancy shall not have been filled by the board of school directors within thirty (30) days after such vacancy shall have occurred from the qualified electors of the district, the court of common pleas of the proper county, upon the petition of ten or more resident taxpayers, shall fill such vacancy by the appointment of a suitable person from the qualified electors of the district if the term of the vacant office so long continues, until the first Monday of December after the first municipal election occurring more than sixty (60) days after the vacancy shall have occurred. At such election an eligible person shall be elected for the remainder of the unexpired term.
When any member of a board of school directors heretofore or hereafter enlists or is inducted into the military or naval forces of the United States in time of war, a temporary vacancy shall be declared, which shall be filled by the remaining members of the board or the court, as the case may be from the qualified electors of the district, until the return of such member of the board from the military or naval service, or until the expiration of the term for which he shall have been elected, whichever shall be the shorter period.
As far as the Sunshine Act goes, though, it’s important to note that school boards may NOT meet in executive session to discuss the appointment of someone to fill a vacant elected position. (Like a vacancy on the school board.) The "personnel exception" to public meetings does NOT apply here.
Hope that helps.
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