Legal Update Memo No. 01-2020 – Bid Limit Increased for 2020 (K-12)

Download pdf: 01-2020 – Bid Limit Increased for 2020 (LWS)

The Superintendent of Public Instruction has raised the bid threshold limit for non-construction, competitively bid contracts.  It is now set at $95,200 effective January 1, 2020.  Public Contract Code section 20111(d) provides for an annual inflationary increase determined by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The increase for 2020 has been set at 2.76%.

This higher bid limit only applies to (1) the purchase of equipment, materials, and supplies; (2) services, except construction services; and (3) repairs, including maintenance as defined in Public Contract Code section 20115, that are not public projects as defined in Section 22002(c).

Please note that the $15,000 threshold for construction services/public works projects has not been affected by this inflationary change.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

Legal Update written by Loren W. Soukup, Senior Associate General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2020 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

Legal Update Memo No. 43-2019 – AB 218 – Childhood Sexual Assault (K-12)

Download pdf: 43-2019 – AB 218 – Childhood Sexual Assault (CDC)

On October 13, 2019, the Governor approved Assembly Bill (“AB”) 218, which, effective January 1, 2020, provides the following:

  • The pre-existing exception to present a claim under the Government Claims Act for “childhood sexual abuse” will be continued, but will now be defined as “childhood sexual assault”;[1]
  • Increases the time limit for a victim to commence an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to 22 years from the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within 5 years of the date the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual assault, whichever is later;[2]
  • Allows for the recovery of up to treble (triple) damages if a sexual assault was the result of a “cover up”;[3]
  • Allows for the filing of legal claims after the victim’s 40th birthday against a defendant (to include a school district, county office of education, and charter school) if the defendant knew or had reason to know or was otherwise on notice of any misconduct that created a risk of childhood sexual assault by an employee, volunteer, representative, or agent of the defendant and the defendant failed to take reasonable steps or to implement reasonable safeguards[4] to avoid acts of childhood sexual assault;[5] and
  • Beginning on January 1, 2020, creates a three-year window for victims of any age to sue on claims that had previously expired in which the matter had not been “litigated to finality.”[6]

Implications for Local Educational Agencies

Prevention

As discussed in previous Legal Updates from our office, Local Educational Agencies (“LEAs”) have ever increasing responsibilities to ensure the prevention of harassment, including sexual harassment, and bullying with students.  Indeed, LEAs are even responsible for addressing electronic acts (such as texts) created or transmitted off the schoolsite by students that could be an act of bullying towards another student.[7]

LEAs should ensure that all legal training and posting requirements are completed with strict fidelity, which includes:

  • The every other year one-hour sexual harassment prevention training for all employees and the two-hour training for all supervisors in accordance with Senate Bill (“SB”) 1343;[8]
  • LEAs should ensure the annual mandated reporter training is provided to all required staff in accordance with AB 1432;
  • Compliance with Education Code § 231.5, which requires LEAs to display in a “prominent location” its policy/policies on sexual harassment;[9]
  • Compliance with AB 543, which effective January 1, 2020, requires LEAs that serve students in any grades 9th through 12th to develop a poster that notifies students of the sexual harassment prevention policy developed by the LEA, which should be, at a minimum, prominently and conspicuously displayed in each bathroom and locker room at the schoolsite;[10] and
  • Compliance with the requirements of AB 34, which requires LEAs to post specific information on the LEA’s website regarding harassment and bullying.[11]

LEAs may want to consider developing a Board Policy on appropriate adult-student interactions.  The California School Boards Association (“CSBA”) has developed Board Policy 4219.24, which addresses “Maintaining Appropriate Adult-Student Interactions.”

LEAs also need to ensure all employees are appropriately fingerprinted to undergo a criminal background investigation.  LEAs should review their volunteer policies to ensure that student safety is paramount.

Investigation and Reporting

LEAs need to ensure that any reports of harassment and bullying are appropriately investigated in accordance with the LEA’s applicable policies.  Any report of sexual assault for a student under the age of 18 should result in the filing of a mandated report to the appropriate authorities.

Claims by former students should be investigated to the extent possible especially if the alleged perpetrator is still working for the LEA.

Lastly, LEAs should contact their insurance carriers as soon as possible if there is any potential for a legal claim.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other matter.

Legal Update written by Carl D. Corbin, General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Government Code § 905(m).

[2] Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1(a).

[3] Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1(b).  “Cover up” is defined as “a concerted effort to hide evidence relating to childhood sexual assault.”

[4] Providing counseling or requiring counseling is not sufficient, in and of itself, to constitute a reasonable step or reasonable safeguard.

[5] Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1(c).

[6] Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1(q).  There is no clear definition of the phrase “litigated to finality.”

[7] Education Code § 48900(r).

[8] Discussed in Legal Updates 38-2018 and 24-2019.

[9] “Prominent location” means that location, or those locations, in the main administrative building or other area where notices regarding the institution’s rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct are posted.

[10] Discussed in more detail in Legal Update 33-2019.

[11] Discussed in more detail in Legal Update 36-2019.

Legal Update Memo No. 44-2019 – SB 972 – Requirement for Revisions to Student Identification Cards (K-12)

Download pdf: 44-2019 – SB 972 – Requirement for Revisions to Student Identification Cards (DLM)

In a prior legal update[1], we discussed a new law requiring public schools, including charter schools and private schools, which serve grades 7 through 12, to print on either side of pupil identification cards the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, if the school issues identification cards.[2]  This requirement applied to newly issued or replacement cards.

Commencing October 1, 2020, schools serving these populations shall have printed on either side of the pupil identification cards the telephone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233, if they issue identification cards.[3]

If, as of January 1, 2020, a school subject to these requirements possesses non-compliant cards, the school may continue to use those, until the identification cards are depleted.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

Legal Update written by Damara Moore, Senior Associate General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1]   See Legal Update 26-2018.

[2]   In addition, the law provided that the school may have printed on either side of the pupil identification cards the telephone number for the Crisis Text Line, which can be accessed by texting HOME to 741741, and/or a telephone number for a local suicide prevention hotline.

[3]   Cal. Educ. Code § 215.5(a), added by SB 972, which may be found at: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB972

Legal Update Memo No. 19-2019 SB 972 – Requirement for Revisions to Student Identification Cards (CCD)

Download pdf: 19-2019(CC) – SB 972 – Requirement for Revisions to Student Identification Cards (DLM)

In a prior legal update[1], we discussed that effective July 1, 2019, a public or private institution of higher learning shall have printed on either side of the student identification cards the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, if the school issues identification cards.[2]  This requirement applied to newly issued or replacement cards.

Commencing October 1, 2020, schools serving these populations shall have printed on either side of the pupil identification cards the telephone number for either the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233, or a local domestic violence hotline that provides confidential support services for students that have experienced domestic violence or stalking and is available by telephone 24 hours a day.[3]

If, as of January 1, 2020, a school subject to these requirements possesses non-compliant cards, the school may continue to use those, until the identification cards are depleted.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

Legal Update written by Damara Moore, Senior Associate General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

 

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

 

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1]   See Legal Update 10-2018 (CC).

[2]   In addition, the law provided that the school may have printed on either side of the pupil identification cards (A) The telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255; (B) The Crisis Text Line, which can be accessed by texting HOME to 741741; (C) The campus police or security telephone number or, if the campus does not have a campus police or security telephone number, the local nonemergency telephone number; and (D) A local suicide prevention hotline telephone number.

[3]   Cal. Educ. Code § 215.5(b), added by SB 972, which may be found at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB972

Legal Update Memo No. 18-2019 Public Agency Statement of Facts (CCD)

Download pdf: 18-2019(CC) – Public Agency Statement of Facts w attachments (SPR)

This is a reminder to update your district’s Statement of Facts listed in the Roster of Public Agencies, a public list of basic facts about a community college district which includes the following:

The full, legal name of the public agency;

  1. The official mailing address of the governing body;
  2. The name and residence or business address of each member of the governing body; and
  3. The name, title, and residence or business address of the chairman, president, or other presiding officer, and clerk or secretary of the governing body.

Potential claimants can use the list to find names and addresses for filing a claim under the Government Claims Act with a district.  The timely filing of a governmental claim with a district is a precondition to filing a lawsuit against that district.

The consequences of failing to maintain the accuracy of this factual information can be significant.  Claimants may be allowed to file lawsuits without first filing timely governmental claims with the district if the basic facts listed above are significantly inaccurate or incomplete.

Government Code section 53051 requires every community college district to file a Statement of Facts about the district with the California Secretary of State[1] and with the county clerk for each county in which the district maintains an office after it comes into existence and to periodically amend that Statement of Facts.

Subsection (b) of section 53051 requires districts to file an amended Statement of Facts within 10 days after a change in any of these basic facts.  Some community college districts may be welcoming new members to their boards as a result of recent elections and will have new appointments of board members (see fact #3 above).  Organizational meetings may result in a change in the presiding officer (see fact #4 above).  If there are changes in the facts listed above, it is important that you file an amended Statement of Facts with the Secretary of State and with the county clerk for each county where the district maintains an office.  Failure to do so could relieve a claimant of the duty to comply with the Government Claims Act and increase exposure to lawsuits.

Districts must ensure they are using their full legal name when filing and not an abbreviated acronym.

To ensure your Statement of Facts is properly filed, we advise either using U.S. certified mail, return receipt requested, or sending an extra copy with a postage-paid envelope and cover letter asking for a file endorsed copy.

Attached is a copy of Government Code section 53051, and a Statement of Facts form for filing with the Secretary of State.  Contact your local county clerk’s office for instructions on how to file the Statement of Facts at the county level.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

Legal Update written by Steven P. Reiner, Associate General Counsel.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] A copy of this form can be found at https://bpd.cdn.sos.ca.gov/sf/forms/np-sf-405.pdf , or by filling out the attached PDF.

Legal Update Memo No. 42-2019 – Public Agency Statement of Facts (K-12)

Download pdf: 42-2019 – Public Agency Statement of Facts w attachments (SPR)

This is a reminder to update your district’s Statement of Facts listed in the Roster of Public Agencies, a public list of basic facts about a school district which includes the following:

The full, legal name of the public agency;

  1. The official mailing address of the governing body;
  2. The name and residence or business address of each member of the governing body; and
  3. The name, title, and residence or business address of the chairman, president, or other presiding officer, and clerk or secretary of the governing body.

Potential claimants can use the list to find names and addresses for filing a claim under the Government Claims Act with a district.  The timely filing of a governmental claim with a district is a precondition to filing a lawsuit against that district.

The consequences of failing to maintain the accuracy of this factual information can be significant.  Claimants may be allowed to file lawsuits without first filing timely governmental claims with the district if the basic facts listed above are significantly inaccurate or incomplete.

Government Code section 53051 requires every school district to file a Statement of Facts about the district with the California Secretary of State[1] and with the county clerk for each county in which the district maintains an office after it comes into existence and to periodically amend that Statement of Facts.

Subsection (b) of section 53051 requires districts to file an amended Statement of Facts within 10 days after a change in any of these basic facts.  Some school districts may be welcoming new members to their boards as a result of recent elections and will have new appointments of board members (see fact #3 above).  Organizational meetings may result in a change in the presiding officer (see fact #4 above).  If there are changes in the facts listed above, it is important that you file an amended Statement of Facts with the Secretary of State and with the county clerk for each county where the district maintains an office.  Failure to do so could relieve a claimant of the duty to comply with the Government Claims Act and increase exposure to lawsuits.

Districts must ensure they are using their full legal name when filing and not an abbreviated acronym.

To ensure your Statement of Facts is properly filed, we advise either using U.S. certified mail, return receipt requested, or sending an extra copy with a postage-paid envelope and cover letter asking for a file endorsed copy.

Attached is a copy of Government Code section 53051, and a Statement of Facts form for filing with the Secretary of State.  Contact your local county clerk’s office for instructions on how to file the Statement of Facts at the county level.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

Legal Update written by Steven P. Reiner,Associate General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

 © 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

 All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] A copy of this form can be found at https://bpd.cdn.sos.ca.gov/sf/forms/np-sf-405.pdf , or by filling out the attached PDF.

Legal Update Memo No. 41-2019 – AB 605 – Special Education Student Access to AT Device (K-12)

Download pdf: 41-2019 – AB 605 – Special Education Student Access to AT Device (CDC)

On September 5, 2019, the Governor approved Assembly Bill (“AB”) 605, which effective January 1, 2020, allows for a special education student, whose Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) provides the student with an Assistive Technology (“AT”) device for use outside of the school setting, to continue to be provided an AT device for use outside the school setting for up to two months even after the student leaves a Local Educational Agency (“LEA”) and enrolls in a new LEA.[1]

AT Generally

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) mandates a special education student must be provided AT devices and/or services as special education, a related service, or as a supplementary aid and service if the student requires the AT device or service in order to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”)[2]

AT Device & Service Defined

The definition for an AT device is quite broad:

…means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.[3]

The California Department of Education (“CDE”) has a detailed non-exhaustive list of AT devices available on its website: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/sr/atexmpl.asp.

AT service is defined under both federal and state law as:

(a) The evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child’s customary environment;

(b) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities;

(c) Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;

(d) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;

(e) Training or technical assistance for a child with a disability or, if appropriate, that child’s family; and

(f) Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that child.[4]

Right to Access AT Device Outside of School

The IDEA mandates that on:

…a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in child’s home or in other settings is required if the child’s IEP Team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.[5]

AB 605 clarifies the right for a student to access an AT device outside of school:

(b)  (1)  A local educational agency shall be responsible for providing an individual with exceptional needs who requires the use of an assistive technology device with continued access to that device, or to a comparable device when that individual, due to enrollment in another local educational agency, ceases to be enrolled in that local educational agency.

(2)  The responsibility of the local educational agency under paragraph (1) shall be in force until alternative arrangements for providing the individual with exceptional needs with continuous access to the assistive technology device, or to a comparable device, can be made or until two months have elapsed from the date that the individual ceased to be enrolled in that local educational agency, whichever occurs first. (Emphasis added).[6]

LEAs Should Develop Written Agreements with Parents Regarding AT Devices

We advise that LEAs develop a written agreement requiring parents to acknowledge their responsibility to replace a lost and damaged (beyond normal “wear and tear”) AT device.  We also advise the written agreement clarify the responsibility of the parents for a student leaving a LEA by notifying the sending LEA when the receiving LEA has provided the special education student with an AT device or two months has lapsed, whichever is shorter, along with instructions on returning the original AT device to the sending LEA.

Our office will be developing a model written agreement on this issue.  Your Special Education Local Plan Area (“SELPA”) may already have developed an AT student use written agreement, but the document should be updated to reflect the new requirements of AB 605.

For your convenience, please see the following link to AB 605:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB605.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other matter.

Legal Update written by Carl D. Corbin, General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

 © 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

 All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] The definition of LEA includes a charter school pursuant to Education Code § 56040.3(c).

[2] 34 CFR § 300.105(a).

[3] 34 CFR § 300.5.

[4] 34 CFR § 300.6 and 5 CCR § 3051.19.

[5] 34 CFR § 300.105(b).

[6] Education Code § 56040.3(b).

Legal Update Memo No. 17-2019 2019 Governing Board Elections and Organizational Meetings and Frequently Asked Questions (CCD)

Download pdf: 17-2019(CC) – 2019 Governing Board Elections and Organizational Meetings and FAQs (KAS)

We are reissuing this Legal Update as we have received many questions regarding annual organizational meetings in the past few days.

Effective January 1, 2019 new amendments to Education Code sections 1007, 1009, 5017 and 72027 went into effect. As described below, these amendments changed only the effective date for the end of an incumbent trustee’s term of office, the commencement of the term of that person’s successor, and the timing of the organizational meeting.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS

(Education Code Section 35143)

Each community college district is required to hold an annual organizational meeting.  In an election year, a community college organizational meeting is held on a day within the fifteen (15) day period that commences with the date upon which a governing board member elected at that election takes office (the second Friday in December).  In years in which no regular election for governing board members is conducted, the organizational meeting is held during that same fifteen day period.  This year the date on which elected trustees will take office is December 13, 2019.

Unless otherwise provided by a rule of the Governing Board, the date of the organizational meeting must be selected by the Board at its regular meeting held immediately prior to December 1st (presumably the regular November board meeting).Thus, the organizational meeting must be held between December 13, 2019 and December 28, 2019.

Board Member Term of Office

(Education Code Section 1007, 5017 and 72027)

The amendment to Education Code section 72027 changes the last day of the term of office for a sitting board member, and the commencement of the term of a newly-elected board member, from the first Friday in December to the second Friday in December.

Because this change to the terms of office for community college trustees lengthens the terms of office for trustees slightly, any incumbent’s term of office will simply be extended by that additional time beginning in December 2019 and thereafter, depending on when the term of office would otherwise have expired. For example, someone elected in 2019 will commence office on December 13, 2019. Incumbents’ terms of office are similarly extended—where previously an incumbent’s term would have expired on December 2, 2022, under the new law, that person’s term will now expire December 9, 2022.

Election Issues

Districts with the governing board elections scheduled for 2019 should be aware of the following information:

  1. Number of Candidates Less Than or Equal to the Number of Board Seats

No election is held.  The existing Board members continue to serve until the organizational meeting of the Board, at which time the candidate(s) are seated and become Board members.

  1. No Candidates or Insufficient Candidates for Number of Seats Vacant

Seats for which there are sufficient candidates are discussed above.  For those seat(s) for which there are no candidates, the Board must appoint.  It is important to note that, except for seats which have been specifically designated two-year seats, an appointment to a governing board seat due to lack of a candidate or candidates is a four-year appointment.

The appointment must be made prior to the election.  Prior to making the appointment, “. . . the governing board shall cause to be published a notice once in a newspaper of general circulation published in the district or, if no such newspaper is published in the district, in a newspaper having general circulation in the district, stating that the board intends to make an appointment and informing persons of the procedure available for applying for the office.”  (Education Code section 5328.5).

  1. Changing the Election Cycle from Odd-Year to Even-Year

Until 2018, the “default” for community college districts under the Elections Code was to hold elections in odd-numbered years.  As noted above, in 2015, AB 415 was signed into law, and required most local entities that formerly held their elections in odd-numbered years to move them to even-numbered years. Those districts that were required to do so but did not want to make the change-over immediately were required to adopt a plan, by January 1, 2018, to make this change by the November 2022 election.

Because most entities that were required to make this change have either already done so or have adopted the required plan by January 2017, we have removed from this Legal Update the detailed discussion of how to switch an election cycle from odd-numbered to even-numbered years. Any districts that have either not made the switch but that need assistance in doing so should contact our office for further information and assistance.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Eligibility to Hold Office

  1. What are the qualifications to be elected/appointed to a college district board?

Education Code section 72022 provides as follows:

[A]ny resident and registered elector of the school district not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state is eligible to candidacy for, and appointment and election to, the governing board of a community college district in which trustee areas have been provided under this section.

Additionally, Education Code section 72103, subdivision (a) provides:

(a) Any person, regardless of sex, who is 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the state, a resident of the community college district, a registered voter, and who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, is eligible to be elected or appointed a member of a governing board of a community college district without further qualifications.

  1. Can employees of the college district serve on the governing board?

No.  Education Code section 72103, subdivision (b)(1) provides as follows:

An employee of a community college district may not be sworn into office as an elected or appointed member of that community college district’s governing board unless and until he or she resigns as an employee.  If the employee does not resign, the employment will automatically terminate upon being sworn into office.

  1. Are there limitations on the employment of a spouse or other relatives of a board member?

Yes. Under Government Code section 1090, a long-term community college district employee whose spouse is appointed to or elected to the district’s governing board may not be promoted by the board.  “Long-term” means that the employee has served for one year or more. See Government Code section 1091.5, subd. (a)(6).  The spouse of a new employee, i.e., someone with less than one year of employment at the district in question, may not be elected or appointed to the board unless the other spouse resigns his or her employment first.

If a spouse has been an employee of the district for at least one year before the other spouse joins the governing board, then the other spouse may be elected or appointed to serve on the governing board.  Even if the employee-spouse meets this requirement, the board will not be able to take action affecting the spouse’s employment status. For example, the employee-spouse could not be promoted, changed from a temporary to a regular employee, or have his or her position selectively reclassified while the other spouse is a board member. Furthermore, under the Political Reform Act (Government Code section 87100 et seq.), the board-member spouse would have to abstain from any discussion or participation in any decision that would uniquely affect the employee-spouse.

  1. May a board member hold another political office?

The answer depends on whether the other public office has “potentially overlapping public duties” with the school board position.  Where there is potential for overlapping duties the common law doctrine of “incompatible” offices prevents one person from holding both offices.  By way of example, a board member of a “feeder” elementary school district cannot at the same time also serve as a board member of that elementary district’s high school district.  (See 68 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 171 (1985).)

In 2005, the Legislature adopted Government Code section 1099, thereby codifying the common law rule. Section 1099 prohibits holding incompatible offices much like the common law rule. Prior attorney general’s opinions and judicial interpretation of the common law rule will continue to aid in the application of the new statute.

Term of Office

  1. When does the term of office begin?

For board members elected in odd-numbered years,[1] Education Code section 5000 provides as follows (emphasis added):

After the initial election of governing board members in any school district or community college district, a governing board member election shall be held biennially on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each succeeding odd-numbered year to fill the offices of members whose terms expire on the first Friday in December next succeeding the election.  Except as provided in this chapter, or in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 5200), the elections shall be held and conducted in accordance with Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5300).

Similarly, for board members elected in even-numbered years, Education Code section 5017 provides as follows(emphasis added):

Each person elected at a regular biennial governing board member election shall hold office for a term of four years commencing on the second Friday in December next succeeding his or her election.  Any member of the governing board of a school district or community college district whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of the office until his or her successor has qualified.  The term of the successor shall begin upon the expiration of the term of his or her predecessor.

Finally, Elections Code section 10554 provides as follows (emphasis added):

Elective officers, elected or appointed pursuant to this part, take office at noon on the first Friday in December next following the general district election.  Prior to taking office, each elective officer shall take the official oath and execute any bond required by the principal act.

Because Education Code section 5300 provides that provisions of the Elections Code apply to school district elections “except as otherwise provided in the code” it appears that the 2018 amendments to sections 1007, 5017, and 72027 about the terms of office commencing on the second Friday in December will take precedence over Elections Code section 10554 beginning in 2019, because the amendments to those statutes will make them the more specific statutes with respect to when each elected trustee’s term commences.

Oath of Office

 

  1. Is it necessary for a board member to take an “oath of office”?

Yes.  Government Code section 1360 provides as follows:

Unless otherwise provided, before any officer enters on the duties of his office, he shall take and subscribe the oath or affirmation set forth in Section 3 of Article XX[2] of the Constitution of California.

Failure to take the oath of office and file a bond as required by law is one way in which a public office becomes vacant, as provided in Government Code section 1770, subdivision (i).

  1. Who can administer the oath of office to a newly elected/appointed board member?

Any person listed in Education Code section 60 or Government Code section 1362 may administer the oath to a newly elected/appointed board member.

Education Code section 60 provides as follows:

The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deputy and Assistant Superintendents of Public Instruction, secretary of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, members of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, county superintendents of schools, school trustees, members of boards of education, secretaries and assistant secretaries of boards of education, city superintendents of schools, district superintendents of schools, assistant superintendents of schools, deputy superintendents of schools, principals of schools, and every other officer charged with the performance of duties under the provisions of this code may administer and certify oaths relating to officers or official matters concerning public schools.

Government Code section 1362 provides as follows:

Unless otherwise provided, the oath may be taken before any officer authorized to administer oaths.

This is a very broad provision—“any officer authorized to administer oaths.” It includes judges, virtually all elected officials, notaries public, and numerous county and state officers.

 What happens if the elected/appointed officer fails or refuses to take the oath of office?

Education Code section 5017 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

. . . Any member of the governing board of a school district or community college district whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of the office until his or her successor has qualified.  The term of the successor shall begin upon the expiration of the term of his or her predecessor.

In addition, Government Code section 1302 provides as follows:

Every officer whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of his office until his successor has qualified.

Thus, if an elected or appointed official fails or refuses to take the oath of office, the outgoing board member can continue to discharge the duties of office until a new member qualifies.  Conversely, if the office becomes vacant, then the position remains vacant until filled by a qualified candidate, either by appointment or election depending on the procedure to be followed.[3]

  1. When may the oath be taken by a newly elected/appointed board member?

Elections Code section 10554 provides as follows (emphasis added):

Elective officers, elected or appointed pursuant to this part, take office at noon on the first Friday in December next following the general district election. Prior to taking office, each elective officer shall take the official oath and execute any bond required by the principal act.  (Emphasis added.)

Thus, the oath of office may be administered at any time after the election results are certified by the county clerk.  This is typically done at the district’s organizational meeting, but once elected, a new board member can choose to be sworn in earlier, as discussed above.

  1. How long does the county clerk have to certify the election results?

Elections Code section 15372 provides as follows:

The elections official shall prepare a certified statement of the results of the election and submit it to the governing body within 28 days of the election or, in the case of school district, community college district, county board of education, or special district elections conducted on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years, no later than the last Monday before the last Friday of that month.

Elections Code sections 15400 and 15401 provides as follows:

The governing body shall declare elected or nominated to each office voted on at each election under its jurisdiction the person having the highest number of votes for that office, or who was elected or nominated under the exceptions noted in Section 15452.  The governing board shall also declare the results of each election under its jurisdiction as to each measure voted on at the election.

The elections official shall make out and deliver to each person elected or nominated, as declared by the governing body, a certificate of election or nomination, signed and authenticated by the elections official.

  1. What are the rules with respect to the annual organizational meeting?

Education Code section 35143 provides as follows:

The governing board of each school district shall hold an annual organizational meeting.  In a year in which a regular election for governing board members is conducted, the meeting shall be held on a day within a 15-day period that commences with the date upon which a governing board member elected at that election takes office.  Organizational meetings in years in which no such regular election for governing board members is conducted shall be held during the same 15-day period on the calendar.  Unless otherwise provided by rule of the governing board, the day and time of the annual meeting shall be selected by the board at its regular meeting held immediately prior to the first day of such 15-day period, and the board shall notify the county superintendent of schools of the day and time selected.  The clerk of the board shall, within 15 days prior to the date of the annual meeting, notify in writing all members and members-elect of the date and time selected for the meeting.

If the board fails to select a day and time for the meeting, the county superintendent of schools having jurisdiction over the district shall, prior to the first day of such 15-day period and after the regular meeting of the board held immediately prior to the first day of such 15-day period, designate the day and time of the annual meeting.  The day designated shall be within the 15-day period.  He shall notify in writing all members and members-elect of the date and time.

At the annual meeting the governing board of each high school district, union high school district, and joint union high school district shall organize by electing a president from its members and a clerk.

At the annual meeting each city board of education shall organize by electing a president from its members.

At the annual meeting the governing board of each other type of school district, except a community college district, shall elect one of its members clerk of the district.

As an alternative to the procedures set forth in this section, a city board of education whose members are elected in accordance with a city charter for terms of office commencing in December, may hold its annual organizational meeting required in this section between December 15 and January 14, inclusive, as provided in rules and regulations which shall be adopted by such board.  At the annual meeting the city board of education shall organize by electing a president and vice president from its members who shall serve in such office during the period January 15 next to the following January 14, unless removed from such office by majority vote of all members of the city board of education.

Note that, as discussed in section 7 above, section 35143 permits a district, by local rule, to choose a different date for its organizational meeting.

  1. At the organizational meeting which board members (e.g., outgoing or incoming) convene the meeting?

Where the oath of office is administered at the organizational meeting, the outgoing board may convene the meeting, the oath(s) may be administered, and then the board with new members seated would complete the remainder of the agenda.  If a new member or members have taken the oath of office prior to the organizational meeting, the meeting should convene with any previously-sworn members sitting with the board.

Brown Act

  1. Does the Brown Act apply to newly elected members before they take office?

Yes.  Government Code section 54952.1 provides as follows:

Any person elected to serve as a member of a legislative body who has not yet assumed the duties of office shall conform his or her conduct to the requirements of this chapter and shall be treated for purposes of enforcement of this chapter as if he or she has already assumed office.

We believe the reference to “elected to serve” applies once the county clerk has certified the election results. (See Elections Code sections 15372, 15400 and 15401, set forth above.)

Board Member Resignation

  1. May a board member resign from his/her office?

Yes.  Government Code section 1770, subdivision (c) provides that “[a]n office becomes vacant . . . [upon the incumbent’s] resignation.”

  1. How does a board member resign?

Education Code section 5090 provides that “a vacancy resulting from resignation occurs when the written resignation is filed with the county superintendent of schools . . .”

  1. Is it necessary for the board to take action to accept a member’s resignation?

No.  As noted above the resignation is effective upon the county superintendent of schools’ receipt of the written resignation.

Some governing board meetings do have public agenda items to “accept” a member’s resignation.  This is usually done for purposes of creating an occasion to honor a departing board member and is purely ceremonial with no legal significance.

  1. May a board member rescind a written resignation once it is filed with the county superintendent of schools?

No.  Education Code section 5090 provides that a “written resignation. . . shall, upon being filed with the county superintendent of schools be irrevocable.”

  1. What constitutes “filing” a resignation with the county superintendent?

A resignation is filed with the county superintendent upon physical receipt by the county superintendent’s office of a writing indicating a resignation.

  1. May a board member defer the effective date of a resignation?

Yes.  Education Code section 5090 provides that a board member’s written resignation may indicate a “deferred effective date.”  Section 5091 provides further that the resignation may not be deferred “for more than 60 days after he or she files the resignation with the county superintendent of schools.” 

  1. Would an e-mail or facsimile transmission constitute a written resignation?

Probably not.  The law applicable to resignations has not been amended to provide for electronic or facsimile substitution for written resignations.

  1. What is the effective date of a resignation?

Unless the resignation contains a “deferral” date, the effective date of a written resignation is the date it is actually received by the county superintendent’s office.

  1. Are there any limits on the role of a board member who files with the county superintendent a written resignation with a deferred effective date?

Yes.  Education Code section 35178 provides as follows (emphasis added):

A member of the governing board of a school district who has tendered a resignation with a deferred effective date pursuant to Section 5090 shall, until the effective date of the resignation, continue to have the right to exercise all powers of a member of the governing board, except that such member shall not have the right to vote for his or her successor in an action taken by the board to make a provisional appointment pursuant to Section 5091.

Note:  This prohibition applies only to the actual vote and does not appear to preclude the member whose resignation is pending from participating in the selection process or board discussion of who to appoint.

  1. What does a board need to do after learning of a resignation from one of its members?

Education Code section 5091 provides that the governing board “shall, within 60 days of the vacancy or the filing of the deferred resignation, either order an election or make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy.”

Note:  The 60 days starts to run when the resignation is received by the county superintendent even if the resignation contains a deferred effective date.

The governing board must also make sure that the person provisionally appointed to the position is “qualified” under Education Code section 35107 as discussed in more detail above.

  1. May the board meet in closed session to develop questions or interview candidates?

No.  Under the Brown Act, all aspects of making a provisional appointment must be done in public session, except where the board appoints an advisory ad hoc committee of less than a quorum of board members and no other members.  If an advisory ad hoc committee is appointed it may assist in screening or evaluating applications and preparing interview questions, but may not make any final decisions for the board.  (See Government Code section 54952, subdivision (b).)

The provisional appointment must be put on the public session agenda and the full Board must take action to approve the appointment.

 Once the board makes a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy, what happens next?

Education Code section 5092 provides as follows:

Whenever a provisional appointment is made to the governing board of a school district pursuant to Section 5091, the board shall, within 10 days of the provisional appointment of a person to fill a vacancy which occurs or will occur, post notices of both the actual vacancy or the filing of a deferred resignation and also the provisional appointment in three public places in the district and shall publish a notice pursuant to Section 6061 of the Government Code.  If there is no newspaper of general circulation published in the district, notice need not be published.

The notice shall state the fact of the vacancy or resignation and the date of the occurrence of the vacancy or the date of the filing of, and the effective date of, the resignation.  The notice shall also contain the full name of the provisional appointee to the board and the date of his appointment, and a statement that unless a petition calling for a special election, containing a sufficient number of signatures, is filed in the office of county superintendent of schools within 30 days of the date of the provisional appointment, it shall become an effective appointment.

 Thus, the residents of the district whose board has appointed a provisional board member can petition to force a special election—although in practical terms, this rarely happens.

  1. What happens if vacancies occur in a majority or more of the board seats at the same time?

Education Code section 5094 provides as follows:

If for any reason vacancies should occur in a majority of the offices on any school district or community college district governing board, the president of the county board of education having jurisdiction may appoint members of the county board of education to the district governing board until new members of the governing board are elected or appointed.

Note:  At the discretion of the president of the county board of education, appointments may be made in one or more of the vacant positions.  In other words, the county board president is not limited to making appointments only sufficient to create a quorum on the district board.  Thus, on a five person board with 3 vacancies, the county board president may designate up to 3 members of the county board of education to serve as district board members.  Once appointed, the county board members continue to serve as district board members until new members “are elected or appointed.”

  1. May a district board reappoint the same person who resigned from the seat that is vacant?

No.  Government Code section 1752, subdivision (a) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

. . . no person elected or appointed to the governing body of any city, county, or district having an elected governing body, shall be appointed to fill any vacancy on that governing body during the term for which he or she was elected or appointed (emphasis added).

Please note:  This provision also prohibits a board member with a “short” term from resigning and being appointed to a vacant “long” term.

  1. If the district chooses to call for written applications from candidates who wish to be considered for appointment, are the submitted applications public records?

Yes.  Under the Public Records Act (Govt. Code section 6250 et seq.) copies of any applications for a board vacancy that are received by the district must be made available for public inspection and copies provided upon request.

Note:  Because the applications become public records, we recommend that prospective candidates be so-informed before they submit an application.

  1. If the board chooses to interview candidates one at a time before making an appointment do all candidates have a right to be present?

Under the Brown Act all persons—including candidates for a board appointment—have a right to attend all public sessions of the board.

At the same time the board may request (but not require) the other candidates to remain outside the meeting room until after they are interviewed.

Our experience has been that most candidates honor the request, as they understand the essential fairness of the request, and that the refusal to do so may have an impact on the remaining board members’ willingness to appoint a candidate who refuses to cooperate.

  1. If everything must be done in public session, how does the board develop questions that will not be known in advance by the candidates?

Good question!  The Brown Act simply does not provide a ready response to this question. We have recommended against using email (or other private communications) among board members to reach a board decision on what questions to ask the candidates.

It is recommended that individual board members submit proposed questions to the board president, who will compile a composite question list.  The board can also have such questions referred to an executive officer, such as the superintendent, who can undertake the task of compiling such questions, perhaps in concert with a single board member or an ad hoc committee of the board.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

 © 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

 All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] See the discussion in the analysis section above. The Legislature was apparently confident that AB 415 has forced all school entities to switch from odd-year to even-year elections. This can be inferred because new legislation only requires those entities that hold elections in even-numbered years to switch the start date for terms of office to the second Friday in December. The start date for entities that hold elections in odd-numbered years has not been changed.

[2] That is, “Article 20.”

[3] As discussed below, district boards can sometimes make an appointment within 60 days of a vacancy. In other cases, if the vacancy occurs too close to a scheduled election or the end of a member’s term, the vacancy must await an upcoming regular election or a special election.

Legal Update Memo No. 40-2019 – 2019 Governing Board Elections and Organizational Meetings and Frequently Asked Questions (K-12)

Download pdf: 40-2019 – 2019 Governing Board Elections and Organizational Meetings and FAQ (KAS)

We are reissuing this Legal Update as we have received many questions regarding annual organizational meetings in the past few days.

Effective January 1, 2019, new amendments to Education Code sections 1007, 1009, and 5017 went into effect. As described below, these amendments changed only the effective date for the end of an incumbent trustee’s term of office, the commencement of the term of that person’s successor, and the timing of the organizational meeting.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS (Education Code Section 35143)

Each school district and county office of education is required to hold an annual organizational meeting. In an election year, a school district organizational meeting must be held on a day within the fifteen (15) day period that commences with the date upon which a governing board member elected at that election takes office (the second Friday in December). In years in which no regular election for governing board members is conducted, the organizational meeting is held during that same fifteen day period. Exceptions to this rule are discussed below. This year, the date on which elected trustees will take office is December 13, 2019.

Organizational meetings should be held as follows:

  1. Governing Boards of School Districts

The organizational meeting must be held within 15 days of the second Friday in December. Unless otherwise provided by a rule of the Governing Board, the date of the organizational meeting must be selected by the Board at its regular meeting held immediately prior to December 1st (presumably the regular November board meeting).

The organizational meeting must, therefore, be held between December 13, 2019 and December 28, 2019.

  1. Governing Boards of School Districts Governed by a City Charter

These Boards have the option of holding their organizational meetings as described above, or may hold their organizational meeting between December 15th and January 14th, if so provided by the Governing Board rules.

  1. County Boards of Education

Starting this December 2019, for those boards holding an organizational meeting following the November election, their organizational meetings will now be held on the second Friday in December instead of at the end of November. For boards whose members are elected in June, the organizational meeting remains July 1.

Board Member Term of Office (Education Code Section 1007 and 5017)

County Boards of Education:

Effective this year, the date on which outgoing members’ terms of office end, and on which newly- elected members take office, is moved from the last Friday in November to the second Friday in December. The terms of office of county board members elected at the California primary (whether in March or June) will continue to commence on the first day of July.

Likewise, the law has changed the date for county board organizational meetings from the last Friday in November to the second Friday in December. For those county boards with members elected at the primary, their organizational meeting remains the first board meeting held after July 1.

School Districts:

For school district board members, the amendment to Education Code section 5017 changes the last day of an incumbent trustee’s term of office, and the first day of a newly-elected trustee’s term, from the first Friday in December to the second Friday in December.

Because all of these changes to the terms of office—for county board and school board—lengthen the terms of office for board members slightly, any incumbent’s term of office will simply be extended by that additional time beginning in December 2019 and thereafter, depending on when the term of office would otherwise have expired. For example, someone elected in 2019 will commence office on December 13, 2019. Incumbents’ terms of office are similarly extended— where previously an incumbent’s term would have expired on December 2, 2022, under the new law that person’s term will now expire December 9, 2022. County board members, the only local body whose terms of office previously began and ended in November, will have their terms of office extended by approximately two weeks, and terms will now match those of school boards.

Election Issues

Districts with the governing board elections scheduled for 2019 should be aware of the following information:

  1. Number of Candidates Less Than or Equal to the Number of Board Seats

No election is held. The existing Board members continue to serve until the organizational meeting of the Board, at which time the candidate(s) are seated and become Board members.

  1. No Candidates or Insufficient Candidates for Number of Seats Vacant

Seats for which there are sufficient candidates are discussed above. For those seat(s) for which there are no candidates, the Board must appoint. It is important to note that, except for seats which have been specifically designated two-year seats, an appointment to a governing board seat due to lack of a candidate or candidates is a four-year appointment.

The appointment must be made prior to the election. Prior to making the appointment, “. . . the governing board shall cause to be published a notice once in a newspaper of general circulation published in the district or, if no such newspaper is published in the district, in a newspaper having general circulation in the district, stating that the board intends to make an appointment and informing persons of the procedure available for applying for the office.” (Education Code section 5328.5.)

  1. Changing the Election Cycle from Odd-Year to Even-Year

Until 2018, the “default” for school districts and community college districts under the Elections Code was to hold elections in odd-numbered years. As noted above, in 2015, AB 415 was signed into law, and required most local entities that formerly held their elections in odd-numbered years to move them to even-numbered years. Those districts that were required to do so but did not want to make the change-over immediately were required to adopt a plan, by January 1, 2018, to make this change by the November 2022 election.

Because most entities that were required to make this change have either already done so or have adopted the required plan by January 2017, we have removed from this Legal Update the detailed discussion of how to switch an election cycle from odd-numbered to even- numbered years. Any districts that have either not made the switch but that need assistance in doing so should contact our office for further information and assistance.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Eligibility to Hold Office

  1. What are the qualifications to be elected/appointed to a school board?

Education Code section 35107, subdivision (a) provides as follows:

(a)        Any person, regardless of sex, who is 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the state, a resident of the school district, a registered voter, and who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, is eligible to be elected or appointed a member of a governing board of a school district without further qualifications.

  1. Can employees of the school district serve on the governing board?

No.  Education Code section 35107, subdivision (b)(1) provides as follows:

An employee of a school district may not be sworn into office as an elected or appointed member of that school district’s governing board unless and until he or she resigns as an employee.  If the employee does not resign, the employment will automatically terminate upon being sworn into office.

  1. Are there limitations on the employment of a spouse or other relatives of a board member?

Yes. Under Government Code section 1090, a long-term school district employee whose spouse is appointed to or elected to the district’s governing board may not be promoted by the board. “Long-term” means that the employee has served for one year or more. See Government Code section 1091.5, subd. (a)(6). The spouse of a new employee, i.e., someone with less than one year of employment at the district in question, may not be elected or appointed to the board unless the other spouse resigns his or her employment first.

If a spouse has been an employee of the district for at least one year before the other spouse joins the governing board, then the other spouse may be elected or appointed to serve on the governing board. Even if the employee-spouse meets this requirement, the board will not be able to take action affecting the spouse’s employment status. For example, the employee-spouse could not be promoted, changed from a temporary to a regular employee, or have his or her position selectively reclassified while the other spouse is a board member. Furthermore, under the Political Reform Act (Government Code section 87100 et seq.), the board-member spouse would have to abstain from any discussion or participation in any decision that would uniquely affect the employee- spouse.

  1. Are there term limits for school board members?

There can be, but only if the voters choose to impose them. Education Code section 35107, subdivision (c) provides as follows (emphasis added):

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the governing board of a school district may adopt or the residents of the school district may propose, by initiative, a proposal to limit or repeal a limit on the number of terms a member of the governing board of the school district may serve on the governing board of the school district. Any proposal to limit the number of terms a member of the governing board of the school district may serve on the governing board of the school district shall apply prospectively only and shall not become operative unless it is submitted to the electors of the school district at a regularly scheduled election and a majority of the votes cast on the question favor the adoption of the proposal.

Therefore, unless action is taken as set forth in section 35107, subdivision (c), term limits do not apply to school district governing boards.

  1. May a school board member hold another political office?

The answer depends on whether the other public office has “potentially overlapping public duties” with the school board position. Where there is potential for overlapping duties the common law doctrine of “incompatible” offices prevents one person from holding both offices. By way of example, a board member of a “feeder” elementary school district cannot at the same time also serve as a board member of that elementary district’s high school district.  (See 68 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 171 (1985).)

In 2005, the Legislature adopted Government Code section 1099, thereby codifying the common law rule. Section 1099 prohibits holding incompatible offices much like the common law rule. Prior attorney general’s opinions and judicial interpretation of the common law rule will continue to aid in the application of the new statute.

Term of Office

Note: The responses set forth below may not apply to school district elections that are subject to the provisions of a city charter. Districts governed by a city charter should always review the charter to determine whether it governs the district’s elections.

  1. When does the term of office begin?

For K-12 board members elected in odd-numbered years,1 Education Code section 5000 provides as follows (emphasis added):

After the initial election of governing board members in any school district or community college district, a governing board member election shall be held biennially on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each succeeding odd-numbered year to fill the offices of members whose terms expire on the first Friday in December next succeeding the election.  Except as provided in this chapter, or in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 5200), the elections shall be held and conducted in accordance with Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5300).

Similarly, for board members elected in even-numbered years, Education Code section 5017 provides as follows (emphasis added):

Each person elected at a regular biennial governing board member election shall hold office for a term of four years commencing on the second Friday in December next succeeding his or her election. Any member of the governing board of a school district or community college district whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of the office until his or her successor has qualified. The term of the successor shall begin upon the expiration of the term of his or her predecessor.

Finally, Elections Code section 10554 provides as follows (emphasis added):

Elective officers, elected or appointed pursuant to this part, take office at noon on the first Friday in December next following the general district election. Prior to taking office, each elective officer shall take the official oath and execute any bond required by the principal act.

Because Education Code section 5300 provides that provisions of the Elections Code apply to school district elections “except as otherwise provided in the code” it appears that the 2018 amendments to sections 1007 and 5017 about the terms of office commencing on the second Friday in December will take precedence over Elections Code section 10554 beginning in 2019, because the amendments to those statutes will make them the more specific statutes with respect to when each elected trustee’s term commences.

  1. Is there a different rule for when the term of office begins for County Boards of Education?

Yes. Education Code section 1007, subdivision (a) provides: “Members [of county boards of education] elected at the time of the direct primary shall take office on the first day of July, and members elected at the date on which members of school district governing boards are elected shall take office on the second Friday in December subsequent to their election.” Thus, the first day of the term of incoming board members who were elected in June is July 1, 2019 and for those elected in November, their first day is December 13, 2019.

The organizational meeting for County Board trustees is either the first meeting on or after the first day in July (for those elected at the June primary) or the second Friday in December (for those elected in November).

Awaiting the organizational meeting is done purely for ceremonial reasons, however, and has no legal effect on the true first day in office of the incoming member (or the last day of office of the outgoing member). Some board members choose to be sworn in privately (e.g., by a notary public) before the organizational meeting. In addition, these statutes permit a district to adopt a local rule of procedure to hold the organizational meeting on a different date, so check your local rules to see if they prescribe a different date.

Oath of Office

  1. Is it necessary for a board member to take an “oath of office”?

Yes. Government Code section 1360 provides as follows:

Unless otherwise provided, before any officer enters on the duties of his office, he shall take and subscribe the oath or affirmation set forth in Section 3 of Article XX2 of the Constitution of California.

Failure to take the oath of office and file a bond as required by law is one way in which a public office becomes vacant, as provided in Government Code section 1770, subdivision (i).

  1. Who can administer the oath of office to a newly elected/appointed board member? Any person listed in Education Code section 60 or Government Code section 1362 may administer the oath to a newly elected/appointed board member.

Education Code section 60 provides as follows:

The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deputy and Assistant Superintendents of Public Instruction, secretary of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, members of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, county superintendents of schools, school trustees, members of boards of education, secretaries and assistant secretaries of boards of education, city superintendents of schools, district superintendents of schools, assistant superintendents of schools, deputy superintendents of schools, principals of schools, and every other officer charged with the performance of duties under the provisions of this code may administer and certify oaths relating to officers or official matters concerning public schools.

Government Code section 1362 provides as follows:

Unless otherwise provided, the oath may be taken before any officer authorized to administer oaths.

This is a very broad provision—“any officer authorized to administer oaths.” It includes judges, virtually all elected officials, notaries public, and numerous county and state officers.

  1. What happens if the elected/appointed officer fails or refuses to take the oath of office?

Education Code section 5017 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

. . . Any member of the governing board of a school district or community college district whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of the office until his or her successor has qualified.  The term of the successor shall begin upon the expiration of the term of his or her predecessor.

In addition, Government Code section 1302 provides as follows:

Every officer whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of his office until his successor has qualified.

Thus, if an elected or appointed official fails or refuses to take the oath of office, the outgoing board member can continue to discharge the duties of office until a new member qualifies. Conversely, if the office becomes vacant, then the position remains vacant until filled by a qualified candidate, either by appointment or election depending on the procedure to be followed.3

  1. When may the oath be taken by a newly elected/appointed school board member?

Elections Code section 10554 provides as follows (emphasis added):

Elective officers, elected or appointed pursuant to this part, take office at noon on the first Friday in December next following the general district election. Prior to taking office, each elective officer shall take the official oath and execute any bond required by the principal act. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, the oath of office may be administered at any time after the election results are certified by the county clerk. This is typically done at the district’s organizational meeting, but once elected, a new board member can choose to be sworn in earlier, as discussed above.

  1. How long does the county clerk have to certify the election results?

Elections Code section 15372 provides as follows:

The elections official shall prepare a certified statement of the results of the election and submit it to the governing body within 28 days of the election or, in the case of school district, community college district, county board of education, or special district elections conducted on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years, no later than the last Monday before the last Friday of that month.

Elections Code sections 15400 and 15401 provides as follows:

The governing body shall declare elected or nominated to each office voted on at each election under its jurisdiction the person having the highest number of votes for that office, or who was elected or nominated under the exceptions noted in Section 15452. The governing board shall also declare the results of each election under its jurisdiction as to each measure voted on at the election.

The elections official shall make out and deliver to each person elected or nominated, as declared by the governing body, a certificate of election or nomination, signed and authenticated by the elections official.

  1. What are the rules with respect to the annual organizational meeting?

Education Code section 35143 provides as follows:

The governing board of each school district shall hold an annual organizational meeting.  In a year in which a regular election for governing board members is conducted, the meeting shall be held on a day within a 15-day period that commences with the date upon which a governing board member elected at that election takes office.

Organizational meetings in years in which no such regular election for governing board members is conducted shall be held during the same 15- day period on the calendar. Unless otherwise provided by rule of the governing board, the day and time of the annual meeting shall be selected by the board at its regular meeting held immediately prior to the first day of such 15-day period, and the board shall notify the county superintendent of schools of the day and time selected. The clerk of the board shall, within 15 days prior to the date of the annual meeting, notify in writing all members and members-elect of the date and time selected for the meeting.

If the board fails to select a day and time for the meeting, the county superintendent of schools having jurisdiction over the district shall, prior to the first day of such 15-day period and after the regular meeting of the board held immediately prior to the first day of such 15-day period, designate the day and time of the annual meeting. The day designated shall be within the 15-day period. He shall notify in writing all members and members-elect of the date and time.

At the annual meeting the governing board of each high school district, union high school district, and joint union high school district shall organize by electing a president from its members and a clerk.

At the annual meeting each city board of education shall organize by electing a president from its members.

At the annual meeting the governing board of each other type of school district, except a community college district, shall elect one of its members clerk of the district.

As an alternative to the procedures set forth in this section, a city board of education whose members are elected in accordance with a city charter for terms of office commencing in December, may hold its annual organizational meeting required in this section between December 15 and January 14, inclusive, as provided in rules and regulations which shall be adopted by such board. At the annual meeting the city board of education shall organize by electing a president and vice president from its members who shall serve in such office during the period January 15 next to the following January 14, unless removed from such office by majority vote of all members of the city board of education.

Note that, as discussed in section 7 above, section 35143 permits a district, by local rule, to choose a different date for its organizational meeting.

  1. At the organizational meeting which board members (e.g., outgoing or incoming) convene the meeting?

Where the oath of office is administered at the organizational meeting, the outgoing board may convene the meeting, the oath(s) may be administered, and then the board with new members seated would complete the remainder of the agenda. If a new member or members have taken the oath of office prior to the organizational meeting, the meeting should convene with any previously-sworn members sitting with the board.

Brown Act

  1. Does the Brown Act apply to newly elected members before they take office?

Yes.  Government Code section 54952.1 provides as follows:

Any person elected to serve as a member of a legislative body who has not yet assumed the duties of office shall conform his or her conduct to the requirements of this chapter and shall be treated for purposes of enforcement of this chapter as if he or she has already assumed office.

We believe the reference to “elected to serve” applies once the county clerk has certified the election results (See Elections Code sections 15372, 15400 and 15401, set forth above.)

Board Member Resignation

  1. May a school board member resign from his/her office?

Yes. Government Code section 1770, subdivision (c) provides that “[a]n office becomes vacant . . . [upon the incumbent’s] resignation.”

  1. How does a school board member resign?

Education Code section 5090 provides that “a vacancy resulting from resignation occurs when the written resignation is filed with the county superintendent of schools . . .”

  1. Is it necessary for the school board to take action to accept a member’s resignation? No. As noted above the resignation is effective upon the county superintendent of schools’ receipt of the written resignation.

Some governing board meetings do have public agenda items to “accept” a member’s resignation. This is usually done for purposes of creating an occasion to honor a departing board member and is purely ceremonial with no legal significance.

  1. May a board member rescind a written resignation once it is filed with the county superintendent of schools?

No.  Education Code section 5090 provides that a “written resignation. . . shall, upon being filed with the county superintendent of schools be irrevocable.”

  1. What constitutes “filing” a resignation with the county superintendent?

A resignation is filed with the county superintendent upon physical receipt by the county superintendent’s office of a writing indicating a resignation.

  1. May a board member defer the effective date of a resignation?

Yes. Education Code section 5090 provides that a board member’s written resignation may indicate a “deferred effective date.” Section 5091 provides further that the resignation may not be deferred “for more than 60 days after he or she files the resignation with the county superintendent of schools.”

  1. Would an e-mail or facsimile transmission constitute a written resignation?                                                                      Probably not. The law applicable to resignations has not been amended to provide for electronic or facsimile substitution for written resignations.
  1. What is the effective date of a resignation?

Unless the resignation contains a “deferral” date, the effective date of a written resignation is the date it is actually received by the county superintendent’s office.

  1. Are there any limits on the role of a board member who files with the county superintendent a written resignation with a deferred effective date?

Yes.  Education Code section 35178 provides as follows (emphasis added):

A member of the governing board of a school district who has tendered a resignation with a deferred effective date pursuant to Section 5090 shall, until the effective date of the resignation, continue to have the right to exercise all powers of a member of the governing board, except that such member shall not have the right to vote for his or her successor in an action taken by the board to make a provisional appointment pursuant to Section 5091.

Note: This prohibition applies only to the actual vote and does not appear to preclude the member whose resignation is pending from participating in the selection process or board discussion of who to appoint.

  1. What does a school board need to do after learning of a resignation from one of its members?

Education Code section 5091 provides that the governing board “shall, within 60 days of the vacancy or the filing of the deferred resignation, either order an election or make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy.”

Note: The 60 days starts to run when the resignation is received by the county superintendent even if the resignation contains a deferred effective date.

The governing board must also make sure that the person provisionally appointed to the position is “qualified” under Education Code section 35107 as discussed in more detail above.

  1. May the board meet in closed session to develop questions or interview candidates?                                                                    No. Under the Brown Act, all aspects of making a provisional appointment must be done in public session, except where the board appoints an advisory ad hoc committee of less than a quorum of board members and no other members. If an advisory ad hoc committee is appointed it may assist in screening or evaluating applications and preparing interview questions, but may not make any final decisions for the board.  (See Government Code section 54952, subdivision (b).)

The provisional appointment must be put on the public session agenda and the full Board must take action to approve the appointment.

  1. Once the board makes a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy, what happens next?

Education Code section 5092 provides as follows:

Whenever a provisional appointment is made to the governing board of a school district pursuant to Section 5091, the board shall, within 10 days of the provisional appointment of a person to fill a vacancy which occurs or will occur, post notices of both the actual vacancy or the filing of a deferred resignation and also the provisional appointment in three public places in the district and shall publish a notice pursuant to Section 6061 of the Government Code. If there is no newspaper of general circulation published in the district, notice need not be published.

The notice shall state the fact of the vacancy or resignation and the date of the occurrence of the vacancy or the date of the filing of, and the effective date of, the resignation. The notice shall also contain the full name of the provisional appointee to the board and the date of his appointment, and a statement that unless a petition calling for a special election, containing a sufficient number of signatures, is filed in the office of county superintendent of schools within 30 days of the date of the provisional appointment, it shall become an effective appointment.

Thus, the residents of the district whose board has appointed a provisional board member can petition to force a special election—although in practical terms, this rarely happens.

  1. What happens if vacancies occur in a majority or more of the board seats at the same time?

Education Code section 5094 provides as follows:

If for any reason vacancies should occur in a majority of the offices on any school district or community college district governing board, the president of the county board of education having jurisdiction may appoint members of the county board of education to the district governing board until new members of the governing board are elected or appointed.

Note: At the discretion of the president of the county board of education, appointments may be made in one or more of the vacant positions. In other words, the county board president is not limited to making appointments only sufficient to create a quorum on the district board. Thus, on a five person board with 3 vacancies, the county board president may designate up to 3 members of the county board of education to serve as district board members. Once appointed, the county board members continue to serve as district board members until new members “are elected or appointed.”

  1. May a district board reappoint the same person who resigned from the seat that is vacant?

No. Government Code section 1752, subdivision (a) provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

. . . no person elected or appointed to the governing body of any city, county, or district having an elected governing body, shall be appointed to fill any vacancy on that governing body during the term for which he or she was elected or appointed (emphasis added).

Please note: This provision also prohibits a board member with a “short” term from resigning and being appointed to a vacant “long” term.

  1. If the district chooses to call for written applications from candidates who wish to be considered for appointment, are the submitted applications public records?

Yes. Under the Public Records Act (Govt. Code section 6250 et seq.) copies of any applications for a board vacancy that are received by the district must be made available for public inspection and copies provided upon request.

Note: Because the applications become public records, we recommend that prospective candidates be so-informed before they submit an application.

  1. If the board chooses to interview candidates one at a time before making an appointment do all candidates have a right to be present?

Under the Brown Act all persons—including candidates for a board appointment—have a right to attend all public sessions of the board.

At the same time the board may request (but not require) the other candidates to remain outside the meeting room until after they are interviewed.

Our experience has been that most candidates honor the request, as they understand the essential fairness of the request, and that the refusal to do so may have an impact on the remaining board members’ willingness to appoint a candidate who refuses to cooperate.

  1. If everything must be done in public session, how does the board develop questions that will not be known in advance by the candidates?

Good question! The Brown Act simply does not provide a ready response to this question. We have recommended against using email (or other private communications) among board members to reach a board decision on what questions to ask the candidates.

It is recommended that individual board members submit proposed questions to the board president, who will compile a composite question list. The board can also have such questions referred to an executive officer, such as the superintendent, who can undertake the task of compiling such questions, perhaps in concert with a single board member or an ad hoc committee of the board.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

 

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved. However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

1 See the discussion in the analysis section above. The Legislature was apparently confident that AB 415 has forced all school entities to switch from odd-year to even-year elections. This can be inferred because new legislation only requires those entities that hold elections in even-numbered years to switch the start date for terms of office to the second Friday in December. The start date for entities that hold elections in odd-numbered years has not been changed.

2 That is, “Article 20.”

3 As discussed below, district boards can sometimes make an appointment within 60 days of a vacancy. In other cases, if the vacancy occurs too close to a scheduled election or the end of a member’s term, the vacancy must await an upcoming regular election or a special election.

Legal Update Memo No. 39-2019 – Annual Development Fee Accounting (K-12)

Download pdf: 39-2019 Annual Development Fee Accounting (EES) w attachments

Reminder: Development Fee Accounting requirements must be met prior to December 27, 2019. The following information and documents are provided to assist school districts maintain statutory compliance.

Government Code Section 66006 requires that an annual accounting of development fees must be made available to the public no later than December 27, 2019. The governing board – at its next regularly scheduled meeting at least 15 days after the accounting has been made available to the public – must review the annual accounting.

Every five years, additional findings must be made for any fund in which development fees remained unexpended at the end of a fiscal year.

  1. Annual Accounting: Government Code Section 66006

 School districts collecting development fees (e.g., statutory school facilities fees and other impact mitigation payments) must provide a separate accounting for each separate account or fund into which such fees or payments were deposited.

Section 66006(b)(1) requires the annual accounting for each fund include the following information:

(A) A brief description of the type of fee in the account or fund.

(B) The amount of the fee.

(C) The beginning and ending balance of the account or fund.

(D) The amount of the fees collected and the interest earned.

(E) An identification of each public improvement on which fees were expended and the amount of the expenditures on each improvement; include the total percentage of the cost of the public improvement that was funded with fees.

(F) An identification of an approximate date by which the construction of the public improvement will commence if the local agency determines that sufficient funds have been collected to complete financing on an incomplete public improvement, as identified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 66001, and the public improvement remains incomplete.

(G) A description of each interfund transfer or loan made from the account or fund, including the public improvement on which the transferred or loaned fees will be expended, and, in the case of an interfund loan, the date on which the loan will be repaid, and the rate of interest that the account or fund will receive on the loan.

(H) The amount of refunds made pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 66001 and any allocations pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 66001.[1]

Each fee-collecting district must make the accounting available to the public by December 27, 2019, which is within 180 days after the last day of the fiscal year as required by statute. In addition, the governing board must review the information at its next regularly scheduled board meeting held no earlier than 15 days after the information becomes available to the public.  Notice of the time and place of this meeting, including the address at which the information may be reviewed, must be mailed at least 15 days prior to the meeting to anyone who has filed a written request with the district for such notice.

  1. Every Fifth Fiscal Year: Government Code Section 66001

Government Code section 66001(d)(1) requires that for the fifth fiscal year following the first deposit into each account or fund, and every five years thereafter, the local agency must make certain findings. These findings must also be made available to the public by December 27, 2019. When a local agency fails to make the required five-year findings, the agency is required to refund the unexpended portion of the fee, and any interest accrued thereon. Walker v. City of San Clemente, 239 Cal. App. 4th 1350, 1371 (2015)(emphasis in original).

In Walker, the city was ordered to refund approximately $10.5 million in unexpended fees for failing to make the required five-year findings. Specifically, the city failed to discuss the relationship between the nearly $10 million balance in the Beach Parking Impact Fee account and the purpose for which the fee was established, nor did it demonstrate a reasonable relationship between the unexpended fees and their purpose. The city’s purported findings identifying the sources and funds anticipated to complete financing for incomplete beach parking improvements and designating the approximate dates when it anticipated receiving that funding were also insufficient.

The Walker decision affirms that Section 66001 imposes a duty on the local agency to reexamine the need for the unexpended fees. Specifically, the Walker court explained, “[t]he City may not rely on findings it made 20 years earlier to justify the original establishment of the Beach Parking Impact Fee, or the findings it made 13 years earlier to justify reducing the amount of the fee. Instead, the Act required the City to make new findings demonstrating a continuing need for beach parking improvements caused by the new development in the noncoastal zone.”

To comply with section 66001(d)(1), a district must make all of the following findings with respect to that portion of the account or fund remaining unexpended, whether committed or uncommitted:

  • Identify the purpose to which the fee is to be put.
  • Demonstrate a reasonable relationship between the fee and the purpose for which it is charged. The Walker decision interpreted this to include an assessment of the impact of the development on the local agency, the current status of the need for the fund, the status of any improvements identified when the fee was established, what has been done since the fee was imposed, and future plans.
  • Identify all sources and amounts of funding anticipated to complete financing and incomplete improvements identified in Government Code section 66001(a)(2), which states if the use is financing public facilities, the facilities shall be identified. It is optional, but identification can be made by reference to a capital improvement plan as specified in Government Code sections 65403 or 66002, or in other public documents that identify the public facilities for which the fee is charged.
  • Designate the approximate dates on which the funding referred to in paragraph (3) is expected to be deposited into the appropriate account or fund.

In sum, the local agency must affirmatively demonstrate that it still needs the unexpended fee to achieve the purpose for which it was originally imposed and that the agency has a plan on how to use the unexpended balance to achieve that purpose.

The findings required by this subdivision need only be made for moneys in possession of the local agency and need not be made with respect to letters of credit, bonds, or other instruments taken to secure payment of the fee at a future date. As noted above, if the findings are not made as required by this subdivision, the local agency must refund the unexpended moneys in the account or fund plus interest as provided in Government Code section 66001(e).

III.       Additional Information and Suggestions

Enclosed with this letter are three forms to assist with Government Code sections 66001 and 66006 compliance. The attachments include:

  • A sample resolution related to statutory fees collected under Education Code section 17620. (For districts which still have fees collected under “SB 201” — Government Code section 65970, et seq.—a separate resolution is available upon request.)
    • A sample Exhibit 1, to be completed and attached to the resolution addressing the information required by Government Code section 66006 (Annual Accounting).
    • A sample Exhibit 2, to be completed and attached to the resolution addressing the information required by Government Code section 66001 (Fifth-Year Accounting).
  • Instructions to complete Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2.
  • Copies of relevant Code provisions.

These three documents assume that there are funds remaining in the account(s) or fund(s) in question for which a report under Government Code section 66001 is necessary. If that is not the case, please contact our office and we can provide a modified form of resolution. Finally, a reminder that even if funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year have been spent prior to the date of the accounting, it remains necessary to comply with Government Code section 66001 and complete the Fifth-Year Accounting. Although, the fact that the funds remaining have been spent will be reflected on both Exhibit 1 (reference (F)) and Exhibit 2 (references (C) and (D).)

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other legal matter.

Legal Update written by Erin E. Stagg, Associate General Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Government Code section 66001(e) requires districts to refund developer fees that are not appropriated within a five-year period from date of collection.  Government Code section 66001(f) provides a method for allocating such non-appropriated fees if the administrative costs of refunding exceed the amount to be refunded.