Commentary – School Boards must be elective
Regardless of the outcome of the hearing on AB339 – the thought of allowing the State Board of Education (at the request of the local board) to appoint local school board members puts a bad taste in my mouth. The only circumstances calling for the appointment of members should be for a temporary replacement caused by removal by legal process per NRS, resignation, illness or death. The appointee should then face popular election at the next election cycle…..just as is done for all elected positions.
I respect Assemblyman Hickey’s intentions for placing this bill up for consideration and discussion, but I strongly disagree with his proposal.
Yes, just watching and reading about the recent actions (antics) of the Washoe County School Board has probably led many to wonder about the viability of perhaps filling all such positions by appointment; but, appointive or elective, there have been and will continue to be ethically and legally questionable actions by local advisory boards, fire boards, county officials, county commissions and supervisors, justices of the peace and district judges, legislators, and – even Presidents. And the Nevada Open Meeting Law is probably the most violated and challenged statute – at all levels.
(I have often discussed with others, tongue in cheek and dreamy idealism in mind, that any and all individuals running for an elected position should be required to pass an IQ test. And…pass a course on ethics in government.)
Briefly, AB339 as presented would allow a school board to adopt a resolution requesting the State Board of Education to appoint two members to replace or to serve in addition to the current members of a local board. A school board may hold such a hearing at any time or if presented with a petition of 10-percent or more signatures of qualified electors of that district.
There are already procedures in place to remove members of elected boards who violate the conditions of their service. The process should not be usurped because of the stupidity, arrogance and/or ignorance of publicly elected school board members any more than it should be usurped for the bad behavior of any other elected board members.
Like it or not, the truth is the vast majority of people who vote are ignorant to the actual qualifications and abilities of those they are voting for or against – regardless of the position or level of governmental service the candidates are seeking. And while the oversight of our schools and education of our children is a paramount responsibility, to take the selection (or replacement) of those who fill these positions out of the hands of the taxpaying voters would be as wrong as to take the selection of our commissioners, judges and legislators out of the taxpayer’s hands. (To those who are unaware, basically one-half of your property tax dollars go to your local school district.)
Since appointment of school board members is the particular issue at hand in AB 339, consider a few things in regards to this proposal:
- If this proposal is to apply to those who are incompetent, who is to make the ultimate decision a particular school board member(s) should be removed and replaced by appointment? Or, that two additional members are needed for guidance?
- It appears AB 339 designates the State Board of Education as the appointive authority, whether it is to replace or to join the ‘incompetent’ individual(s). What guidelines will be set to select these replacements/additions?
- When partisan elective positions are vacated, their replacements must be of the same party. School boards are non-partisan positions, but there are certainly philosophical differences. Will such differences be taken into consideration when appointments are made?
If it is determined per AB339 that school boards will have the authority to allow the composition of their board to be changed without popular vote, then similar guidelines should be set for all publicly elected boards!
Our American elective system of government is based on ‘the voice of the people’. The ‘voice of the people’ does not always make the perfect choice; however, to take that choice out of the hands of the people would be a greater wrong.
Think about it.
Nancy Dallas, Publisher/Editor
NewsDesk (Est. January 2003)