BBAA - Individual Board Member’s Authority and Responsibilities

Code: BBAA
Adopted: 10/11/95
Re-adopted: 8/13/97, 1/23/13, 8/24/2016, 6/8/22

Successful school districts are the result of effective and dynamic leadership that understands and agrees on basic ways of working and communicating together. This is especially important at the School Board and Cabinet level. The manner in which business is conducted at this level becomes a problem solving model throughout the district for students, teachers, parents, and staff.

It is understood that the superintendent serves the Board, and Cabinet members work directly for the superintendent. However, Cabinet members will from time to time play an active role with the Board when the topic requires their expertise or when the superintendent believes the Cabinet member(s) can materially contribute to the decision or issue at hand.   

Because the manner in which Board members agree to communicate with Cabinet members and each other to effectively and efficiently conduct business and maintain a positive working the following guidelines should be considered:

1.    Board Member Requests for Information from Cabinet:

Board members are encouraged to channel formal communications to Cabinet members (as well as other district administrators) through the superintendent. However, an individual Board member who desires a copy of a written report or survey prepared by the administrative staff (Cabinet member) which is otherwise available as public information will make such a request to the appropriate Cabinet member. A copy of the material will be made available to each member of the Board and the superintendent. Requests for the generation of reports or information which may significantly impact the administrative staff workload must be submitted to the Board for consideration.

2.   Board Member Requests for Information from Superintendent: 

Board members are encouraged to inform the superintendent in a timely fashion of any important communications they receive from district patrons, whether positive or negative in nature. This can provide valuable information to the superintendent.

The superintendent takes directions from the Board as a whole; individual Board members should refrain from making requests of the superintendent for information (except for minor explanations, clarifications, etc.) and from giving directions to the superintendent regarding district business.

In order to build and maintain a culture of trust, fairness, and openness, the superintendent will inform all Board members of any substantial conversations with any other Board members that occur outside of regular school board meetings.

3.   Board Member Complaints or Feedback about a Cabinet Member:

Complaints or feedback about a Cabinet member should be made to the superintendent and Board Chair. Complaints or feedback about the superintendent should be made to the Board Chair.

4. Action on Complaints or Requests Made to Board Members

        When Board members receive complaints or requests for action from staff, students or            members of the public, the Board members will direct the staff, students, members of               the public to the appropriate complaint policy Board policy KL – Public Complaints.                   Such information will be conveyed to the superintendent.

5.  Board Member Requests for Legal Opinions:

A request for a legal opinion by a Board member, must be approved by a majority vote of the Board before the request is made to legal counsel.  If the legal opinion sought involves the superintendent’s employment or performance, the request should be made to the Board chair.  Legal counsel is responsible to the Board.

6.   Board Member’s Relationship to Administration:

Individual Board members will be informed about the district’s activities, educational program, may visit schools or other facilities to gain information and may consult with administrators and request information from the superintendent.  Individual Board member authority is limited to when the Board is in legal session only or as otherwise authorized by the Board. Individual Board member authority and responsibility shall be as provided by the Oregon Revised Statutes and derived from the residents and voters of the district.  Individual Board members will not intervene in the administration of the district or its schools.

7.   Contracts or Agreements Made By Individual Board Members:

All contracts of the district must be approved by the Board, unless otherwise delegated by the Board to the superintendent or designee for approval, before an order can be drawn for payment.  If a contract is made without authority of the Board, the individual making such contract shall be personally liable.

8.   Board Member’s Right to Disagree with Board Decision:

A Board member has the right to disagree with a majority Board decision.  If expressing a dissenting opinion as a Board member or a public spokesperson, the member should clearly indicate the opinion as their own and not that of the Board.

9.   Board Member’s Authority to Speak for the Board:

A Board member has the authority to act in the name of the Board when authorized by a specific Board motion.  The affirmative vote of the majority of members of the Board is required to transact any business.  When authorized to act as the district’s designated representative in collective bargaining, a Board member may make and accept proposals in bargaining subject to subsequent approval by the Board.

Legal Reference(s)

ORS 332.045 
ORS 332.055 
ORS 332.057
ORS 332.075

38 Op Atty Gen Op. 1995 (1978).
South Benton Education Association v. Monroe UH School District 1, 83 Or. App. 425 (1987).

Cross Reference(s):
BHD - Board Member Compensation and Expense Reimbursement
DFEA - Admissions to District Events