Student Board Members Gain Rights as Governor Signs SB 532

On September 21, 2015, Governor Brown approved legislation expanding, for the first time in over 20 years, the rights of student members of school district governing boards. Beginning January 1, 2016, Senate Bill 532 will set a 60-day time limit for a board to respond to a petition from students to add a student trustee, and will require a formal process in the event a governing board wishes to remove the student board member position.

Currently, Education Code section 35012 requires boards to appoint a nonvoting student member “upon receipt of a petition for pupil representation” but does not require the appointment within a specified time. Section 35012 also requires a board to allow the student member to participate in preferential voting (a formal expression of opinion recorded in the board minutes, but not counted in the outcome of a vote).

Senate Bill 532’s 60-day response time implements recommendations of the California Association of Student Councils (CASC). According to the analysis of the Senate Committee on Education, the CASC developed its recommendations after a student board member position was eliminated from a school board without a public record or official vote, and another school board failed to respond when students properly petitioned to create a student trustee position.  The bill’s author, Senator Connie M. Leyva, promoted the bill to protect the opinions and perspectives of students and their ability to take part in education decisions.

Under SB 532, a governing board must appoint at least one nonvoting student member within 60 days of receipt of a petition for student representation, or at the next regularly scheduled meeting if no meeting is held within those 60 days. A majority-approved motion to eliminate a student board member must be listed on the public agenda of a board meeting prior to the motion being voted upon.

Categories: Legislation

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