The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Law Governing School Board


July 14, 2021

One thing is for sure the laws have changed since I was in school. I attended a training session by Andrew Vegland, a lawyer from the Helena Montana School Board Association. He handed out a 57-page document discussing current laws governing the Big Sandy School Board. I will not attempt to cover the entirety of the meeting here. However, we need to understand how the local school works and cover various issues further in-depth.

There were a variety of issues briefly discussed. Title XX sets out the legal code if you want to look that up. Open meetings are law, and although I will be briefly covering this huge topic. I will take a look closer at it at a later date.

“The characteristic of the Big Sandy School board should be 1. Commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision. 2. Share strong beliefs and values about what is possible for students and their ability to learn and of the system and its ability to teach all children at all levels. 3. Are accountability-driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement. 4. have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals. 5. Are data-savvy; they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement. 6. Align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. &. Lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles with strong collaboration and mutual trust. *. Take part in team development and training to build shared knowledge, values, and commitments for their improvement efforts.”

The school board is the district’s governing board and is responsible for establishing goals, setting policy, and overseeing resources for the school district. The superintendent, the district’s chief executive officer, works for the school board and is the person who translates the policy into action. Consistent with the goals established by the school board, the superintendent and staff make the day-to-day decisions that affect the operation of the school district, deploying resources, evaluating and assigning staff, and documenting results as well as problem areas.”

School board members need to be careful not to micro-manage day to day duties of the administrator. It’s the superintendent’s job to lead and manage the employees in the district.

He recommended that a superintendent receive evaluations more than once a year.

All meetings are open meetings except those concerning confidential information; those must remain closed to the public. Person issues are always closed meetings. Although after a closed session, the board members must vote in public, they do not need to explain their vote. It is up to the Board Chair to call for a closed session. Board members do not have the right to violate the right to privacy. All employee personnel issues and student-related issues are considered confidential.

There are two ways to make a complaint Level 1 is easy. The complaint goes to the superintendent; it is informal and voiced. Level 2 is a written complaint given to the supernatant. Parents can ask for a repeal of the decision made by the superintendent. The board of trustees is the repeal panel.

Trustees need to abide by the board’s vote and not talk behind the backs of the other board members even if they disagree with the vote.

Superintendent is responsible for all staff reviews and oversight. Mr. Howland does evaluations consistently.

You can non-renew without cause if a teacher is not reached ten-year status. If an employee has 10-year and is up for re-hire and that employee is a relative of a school board member, they can vote for re-hire.

School Personnel and Big Sandy Board members are Mandatory Reporters.

Roberts Rules of Order are not required to be used at the board meetings. There is some concern, however, if the meeting becomes too informal. They are required to post the agenda of the meeting in public places legally. They currently post at the FE Miley School, the Big Sandy High School, and the Big Sandy Post office.

Nothing can be discussed unless it is on the agenda. Guest may comment on any subject during the open comment part of the school board meeting, but the discussion of the said issue will not be put on the agenda until the next school board meeting. The second time the public can comment is during the meeting while the subject matter is being discussed. The chairman can set time limits for comment. If your opinion includes comments about a particular staff or student, you will be asked to stop talking as that violates the individual’s rights.

I did not know that the board chair should always vote, not in the case of a tie that I thought was the correct process.

Other subjects to be discussed in further articles are school curriculum and instruction, the requirement for reporting school district facilities and transportation, rights of both student and employee, guidelines or regulations on discipline issues, school funding, collective bargaining process, laws governing what boards can and can not do, and a better look at open meeting laws.


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