As of 21 June 2023, individuals who are members of a school board now have certain minimum standards of conduct to meet in their role.
Under the new “Code of Conduct for State School Board Members” individual school board members are required to act and behave in accordance with the following objectives and criteria:
- Act with integrity
- Be culturally responsive and fair
- Actively promote a safe school environment
- Be respectful of fellow board members and act consistently with the designated or special character of the school
- Be respectful of the process of collective decision making
- Treat school staff, students and members of the school community with respect
- Take responsibility for ongoing development in their role
- Engage with the community in sensitive and appropriate ways `
- Speak up for all students
- Come to board meetings prepared to fully participate
- Use the position of school board member responsibly
- Not to seek gifts or favours
- Be politically impartial during their role as a board member
- Meet the statutory and administrative requirements relevant to the role of school board
- Identify and manage conflicts of interest.
Individual school boards can add to the minimum standards, so long as any additions do not go against the objectives and criteria already issued.
Where an individual board member acts contrary to these objectives, they could face sanctions from the board. If the board finds that a member has breached the code, significantly or persistently, the board may censure a member through an internal board process.
When going through an internal board process, the principles of natural justice apply. The board should:
- Act in a fair and reasonable manner
- Provide the individual board member with the necessary information to understand what behaviour it is they are potentially being sanctioned for
- Decide on the matter using a fair process
In instances of a significant breach of the code of conduct, an individual board member can be removed from the board entirely. To do so, the board must write to the Minister of Education and request this.
The code of conduct is current in effect. There is no need for board members to sign anything, the code of conduct automatically applies to all individual board members of state and state integrated schools.
Our education law team suggest that Presiding Members make sure that all board members are made aware of the new Code of Conduct and the board reflects on whether there needs to be any additions made to the minimum standards.
For more information or advice, please contact one of our Education Law experts.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.