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Be Aware of These Board Appointment and Election Nuances

Joel Gerring

By Joel Gerring, MASB Assistant Legal Counsel

DashBoard, July 20, 2016

As the filing deadline for board candidacy approaches (July 26, 2016) members should be aware of a few particular details within the election/appointment process. To Begin, as of July 19, 2016, any board appointment that might occur as the result of a vacancy (other than for a term that was normally set to expire this year) will be an appointment through November 2018.

Under Michigan law, appointed board members only serve in their capacity as an appointee until the next regularly scheduled general election, regardless of whether the position they are being appointed to was subject to a term that was normally set to expire during the next general election or a subsequent one. However, if the position to be filled was considered officially vacated within seven days of the nominating petition filing deadline, the individual appointed will serve through the next general election and remain an appointee until the following election (two years hence).

Specifically, this year’s filing deadline for individuals wishing to be placed on the ballot for school board is July 26, 2016. Hence, for any board vacancy occurring on or after July 19, 2016, the window to have that position placed upon the November 2016 ballot has passed and the individual appointed will serve as an appointee until the 2018 general election; unless, of course, the term associated with the vacated seat was already set to expire in 2016 and therefore will already be on the ballot, in which case the appointee will serve through December 31, 2016, with the newly elected trustee taking over in January 2017, similar to how most transitions would occur.

In short, even though the general election is still months away, any individuals appointed to the board from this point forward will be serving at least until November 2018, or perhaps through December 2018 if their particular position was “naturally” up for election at that time (see below). As such, any appointments that occur in the near future will be for well over two years.

Again, appointees only step in to serve in a vacated board position until such time as an individual can be elected to fulfil the remainder of the position’s term. Hence, if a board member resigns within the first two years of a six-year term, an appointee only remains in place until the very next general election (unless their appointment occurred within seven or fewer days of the filing deadline as covered above), at which point the public must elect someone to fulfill the remainder of the term. However, this rule affects the ending date of an appointee’s term, depending upon whether or not the trustee seat the individual was appointed to was normally set to expire in 2016 versus some future date (i.e., 2018 or 2020).

Individuals who were appointed to a board seat prior to July 19, 2016, and whose appointment was to a position that was normally up for re-election in 2016 will serve through the end of this year, with the elected individual set to take over the seat in January. By contrast, individuals appointed prior to July 19, 2016, but whose seat was not normally up for election until 2018 or 2020 will serve only until the November 2016 election results have been certified and the winner of the election has been sworn in (which usually occurs by mid-to-late November). In this scenario, the individual elected to fulfill the remainder of the term will be getting started right away, often attending their first board meeting in December, or even late November, rather than waiting until January.

If you have any questions concerning appointments, elections or deadlines, please don’t hesitate to contact the MASB Legal Department.

We also offer a toolkit on our website that covers board appointments in detail, which is free to members.

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