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Can an employee of a board be an ex-officio member of the board?

Guest Shannon L

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I am on a board of trustees for a school (PreK - 12th) which operates as a ministry of a church.  The headmaster of the church reports to the board and is hired and fired by the board.  The board reports to the vestry committee of the church.  In addition, our bylaws state that the headmaster shall serve as an ex-officio member of all committees.

We have recently received a recommendation from one of our accrediting bodies that that the headmaster should serve as a non-voting ex-officio member of the board.

1 - Is it best practice (or acceptable) to limit voting rights of an ex-officio member?

2 - Can an employee of the board be a member of the board?

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1.  It is not, in my opinion, best practice to establish ex-officio membership and then make them non-voting.  It is acceptable if it is clear in your bylaws.  However, if the idea is that you just want them there for comment but not to vote, then, for an employee, my opinion would be that you might as well just make attendance a part of the job.

2.  Yes.  It's up to your organization whether or not it is a good idea.  It is very common for key employees to attend board meetings to give reports. 

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I don't know if it is "best practice," but it is certainly common - especially in the church world. I am an executive in the Presbyterian Church, and serve ex officio on a number of boards - some with vote, and some not. On the one related to my primary employment, I actually do have the right to vote. But I have colleagues in similar positions in other places who do not. When I was the pastor of a church that ran a school, my recollection is that the Headmaster and I were both ex officio members of the school board, and neither of us could vote. 

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