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Rob Mattheu

Suspension question

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Our state Board of Education has a law that says that a new chair shall be elected at the first regular meeting held after the start of the fiscal year.   The board, however, is appointed in April, a few months before the fiscal year.   

The chair position became vacant when that person's term expired in April.  The Board's policy manual states that at that time the Vice Chair becomes the Chair.   Immediately after the new members were appointed (the same time the chair's term on the board was up) the new chair called a special meeting to, among other things, elect a new Chair and Vice Chair.  

At that meeting, the Chair called himself an "interim chair", a position which is not indicated in their policy or state law.  He immediately moved to suspend their board policy as it pertains to the timing and methodology of the appointment of new officers and opened the floor for nominations for a chair.   

He did not officially resign as chair prior to doing this.   

So I have a few questions.   

1)  If policy states he becomes the chair upon a vacancy in that position, does he have to resign the position before calling for a new election?   

2)  If state law dictates the timing of the election of a new chair, is the board within its rights to suspend its own rules surrounding this timing  and methodology and pick a new chair before the law says one must be picked?   Again, there is already a vice chair who became the new chair after the term of the original chair ended.   

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1 hour ago, Rob Mattheu said:

Our state Board of Education has a law that says that a new chair shall be elected at the first regular meeting held after the start of the fiscal year.   The board, however, is appointed in April, a few months before the fiscal year.   

The chair position became vacant when that person's term expired in April.  The Board's policy manual states that at that time the Vice Chair becomes the Chair.   Immediately after the new members were appointed (the same time the chair's term on the board was up) the new chair called a special meeting to, among other things, elect a new Chair and Vice Chair.  

At that meeting, the Chair called himself an "interim chair", a position which is not indicated in their policy or state law.  He immediately moved to suspend their board policy as it pertains to the timing and methodology of the appointment of new officers and opened the floor for nominations for a chair.   

He did not officially resign as chair prior to doing this.   

So I have a few questions.   

1)  If policy states he becomes the chair upon a vacancy in that position, does he have to resign the position before calling for a new election?   

2)  If state law dictates the timing of the election of a new chair, is the board within its rights to suspend its own rules surrounding this timing  and methodology and pick a new chair before the law says one must be picked?   Again, there is already a vice chair who became the new chair after the term of the original chair ended.   

The former vice chair, now chair, did effectively resign when called for the election of a new chair (assuming that there was no vice chair).  It is possible to resign upon the election of the successor.  Notice would have to be given and it would depend what the "policy" was that was suspended.

The question is not so much when the term of the officers starts but if this board can fill vacancies.

Mary, the chair before Joe, resigns.  Joe the former vice chair and now chair, calls the meeting (as so provided in the bylaws) and gives notice that the assembly will elect a new chair.  Joe effectively resigns.  Pete is elected chair at the May meeting.  Pete's term begins when elected ; his term will expire whenever the fiscal year ends.   Pete is serving the remainder of Mary's term.  When the fiscal year ends, Pete's term will end. 

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The Policy Manual is either the equivalent of your bylaws, or contains a section entitled Bylaws.  If it says the President is elected at the designated "organizational" meeting, then any election held prematurely is null and void.  That rule cannot be suspended.

If the rules in RONR apply, there is no "interim chair"' position unless your bylaws (see above) say there is.  Hence, nobody is ever "interim chair".  If a vacancy is filled, say, by the vice chair, it only applies for the unexpired remainder of the term of the office being filled.  In your case, officer terms appear not to coincide with the member's term as a board member.  That's a bit odd, but if kept straight, should not pose a major problem.  In any case, when the Organizational Meeting begins I believe it is the case that all prior officers terms have ended, and there are no officers.  But read your bylaws carefully to see if there's anything suggesting that's not the case.

At the Organizational Meeting, the permanent secretary/clerk if any, or any member if none, would call the meeting to order and preside over the election of the presiding officer, who would take the chair immediately upon election, and preside over other matters that are mandated to occur at the organizational meeting such as the election of the vice-chair, and any other business that may properly come before that meeting.

Because you are a public body, there are countless ways that any of the above could be contradicted by your state's statute, administrative code or case law, but presumably any such variations would have been harmonized with your bylaws, so if you note a bylaws violation, and you are a member, you are on firm ground to raise a point of order, or move to seek a legal opinion from the body's attorney..

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