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Get on Board: Conduct

School Board Member Code of Conduct

The Governance Act requires all local boards to adopt a code of conduct. 


As mentioned in the Welcome section, the Governance Act requires all local boards to have adopted a code of conduct. Virtually every board in Alabama adopted the state’s model code of conduct as-is, without any modifications.

The code has 30 statements about board behavior that cover what board members do as individuals, as a board, and at board meetings.

The Conduct-of-Individuals section covers things like:

  • Doing homework before meetings – coming to meetings having read the board packet and having asked relevant questions of the superintendent beforehand
  • Realizing board members have no individual authority; only corporate authority
  • Treating other members, staff and superintendent with respect and courtesy
  • Informing the board and superintendent of your conflicts of interest
  • Refraining from involvement on issues regarding your family, particularly hiring

The Conduct-of-the-Board section covers:

  • Working together respectfully, even when you disagree with each other
  • Marking personnel decisions in a timely manner
  • Supporting the majority decision of the board

The last section, Conduct of Individuals at Board Meetings, covers:

  • Respecting the superintendent’s role AND authority
  • Working with the superintendent to develop the vision and goals for the system

Please take a minute to review the Model Code of Conduct in its entirety. 

School Board Member Sanctions

The Governance Act granted both the local school board and the state superintendent of education authority to initiate sanction proceedings against individual board members who engage in willful misconduct or neglect of duty.

This portion of the Governance Act was intended to target egregious behavior. One breach of the Code of Conduct generally does not constitute willful misconduct; however, refusal to attend meetings because you don’t want to act on a layoff decision, thereby throwing the system into the red, may constitute neglect of duty.

Generally, the rule of thumb is the functionality of the board: Does the board member’s misbehavior seriously affect the board’s ability to do its work? If so, then the board may consider the sanction process. If not, then it might be time for members of the board to have honest, tough conversations amongst themselves about how everyone can better communicate and fulfill their duties to their constituents. AASB always encourages boards to engage in conversation and attempt to solve problems informally first and reserve sanctions as a “nuclear option.”



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