A school board operates as a corporate body. Individual members acting independently have no legal status or authority and cannot commit or bind the board by their actions. The courts have been called on many times to clarify the authority of local boards and have been consistent in determining that the powers and duties of the board must be exercised by the board as a whole. Both in theory and in practice, you are a member of a team.
As a corporate body, the board may conduct business only with a quorum present during a regular or special meeting.
Under Iowa law, the school board has the authority to: • Appoint a school improvement advisory committee (SIAC) to make recommendations to the board, which the board may utilize to, among others: o Determine major educational needs; and o Evaluate progress toward educational goals. (Iowa Code§280.12). • Maintain adequate administration, school staffing, personnel assignment policies, teacher qualifications, licensing requirements, facilities, equipment, grounds, graduation requirements, instructional requirements, instructional materials, maintenance procedures and policies on extracurricular activities. (Iowa Code §280.14). • Maintain attendance centers based upon the needs of the school- age pupils, and may include in the educational program additional courses, subjects or activities that fit the needs of the pupils. (Iowa Code §280.3; 297.1). • Determine attendance centers for the district and the particular school each child will attend. (Iowa Code §279.11). • Employ a superintendent (Iowa Code §279.20), teachers (Iowa Code §279.12), principals (Iowa Code §279.21), other licensed professional personnel and support personnel, and determine their salaries. • Act on recommendations to terminate the contract or immediately discharge any employee subject to the provisions of any applicable law. (Iowa Code §279.15-19A; 279.23-25; 279.27). • Appoint a secretary and a treasurer. (Iowa Code §279.3). • Expel a student from school for violation of the rules established by the board or when the presence of a student is detrimental to the best interests of the school. (Iowa Code §282.4). • Fix the time and place of regular and special meetings. (Iowa Code §279.1-2). • Fill by appointment board vacancies occurring between elections. (Iowa Code §279.6). • Develop and adopt board policy governing all school district operations. (Iowa Code §279.8). • Become members of the Iowa Association of School Boards and pay dues to the association. (Iowa Code §279.38). • Employ legal counsel. (Iowa Code §279.37). • Allow all just claims against the corporation. (Iowa Code §279.29). • Insure against loss of property. (Iowa Code §279.28). • Provide transportation services. (Iowa Code §285). • Acquire, hold, convey, lease, rent and manage property, real and personal. (Iowa Code §297). • Incur indebtedness when authorized by the voters of the school corporation. (Iowa Code §296.1). • Make rules for its own government. (Iowa Code §279.8). • Comply with the with Open Meetings and Public Records laws. (Iowa Code §21; 22). • Negotiate in good faith with representatives of local employee associations. (Iowa Code §20).
Although the list is not comprehensive, it illustrates the authority vested in Iowa school boards.