Do we need to perform background checks on applicants for vacant board positions?
No. While there are several laws governing the requirements for district's to perform background checks for employees, and districts have the ability to (and almost always do) perform background checks for volunteers who have unsupervised contact with students, these do not apply to board members. The requirements for eligibility to serve on a board are that you be an elector registered in the district for a minimum of one year prior to the election or appointment. Because of the nature of a democracy, district board's cannot put additional requirements or qualifications on who may or may not be a board member, as this would diminish the public's ability to select their representatives.
That being said, often board members are frequently on campus in some capacity, and if they are to have unsupervised access to students, they should be subject to a background check just like any other volunteer per district policy.