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How do we go about filling a board vacancy due to the resignation of a board member?

Oregon statutes do not specify a single process which boards must follow in filling board vacancies. Begin by looking at your district’s policy BBE. If your district’s board seats are filled by zones, the vacancy needs to be declared by the board by a vote, and then the opening posted for 20 days. If your district is not zoned then the board just needs to vote to declare the seat vacant and then proceed with whatever process they wish to follow in filling the vacancy, as long as that process fits within any steps specified by policy BBE.

Citizens considered for a vacant position must be registered voters and residents of the district for one year immediately preceding the appointment (ORS 332.018(2)). Community college board members are exempt from the one-year residency requirement. If the district is zoned, the applicants must reside in the zone which is vacant. However if no one applies from the vacant zone after the position is advertised for a 20-day period, an individual may be appointed from the district at large (ORS 332.124).

The following three methods are commonly used by Oregon districts to fill vacancies:

  • Citizens from the district are asked to give their names and a letter explaining their interest and qualifications to the administrative office within a specified period of time. The board screens applicants and selects from all who apply. If the board interviews candidates as part of their decision process then those interviews must be conducted in public.
  • The board appoints a committee to select and submit two or three names to the board for final action.
  • If a local advisory committee is already functioning, it may be instructed to carry on a screening process and submit recommendations to the board.

Any other method satisfactory to the board may be used. All submissions are public records and any discussions of them must be held in public.

The final selection of a replacement must be made in a public meeting. The board vote must show how each board member voted. Interviews, if held, must be conducted in public.

The person selected to fill the vacancy serves until June 30 following the next regular district election. Elections are held in May of odd numbered years. At that election an individual is elected to serve either the unexpired two year portion of the four year term or a new four year term.

Special provisions apply when the majority of positions on a school board become vacant at the same time, i.e., when three positions are vacant on a five member board, four positions are vacant on a seven member board or five positions are vacant on a nine member board. In such cases the education service district (ESD) board selects persons to fill the vacancies from qualified voters of the district or zones in which the vacancies occur. The county governing body performs this duty when a majority of ESD or community college board positions are vacant. ORS 332.030(5), ORS 341.335(4).

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