A Connecticut Superior Court recently denied a request for a temporary injunction from a former board of education member, requesting reinstatement to her board of education. A Connecticut board of education attended a school field trip with her disabled son. After the field trip, she submitted an invoice to the school district seeking reimbursement for 10.5 hours, at $15/hour, for her functioning as staff during the field trip. In response to her request, the district processed a purchase order and made payment by check to the board member, who accepted, endorsed and cashed the check.

Following this, counsel for the board of education provided an opinion that “by operation of law, the board member can no longer be considered a member of the Board of Education. Her position became vacant at the moment she accepted payment for her services….” In response to this opinion, the board of education appointed another individual to replace the board member.

This case is an instructive reminder to board of education members of the explicit directive of Connecticut General Statutes § 10-232, which provides that “no member of the board of education shall be employed for compensation by the board of which he or she is a member in any position in the school system. If any member of such board is employed contrary to the provisions of this section, the office to which he or she was elected or appointed shall become vacant.”

As evidenced by this example, compensation for employment is not limited to full-time work, but can encompass compensation for part-time or incidental services, such as substitute teaching. Also note that a board of education need not take action to remove the board member, but that removal is automatic pursuant to the statute (“the office…shall become vacant”).

Perhaps next time the board member will settle for the bus ride and a box lunch when chaperoning a field trip.