Casual vacancies


There’s a casual vacancy created when an elected, co-opted or appointed trustee is no longer on the board for a range of reasons.

  • Parent and staff trustees hold office for 3 years and a student trustee holds office for 1 year, unless they are no longer on the board for one of the reasons below
  • If an elected trustee leaves the board before their term of office is up this creates a “casual vacancy”
  • how a casual vacancy is filled depends on the type of elected trustee position involved, but it can never be filled by co-option or appointment.
  • the board must fill a casual vacancy unless an exception applies 
  • the replacement trustee’s term of office will be for the remainder of the vacating trustee’s term.

When a casual vacancy ‘arises’

The following are the most usual reasons for a casual vacancy

  • Elected trustee:
    • dies
    • resigns in writing to the board
    • is absent from three consecutive board meetings without the board’s “prior leave”. (This is different from the trustee giving apologies)
    • is no longer eligible to be a trustee for a financial or other reason in sections 103 or 103A, Education Act 1989
    • a staff trustee leaves the school
    • a student trustee leaves the school or ceases to be a full time student
  • In an election or by-election there are fewer nominations than the number of positions to be filled.
    Note: if fewer than 3 trustees are elected in a triennial election, then filling the casual vacancies may not be an option if the Secretary of Education appoints a Commissioner

Legal references

Sections 78N, 102, 103, 103A, 104, 105, Education Act, 1989

Filling casual vacancies for elected trustees

How the casual vacancy is filled depends on the type of elected trustee involved.

Parent trustee

  • The Education Act 1989 doesn’t allow a board to co-opt or appoint to fill a parent trustee casual vacancy.
  • Unless the exception applies (below) the board has to decide within 8 weeks of the vacancy occurring the board either to:
    • Fill the position by selection
    • hold a by-election
Exception

If the casual vacancy arises after 1 October in the year before the next triennial elections, then:

  • board can decide to leave the position vacant. The board has to make this decision within 28 days of the vacancy occurring
  • position has to be filled at the next triennial parent election

Note: this exception does not apply to vacancies that arise in the 6-month period before a mid-term election, for boards with a staggered election cycle

Selection
  • The board always has to have more elected than selected parent trustees. So the board needs to check if it can use the selection option.
    Example: If a board already has 3 elected and 2 selected parent trustees, it must hold a by-election. View A guide to board constitution for more help.
  • Key information about the selection process:
    • there are set timeframes
    • the board has to give its parent and caregiver community important information via a notice published in a local newspaper
    • the person to be selected must first complete a trustee eligibility attestation form
  • To follow the required selection process view Casual vacancy flowchart: parent trustee
  • View here for a sample newspaper notice
By-election
Forms and Funding for a parent by election
  • Appendix 1– completed by the Returning officer
  • Appendix 2- completed online by the newly selected or elected parent trustee. The board makes sure this is done
  • advance election funding is not available for a parent by-election.
  • board can claim back “the actual and reasonable costs of a by election” from the Ministry of Education. View here for more information
  • board makes sure the claim is submitted to the Ministry of Education:

Staff trustee

  • The Education Act 1989 doesn’t allow a board to co-opt or appoint to fill a staff trustee casual vacancy
  • The selection option does not apply to a staff trustee casual vacancy
By-election

Unless the exception applies (below), within 8 weeks of the vacancy occurring the board has to decide to:

Note: The election date has to be at least 6 weeks away, and no later than the 15th Friday after the vacancy occurred. View election planner tool

Exception to requirement to hold by-election to fill staff trustee casual vacancy 

If the casual vacancy arises after 1 October in the year before the next triennial elections, then:

  • board can decide to leave the position vacant. The board has to make this decision within 28 days of the vacancy occurring
  • position has to be filled at the next triennial staff election
  • could choose a staff member to attend board meetings during the period when the staff trustee position remains vacant. They are not a trustee, but the board could grant speaking rights

 

Forms and Funding for a staff by election
  • Appendix 1– completed by the Returning officer
  • Appendix 2- completed online by the newly elected staff trustee. The board makes sure this is done
  • advance election funding is not available for a staff by-election
  • a maximum of $96 can be claimed back from the Ministry of Education. View here for more information
  • board makes sure the claim is submitted to the Ministry of Education:

Student trustee

  • The Education Act 1989 doesn’t allow a board to co-opt or appoint to fill a student trustee casual vacancy 
  • Unless the exception applies (below), within 8 weeks of the vacancy occurring the board has to decide to:
    • hold a by-election. This is the same process as for an election.  View Returning officers’ handbook.
    • set an election date 
    • appoint a returning officer

Note: The election date has to be at least 6 weeks away, and no later than the 15th Friday after the vacancy occurred. View election planner tool.

Exception to requirement to hold by-election to fill student trustee casual vacancy

If the casual vacancy arises because there are no nominations at the student election then the position must remain vacant until the student election. This will be the following September.

Call Advisory and Support Centre on 0800 782 0982, option 1 to discuss options to ensure student voice on your board during this time.

Forms and funding for a student by-election
  • Ministry of Education provides no election funding for a student election or by-election.
  • board can decide to pay its returning officer a fee from its own budget

Resources

Legal references

Sections 103B104 and 105, Education Act 1989.

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