The school law of Michigan/Administration of School Affairs

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Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The chief officer of the state educational system is the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is elected at the time of the general state election for a term of two years, commencing on the first day of January next following his election.

SALARY.His salary is one thousand dollars a year and his office is at the Capitol in Lansing.

ASSISTANTS.He is assisted in the performance of his official duties by a deputy and five clerks appointed by himself. The deputy is required to take the constitutional oath of office and is authorized by law to execute the duties of the office in the absence of the superintendent or in case of a vacancy, Appointments made by the superintendent may be revoked by him at any time (5026).[1]


VISIT STATE INSTITUTIONS.1. To visit each and every state institution that is essentially educational in character and to meet with governing board of each institution at least once in each year (5026).

ANNUAL REPORT.2. To prepare an annual report to the Governor, which report shall contain the following information:

(a) A statement of the condition of the university and of each of the several state educational institutions, all incorporated institutions of learning, and the primary, graded, and high schools.

(b) Estimates and amounts of expenditures of all educational funds.

(c) Plans for the management of all educational funds, and for the better organization of the educational system, if in his opinion the same be required.

(d) The annual reports and accompanying documents, so far as he shall deem the same of sufficient public interest, of all state institutions of educational character.

(e) Abstracts of the annual reports of the school inspectors of the several townships and cities of the state.

(f) All such other matter relating to his office and the subject of education generally as he shall deem expedient to communicate (5026).

COMPILATION OF SCHOOL LAWS.3. To compile and cause to be printed all general laws relating to schools, with necessary forms, regulations, and instructions for conducting all proceedings under said laws. Such compilation must include rules for the management of libraries of townships and school districts, one copy to be furnished to each of the several school offices entrusted with the management of school affairs (5028).

PRIMARY APPORTIONMENT.4. To prepare statements directing the semi-annual apportionment of the primary school interest fund among all the children between the ages of five and (under) twenty years of age. Between the first and tenth days of each May and November these statements are made to the auditor general, showing the number of pupils of school age in each county, township, and city, as appears from the reports of school officers filed in the office of public instruction during the month of October just previous to the May apportionment. The auditor general on receiving such statements, is authorized to draw a warrant upon the state treasurer in favor of the treasurer of each county for the amount due to each county. In case the reports from any county, township, city, or district, are defective, the superintendent is authorized to ascertain, by the best evidence he can obtain, the facts upon which the apportionment shall depend.

FORFEITURE. It is the intention of the law that districts shall not lose public money on account of inaccurate or incomplete reports; if the superintendent is unable to gather such information or if he finds that school has not been taught in the district at least five months (Act 15, 1895), it is his duty to cause such districts to forfeit their share of this fund. He may, if he finds that officers failed to comply with the law through fault of their own, apportion such deficiency at the time of the next apportionment (5029 and 5030). The preparation of this statement is one of the most important duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction,

LIBRARY APPORTIONMENT. 5. To prepare statements for the division of library money among townships and districts entitled to receive a portion of the same (5145).

EXAMINATION QUESTIONS. 6. To prepare all examination questions to be used at county teachers’ examinations. He is required to send same under seal to the commissioner of schools (Act 66, 1895). He shall also send to commissioner of schools the questions furnished by the president of the agricultural college for use in the examination of candidates for admission into said college (Act 101, 1895).

COUNTY CERTIFICATES. 7. To prescribe rules and regulations relative to the granting of certificates by county board of examiners (Act 101, 1895).

INDORSED CERTIFICATES. 8. To approve and countersign, in his discretion, first grade certificates (Act 34, 1893).

BLANKS AN REPORTS. 9. To prepare and furnish to school officers blank forms for auuual reports to the department. (Act 147, 1891).

INSTITUTES. 10. To arrange for a teachers’ institute in each organized county of the state and act as conductor of the same, appoint some suitable person or persons to act as conductor or instructors. He has general supervision of the institutes and directs the disbursements of money belonging to the institute fund (5189 and Act 112, 1883).

VISITING BOARDS. 11. He may appoint, in his discretion, boards of visitors to any incorporated institution of learning within the state (Act 103, 1893).

DUTIES EX OFFICIO. 12. He is a member of the State Board of Education (Art. 13, Sec. 9, Mich. Constitution) and the State Geological Survey (5468).

OTHER DUTIES. 13. He shall perform such other duties as are or shall be required of him by law and, at the expiration of his term of office, shall deliver to his successor all property, books, documents, maps, records, reports, and all other papers belonging to his office, or which may have been received by him for the use of his office.

State Board of Education.

Including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, this board is composed of four members. The three members of the board other than the superintendent are elected for terms of six years and receive three dollars per day for their actual services, together with necessary traveling and other expenses. At each biennial state election one member is elected.

CARE OF STATE NORMAL. The board has general care and management of the state normal schools, and its general duties relating normal thereto are prescribed by law (Act 194, 1889, and Act 73, 1895). We give in this chapter only such duties as pertain to the general school system of the state.


PRESCRIBED COURSE OF STUDY 1. The board is required by law to prescribe in the state normal schools a course of study intended especially to prepare students for teaching the rural and elementary schools of the state, such course to provide not less than twenty weeks of special professional instruction.

MAINTAIN TRAINING SCHOOL. In addition to the course mentioned above, the board is required to maintain a fully equipped training school as a school of observation and practice.

GRANT DIPLOMAS. 2. Diplomas for five years are now granted by the State Board of Education upon the recommendation of principal and faculty of the school, and diplomas for life are granted to those who have completed a full course of not less than four years study. Diplomas granted by the board are legal certificates to teach in all the schools of the state, when recorded with the legal examining officer of the county or city where the holder thereof proposes to teach.

GRANT STATE CERTIFICATES 3. The board also holds two examinations each year at Lansing, to examine candidates for state certificates. These examinations are usually held during the last weeks of July and December. State certificates are valid during life.

INDORSE STATE CERTIFICATES. 4. The board may indorse state certificates granted in other states, if it be shown that the examinations required or courses of study pursued are fully equal to the requirements of this state (Act 73, 1895).

GRANT COLLEGE CERTIFICATES. 5. It may grant certificates to graduates of colleges of the state whose courses of study have been approved by said board, according to the condition prescribed in Act No. 136, laws of 1893.

APPROVE TEXT BOOKS. 6. It may examine and approve text books in physiology, before such text books are legally adopted for use in public schools of the state. (Act 165, 1887; Act 147, 1889).

County Board of School Examiners.

This board is composed of three persons, the county commissioner of schools and two examiners, each chosen for terms of two years,


HOW ELECTED. The commissioner is elected by the people on the first Mon- day of April of every odd year, and enters upon the duties of his office on the first day of July next after his election. OATH OF OFFICE. Within ten days after he has received legal notice of his election, he shall take the constitutional oath of office and file a bond in the penal sum of one thousand dollars for the faithful performance of his duties (Act 66, 1895).

SALARY. The compensation of the commissioner of schools is fixed by the board of supervisors. The maximum salary paid in any county is $1,500. In counties having one hundred and twenty-five schools under his supervision, the minimum salary is $1,200; in counties having one hundred schools, the lowest limit is $1,000; and in counties of fifty schools, $500. In some of the smaller counties of the state the commissioners serve for salaries ranging from $100 to $500.

Before the county clerk can legally issue an order for the salary of the commissioner the latter must meet the following requirements:

CERTIFIED STATEMENT. 1. File a certified statement from the Superintendent of Public Instruction that all reports required of him have been properly made and filed with said superintendent.

2. File with the county clerk a detailed statement under oath, showing what schools have been visited by him during the preceding quarter and what amount of time was employed in each school, naming the township and school district.

CONTINGENT EXPENSES. The necessary contingent expenses of the commissioner for printing, postage, stationery, record books, and rent of rooms for public examinations shall be audited and allowed by the board of supervisors (Act 147, 1891).

QUALIFICATION OF COMMISSIONER. To be eligible to hold the office of commissioner of schools, the candidate must possess higher qualifications than are required of most officials. Besides having been a teacher in the public schools of the state for twelve months, he must possess one at least of the following qualifications:

1. Be a graduate of the literary department of some reputable college, university, or state normal school having a course of at least three years.

2. Hold a state teacher’s certificate.

3. Hold a first grade certificate in the county in which he is elected.

4. Have been a commissioner under the provisions of Act No. 147, public acts of 1891.

IN SMALL COUNTIES. Counties having less than fifty schools under the supervision of a commissioner, may elect a commissioner who is the holder of a second grade certificate (Act 66, 1895).

DATE OF CERTIFICATE. A graduate of a high school or a person to whom a certificate was granted after the date of his election, is legally qualified (94 Mich. 165),

ELIGIBILITY OF WOMEN. Women are also eligible to hold the office of commissioner (Act 147, 1891).

VACANCY IN OFFICE. Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of commissioner of schools, the county clerk shall issue a call to the chairmen of the township boards of school inspectors of each township in the county, who shall meet within ten days at the office of the county clerk and appoint a suitable person to fill the vacancy for the unexpired portion of the term.

GRANT CERTIFICATES. The executive duties of the board of examiners devolve mainly upon the commissioner of schools. No county certificate is valid without his signature, and he is authorized to grant special certificates.

SCHEDULE OF EXAMINATIONS. He must make out a schedule of the times and places of holding special public examinations in counties entitled to hold such examinations, and cause said schedule to be published in one or more newspapers of the county ten days before such examination (Act 66, 1895).

EXAMINE COLLEGE CANDIDATES. He is required to examine candidates for admission to the freshman class of the agricultural college, using questions furnished by the president of said college and forwarded by the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Act 101, 1895). His duties as given in Act 147, Laws of 1891, are as follows:

REPORT TO STATE SUPERINTENDENT. 1. Immediately after his or her qualification as commissioner, to send notice thereof to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the chairman of each township board of school inspectors of the county.

RECORD OF EXAMINATIONS. 2. To keep a record of all examinations held by the board of school examiners and to sign all certificates other papers and reports issued by the board.

RECEIVE INSTITUTE FEES. 3. To receive the institute fees provided by law and to pay the same to the county treasurer quarterly, beginning September thirtieth in each year.

RECORD OF CERTIFICATES. 4. To keep a record of all certificates granted, suspended, or revoked by the said board or commissioner, showing to whom issued, together with the date, grade, duration of each certificate, and, if suspended or revoked, with the date and reason thereof.

RECORD OF TEACHERS. 5. To furnish previous to the first Monday in September in each year, to the township clerk of each township county, a list of all persons legally authorized to teach in the county at large and in such township, with the date and term of each certificate, and if any have been suspended or revoked, the date of such suspension or revocation.

VISITATION OF SCHOOLS. 6. To visit each of the schools in the county at least once in each year, and to examine carefully the discipline, the mode of instruction, and the progress and proficiency of pupils: Provided, That in case the county commissioner is unable to visit all the schools of the county as herein required, the said commissioner may appoint such assistant visitors as may be necessary, who shall perform such duties pertaining to the visitation and supervision of schools as said commissioner shall direct. The whole expense incurred by such assistant visitors must not exceed the sum of ninety dollars in any one year.

COUNSEL WITH TEACHERS. 7. To counsel with the teachers and school boards as to the courses of study to be pursued, and as to any improvement in the discipline and instruction in the schools.

ASSISTANT INSTITUTE CONDUCTOR. 8. To promote by such means as he or she may devise, the improvement of the schools in the county, and the elevation of the character and qualifications of the teachers and officers thereof, and to act as assistant conductor of institutes appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and perform such other duties as the superintendent shall require.

INDORSE REPORTS. 9. To receive the duplicate annual reports of the several boards of school inspectors, examine into their correctness, require them to be amended when necessary, indorse his or her approval upon them, and immediately thereafter and before the first day of Novem- ber in each year, transmit to the Superintendent of Public Instruction one copy of each of said reports and file the other in the office of the county clerk.

ANNUAL REPORTS. 10. To be subject to such instructions and rules as the Superintendent of Public Instruction may prescribe; to receive all blanks and communications that may be sent to him or her by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to dispose of the same as directed, and to make annual reports at the close of the school year to the Superintendent of Public Instruction of his or her official labor, and of the schools of the county, together with such other information as may be required.

11. To perform such other duties as may be required by law, and, at the close of the term of office, to deliver all records, ' books, and papers belonging to the office to his or her successor.

LIMITATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS. The law creating the office and prescribing the duties of the commissioner also places some limitations and restrictions upon his powers and duties as follows: 1. No commissioner shall act as agent for the sale of any school furniture, text-books, maps, charts, or other school apparatus[2] (Act 66, 1895).

2. He can not legally grant a second special certificate to the same person (Act 147, 1895).

3. His expenses for printing, postage, rent of rooms, stationery, books, etc., shall not exceed $200 per year (Act 147, 1891).

4. No traveling fees are allowed him while engaged in his official duties (Act 147, 1891).


HOW APPOINTED. The examiners are appointed at the October meeting of the board of supervisors for a term of two years, a POINTED. majority of those present and voting being neces- sary to a choice (475). It is so arranged that one examiner goes out of office each year.

ELIGIBILITY. A person eligible to this office must be the holder of at least a third grade certificate and have had an experience of nine months as teacher (Act 66, 1895).

COMPENSATION. Examiners receive four dollars per day for time actually employed in their official duties, and persons appointed to assist the commissioner in school visitation receive three dollars per day. The whole expense incurred for assistant visitors in any one year is limited to ninety dollars.

VACANCY IN OFFICE. When a vacancy occurs in the office of examiner, the commissioner and remaining examiner, together with the judge of probate, act as a board to appoint a successor, who shall hold his office for the balance of the unexpired term.

The examiners assist the commissioner in the work of conducting examinations and issuing certificates (Act 66, 1895). The duties of the board as to the granting of teachers’ certificates will be discussed in another chapter.

Township Board of School Inspectors.

The state constitution (Art. 11, Sec. 1) provides for the election of a township clerk who shall be ex-officio school inspector, and for the election of one school inspector; the statute (684a) in addition to this declares that the term of office shall be two years. The board of school inspectors, therefore, consists of the township clerk and two inspectors. Women are eligible to hold the office (782).

ORGANIZATION. The organization of the board must be effected within twenty days after the first Monday in April. The township clerk is the clerk of the board, and the board shall elect one of their number chairman. The chairman is also the treasurer of the board (5079) and as such is the proper custodian of the township library money (30 Mich. 100).

TREASURER’S BOND. The treasurer is required to give a bond for the safe keeping of the moneys that may come into his hands.


By Act No. 147, Laws of 1891, the chairman of the board of inspectors is required:

SUPERVISORY CHARGE. First, To have general supervisory charge of the schools of his township, subject to such advice and direction as the county commissioner may give:

MAKE REPORTS. Second, To make such reports of his official labors and of the condition of the schools as the Superintendent of Public Instruction may direct or commissioner request.

The law relative to the powers and duties of school inspectors has undergone many changes and, in the older portions of the State, there seems to be little left for them to do.

MOST IMPORTANT DUTY. The most important of these duties and one which generally falls to the clerk, is the preparation, on the third Monday in September, of the triplicate annual report of the schools of the township to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Blanks for this purpose are prepared at the department of public instruction. One of these reports is filed with the township clerk, another with the county clerk, and the third is sent to the department office at Lansing.

FINANCIAL ACCOUNT. Before making these reports it is the duty of the board to ascertain if the schools have been taught by legally qualified teachers. The report must contain a full financial account of all moneys received and disbursed (5082).

NUMBER OF MEETINGS. The number of meetings of the inspector at the expense of the township shall not exceed eight in any one year (5083).

The authority of the inspectors to form new districts (5033) is discussed in another part of this book.

Township Clerk.

The township clerk is an important official in the management of educational matters in his township.

  1. Note.—These numbers refer to sections in Howell’s Statutes.
  2. Note.—This rule also applies to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, instructor at institute, and school examiner.
  3. Note.—City and township school districts which have been incorporated as such by special enactment, have various provisions defining the powers and duties, election and term of office of school inspector. In some of these, as in Act No. 176, Laws of 1891, the duties of the inspectors are performed by another set of officers. The student is referred to page 636 of the manual (red book) for 1893 for an index to the local acts of the legislature establishing city school districts.


We mention briefly some of his chief duties as follows:

CLERK BOARD OF SCHOOL INSPECTORS. 1. To act as clerk of the board of school inspectors, attend all meetings, and keep a record of their proceedings.

RECEIVE REPORTS. 2. To receive all reports to inspectors from school directors, and file such reports in his office.

RECEIVE COMMUNICATIONS. 3. To receive all such communications, blanks, and documents as may be transmitted by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and dispose of them as directed by said superintendent (5084).

TRANSMIT CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS. 4. To transmit to the county clerk immediately after the organization of the board of inspectors, the name and postoffice address of the chairman of said board.

PREPARE MAP. 5. To cause a map to be prepared showing the boundaries of the school districts of the township (5086).

6. To make and deliver to the supervisor a certified copy of all statements on file in his office of money to be raised by taxation in the several school districts of his township.

DIRECT APPORTIONMENTS. 7. To attend to the apportionment of the school moneys of the districts entitled to the same, according to the number of pupils in each between the ages of five and twenty years.

CLERK OF TOWNSHIP BOARD. 8. To act as clerk of township board at meetings called to remove school officers (5170).

TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION. 9. To act in township school districts of the Upper Peninsula, as member and ex-officio clerk of the board of education. His duties in such townships are quite similar to his duties in other townships of the state, and his salary as clerk of the board of education is limited to fifty dollars per year (Act 176, 1891).