The school law of Michigan/School Officers

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In Primary Districts.

At the first meeting in each newly organized school district there is elected a moderator for a term of three years, a director for a term of two years, and an assessor for a term of one year. By arranging in this way, the term of office of one expires each year and the length of each term is three years.

HOW ELECTED. All school officers must be chosen by ballot to be legally elected. This provision is mandatory and must be observed (75 Mich. 143). All ballots cast under statutory requirements are formal and final. There can be no such thing as an informal ballot. If on a first ballot a person receives a majority of all the votes cast, there is an election and the vote can not be repeated (78 Mich. 635). Officers who were chosen unanimously (viva voce) at a regularly called meeting, and who have qualified and are act- ing, are officers de facto and the public interest demands that they shall not be disturbed (75 Mich. 143).

PLURALITY VOTE DOES NOT ELECT. School officers cannot be elected by a bare plurality vote. In electing officers the district acts in its corporate capacity, and no corporate action can be had without the concurrence of the majority (Atty. Gen., July 18, 1877).

TRANSACTIONS OF BUSINESS. The moderator, director, and assessor shall constitute the district board. Meetings of the board may be called by any member thereof, by serving on the other members a written notice of the time and place of such meeting at least twenty-four hours before such meeting is to take place; and no act authorized to be done by the district board is valid, unless voted at a meeting of the board. A majority of the members of the board at a meeting is necessary for the transaction of business (5058).


Any qualified voter in a school district who has property liable to assessment for school taxes, is eligible to election or appointment to office in such school district, unless such person be an alien.


Within ten days after their election or appointment, the several officers of each school district file with the director written acceptances of the offices to which they have been respectively elected or appointed, and such acceptances are entered in the records of the district by said director (5057, 5133). In township districts the officers file acceptances within five days after being notified, and such notification is made within five days after election or appointment.

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A district office may become vacant by:

1. Death of the incumbent.
2. Resignation.
8. Removal from office.
4. Removal from the district.
5. Conviction of any infamous crime.
6. Election or appointment being declared void by a competent tribunal.
7. Neglect to file acceptance of office, or to give or renew any official bond as required by law.

Temporary absence of an officer does not create a vacancy TEMPORARY ABSENCE. in the office. If this family continues to reside in the district, he retains his residence. (Atty. Gen., Feb. 8, 1882.)


BY THE REMAINING OFFICERS. In case any one of the district offices becomes vacant, the two remaining officers shall immediately fill such vacancy, or in case two of the offices become vacant, the remaining officer shall immediately call a special meeting of the district to fill such vacancies.

BY BOARD OF SCHOOL INSPECTORS. In case any vacancy is not filled as herein provided within twenty days after it shall have occurred, or in case the offices in a district shall become vacant, the board of school inspectors of the township to which the annual reports of such district are made shall fill such vacancies.

TIME OF HOLDING OFFICE. Any person elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in a district office shall hold such office until the next succeeding annual meeting, at which time the voters of the district shall fill such office for the unexpired portion of the term (5055).

VACANCY IN TOWNSHIP OR GRADED DISTRICTS. In graded districts the trustees have power to fill any vacancy that may occur in their number, until the next annual meeting (5133). The same is true in case of a vacancy on the township board of education (Act 176, 1891).


It is impossible to enumerate in detail all of the many duties which the officers of a district are called upon to perform. Below is given a summary of their most important duties, fol- lowed farther on by a similar summary of the powers and duties of each individual school officer:

1. To purchase a record book and such other books, blanks, and stationery as may be necessary to keep a record of the RECORD BOOKS AND STATIONERY. proceedings of the district meetings and of meetings of the board, the accounts of the assessor, and for doing the business of the district in an orderly manner (5059, 24 Mich. 353).

SCHOOL SITES. 2. To purchase or lease, in the corporate name of the district, such sites for school houses as have been lawfully designated; to build, hire, or purchase such school houses as may be necessary, out of the fund provided for that purpose; and to make sale of any site or other property of the district, when lawfully directed by the qualified voters (5060).

AMOUNTS TO BE RAISED 3. To estimate the amount necessary to be raised, in addition to other school funds, for the entire support of such schools, including teachers’ wages, fuel, and other incidental expenses, and for deficiencies of the previous year for such purposes. In districts having less than thirty scholars, such estimate, including the district’s share of the primary school interest fund and one-mill tax, must not exceed the sum of fifty dollars a month for the period during which school is held in such district; and when such amount has been estimated and voted by the district board, it is reported for assessment and collection, the same as other district taxes. When a tax has been estimated and voted by the district TO BORROW MONEY. board under the provisions of this section, and is needed before it can be collected, the district board may borrow to an amount not exceeding the amount of said tax (5061).

ANNUAL REPORT TO TOWNSHIP CLERK. 4. Between the first and third Mondays in September in each year, to make out and deliver to the township clerk of each township in which any part of the district is situated, a report in writing of all taxes voted by the district during the preceding year, and of all taxes which said board is authorized to impose, to be levied on the taxable property of the district (5062).

SCHOOL FUNDS. 5. To apply and pay over all school moneys belonging to the district, in accordance with the provisions of law regulating the same.

ANNUAL REPORT TO THE DISTRICT. 6. To present to the district at each annual meeting, a report in writing containing an accurate statement of all moneys of the district received by them during the preceding year, and of the disbursements made by them, with the items of such receipts and disbursements, such report to contain a statement of all taxes assessed upon the taxable property of the district during the preceding year, the purposes for which such taxes were assessed, and the amount assessed for each particular purpose. Said report is entered by the director in the records of the district (5064).

CONTRACT WITH TEACHERS. 7. To hire and contract with such duly qualified teachers as may be required, all contracts to be in writing signed by a majority of the board on behalf of the district (5065).

CUSTODY OF SCHOOL PROPERTY. 8. To have the care and custody of the school house and other property of the district, except so far as the same, by vote of the district, be specially confided to the custody of the director, including all books purchased for the use of indigent pupils; to open the school house for public meetings, unless by a vote at a district meeting it shall be determined otherwise: Provided, That said board may exclude such public meetings during the five school days of each week of any and all school terms, or such parts thereof as in their discretion they may deem for the best interest of the schools (5066).

9. To specify the studies to be pursued in the schools of the district (5067).

RECORDS OF TEXT-BOOKS ADOPTED. 10. On making a selection of text-books, to keep a record thereof in their proceedings; and text-books once adopted shall not be changed within five years, except by the consent of a majority of the qualified voters of the district present at an annual meeting or at a special meeting called for that purpose.

INSTRUCTION IN PHYSIOLOGY AND HYGIENE. 11. To require each teacher in the public schools of such district, before placing the school register in the hands of the director, to certify therein whether or not required instruction in physiology and hygiene has been given in the school or grade presided over by such teacher; and it is the duty of the director of the district to file with the township clerk a certified copy of such certificate. Any school board neglecting or refusing to comply with this requirement is subject to fine or forfeiture, the same as for neglect of any other duty pertaining to the office. This applies to all schools in the state, including schools in cities or villages, whether incorporated under special charter or under the general laws (Act 165, 1887).

PURCHASE TEXT-BOOKS. 12. To purchase at the expense of the district, such text-books as may be necessary for the use of children, when parents are not able to furnish the same, and to include the amount of such purchase in the report to the township clerk or clerks, to be levied in like manner as other district taxes (5068).

EXPULSION FOR SUSPENSION. 13. To have the general care of the school, and to make and enforce suitable rules and regulations for its government and management, and for the preservation of the property of the district. Said board may authorize or order the suspension or expulsion from the school of any pupil guilty of gross misdemeanor or persistent disobedience, whenever, in its judgment, the interests of the school demand it (5069). (See also Chap. X.)

NON-RESIDENT PUPILS. 14. To admit to the district school non-resident pupils, in its discretion, and to determine the rates of tuition of such pupils and collect the same, which tuition shall not be greater than fifteen per cent more than the average cost per capita for the number of pupils of school age in the district (Act 131, 1895).

15. To have charge of any library which may have been CHARGE OF LIBRARY. established in the district (5143). It may also donate or sell any library book or books belonging to the district, to the board of school inspectors of the township or townships in which the district is wholly or partly situated (5148).

FREE TEXT-BOOKS 16. To purchase text books for all the pupils of the district, when authorized by the voters of the district (Act 147 1889).

17. To purchase a flag and flag-staff for each school house, such flag not to be smaller than four feet two inches by eight feet (Act 56, 1895).

Board of Education of Graded Schools.

The graded school board is composed of five members elected at the annual meeting for a term of three years. At the time of the organization into a graded district, one member is elected for a term of one year, two for terms of two years, and two for terms of three years.

HOW ELECTED. As in the case of officers of primary districts, these school officers must be elected by ballot and hold office their successors are elected and qualified. A majority vote is also necessary. The board elects from its own number the director, moderator, and assessor for one year.[1] In case of a failure of the board to agree in the appointment of its officers, the school inspectors of the township or city are authorized to make the appointment (5133).


Besides having the same powers that are possessed by school officers of primary school districts, the officers of graded districts are authorized:

GRADING OF SCHOOL. 1. To classify and grade the pupils attending school in such district, and cause them to be taught in such schools or departments as they may deem expedient (5134).

TERMS OF ADMISSION. 2. To establish in such district a high school, when ordered by a vote of the district at an annual meeting, and to determine the qualifications for admission to such school and the fees to be paid for tuition in any branches taught therein; Provided, That, when the parents or guardians of non-resident pupils pay a school tax in said district, the same shall be credited on their tuition a sum not to exceed the amount of such tuition, and they shall only be required to pay tuition for the difference between the amount of the tax and the amount charged for tuition (Act 21, 1891).

AUDITING OF ACCOUNTS. 3. To audit and order the payment of all accounts of the the director for incidental or other expenses incurred by him in the discharge of his duties; but no more than fifty dollars may be expended by the director in any one year for repairs of the buildings or appurtenances of the district property, without the authority of the board of trustees.

CONTRACT WITH TEACHERS. 4. To employ all qualified teachers necessary for the several schools, to determine the amount of their compensation, and to require the director and moderator to make contracts with the same on behalf of the district, in accordance with the provisions of law concerning contracts with teachers.

EMPLOY JANITORS, &C. 5. To employ such officers and servants as may be necessary, for the management of the schools and school property, and to prescribe their duties and fix their compensation (5134).

Board of Education of Township Districts.

HOW ELECTED. The board of education of a township district consists of two trustees, with the clerk and school inspectors of the township. Said trustees are elected by ballot at the annual township meeting of the township, upon the same ticket and canvassed in the same manner as the vote for township officers. Within five days after the annual election the township clerk is required to give written notice of their election to the persons elected trustees, and within five days thereafter said trustees so elected shall take and subscribe the oath of office prescribed by the constitution of this state, before any officer authorized to administer oaths, and file the same with the township clerk.

TERM OF OFFICE. The term of office of the trustees of said district commences on the second Monday following the annual township election at which they are elected, and continues for two years and until their successors are elected and qualified.


PRESIDENT. The members of the board of education meet on the third Monday of April of each year, at the office of the township clerk, and organize. The school inspector of the township whose term of office will soonest expire, is president of the board and entitled to vote in all cases. In the absence of the president at any meeting, a majority of the members present may choose one of their own number president pro tem.

CLERK. The township clerk of said township is ex officio clerk of said board of education and entitled to vote. In case of the absence of said clerk, the board may choose some suitable person to perform his duties.

TREASURER. The board on said third Monday of April in each year elects from its own number a treasurer, who holds his office for one year and until his successor is elected and qualified, The board may at any time fill a vacancy in the office of treasurer; Provided, That the person appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of treasurer shall hold the office for the unexpired portion of the term only. The treasurer of said board within five days after his appointment must file with the clerk of the board the constitutional oath of office. He must also, before entering upon the duties of his office, give a bond to said district in such sum and with such sureties as said board shall determine and approve, conditioned for the faithful performance of his duties, and must honestly account for all moneys coming into his hands belonging to said district. He has the keeping of all school and library moneys, and can not pay out the same without the authority of the board upon warrants or orders drawn upon him, signed by the clerk and countersigned by the president.


REGULAR. The regular meetings of the board are held on the third Monday of April, August, and December in each year. No notice of such meeting is required. Any two members is sufficient to adjourn any meeting from time to time until a quorum is present.

SPECIAL. Special meetings of the board may be called at any time on the request of the president, or any two members thereof, in writing, delivered to the clerk, and the clerk upon receiving such request shall at once notify each member, if within the district, of the time of holding such meeting, which shall be at least three days subsequent to the time of receiving such request by the clerk.

WHERE HELD. All meetings of the board shall be held at the township clerk’s office, unless otherwise ordered by a resolution of the board; and all records and papers of the district shall be kept in the custody of said clerk and shall be open to the inspection of any taxpayer of said district.


All the duties required of school inspectors, in townships organized under the primary school law, are performed by the township board of education. The township board of inspectors, therefore, has no separate existence in such townships. The following are the principal duties of township school officers:

1. To designate and purchase school house sites.
2. To erect buildings and furnish the same.
3. To employ legally qualified teachers.
4. To provide books for district library.
5. To make by-laws relative to the taking of the school census.
6. To make all necessary reports and transmit the same to the proper officers.
7. To make needful regulations and by-laws relative to school visitation, length of school terms, and purchase of books for indigent children (Act 176, 1891).


The director is the chief officer of the primary district and upon him falls much of the labor and responsibility of the district board. We give below many of his principal duties:

1. To act as clerk, when present, of all meetings of the district and of the board.

2. To record the proceedings of all district meetings, and the minutes of all meetings, orders, resolutions, and other proceedings of the board, in proper record books.

3. To give the prescribed notice of the annual district meeting, and of all special meetings.

4. To draw and sign warrants upon the township treasurer for all moneys raised for district purposes or apportioned to the district by the township clerk, and orders upon the assessor for all moneys to be disbursed by the district, and to present them to the moderator, to be countersigned by that officer. Each order shall specify the object for which and the fund upon which, it is drawn.

5. To draw and sign all contracts with teachers, when directed by the district board, and present them to the other members of the board for further signature.

6. To provide, in his discretion, the necessary appendages for the school house, and keep the same in good condition and repair during the time of school. (See also Chap. X.)

7. To keep an accurate account of all expenses incurred by him as director, such account to be audited by the moderator and assessor and, on their written order, to be paid out of any money provided for the purpose.

8. To present at each annual meeting an estimate of the expenses necessary to be incurred during the ensuing year by the director, and for payment of the services of any district officer.

9. To preserve and file copies of all reports made to the school inspectors; and safely to preserve and keep all books, papers and other documents belonging to the office of director (or to the district, when not otherwise provided for) and to deliver the same to his successor in office.

10. To take a census of the district within the ten days next previous to the first Monday in September in each year. This work may be done by any person appointed by the district board.

11. At the end of the school year and previous to the second Monday in September in each year, to deliver to the township clerk, to be filed in his office, a report to the board of school inspectors of the township, showing:

(a) The whole number of children belonging to the district between the ages of five and twenty years, according to the census taken as aforesaid.

(b) The number attending school during the year under five, and also the number over twenty years of age.

(c) The number of non-resident pupils of the district that have attended school during the year.

(d) The whole number that have attended school during the year.

(e) The length of time the school has been taught during the year by a qualified teacher, the name of each teacher, the length of time taught by each, and the wages paid to each.

(f) The average length of time scholars, between five and twenty years of age, have attended school during the year,

(g) The amount of money received from the township treasurer and apportioned to the district by the township clerk.

(h) The amount of money raised by the district, and the purposes for which it was raised.

(i) The kind of books used in the school.

(j) Such other facts and statistics in regard to the schools and the subject of education, as the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall direct.

12. In fractional districts to make an annual report to the clerk of the township in which the school-house is situated, and also to report to the clerk of each township in which the district is in part situated, the number of children between the ages of five and twenty years living in that part of the district lying in such township (5073).

13. To perform such other duties as may be required of the director by law or by the district board.


It is the duty of the moderator of each school district:

1. To preside, when present, at all meetings of the district and of the board.

2. To countersign all orders legally drawn by the director upon the assessor for moneys to be disbursed by the district, and all warrants of the director upon the township treasurer for moneys raised for district purposes, or apportioned to the district by the township clerk.

3. To cause an action to be prosecuted in the name of the district on the assessor’s bond, in case of any breach of any condition thereof.

4. To perform such other duties as may be required of the moderator by law.


It is the duty of assessor of each school district:

1. To execute to the district and file with the director, within ten days after his election or appointment, a bond in double the amount of money to come into his hands as such assessor during his term of office, as near as the same can be ascertained, with two sufficient sureties, to be approved by the moderator and director,BOND. conditioned for the faithful application of all moneys that shall come into his hands by virtue of his office, and to perform all the duties of his said office as required by the provisions of this act. Said bond shall be filed with the director, and in case of any breach of the condition thereof, the moderator shall cause a suit to be commenced thereon in the name of the district, and any moneys collected thereon shall be paid into the township treasury, subject to the order of the district officers, and shall be applied to the same purposes as the moneys lost should have been applied by the assessor.

2. To pay all orders of the director, when lawfully drawn and countersigned by the moderator, out of any moneys in his hands belonging to the fund upon which such orders may be drawn.

3. To keep a book in which all the moneys received and disbursed shall be entered, the sources from which the same have been received, and the persons to whom and the objects for which the same have been paid.

4. To present to the district board at the close of the school year a report in writing, containing a statement of all moneys received during the preceding year and of each item of disbursements made, and exhibit the voucher therefor.

5. To appear for and on behalf of the district in all suits brought by or against the same, when no other directions shall be given by the qualified voters in district meeting, except in suits in which he is interested adversely to the district; and in all such cases the moderator shall appear for such district, if no other direction be given as aforesaid.

6. At the close of his term of office to settle with the district board, and deliver to his successor in office all books, vouchers, orders, documents, and papers belonging to the office of assess- or, together with all district moneys remaining on hand.

7. To perform such other duties as may be required of the assessor by law.

  1. Note.—Many times in districts organized by special enactment school officers are known by other titles; as president, secretary and treasurer. Unless such special acts plainly prescribe the duties of such officers, the duties belonging to the moderator, director, and assessor are performed by the president, secretary, and treasurer, in the order named respectively.