Education and Training Act 2020: Electing school boards

Minister has the ability to appoint a commissioner after an election is declared invalid

The Minister is able to declare an election invalid and reinstate the previous board, until a new election is held and the new board takes office.

However, it is sometimes impractical to reinstate the previous board, which could have been out of office for almost two months, or problematic where school communities have had issues with the previous board or some of its members.

Section 181 of the Act enables the Minister to direct the Secretary for Education to appoint a commissioner when an election has been declared invalid. This is in addition to the Minister’s ability to reinstate the previous board.

Board vacancies can be published in the manner that best meets the needs of the school community and wider community

The previous legislation required board vacancies to be notified through a local newspaper. However, providing notice through a local newspaper is an outdated practice that is no longer reflective of modern communications preferences and may no longer represent the best way of reaching the school community and other relevant parties.

Clause 13 of schedule 23 of the Act removes this requirement and instead provides that a board must give notice of the vacancy to its school community and the wider local community in the manner that best meets the needs of the school community and the wider community. This enables schools to decide, in this context, the most appropriate means of notification.

Removal of an unnecessary regulation-making power

The previous legislation empowered the Governor-General to make regulations prescribing how returning officers are appointed for board elections. The Act removes this regulation making power as it is overly prescriptive and regulations made under section 640 are broad enough to cover the appointment of returning officers.

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