Hon. Kevin Noland
Department of Education
Capital Plaza Tower
Frankfort, KY 40601
Dear Mr. Noland:
You have asked our office for our opinion regarding several issues relating to school
based decision making councils.
1. Is it the local school board or the high school (grades 9-12) council
that has authority to determine whether high school credit will be
granted for an 8th grade algebra course which is offered in the
As a general rule the local school board is authorized to make policies regarding
graduation requirements as long as such policies are consistent with the state requirements. OAG
80-118. However, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has preempted the
issue of granting high school credit for 8th grade algebra courses and thus removed this decision
from the local district.
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is required pursuant to KRS
156.160(1)(c) to set minimum requirements for graduation from high school. In 704 KAR 3:305
the State Board has adopted by reference the Program of Studies for Kentucky Schools. The
Program of Studies for Kentucky Schools specifies that Algebra I may be offered for high school
credit in the 8th grade if the students have reached a particular level of math proficiency and if the
instructor has an appropriate certificate level. Program of Studies for Kentucky Schools,
Mathematics, p. 13, March 1990.
Therefore, we believe that the State Board has already determined the specifications
necessary for an 8th grade Algebra I course to receive high school credit.
2. Is it the staff at a school or the local school board which has
authority to determine the frequency with which and the time of
year in which a staff may vote to enter SBDM and to determine the
beginning operation date for the school council?
KERA mandates that after July 13, 1990, any school in which two-thirds (2/3) of the
faculty vote to implement school-based decision making shall do so. KRS 160.345(5). Many of
the issues relating to formation of school councils are answered in KRS 160.345 although
matters relating to the formation of school councils not provided for in that section shall be
addressed by local board policy. KRS 160.345(2)(e).
You ask whether the school faculty or local school board determines the frequency with
which and the time of year in which a staff may vote to implement SBDM and the operation date
for the school council.
While KRS 160.345 provides that a school staff must be allowed to vote to enter SBDM
the statute does not indicate how many times or the dates that a faculty may vote to implement
SBDM. A Board when enacting school council formation policies should be cognizant of the
requirement that all schools must implement SBDM by July 1, 1996. KRS 160.345(5). Any
board policy relating to the initial vote to enter SBDM must offer the faculty a reasonable
opportunity to vote. For example it is reasonable and consistent with KERA to allow a school
two opportunities to vote during a school year, once in the fall and once in the spring. However,
it would be unreasonable and in direct violation of KERA to allow the faculty to vote only once a
year, or during Christmas or spring break or other date when faculty are likely to be out of town.
A. If a school's staff votes to enter SBDM in October, but the
board policy states that the school council terms run from July to
June, does the staff have to wait nine months to begin operation of
No, the school does not need to wait nine months to implement SBDM. Rather, the
school should be given a brief time to permit elections and training before allowing the school
council to begin its tenure. This delay should not exceed a couple of months. Since the school
board policy determined that the school council terms run from July to June, the first school
council elected in the fall would hold office until July when the next school council would take
office. Thus, this first school council would only serve a partial term of a few months from
November or December until July.
B. If a staff votes in the spring to enter SBDM, but local board
policy states that council terms begin in July, will the council-elect
have authority to select the principal for its school in the event
there is a vacancy in the spring before the council members' terms
KERA does not give the council-elect the power to select the principal before the council
members are sworn into office. In OAG 92-78 we explained that two separate statutes govern
selection of a principal. If a school has a school council in place then the council chooses a
principal from among those names submitted by the superintendent. KRS 160.345(2)(i). If the
school does not have a school council then the superintendent chooses the principal. KRS
However, we believe it is consistent with the goals of KERA for a superintendent to
receive input from a council-elect prior to selecting a principal for the school described in your
question. The final decision will remain with the superintendent. KRS 160.380(2)(a).
3. If a district board policy prohibits the use of corporal
punishment, may a school council in that district have a discipline
policy which allows for the use of corporal punishment?
KERA provides that the school council shall adopt a policy to be implemented by the
principal in several areas including:
Selection and implementation of discipline and classroom
management techniques, including responsibilities of the student,
parent, teacher, counselor, and principal.
Notwithstanding this grant of power, the school district may attempt to reverse a school
council's policy on appeal if it violates any of six criteria identified in 704 KAR 7:110 Section 2
The school council shall make decisions in the areas set out in
KRS 160.345(2)(j)(1-8). The district board of education may reject
a school council policy in one (1) of these areas only to the extent
it is inconsistent with:
(1) State or federal statutes or regulations (if a waiver is not
(2) Concerns for health and safety;
(3) Concerns for liability;
(4) Available financial resources; or
(5) Contractual obligations to personnel and other providers of
goods and services.
The local board may reject a school council's policy on corporal punishment if the local
school board has a policy banning corporal punishment based on concerns for liability or
concerns for health and safety. 704 KAR 7:110.
Your last series of questions deal with the exemption from school based decision making
for single-school districts. KRS 160.345(5) provides in part:
Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a local school
district shall not be required to implement school based decision
making if the local school district contains only one (1) school.
Your questions are:
4(A) Is this exemption forever, or is it just a one year exemption?
There is no indication in KRS 160.345(5) that this is a temporary one year exemption.
Thus, the exemption for single-school districts from SBDM would continue to apply until the
statute were amended or repealed.
4(B) If the local board of education in a "single-school" district
does not want to enter SBDM but the staff of the school votes to
enter SBDM, who prevails?
The local board of education has general control and management of schools in its area.
KRS 160.290. The decision of the local board of education in a single-school district not to
implement SBDM controls over the school's desires to enter SBDM.
4(C) If the local board of education in a "single-school" district
wants to enter SBDM, but the staff of the school does not want to
We answered this in the preceding question when we cited the local board's general
control and management of the schools in its area. If a local board in a single-school district
elects to implement SBDM this decision controls over the vote of the school staff.
Assistant Attorney General