Political Action

The Role of an Elected School Board Trustee

by Jennifer Yeh Dempsey

Source: California School Boards Association https://www.csba.org

  Citizen oversight of local government is the cornerstone of democracy in the United States. School board members are locally elected public officials entrusted with governing a community’s public schools. The role of the school board is to ensure that school districts are responsive to the values, beliefs and priorities of their communities. Boards fulfill this role by performing five major responsibilities:

Setting direction

Establishing an effective and efficient structure

Providing support

Ensuring accountability

Providing community leadership as advocates for children, the school district and public schools

  These five responsibilities represent core functions that are so fundamental to a school system’s accountability to the public that they can only be performed by an elected governing body. Authority is granted to the board as a whole, not each member individually. Therefore, board members fulfill these responsibilities by working together as a governance team with the superintendent to make decisions that will best serve all the students in the community.


Jennifer Yeh Dempsey