SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- CONSOLIDATION ‑- STATUS.
School districts which are consolidated for all purposes for which such districts are operated lose their individuality and become a new and distinct entity for all such purposes except as to those matters expressly reserved by statute.
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March 3, 1955
Honorable Peter R. Giovine
Employment Security Department
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 55-57 No. 34
We have your letter of February 16, 1955, in which you requested an opinion on the following question:
"When school districts are reorganized and consolidated under the provisions of Chapter 28.57 RCW, does the consolidated district become a new and distinct legal entity for all purposes, thus stripping the formerly separate districts of all individuality; or can it be considered as an incorporation of one or more political subdivisions into the jurisdiction of an existing political subdivision, the effect of the consolidation being only to broaden the existing jurisdiction of the 'Parent' political subdivision?"
It is our opinion that a consolidated district becomes a new and distinct legal entity for all matters relating to the operation of the district, except as expressly provided by statute.
The consolidation and reorganization of school districts are provided for in RCW 28.57.160. That section reads as follows:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"A new school district may be formed comprising contiguous territory lying in a single county or in two or more counties. Such new district may comprise two or more whole school districts or a part of one or more school districts and territory which is not a part of any school district. The boundaries of existing school districts may be altered (1) by the transfer of territory from one district to another district, or (2) by the annexation to a district of a part or all of one or more other districts or of territory which is not a part of any school district, but only if such territory is contiguous to the district to which it is transferred or annexed. Territory may be transferred or annexed to an existing school district without regard to county boundaries."
RCW 28.57.020 defines the terms used in the chapter as follows:
"(1) 'Change in the organization and extent of school districts' means the formation and establishment of new school districts, the dissolution of existing school districts, the alteration of the boundaries of existing school districts, or all of them.
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"(3) 'School district' means the territory under the jurisdiction of a single governing board designated and referred to as the board of directors."
The court in State ex rel. Bell v. Thaanum, 74 Wash. 58, 132 Pac. 728 (1913), at page 59, said as follows:
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
"* * * in the consolidation of districts the districts consolidated lose their individuality and become a new and distinct entity, * * *"
In a recent opinion of this office, dated November 3, 1954, AGO 53-55 No. 338 [[to H. Hanson, State Representative]], we held that in a union high school district the component districts retain their individuality for purposes not relating to high schools. This conclusion presupposes that the union high school district became a new and distinct entity for high school purposes. Therefore it is our opinion that school districts which are consolidated for all purposes for which a school district is operated, lose their individuality and the new district becomes a new and distinct entity for all such purposes, except as to those matters expressly reserved by statute.
Very truly yours,
EDWARD M. LANE
Assistant Attorney General