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AGLO 1975 No. 55 - May 23, 1975
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOLS ‑- QUALIFICATIONS OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT

Except to the limited extent provided for by RCW 28A.60.010 and 28A.01.100, involving temporary circumstances, state law does not authorize a second class school district to select either a teacher or an administrator who does not possess a superintendent's certificate to act as the superintendent or chief administrator of the school district.

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                                                                   May 23, 1975

Honorable Gary M. Odegaard
State Senator, 20th District
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1975 No. 55

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested our opinion on the following two questions:

            "1) Does state law authorize a second class school district to elect either a teacher or an administrator who does not possess a superintendent's certificate issued by the State Superintendent to act as the superintendent or chief administrator of the school district?

            "2) If the answer to question one (1) is yes, what conditions, if any, apply to such an appointment?"

            We respond to these questions in the manner set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The basic law governing the qualifications of public school districts' superintendents in our state appears in RCW 28A.58.137.  This statute, which has been in existence in its present form since the recodification of the education code in 1969,1/ reads as follows:

            "Inall districts the board of directors shall elect a superintendentwho shall hold a valid teacher's certificate, and such other credentials as required by the state board of education.  He shall have supervision over the several departments of the schools thereof and carry out such other powers and duties as prescribed by law.  Notwithstanding the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] provisions of RCW 28A.58.100(1), the board may contract with such superintendent for a term not to exceed three years when deemed in the best interest of the district."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            There can be no question but that this statute (a) is mandatory and (b) applies to all classes of school districts, including second class districts.

            Confusion, however, has apparently arisen with respect to the question because of two other sections of the education code.  First, in chapter 28A.01 RCW which defines various terms appearing in the code, there appears, in RCW 28A.01.100, the following definition:

            "'Superintendent of the school district,' if there be no such superintendent, shall mean such other administrative or certified employee as the school district board of directors shall so designate."

            The other statute having a bearing upon the designation of a superintendent of schools for a second class school district is RCW 28A.60.010.  As recently amended by § 15, chapter 43, Laws of 1975, this statute provides as follows:

            "The term of office of directors of districts of the second ((and third)) class shall begin, and the board shall organize, as provided in RCW 29.13.050.  At the first meeting of the members of the board they shall elect a chairman from among their number who shall serve for a term of one year or until his successor is elected.  The school district superintendent as defined in RCW 28A.01.100 shall serve as secretary to the board.  Whenever a district shall be without the services of such a superintendent and the business of the district necessitates action thereby, ((or when any third class district board determines that no one of its teachers is qualified to act as district superintendent,)) the board shall appoint any member thereof to carry out the superintendent's powers and duties for the district."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]   Except in a very limited sense, however, we do not read either this statute or RCW 28A.01.100, supra, as authorizing a second class school district to select as its superintendent, in your words ". . . a teacher or an administrator who does not possess. . ." the qualifications expressly set forth in the first statute above quoted, RCW 28A.58.137.  The limited instances in which the converse would be true should only be of temporary duration.  First, if a second class school district is unable to obtain the services of a qualified person to serve as the school district's superintendent it may, until it succeeds in obtaining such an individual, designate some other person as the chief administrative officer of the district; and, secondly, if neither a qualified superintendent nor a temporary chief administrator exists at a particular point in time, the school board, acting pursuant to RCW 28A.60.010,supra, may designate one of its own members to perform the functions of the superintendent on a similar temporary basis.

            It is hoped that the foregoing explanation of this matter will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Chapter 223, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.

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