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AGO 1964 No. 131 - December 21, 1964
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


DISTRICTS ‑- SCHOOL ‑- DIRECTORS ‑- TERM OF OFFICE ‑- REORGANIZATION OF DIRECTOR DISTRICTS.

When the boundaries of director districts within a second class school district are rearranged as provided in RCW 28.57.050 (7), and as a consequence two school district directors now reside in a single director district (as newly defined) and none resides in an adjoining director district (as newly defined) the next director to be elected as provided by law must be a resident of the director district from which the director whose term had expired was nominated.

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                                                               December 21, 1964

Honorable Richard A. Nelle
Prosecuting Attorney
Whatcom County
County Courthouse
Bellingham, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 131

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested the opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            When the boundaries of director districts within a second class school district are rearranged as provided in RCW 28.57.050 (7), and as a consequence two school district directors reside in a single director district (as newly defined) and none resides in an adjoining director district (as newly defined), should the next director to be elected for that reason alone be a resident of the new director district in which no director resides?

            We answer your question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The situation outlined in your letter may be illustrated by the following diagram:

            SEE ILLUSTRATION.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            By way of explanation, the second class school district to which you refer is divided into five director districts.  The boundary separating director districts Nos. 2 and 5 has been rearranged (broken line) so that a portion of the former director district No. 2 now lies within the area included in the present director district No. 5.  Within the area transferred from district No. 2 to district No. 5 is the residence of one of the members of the board of directors, Director A.  Thus, as a result of the boundary change two members of the board of directors, Director A and Director B, reside in district No. 5, while no member of the board of directors now resides in district No. 2.

            Director A's term expires in 1968, while Director B's term expires in 1966.1/   Your question, then, is whether the director elected in 1965 to succeed Director B in 1966 should be a resident of the newly defined director district No. 2.

            The statutory provision which governs the succession of school directors is RCW 28.57.380, which provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "In case a school district has heretofore been divided into five school directors' districts in conformity with the requirements of law in effect prior to April 1, 1947, one director therefor shall be elected from among the residents of each such directors' district by the electors of the entire school district, as the terms of the present incumbents expire, . . ."

            This statute makes residence in a particular directors' district a qualification for election to the office of director for the school district, even though such residence is not included in the statutory enumeration of requirements in RCW 28.58.090, which merely requires that:

            "Directors of school districts shall be elected at the regular annual school elections.  No person shall be eligible to the office of school director who is not able to read and write the English language."

            Once a candidate is properly elected and has qualified for the position of school director, his right to hold that position is not terminated by a change of the boundaries of the directors' districts which places his residence in a district other than that from which he was elected.  In AGO 59-60 No. 25 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Spokane County on March 25, 1959]], we concluded that the change of boundaries does not affect the term of office of such a displaced director, since a director is regarded as an officer of the entire school district and not merely as an officer of the director district.

            Thus, Director A will continue to serve until 1968, even thoughsolely because of the boundary rearrangement he no longer resides in the director district from which he was elected.  Since he continues physically to reside in the same geographical area (though not the same director district) from which he was elected, it may be assumed that he will continue to give that area the representation on the board of directors in conformity with the spirit of RCW 28.57.380,supra.

            On the other hand, with the expiration of Director B's term in 1966, a vacancy will exist on the board in regard to director district No. 5.  Under RCW 28.57.380, supra, this  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] vacancy must be filled by election of a director who resides in that director district.

            Accordingly, we answer your question, as above paraphrased, in the negative.

            We trust the foregoing information will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

J. RICHARD DUGGAN
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Note in this regard RCW 29.13.020 and RCW 29.13.030, changing the time of election of, inter alia, school district directors from March of 1965 and 1967 to November of 1965 and 1967, respectively.  See also RCW 29.13.050, relating to the date of commencement of the terms of officers so elected.

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