Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1973 No. 58 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton

A board of trustees of Yakima Valley College, a community college operating under chapter 28B.50 RCW, has the legal right thereunder to operate certain adult education programs in the Grandview area following expiration of an existing contract with the Grandview district on June 30, 1973.
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                                                                   May 31, 1973
State Board for Community College Education
P.O. Box 1666
Olympia, Washington 98504
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 58
Attention:  John C. Mundt, Director
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion
            ". . . as to whether Yakima Valley College has the legal right to operate certain [adult education] programs in Grandview when its present contract with the Grandview School District expires on June 30, 1973."
            Based upon the facts set forth in your letter, we answer the foregoing question in the affirmative.
            Your question involves the application of chapter 8, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess., the community college act of 1967, as amended ‑ chapter 28B.50 RCW.  We begin our response by noting the following definition of "adult education" as set forth in RCW 28B.50.030 (11):
            "'Adult education' shall mean all education or instruction, including academic, vocational education or training, and 'occupational education' provided by public educational institutions, including common school districts for persons who are eighteen years of age and over or who hold a high school diploma or certificate:  Provided, That 'adult education' shall not include academic education or instruction for persons under twenty-one years of age who do not hold a high school degree or diploma and who are attending a public high school for the sole purpose of obtaining a high school diploma or certificate: Provided, further, That 'adult education' shall not include education or instruction provided by any four year public institution of higher education:  And provided further, That adult education shall not include education or instruction provided by a vocational-technical institute."
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            You have described the programs currently being operated by the Grandview school district under contract with Yakima Valley Community College as coming within the purview of this definition ‑ and, accordingly, we shall treat them as such for the purposes of this opinion.  This leads us, next, to RCW 28B.50.250, which provides the requisite statutory authority for the existing contractual arrangement between this community college and the school district, as follows:
            "The state board for community college education and the state board of education are hereby authorized to permit, on an ad hoc basis, the common school districts to conduct pursuant to RCW 28B.50.530 a program in adult education in behalf of a community college district when such program will not conflict with existing programs of the same nature and in the same geographical area conducted by the community college districts: Provided, That federal programs for adult education which are funded directly to the state board of education shall be administered by the superintendent of public instruction in cooperation with the director of the state board for community college education."  (Emphasis supplied.)
            It is, however, because of the imminent expiration of this existing arrangement on June 30, 1973, that you have posed the question upon which you desire our formal opinion.  You have asked, in simplest terms, whether Yakima Valley Community College has the legal right to operate these adult education programs itself when the existing contract between it and the school district expires.
            In requesting our opinion on this question you have acknowledged in your letter that by memorandum dated April 10, 1973, copy enclosed, your office has already been advised by Assistant Attorney General Diane Geiger of this office that ". . . there are no legal or legislative restrictions on the college taking over the program[s].  . . ." ‑ a conclusion which we have now reviewed and hereby formally confirm.  However, because this memorandum answered only that question (presumably, the only question then asked) and did not specifically address itself to the sources of the community college's authority to operate these adult education programs, it is appropriate that we proceed further at this time to elaborate on this essential question.
             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
            As in the case of all of our state community colleges operating under chapter 8, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess., supra, the governing body of this educational institution is its board of trustees, as provided for in RCW 28B.50.100.  This board of trustees serves and functions as an agency of the state of Washington1/ and, as such, possesses only such powers as have been expressly granted to it by the legislature, or as may necessarily be implied therefrom.  See, State ex rel. Holcomb v. Armstrong, 39 Wn.2d 860, 239 P.2d 545 (1952).  Accordingly, when framing an inquiry such as yours with respect to the legal "right" of a community college (through its board of trustees) to engage in a particular activity, it is important to pose not only the question of whether there are any legal (constitutional or statutory) restrictions upon its doing so but, as well, whether the college has been granted the requisite authorization to engage in that activity.
            From the language appearing in RCW 28B.50.250, supra, it may readily be implied that a community college board of trustees has the requisite authority to operate an adult education program or programs ‑ for otherwise there would have been little reason for the legislature to have spoken of the operation of such programs by common school districts ". . . in behalf of a community college district when such program will not conflict with existing programs of the same nature and in the same geographical area conducted by the community college districts:  . . ."  We need not, however, rest our case upon this statute alone.  In addition, our affirmative answer to your inquiry is amply supported by so much of RCW 28B.50.140 as states that:
            "Each community college board of trustees:
            ". . .
            "(2) Shall create comprehensive programs of community college education and training and maintain an open-door policy in accordance with the provisions of RCW 28B.50.090 (3);
            ". . ."
            RCW 28B.50.090 (3), in turn, requires the state board for community college education (a separate agency vested with general supervision and control over the state's system of  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] community colleges) to insure, through the full use of its authority:
            ". . .
            "(a) that each community college district shall offer thoroughly comprehensive educational, training and service programs to meet the needs of both the communities and students served by combining, with equal emphasis, high standards of excellence in academic transfer courses; realistic and practical courses in occupational education, both graded and ungraded; and community services of an educational, cultural, and recreational nature; and adult education:  . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)
            Accordingly, there can be no doubt whatsoever but that the board of trustees of Yakima Valley Community College presently possesses the requisite statutory authority itself to operate such adult education programs as are currently being operated by Grandview school district under RCW 28B.50.250, supra, when the existing contract between the community college district and school district expires on June 30, 1973; and, because (as previously indicated) there are no legal restrictions upon its doing so we may advise you, in your terms, that it has a "legal right" to do so.2/
             We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Attorney General
Deputy Attorney General
                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
1/Accord, Centralia College Education Ass'n et al. v. Board of Trustees of Community College Dist. No. 12, 82 Wn.2d 128,      P.2d      (1973).
2/We do not by this answer mean to suggest, however, that the college is thereby entitled to "take over" such facilities or equipment currently being used in connection with these programs as are owned by the school district.  In order to acquire and use such facilities or equipment it will, without question, be necessary for the college to negotiate their purchase from the school district.