Frequently Asked Questions about the Board of Education

What happens at Board Meetings?

The Board takes official action on school business, discusses policy, and confirms personnel appointments recommended by the superintendent. Board members have the opportunity to discuss items prior to voting on the official agenda items. At every public meeting of the Board, the public has the opportunity to address the Board.

Where can I get a copy of an upcoming Board of Education meeting agenda?

Board agendas are posted on the district's website on the Friday afternoon prior to the meeting.

Where and when can I get minutes from a previous Board meeting?

Minutes of the public meetings are available on the district's website. Board minutes are presented for approval at subsequent Board meetings in order to be voted into the public record.

What is the Board Members' Code of Ethics?

All school board members in New Jersey are required to abide by the following Code of Ethics:

  • I will uphold and enforce all laws, state board rules and regulations, and court orders pertaining to schools. Desired changes should be brought only through legal and ethical procedures.
  • I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools, which meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing.
  • I will confine my board actions to policy making, planning, and appraisal and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.
  • I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer school, but together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.
  • I will recognize that authority rests with the Board of Education and will make no personal promises nor take any private action, which may compromise the board.
  • I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups or to use the schools for personal gain of friends.
  • I will hold confidential all matter pertaining to the schools, which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals, or the schools. But in all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its schools.
  • I will vote to appoint the best qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.
  • I will support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.
  • I will refer all complaints to the chief administrative officer and will act on such complaints at public meetings only after failure of an administrative solution.

If I have a question or concern about something in the district, whom should I contact?

If you have a concern, we encourage you to talk first with the teacher, then the principal, and finally with the superintendent as per Board policy/regulations 9130. Should the superintendent be unable to resolve a problem and it involves district policy, school board meetings and agenda items, the budget or requests for specific courses or programs, the Board of Education is the final step in the process.

What are the best ways to communicate with the Board of Education?

To communicate with the Board as a whole, we invite members of the public to attend a regular public meeting and share your ideas and thoughts during the public comments periods. You may also write a letter to the Board President, care of the River Vale Board of Education, which will be shared with other Board members.

How and when may I address the Board during a Board of Education meeting?

The Board seeks public comments during each regular public meeting following Committee Reports. Persons wishing to speak must, upon being recognized, approach the podium, state their name and address and also write their name and address on the sheet at the podium. Each speaker shall be limited to five minutes. The Board Secretary will note the time. A speaker who has not finished in the allotted time will be directed by the presiding officer to summarize quickly and relinquish the floor within 30 seconds.

The public is invited to address the Board on any topic regarding the school district, both subjects on the agenda and/or general topics. Comments should be limited to issues. If personal remarks or discourteous statements are made, the presiding officer shall require the speaker to stop. No person will be recognized for a second time until all other asking to speak have been heard.

Why does the Board go into closed Executive Session?

The Board may meet in closed Executive Session prior to, or during a regular public meeting. In accordance with the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act (aka the "Sunshine Law") closed Executive Sessions are not open to the public. Although discussion may be private, any action taken must be done in public session. The Board will indicate that "action may be taken" when they return to public session and before the meeting is adjourned.

Only items that fall under the following topics may be discussed during closed Executive Session:

  • Collective bargaining agreements/proposals or other contracts
  • Personnel issues
  • Matters confidential by law
  • Items protected by attorney-client privilege
  • Matters of individual privacy
  • Specific pending or anticipated litigation
  • Purchase or lease of real estate
  • Protecting public safety

How is the Board of Education selected?

Members are elected to three-year terms by the local voters. School Board elections are held n November. If a vacancy occurs between elections, the current Board will select a new board member to serve until the next election. New members take their seats at the next regular public meeting.

What are the legal requirements to become a Board member?

To become a member of a local Board of Education in New Jersey, you must

  • Be able to read and write
  • Hold U.S. citizenship and one year's residency in the school district
  • Have no interest in any contract with, or claim against the Board
  • Not hold office as mayor or member of the municipal government body
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