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The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 16: Education

Chapter 009: SCHOOL DISTRICTS

  • Subchapter 001: TOWN SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  • §§ 361-364. Repealed. 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 79.

  • §§ 381-390. Repealed. 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 79.

  • §§ 411-415. Repealed. 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 79.


  • Subchapter 001A: GOVERNMENT OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  • § 421. Town school districts

    (a) A town shall constitute a school district, except that when a town contains an incorporated school district, the town school district shall consist of that part of the town not embraced within the incorporated school district.

    (b) It is the policy of the State to support two or more school districts within a supervisory union in establishing a unified union district in accordance with section 722 of this title, if such unified union district would then be large enough to qualify for designation by the State Board as a supervisory district. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 41; amended 1987, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)

  • § 422. Meetings

    (a) The annual town meeting shall be the annual town school district meeting. However, at any annual or special school district meeting the electorate may authorize the annual school district meeting to be held on another date so long as the meeting is held after February 1 and before June 15.

    (b) A warning to change the date for the annual school district meeting shall contain an article in substantially the following form: "Shall the town school district of ..................... hold its annual meeting on ..................... ?"

    (c) Town school district meetings shall be warned by the school board and shall contain appropriate articles notifying the electorate of the election of its officers and the business to be transacted.

    (d) A town consisting of one town school district may transact at any regular or special town meeting any and all business lawful to be done at any lawfully warned regular or special town school district meeting. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 42; amended 1975, No. 48, § 16, eff. April 15, 1975; 1977, No. 128 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 423. Directors, number, election; term

    (a) Each town school district shall have a school board consisting of three directors, one of whom shall be elected by ballot at each annual meeting of the town school district for a term of three years, beginning the day of election or until a successor is elected and qualified, unless a town school district is a member of a unified union district.

    (b) The electorate may vote at an annual or special town school district meeting to elect not more than two additional directors for terms of either one or two years. When the terms are to be for two years, the warning for the meeting shall so specify. If two additional directors are elected they shall have terms of the same length, but if the terms are to be for two years, when the additional directors are first elected, one shall be elected for one year and the other director for two years. Terms of these additional directors shall end on annual meeting days. If the additional directors are elected at a special meeting the term of those elected for one year shall expire on the next annual meeting day and those elected for two years shall expire on the second annual meeting day following their election.

    (c) The electorate shall continue to elect additional school directors until it votes at a meeting duly warned for the purpose to rescind its previous action under subsection (b) of this section; but the additional directors then in office shall continue in office until the end of the term to which they were elected.

    (d) A town school district that holds its annual meeting on a day other than annual town meeting day may vote to elect its officers and its representative directors to union school districts on town meeting day. Their terms of office shall commence on the annual school district meeting day unless the district votes to have the terms of office commence on town meeting day. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 43; amended 1983, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), eff. April 13, 1984.)

  • § 424. Vacancies

    (a) Except as otherwise provided for a school district operating under a charter, within 30 days of the creation of the vacancy, the school board shall, by majority vote of those present and voting, appoint a qualified person to fill a vacancy in the town school board or a vacancy in the position of town school district treasurer in towns in which the town school district treasurer is elected separately from the town treasurer until an election at a special or annual meeting is held. A record thereof shall be made in the office of the town clerk.

    (b) If there are vacancies in a majority of the members of the town school board at the same time, the vacancies shall be filled by a special school district meeting called for that purpose. The remaining board member or members are authorized to draw orders for payment of continuing obligations and necessary expenses until a majority of the vacancies is filled.

    (c) If there are no town school board members in office, the Secretary of State shall call a special election to fill any vacancies and for that interim shall appoint and authorize the town school district clerk or other qualified person to draw orders for payment of continuing obligations and necessary expenses until a majority of the vacancies is filled. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 44; amended 1975, No. 171 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2005, No. 32, § 1; 2007, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 425. Other town school district officers

    Unless otherwise voted, the town clerk shall by virtue of the office perform the same duties for the town school district in addition to other duties assigned by this title. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 45; amended 1979, No. 23, § 2; 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 20, eff. July 1, 2013.)

  • § 426. Duties of the town school district treasurer

    (a) The town treasurer shall be treasurer of the town school district unless, by vote of the town school district, a town school district treasurer is elected. He or she shall keep in a separate bank account all the money appropriated or given for the use of the school district. Within 20 days after the date the school taxes become due and payable or within such other period of time as may be agreed upon in writing by both the selectboard and the board of school directors, he or she shall deposit in the school account, payments of the school tax levy received. However, if notification of the amount to be transferred by the Secretary of Education to the school district has not been received within 20 days of the date taxes are due and payable, the transfer shall be effected within 20 days of notification by the Secretary.

    (b) Within 120 days after the date on which taxes become delinquent, but in no event later than the end of the school year, the treasurer shall deposit the balance of the sum of the gross school tax levy in the school account.

    (c) The treasurer shall pay out of such money, orders drawn by or upon the authority of the board of school directors. If he or she does not pay any such order on demand the holder thereof may recover the amount from the town school district with interest from the time of such demand. Monies so received by the town school district may be invested and reinvested by the treasurer, with the approval of the board of school directors.

    (d) The town school district treasurer shall keep financial records of cash receipts and disbursements, and shall make those records available to the board of school directors or the supervisory union board when requested to do so. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 46; amended 1979, No. 23, § 1; 1981, No. 239 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1987, No. 127 (Adj. Sess.); 1987, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 1989, No. 4; 1991, No. 103, § 3; 2005, No. 54, § 2; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 47, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 427. Grand list

    The grand list of a town or incorporated school district shall consist of one percent of the listed value of the real and personal estate taxable therein. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 47; amended 1971, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 1 eff. March 14, 1972; 1993, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 16, 1994; 2005, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 428. Budget to be voted

    (a) At each annual town school district meeting, the electorate shall vote such sums of money as it deems necessary for the support of schools. If such sums are not approved or acted upon at the annual meeting, the electorate shall vote such questions at a duly warned special school district meeting. A district may vote money necessary for the support of schools therein to the end of the full school year next ensuing.

    (b) If the electorate of a school district votes for its budget by Australian ballot, it shall do so using ballot language jointly developed by the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of State and adopted by the State Board, by rule. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 48; amended 1985, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 21; 1997, No. 60, § 26, eff. July 1, 1998; 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 1, 83, eff. March 11, 1998, § 71, eff. Jan. 1, 1999; 1999, No. 1, § 60c, eff. March 31, 1999; 1999, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 166b; 2003, No. 36, § 3; 2003, No. 68, § 1; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 48, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 429. Loans

    Notwithstanding subsection 4029(b) of this title, a school board may draw orders for loans without interest to the town's general fund and the town selectboard may draw orders for loans without interest to the school district fund, the loans to be secured by a note signed by both the selectboard and the school board that stipulates mutually agreeable terms and conditions. A note shall be payable not more than 90 days after its issuance and shall be payable on demand anytime within the 90-day term. The school board shall report all loans to the Agency pursuant to subsection 4029(f) of this title. For purposes of this section, "town" and "selectboard" shall have the same meaning as they have in 1 V.S.A. § 139. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 49; amended 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 11, 2012; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 302, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 430. [Deleted.].

  • § 431. Repealed. 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 106(a), eff. March 11, 1998.


  • Subchapter 002: INCORPORATED SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  • § 471. Application of other laws

    (a) The provisions of this title relating to the administration and maintenance of public schools, school meetings, and voting therein, to grand lists, to the raising and expending of school monies, to monies apportioned by the State Board, to sharing in other State aid, to the election, appointment, powers, duties, and liabilities of school officers, to elementary and higher instruction, to transportation, board, and attendance of students, to truancy and truant officers, to furnishing of textbooks and appliances, and to all other matters pertaining to schools in a town district, unless otherwise provided, and if not inconsistent with the rights granted by their charters, shall apply to schools maintained, similar school officers, and all matters pertaining to schools in incorporated school districts.

    (b) An incorporated school district, if it is so voted at an annual or special meeting duly warned for that purpose, may elect to be governed by any one or more provisions of this title in lieu of any inconsistent provisions of special legislation relating to such district. Provisions of this title adopted by a district shall continue to apply unless the vote is rescinded at an annual or special meeting duly warned for that purpose. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 49, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 472. Meetings; warnings

    (a) A district may, if it so votes at its annual meeting on the first Tuesday in March, fix a different date for holding its annual meetings, provided the date is not earlier than March 15 nor later than June 30. A notice of the proposed change shall be inserted in the warning of the annual meeting upon the written request of five percent of the voters of the district. Special meetings shall be warned on the application of five percent of the voters of the district.

    (b) Meetings shall be warned by the clerk or, in case of his or her inability to act, by the prudential committee, by posting a notice, specifying the time, place, and business of the meeting, in two public places in the district, at least seven days before the time therein specified, and warnings shall be recorded before being posted.

    (c) When a person whose duty it is to warn a school meeting neglects to do so for ten days, after application made as provided in this section, he or she shall forfeit to the district $20.00 for each ten days' neglect, to be recovered in an action on this statute. (Amended 1975, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.); 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 50, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 473. Eligibility of voters

    The moderator, clerk, and members of the prudential committee shall decide all questions as to the eligibility of a person to vote in a school meeting.

  • § 474. Records

    The clerk shall keep a record of the votes and proceedings of the school district meetings and give certified copies thereof when required. A clerk who neglects to perform this duty shall forfeit $20.00 to the district, to be recovered in an action on this statute.

  • § 475. Statistical information

    Annually, on or before August 15, the prudential committee shall return to the Secretary answers to the statistical inquiries that he or she may address to them. (Amended 1975, No. 48, § 4, eff. April 15, 1975; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 51, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 476. Repealed. 1975, No. 48, § 14, eff. April 15, 1975.

  • § 477. Merger of town and incorporated school districts

    (a) An incorporated school district, by a majority vote of the legal voters present and voting at any meeting legally warned, may surrender its charter as a corporation for the maintenance of public schools, or such part of its charter as pertains to the maintenance of public schools. Such surrender shall take effect not later than July 1 following the vote so taken, and such school corporation shall cease to exist, and it shall become thereby a part of the town school district. In the event of any such merger notwithstanding the provisions of section 423 of this title, the directors of the incorporated school district holding office at the time of the merger shall become members of the board of school directors of the town school district and shall continue in that office until the expiration of the terms for which they were elected by the incorporated school district.

    (b) By a majority vote of the legal voters present and voting at any meeting legally warned, a town district may become a part of an incorporated district, provided the incorporated district, at a meeting legally warned, votes to accept such merger. Such merger shall take effect July 1 following the vote so taken. When such a merger has occurred, the incorporated district shall be considered a town district in all respects pertaining to the maintenance and administration of its public schools.

    (c) In case of a union of an incorporated district and a town district under either subsection (a) or (b) of this section, each district shall settle its own business affairs and pay all its indebtedness, except for repairs and new buildings, shall deposit its records with the town clerk and shall no longer exist except for the settlement of its own pecuniary affairs. In effecting such settlement, a district may remain in existence for not more than five years for the purpose only of voting, assessing and collecting a special tax annually to pay such indebtedness. (Amended 1964, No. 7 (Sp. Sess.), eff. March 4, 1964.)

  • § 478. Prudential committee; vacancies

    Unless the incorporated district has a provision in its charter to the contrary, when a vacancy occurs on a prudential committee, the remaining members shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy until the next annual or special meeting. The members shall choose the new member by majority vote of those present and voting. (Added 2003, No. 112 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 491. Election; notice to clerk

    At each annual meeting, an incorporated school district shall elect from among the legal voters of such district a moderator, collector, and treasurer and may elect a clerk. All school officers shall enter upon their duties on July 1, following their election or appointment. If a clerk is elected or appointed, then the clerk shall notify the town clerk within ten days of the election or appointment. (Amended 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. July 1, 2013.)

  • § 492. Powers, duties and liabilities; bonds

    (a) The powers, duties, and liabilities of the collector, treasurer, prudential committee, and clerk shall be like those of a town collector, treasurer, board of school directors, and the school board clerk, respectively.

    (b) Before entering upon their duties, the collector and treasurer shall give a bond to the district conditioned for the faithful performance of their duties, in such sum as may be required. When a collector or treasurer for ten days neglects to give a bond as required, his or her office shall be vacant. (Amended 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 22, eff. July 1, 2013; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 52, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 493. Moderator

    The moderator shall preside at such district meetings; and, in his or her absence, a moderator pro tempore shall be chosen to preside. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 53, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 494. Collector of taxes

    The district may elect the collector of town taxes to be collector of taxes for the district although he or she is not an inhabitant of that district. When a collector accepts the office, he or she shall do so in writing and the acceptance shall be recorded by the clerk. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 54, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 495. Vacancies

    (a) When a vacancy occurs in the office of a district officer, the district shall fill the vacancy at a special meeting.

    (b) A vacancy occurring in the office of clerk of an incorporated school district caused by death, resignation, or otherwise shall be filled by the prudential committee within ten days after such vacancy occurs.

  • § 496. Books and papers to be turned over to successor

    When a district office becomes vacant by expiration of the term of office of the incumbent or otherwise, and a successor is elected or appointed, the successor shall, on demand, be entitled to receive the books and papers of the office from the last incumbent or anyone having the books and papers in his or her possession. A person having books or papers in his or her possession who refuses for ten days, after demand, to surrender them to the successor shall be fined $10.00. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 55, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 511. Budget

    (a) At a meeting legally warned for that purpose, the electorate within an incorporated school district shall vote such sums of money as it deems necessary for the support of schools. If the sums are not approved or acted upon at the annual meeting, the electorate shall vote the questions at a duly warned special school district meeting. A district may vote money necessary for the support of schools to the end of the full school year next ensuing.

    (b) If the electorate of an incorporated school district votes for its budget by Australian ballot, it shall do so using ballot language jointly developed by the Secretary of Education and Secretary of State and adopted by the State Board, by rule. (Amended 1981, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 2, 1982; 1997, No. 60, § 27, eff. July 1, 1998; 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 2, 84, eff. March 11, 1998, § 72, eff. Jan. 1, 1999; 1999, No. 1, § 60d, eff. March 31, 1999; 1999, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 166b; 2003, No. 36, § 4; 2003, No. 68, § 2; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 56, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 512. Payment of monies collected to treasurer

    On the written request of one or more members of the prudential committee, a school district tax collector shall pay to the treasurer monies belonging to the district that have been collected to the date of the request, and submit his or her tax book and list to the treasurer for inspection and computation. A tax collector who neglects to do so within ten days after receiving the request shall forfeit to the school district $100.00 to be recovered in an action on this statute, and the office of tax collector shall be vacant. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 57, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 513. Repealed. 2007, No. 66, § 15.

  • § 514. Abatement

    The officers of the district, except the tax collector, shall be a board for the abatement of district taxes, and it shall have the same power that the board for the abatement of town taxes has in the abatement of municipal taxes. On request of the tax collector, the prudential committee shall call a meeting of the board in the month of February in each year, by posting a notice in three public places in the district at least five days before the meeting. (Amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 58, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 515. Payment of a deficit

    When a demand is made upon a district for the payment of an execution issued against it and the district has no available funds to pay the same, the prudential committee shall borrow funds sufficient to pay such execution and related charges and shall add the debt to the following year's adopted budget pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 1523(b). (Amended 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 108, eff. March 11, 1998.)


  • Subchapter 003: DEMONSTRATION SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  • §§ 541-549. Repealed. 1973, No. 23, § 1, eff. March 1, 1973.


  • Subchapter 004: OTHER PROVISIONS
  • § 551. Application of laws to school districts

    Unless otherwise specifically provided in statute with respect to a class of school district or in a municipal charter, the laws of this title, the laws pertaining to municipal corporations, and the rules of the State Board shall apply to all school districts. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 28; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 59, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 552. Validation of school districts and bonds voted for school construction

    No action shall be brought directly or indirectly attacking, questioning, or in any manner contesting the legality of the formation, or the existence as a body corporate and politic of any union school district created pursuant to chapter 11 of this title after six months from the date of recording in the office of the Secretary of State the certificate of the Secretary of Education designating the district as required by section 706g of this title; nor shall any action be brought directly or indirectly attacking, questioning, or in any manner contesting the legality or validity of bonds, issued or unissued, voted by a school district after six months from the date upon which voters in the school district met pursuant to warning and voted affirmatively to issue bonds to defray the cost of school improvements. This section shall be liberally construed to effect the legislative purpose to validate and make certain the legal existence of all school districts in this state and the validity of bonds issued by school districts, and to bar every right to question the existence of a school district or the validity of a bond voted by it, in any manner, and to bar every remedy therefor notwithstanding any defects or irregularities, jurisdictional or otherwise, after the expiration of the six-month period. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 29; amended 1971, No. 46, eff. April 7, 1971; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 60, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 553. Qualification of voters at school district meetings

    A person is qualified to vote at a school district meeting if by meeting day he or she would be eligible to vote at a town meeting held on that day. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 30; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 61, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 554. School board meetings; majority vote, quorum, Robert's Rules, public participation

    (a) A majority of the members of the board shall constitute a quorum. Notwithstanding 1 V.S.A. § 172, the concurrence of a majority of members present at a school board meeting shall be necessary and sufficient for board action.

    (b) A school board meeting shall be conducted in accordance with the Vermont Open Meeting Law. Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the conduct of school board meetings. A school board shall afford a reasonable opportunity to any person in the school district to appear and express views in regard to any matter considered by the school board, and if requested to do so shall give reasons for its action in writing. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 31; amended 1975, No. 48, § 5, eff. April 15, 1975; 1991, No. 181 (Adj. Sess.), § 13.)

  • § 555. No liability for unauthorized or deficit spending

    (a) It is the intent of the General Assembly that school boards should spend within the amount authorized by the electorate pursuant to this title and should not incur a deficit. However, the General Assembly recognizes that in the course of a school district budget year it may be necessary for expenditures to exceed revenues received or the amount authorized by the electorate.

    (b) A school board member shall not be liable under any law, including any criminal law, on the sole basis that the board has spent more than authorized under this title or that a deficit, as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 1523, has occurred. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; amended 1995, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2001, No. 8, § 4; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 62, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 556. Liability for damage to textbook or learning materials

    The parent or guardian of a student shall be liable to a school district for damage occasioned by loss, destruction, injury, or detention by the student of a textbook or other learning materials, to be recovered in an action on this statute in the name of the district. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 33; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 63, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 557. Gratuity or compensation prohibited

    (a) A member of the State Board, a supervisory union board, or a school board, the Secretary, and any person employed by one of the boards or by the Agency shall not solicit or receive directly or indirectly any gift or compensation for recommending or voting on any finding, ruling, decision, or report, or voting to procure any service, thing, or supply purchased with public funds. A violation of this provision is subject to 13 V.S.A. § 1106(b).

    (b) A member of the State Board, a supervisory union board or a school board, and any person employed by one of the boards shall not receive directly or indirectly anything of value by contract or otherwise, from the school district or supervisory union he or she serves unless it is received:

    (1) as a result of a contract accepted after a public bid in accordance with law;

    (2) in public recognition of service or achievement;

    (3) as regular salary or expenses allowed by law for official duties performed as a member of the board; or

    (4) for employment according to the provisions of section 558 of this title.

    (c) No school board member or supervisory union board member shall vote on any contract or purchase in which he or she has a direct or indirect interest.

    (d) A person who violates subsection (b) or (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000.00 and shall be incapable of holding elective or appointed office in this State for two years next ensuing. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 34; amended 1989, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 64, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 558. Eligibility for election to a school board; employment of school board members

    (a) A legal voter in a school district shall be eligible for election to a school board; however, a member of a school board may not be regularly employed by the school district or by a school district within the same supervisory union, or by the same supervisory union during the board member's term of office.

    (b) The Secretary may waive the provisions of this section for employment of a specific individual as a substitute teacher, coach, or supervisor of extracurricular activities for a period not to exceed one year, which may be renewed if the school district or supervisory union is unable to hire another qualified person through no fault of its own. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 35; amended 1989, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 65, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 559. Public bids

    (a) When the cost exceeds $15,000.00. A school board or supervisory union board shall publicly advertise or invite three or more bids from persons deemed capable of providing items or services if costs are in excess of $15,000.00 for any of the following:

    (1) the construction, purchase, lease, or improvement of any school building;

    (2) the purchase or lease of any item or items required for supply, equipment, maintenance, repair, or transportation of students; or

    (3) a contract for transportation, maintenance, or repair services.

    (b) When a school construction contract exceeds $500,000.00:

    (1) The State Board shall establish, in consultation with the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services and with other knowledgeable sources, general rules for the prequalification of bidders on such a contract. The Department of Buildings and General Services, upon notice by the Secretary, shall provide to school boards undergoing construction projects suggestions and recommendations on bidders qualified to provide construction services.

    (2) At least 60 days prior to the proposed bid opening on any construction contract to be awarded by a school board that exceeds $500,000.00, the school board shall publicly advertise for contractors interested in bidding on the project. The advertisement shall indicate that the school board has established prequalification criteria that a contractor must meet, and shall invite any interested contractor to apply to the school board for prequalification. All interested contractors shall submit their qualifications to the school board, which shall determine a list of eligible prospective bidders based on the previously established criteria. At least 30 days prior to the proposed bid opening, the school board shall give written notice of the board's determination to each contractor that submitted qualifications. The school board shall consider all bids submitted by prequalified bidders meeting the deadline.

    (c) Contract award.

    (1) A contract for any such item or service to be obtained pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be awarded to one of the three lowest responsible bids conforming to specifications, with consideration being given to quantities involved, time required for delivery, purpose for which required, competency and responsibility of bidder, and his or her ability to render satisfactory service. A board shall have the right to reject any or all bids.

    (2) A contract for any property, construction, good or service to be obtained pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be awarded to the lowest responsible bid conforming to specifications. However, when considering the base contract amount and without considering cost overruns, if the two lowest responsible bids are within one percent of each other, the board may award the contract to either bidder. A board shall have the right to reject any bid found not to be responsible or conforming to specifications or to reject all bids.

    (d) Construction management. The school board may contract for the service of construction management to assist in a school construction project. The State Board, in consultation with the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services and other knowledgeable sources, shall adopt rules defining the term "construction management" and specifying the nature of bidding requirements under construction management services in order to assist school boards to comply with the public bidding requirements of this section.

    (e) Application of this section. Any contract entered into or purchase made in violation of the provisions of this section shall be void; provided, however, that:

    (1) The provisions of this section shall not apply to contracts for the purchase of books or other materials of instruction.

    (2) A school board may name in the specifications and invitations for bids under this section the particular make, kind, or brand of article or articles to be purchased or contracted.

    (3) Nothing in this section shall apply to emergency repairs.

    (4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a school board from awarding a school nutrition contract after using any method of bidding or requests for proposals permitted under federal law for award of the contract. Notwithstanding the monetary amount in subsection (a) of this section for which a school board is required to advertise publicly or invite three or more bids or requests for proposal, a school board is required to publicly advertise or invite three or more bids or requests for proposal for purchases made from the nonprofit school food service account for purchases in excess of $25,000.00, unless a municipality sets a lower threshold for purchases from the nonprofit school food service account.

    (5) Nothing in this section shall prevent school districts or supervisory unions from entering into agreements with other school districts or supervisory unions to conduct joint bidding procedures otherwise consistent with this section.

    (6) Nothing in this section shall require a school board to invite or advertise for bids if it elects to purchase goods, materials, or supplies through the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services, pursuant to 29 V.S.A. chapter 49.

    (7) Nothing in this section shall require a school board or supervisory union board to invite or advertise for bids if it is renewing a contract entered into pursuant to subsection (a) of this section provided that annual costs will not increase more than the most recent New England Economic Project Cumulative Price Index, as of November 15, for State and local government purchases of goods and services, the total amount of the contract does not exceed an increase of 30 percent more than the total amount of the original contract, and the contract for the renewal period allows termination by the board following an annual review of performance.

    (f) Waivers. The State Board shall by rule adopt standards governing the authority of the Secretary to grant individual waivers to the provisions of this section. The rules, at minimum, shall require the school board seeking the waiver to demonstrate to the Secretary that it is unable to comply with the bidding procedure through no fault of its own, and that it has proposed an alternative method of minimizing costs through a fair and public process.

    (g) Violations. The State Board may deny State aid for school construction and for debt service on a project that proceeds in violation of this section. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 36; amended 1971, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 5, 1972; 1989, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1993, No. 233 (Adj. Sess.), § 75, eff. June 21, 1994; 1995, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 86, eff. May 22, 1996; 1999, No. 77 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1999, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 76, eff. May 24, 2000; 2003, No. 12, § 1; 2005, No. 54, § 3; 2007, No. 66, § 3; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 66, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2017, No. 63, § 2.)

  • § 560. Condemnation for school purposes

    A school board, or the board of trustees of a public school, may acquire land for school purposes by condemnation. Condemnation shall be accomplished by the procedures and be governed by the limitations established in 24 V.S.A. chapter 77, except that the school board, school district officers, or board of trustees, as the case may be, shall exercise the powers and have the responsibilities given the officers of municipalities in 24 V.S.A. chapter 79. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 37.)

  • § 561. Election of school board members; oath; chair; clerk

    (a) School board members shall be sworn before entering upon the duties of their office. At the meeting next following the election of a school board member, the school board shall elect one of its number to serve as the chair and one other of its number to serve as the clerk. The clerk may be paid upon order of the school board. The clerk shall keep a permanent record of the proceedings of the school board. In the clerk's absence, another member of the school board shall assume the clerk's duties.

    (b) At least annually, the chairs of each school board within a supervisory union, the chair of the supervisory union board, and the superintendent shall jointly participate in at least eight hours of professional training that, at a minimum, addresses:

    (1) educational leadership;

    (2) the relative roles and responsibilities of the supervisory union board, the school district boards, and the superintendent;

    (3) the Vermont Open Meeting Law, 1 V.S.A. §§ 310-314;

    (4) Vermont law regarding access to public records, 1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320;

    (5) collective bargaining; and

    (6) education funding and school finance laws. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 38; amended 2007, No. 66, § 4; 2013, No. 56, § 13, eff. May 30, 2013; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 67, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 562. Powers of electorate

    At a school district meeting, the electorate:

    (1) Shall conduct meetings in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, unless other rules of order are specifically adopted at a meeting.

    (2) Shall elect a moderator at the annual meeting who shall preside at the district meetings, regulate the business thereof, decide questions of order, and make a public declaration of every vote. The moderator may administer oaths to district officers and newly elected school board members. In the moderator's absence, a moderator pro tempore shall be chosen to preside.

    (3) May elect a school district clerk at the annual meeting who shall keep a true record of all proceedings at each district meeting, certify its records, make an attested copy of any records of the district for any person upon request, and tender of reasonable fees therefor, if so appointed serve as secretary of the school board, and perform such other duties as may be required by law.

    (4) May authorize the school board to retain a public accountant, licensed in this State, to examine the accounts of the treasurer and the school board at the close of each fiscal year and at such other times whenever necessary, and report to the district whether the same are correctly cast and properly vouched.

    (5) May vote annual salaries for school board members.

    (6) May authorize the payment of actual and necessary expenses of school board members when traveling in the performance of duty.

    (7) May authorize the school board to enter into leases of real property for more than three years, to purchase buildings or sites for school purposes, to locate and erect schoolhouses, and to sell, or otherwise dispose of, schoolhouses or sites for same.

    (8) Shall authorize at each annual school district meeting an amount of money from all revenue sources to be expended by the board for the support of public schools; and, except for one-time purchase items that the board warns as a separate article, the board shall determine how the authorized funds shall be expended.

    (9) May authorize the school board to borrow money not in excess of anticipated revenue for the school year by issuing bonds or notes.

    (10) Shall elect school board directors and other officers as are required for each class of school district.

    (11) May grant general authority to the school board, at the request of the board, to incur debt at any time within the subsequent five years to finance the cost of school-building energy improvements not to exceed $350,000.00 per building in any three-year period and payable over a maximum term coextensive with the useful life of the financed improvements, but not to exceed ten years, provided that the avoided costs attributable to the financed improvements exceed the annual payment of principal and interest of the indebtedness. No indebtedness shall be incurred under this subdivision unless the entity appointed as an energy efficiency utility under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2), an independent licensed engineer, or an independent licensed architect has certified to the district the cost of the improvements to be financed, the avoided costs attributable to the improvements, and the adequacy of debt service coverage from the avoided costs over the term of the proposed indebtedness. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 39; amended 1975, No. 192 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1979, No. 23, § 3; 2003, No. 12, § 2; 2005, No. 54, § 4; 2005, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2011, No. 58, § 32, eff. May 31, 2011; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 68, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 563. Powers of school boards; form of vote

    The school board of a school district, in addition to other duties and authority specifically assigned by law:

    (1) Shall determine the educational policies of the school district. Board policies shall be of general application to the district, shall be in writing, codified, and made available to the public. Board policies shall be adopted at regular or special school board meetings. A school board shall give public notice of its intent to adopt a board policy, stating the substance of the proposed policy, at least ten days prior to its adoption. A school board may also approve or disapprove rules and regulations proposed by the principal or superintendent for the conduct and management of public schools in the district.

    (2) May take any action that is required for the sound administration of the school district. The Secretary, with the advice of the Attorney General, upon application of a school board, shall decide whether any action contemplated or taken by a school board under this subdivision is required for the sound administration of the district and is proper under this subdivision. The Secretary's decision shall be final.

    (3) Shall have the possession, care, control, and management of the property of the school district, subject to the authority vested in the electorate or any school district official.

    (4) [Repealed.]

    (5) Shall keep the school buildings and grounds in good repair, suitably equipped, insured, and in safe and sanitary condition at all times. The school board shall regulate or prohibit firearms or other dangerous or deadly weapons on school premises. At a minimum, a school board shall adopt and implement a policy at least consistent with section 1166 of this title and 13 V.S.A. § 4004, relating to a student who brings a firearm to or possesses a firearm at school.

    (6) Shall have discretion to furnish instruction to students who have completed a secondary education and to administer early educational programs.

    (7) May relocate or discontinue use of a schoolhouse or facility, subject to the provisions of sections 821 and 822 of this title.

    (8) Shall establish and maintain a system for receipt, deposit, disbursement, accounting, control, and reporting procedures that meets the criteria established by the State Board pursuant to subdivision 164(15) of this title and that ensures that all payments are lawful and in accordance with a budget adopted or amended by the school board. The school board may authorize a subcommittee, the superintendent of schools, or a designated employee of the school board to examine claims against the district for school expenses and draw orders for such as shall be allowed by it payable to the party entitled thereto. Such orders shall state definitely the purpose for which they are drawn and shall serve as full authority to the treasurer to make such payments. It shall be lawful for a school board to submit to its treasurer a certified copy of those portions of the board minutes, properly signed by the clerk and chair, or a majority of the board, showing to whom, and for what purpose each payment is to be made by the treasurer, and such certified copy shall serve as full authority to the treasurer to make the payments as thus approved.

    (9) Shall establish with the advice and consent of the Auditor of Accounts and the Secretary, a system of accounts for the proper control and reporting of school district finances and for stating the annual financial condition of the school district.

    (10) Shall prepare and distribute to the electorate, not less than ten days prior to the district's annual meeting, a report of the conditions and needs of the district school system, including the superintendent's, supervisory union treasurer's, and school district treasurer's annual report for the previous school year and the balance of any reserve funds established pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2804. At a school district's annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the report required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the report. If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district's annual or special meeting.

    (11)(A) Shall prepare and distribute annually a proposed budget for the next school year according to such major categories as may from time to time be prescribed by the Secretary.

    (B) [Repealed.]

    (C) At a school district's annual or special meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the school budget required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the budget. If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district's annual meeting. The proposed budget shall be prepared and distributed at least ten days before a sum of money is voted on by the electorate. Any proposed budget shall show the following information in a format prescribed by the Secretary:

    (i) all revenues from all sources, and expenses, including as separate items any assessment for a supervisory union of which it is a member and any tuition to be paid to a career technical center; and including the report required in subdivision 242(4)(D) of this title itemizing the component costs of the supervisory union assessment;

    (ii) the specific amount of any deficit incurred in the most recently closed fiscal year and how the deficit was or will be remedied;

    (iii) the anticipated homestead tax rate and the percentage of household income used to determine income sensitivity in the district as a result of passage of the budget including those portions of the tax rate attributable to supervisory union assessments; and

    (iv) the definition of "education spending," the number of pupils and number of equalized pupils in the school district, and the district's education spending per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and in each of the prior three years.

    (D) The board shall present the budget to the voters by means of a ballot in the following form:

    "Article #1 (School Budget):

    Shall the voters of the school district approve the school board to expend $ ______, which is the amount the school board has determined to be necessary for the ensuing fiscal year? It is estimated that this proposed budget, if approved, will result in education spending of $______ per equalized pupil. This projected spending per equalized pupil is ______ % higher/lower than spending for the current year.

    (12) Shall employ such persons as may be required to carry out the work of the school district pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 242(3) of this title.

    (13) [Repealed.]

    (14) Shall provide, at the expense of the district, subject to the approval of the superintendent, all text books, learning materials, equipment, and supplies.

    (15) Shall exercise the general powers given to a legislative branch of a municipality.

    (16) May execute contracts on behalf of the school district, including contracts providing for binding arbitration, by its chair or any person designated whose appointment is recorded in the minutes of the board.

    (17)-(18) [Repealed.]

    (19) Shall allow any high school student, who meets the academic requirements of the high school, to graduate and receive a diploma in less than four years.

    (20) Shall establish policies and procedures designed to avoid the appearance of board member conflict of interest.

    (21) Shall have the authority to engage in short-term borrowing to cover the costs of those portions of projects approved by the State Board and that will be reimbursed by the State Board under sections 3447-3456 of this title but which payments will be delayed. However, the board shall borrow under this subdivision only amounts that it would receive if the State Board could fund its obligation and may borrow no earlier than the time it would have received the funds. The State shall not pay for costs of borrowing funds under this subdivision.

    (22) May apply for grants and may accept and expend grants or gifts. The board shall include, in its annual report, a description of all grants or gifts accepted during the year and associated expenditures.

    (23) May, at the expense of the district, present informational materials to the electorate on any matter to be voted. However, such materials shall be limited to those that are reasonably designed to inform, educate, and explain to the electorate the board's position on the matter.

    (24) Shall adopt a policy that, in accordance with rules adopted by the State Board of Education, will integrate home study students into its schools through enrollment in courses, participation in cocurricular and extracurricular activities, and use of facilities.

    (25) Shall, if it is a school board of a school district that maintains a secondary school, upon request, award a high school diploma to any Vermont resident who served in the military in World War II, the Korean War, or during the Vietnam era, was honorably separated from active federal military service, and does not hold a high school diploma. The State Board shall develop and make available an application form for veterans who wish to request a high school diploma.

    (26) [Repealed.]

    (27) Annually, shall inform each secondary student and the student's parents or guardians of the right to opt out of the federal requirement that student contact information be provided to military recruiters or institutions of higher education pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 7908(a). A school board shall enable the secondary student and the student's parents or guardians to disallow provision of student contact information to either military recruiters or institutions of higher education, while allowing provision of information to the other. For purposes of this subdivision, "secondary student" means a student in grade 9, 10, 11, or 12.

    (28) Annually, shall inform students and their parents or guardians of their options for school choice under applicable laws or policy.

    (29) Shall assign an employee to annually:

    (A) inform parents of students with life-threatening allergies and life-threatening chronic illnesses of applicable provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and other applicable federal statutes, State statutes, federal regulations, and State rules;

    (B) inform appropriate school staff of their responsibilities; and

    (C) provide necessary training to carry out these responsibilities.

    (30) May make available school facilities and equipment for specified public purposes if such purposes appear, in the judgment of the board, to be in the best interests of the district and are an efficient, economical, and appropriate use of the facilities and equipment.

    (31) Subject to the requirements of section 571 of this title, may enter into contracts with other school boards to provide joint programs, services, facilities, and professional or other staff.

    (32) May enter into a contract or contracts with a school offering a distance learning program that is approved by one or more accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or is approved in Vermont pursuant to subdivision 166(b)(6) of this title. (Added 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 40; amended 1971, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.); 1975, No. 48, § 6, eff. April 15, 1975; 1977, No. 33, § 1; 1979, No. 5; 1985, No. 71, § 3; 1987, No. 15, § 1; 1987, No. 68, § 5; 1987, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 1989, No. 143 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1989, No. 188 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1989, No. 202 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1991, No. 103, §§ 1, 2; 1991, No. 176 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1991, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1995, No. 35, § 2; 1995, No. 62, § 62, eff. April 26, 1995; 1995, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 2, 3; 1995, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 7a, 7b, 68, eff. May 22, 1996; 1997, No. 83 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1997, No. 119 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 27, 1998; 1999, No. 62, § 158b; 1999, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1999, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 277; 2001, No. 8, § 5; 2001, No. 118 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2003, No. 36, §§ 5, 19; 2003, No. 68, § 48, eff. June 18, 2003; 2003, No. 75 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2003, No. 114 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2003, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. July 1, 2005; 2005, No. 54, § 5; 2005, No. 127 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 182 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 25; 2007, No. 23, § 1; 2007, No. 82, § 5; 2009, No. 44, §§ 4, 6, 8, 9, eff. May 21, 2009; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 11, 12, eff. June 3, 2010; 2009, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 21c; 2011, No. 58, § 1, eff. May 31, 2011; 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 23, 24, eff. July 1, 2013; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 302, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2015, No. 23, § 32; 2015, No. 46, § 33; 2015, No. 48, § 2; 2017, No. 49, § 27, eff. May 23, 2017.)

  • § 563a. Prevention identification, and reporting of child sexual abuse and sexual violence

    Each school board of a school district and governing body of an approved or recognized independent school shall ensure that adults employed in the schools within its jurisdiction receive orientation, information, or instruction on the prevention, identification, and reporting of child sexual abuse, as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 4912(8), and sexual violence. This shall include information regarding the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, sexual violence, grooming processes, recognizing the dangers of child sexual abuse in and close to the home, and other predatory behaviors of sex offenders. The school board or governing body shall also provide opportunities for parents, guardians, and other interested persons to receive the same information. The Agencies of Education and of Human Services shall provide materials and technical support to any school board or governing body that requests assistance in implementing this section. (Added 2009, No. 1, § 9, eff. July 1, 2011; amended 2011, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 27, eff. May 16, 2012; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 70, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 564. Repealed. 1997, No. 71 (Adj. Sess.), § 106(b), eff. March 11, 1998.

  • § 565. Repealed. 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. May 11, 2012.

  • § 566. Authority to borrow

    Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision 562(9) of this title, if a budget for the support of schools for the ensuing year has not been approved on or before June 30 of any year, the school board may borrow funds necessary to enable it to operate the schools on a budget of up to 87 percent of the most recently approved school budget. If the school board borrows money under this section, it shall determine how all funds shall be expended. (Added 1995, No. 32, § 1; amended 2001, No. 8, § 7.)

  • § 567. Surplus

    If an audit reveals that a school district has surplus funds, the school board shall carry the funds into the next year as revenue unless authorized by the voters, at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose, to:

    (1) deposit the funds into a reserve fund established pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 2804; or

    (2) use the funds for a specific purpose. (Added 2003, No. 107 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 71, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)


  • Subchapter 005: HARASSMENT, HAZING, AND BULLYING
  • § 570. Harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies

    (a) State policy. It is the policy of the State of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing, and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school.

    (b) Prevention policies. Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies that shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the Secretary. Any school board that fails to adopt one or more of these policies shall be presumed to have adopted the most current model policy or policies published by the Secretary.

    (c) Notice. Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this subchapter to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members, including reference to the consequences of misbehavior contained in the plan required by section 1161a of this title. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment, hazing, and bullying. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school. The school board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, hazing, and bullying. School boards are encouraged to foster opportunities for conversations between and among students regarding tolerance and respect.

    (d) Duties of the Secretary. The Secretary shall:

    (1) develop and, from time to time, update model harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies; and

    (2) establish an Advisory Council to review and coordinate school and statewide activities relating to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing, and bullying. The Council shall report annually in January to the State Board and the House and Senate Committees on Education. The Council shall include:

    (A) the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals' Association or designee;

    (B) the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;

    (C) the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;

    (D) the President of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee;

    (E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee;

    (F) the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and

    (G) other members selected by the Secretary, at least one of whom shall be a current secondary student who has witnessed or experienced harassment, hazing, or bullying in the school environment.

    (e) Definitions. In this subchapter:

    (1) "Educational institution" and "school" mean a public school or an approved or recognized independent school as defined in section 11 of this title.

    (2) "Organization," "pledging," and "student" have the same meanings as in section 570i of this title.

    (3) "Harassment," "hazing," and "bullying" have the same meanings as in subdivisions 11(a)(26), (30), and (32) of this title.

    (4) "School board" means the board of directors or other governing body of an educational institution when referring to an independent school. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2011, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72.)

  • § 570a. Harassment

    (a) Policies and plan. The harassment prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:

    (1) A statement that harassment, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(26) of this title, is prohibited and may constitute a violation of the public accommodations act as more fully described in article 2 of this subchapter 5.

    (2) Consequences and appropriate remedial action for staff or students who commit harassment. At all stages of the investigation and determination process, school officials are encouraged to make available to complainants alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, for resolving complaints.

    (3) A procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints.

    (4) A description of the circumstances under which harassment may be reported to a law enforcement agency.

    (5) A procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints. The procedure shall provide that, unless special circumstances are present and documented by the school officials, an investigation is initiated no later than one school day from the filing of a complaint and the investigation and determination by school officials are concluded no later than five school days from the filing of the complaint with a person designated to receive complaints under subdivision (7) of this subsection. All internal reviews of the school's initial determination, including the issuance of a final decision, shall, unless special circumstances are present and documented by the school officials, be completed within 30 days after the review is requested.

    (6) A description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to harassment.

    (7) Annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people's availability.

    (8) A procedure for publicizing the availability of the Vermont Human Rights Commission and the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and other appropriate State and federal agencies to receive complaints of harassment.

    (9) A statement that acts of retaliation for the reporting of harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of harassment are unlawful pursuant to 9 V.S.A. § 4503.

    (b) Independent review.

    (1) A student who desires independent review under this subsection because the student is either dissatisfied with the final determination of the school officials as to whether harassment occurred or believes that, although a final determination was made that harassment occurred, the school's response was inadequate to correct the problem shall make such request in writing to the headmaster or superintendent of schools. Upon such request, the headmaster or superintendent shall initiate an independent review by a neutral person selected from a list developed jointly by the Secretary of Education and the Human Rights Commission and maintained by the Secretary. Individuals shall be placed on the list on the basis of their objectivity, knowledge of harassment issues, and relevant experience.

    (2) The independent review shall proceed expeditiously and shall consist of an interview of the student and the relevant school officials and review of written materials involving the complaint maintained by the school or others.

    (3) Upon the conclusion of the review, the reviewer shall advise the student and the school officials as to the sufficiency of the school's investigation, its determination, the steps taken by the school to correct any harassment found to have occurred, and any future steps the school should take. The reviewer shall advise the student of other remedies that may be available if the student remains dissatisfied and, if appropriate, may recommend mediation or other alternative dispute resolution.

    (4) The independent reviewer shall be considered an agent of the school for the purpose of being able to review confidential student records.

    (5) The costs of the independent review shall be borne by the public school district or independent school.

    (6) Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the school board from requesting an independent review at any stage of the process.

    (7) Evidence of conduct or statements made in connection with an independent review shall not be admissible in any court proceeding. This subdivision shall not require exclusion of any evidence otherwise obtainable from independent sources merely because it is presented in the course of an independent review.

    (8) The Secretary may adopt rules implementing this subsection. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2013, No. 34, § 10; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570b. Hazing

    The hazing prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:

    (1) a statement that hazing, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title, is prohibited and may be subject to civil penalties pursuant to article 3 of this subchapter 5;

    (2) a procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints;

    (3) a procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints;

    (4) a description of the circumstances under which hazing may be reported to a law enforcement agency;

    (5) appropriate penalties or sanctions or both for organizations that or individuals who engage in hazing and revocation or suspension of an organization's permission to operate or exist within the institution's purview if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones hazing;

    (6) a description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to hazing; and

    (7) annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people's availability. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570c. Bullying

    The bullying prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:

    (1) a statement that bullying, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(32) of this title, is prohibited;

    (2) a procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints;

    (3) a procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints;

    (4) a description of the circumstances under which bullying may be reported to a law enforcement agency;

    (5) consequences and appropriate remedial action for students who commit bullying;

    (6) a description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to bullying; and

    (7) annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure both for publicizing the availability of those people and clarifying that their designation does not preclude a student from bringing a complaint to any adult in the building. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012.)

  • § 570d. , 570e. [Reserved for future use.]

  • § 570f. Harassment; notice and response

    (a)(1) An educational institution that receives actual notice of alleged conduct that may constitute harassment shall promptly investigate to determine whether harassment occurred. After receiving notice of the alleged conduct, the school shall provide a copy of its harassment policy, including its harassment investigation procedure, to the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator. If either the alleged victim or the alleged perpetrator is a minor, the copy of the policy shall be provided to the person's parent or guardian. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit educational institutions from investigating and imposing disciplinary consequences upon students for misconduct. Elementary and secondary school officials shall strive to implement the plan developed in accordance with subdivision 1161a(a)(6) of this title in order to prevent misconduct from escalating to the level of harassment.

    (2) If, after notice, the educational institution finds that the alleged conduct occurred and that it constitutes harassment, the educational institution shall take prompt and appropriate remedial action reasonably calculated to stop the harassment.

    (b) A claim may be brought under the Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act pursuant to 9 V.S.A. chapter 139 only after the administrative remedies available to the claimant under the policy adopted by the educational institution pursuant to subsection 166(e) or section 570 of this title or pursuant to the harassment policy of a postsecondary school have been exhausted. Such a showing shall not be necessary where the claimant demonstrates that:

    (1) the educational institution does not maintain such a policy;

    (2) a determination has not been rendered within the time limits established under section 570a of this title;

    (3) the health or safety of the complainant would be jeopardized otherwise;

    (4) exhaustion would be futile; or

    (5) requiring exhaustion would subject the student to substantial and imminent retaliation.

    (c) To prevail in an action alleging unlawful harassment filed pursuant to this section and 9 V.S.A. chapter 139, the plaintiff shall prove both of the following:

    (1) The student was subjected to unwelcome conduct based on the student's or the student's family member's actual or perceived membership in a category protected by law by 9 V.S.A. § 4502.

    (2) The conduct was either:

    (A) for multiple instances of conduct, so pervasive that when viewed from an objective standard of a similarly situated reasonable person, it substantially and adversely affected the targeted student's equal access to educational opportunities or benefits provided by the educational institution; or

    (B) for a single instance of conduct, so severe that when viewed from an objective standard of a similarly situated reasonable person, it substantially and adversely affected the targeted student's equal access to educational opportunities or benefits provided by the educational institution.

    (d) As used in this article:

    (1) "Designated employee" means an employee who has been designated by an educational institution to receive complaints of harassment pursuant to section 570a of this title or in accordance with the harassment policy of a postsecondary school.

    (2) "Educational institution" means a Vermont public or independent school or a postsecondary school that offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or degree in Vermont.

    (3) "Notice" means a written complaint or oral information that harassment may have occurred which has been provided to a designated employee from another employee, the student allegedly subjected to the harassment, another student, a parent or guardian, or any other individual who has reasonable cause to believe the alleged conduct may have occurred. If the complaint is oral, the designated employee shall promptly reduce the complaint to writing, including the time, place, and nature of the conduct, and the identity of the participants and complainant. (Added 2003, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; amended 2011, No. 140 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 15, 2012; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 74, 75, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570i. Definitions

    As used in this subchapter:

    (1) "Educational institution" means a Vermont public or independent school, or a postsecondary school which offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or a degree in Vermont.

    (2) "Organization" means a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or other similar group, whose members primarily are students at an educational institution, and which is affiliated with the educational institution.

    (3) "Pledging" means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.

    (4) "Student" means any person who:

    (A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution;

    (B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or

    (C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after an official academic break. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 78, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570j. Unlawful conduct

    (a) For purposes of this subchapter, "hazing" means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with others, against another student:

    (1) in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with the educational institution; and

    (2) which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, endangering the mental or physical health of the student.

    (b) Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

    (1) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

    (2) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

    (c) It shall be unlawful to:

    (1) engage in hazing;

    (2) solicit, direct, aid, or attempt to aid, or abet another person engaged in hazing; or

    (3) knowingly fail to take reasonable measures within the scope of the person's authority to prevent hazing.

    (d) It is not a defense in an action under this subchapter that the person against whom the hazing was directed consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 79, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570k. Civil penalty; Judicial Bureau; waiver penalty

    (a) A person who commits an unlawful act under this subchapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00.

    (b) Any law enforcement officer may issue a summons and complaint for an act of hazing, which shall be heard by the Judicial Bureau pursuant to the procedures provided in 4 V.S.A. chapter 29.

    (c) The Court Administrator shall appoint a panel of Judicial Bureau hearing officers to establish a waiver penalty for an act of hazing.

    (d) Nothing in this section shall limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 80, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

  • § 570l. Criminal prosecution and civil action

    Nothing in this subchapter shall limit or preclude a criminal prosecution or any criminal or civil action based on any act that may constitute hazing. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 81, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)