School Law Bulletin #2003/05

The Ability of Local Governing Boards to Discipline Their Members

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Local governing boards (city councils, county boards of commissioners, and local boards of education) occasionally have to cope with a troublesome member. If a duly elected or appointed member acts in a disruptive manner during a board meeting, can the board vote to expel him from the meeting? If a member acts in a manner that is harmful or embarrassing to the board outside of a meeting, can the board censure her? These questions are not easily answered in the absence of North Carolina law on the subject. However, it is possible to discern from North Carolina statutes and from the case law of other jurisdictions a set of rules regarding a governing board’s ability to discipline members. This article explores the statutory and constitutional issues surrounding a board’s power to punish members by censure or by expulsion from a meeting. It concludes that, in certain circumstances, a governing board has the authority to take these steps. It touches on, but does not address, the issue of removing an elected member from office.

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Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles