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NO. 31. AN ACT TO ENSURE THAT EVERY UNION SCHOOL BOARD FOLLOWS THE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION PRINCIPLE.

(H.314)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. FINDING AND INTENT

(a) The U.S. District Court of the District of Vermont, in the cases of Leopold v. Young, 340 F. Supp. 1014 (D. Vt. 1972); Watts v. Harwood Union School Board, No. 6653 (D. Vt. Dec. 10, 1973); and Barnes v. Board of Directors of the Mount Anthony Union High School District (N. 14), 418 F. Supp. 845 (D. Vt. 1975), held that Vermont union school districts are subject to the proportional representation requirements of the Equal Protection Clause known as the "one person/one vote" requirements.

(b) Such constitutional requirements are neither subject to waiver nor alteration or elimination through agreement or legislation.

(c) It is the intent of the General Assembly to ensure that Vermontís union school districts apportion membership on their school boards in such a manner as to comply with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause.

Sec. 2. DUTIES OF THE COMMISSIONER

(a) By August 1, 2001, the commissioner of education shall distribute to each union school board chairperson and each superintendent of schools for supervisory unions containing one or more union school districts the following:

(1) Notification of the provisions of this act.

(2) A summary of the constitutional principles, and case law in Vermont and nationally, on the application of the "one person/one vote" principle.

(3) Models of methods of proportional representation.

(4) A directive for each union school district board to examine its method of apportionment of board members and report to the commissioner of education by December 1, 2001 as to whether and why it believes the board meets the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause, and to supply supporting documentation.

(b) By July 1, 2002, the commissioner shall review each report submitted and shall provide each union district school board with an advisory opinion on the compatibility of its method of school board apportionment with constitutional principles of proportional representation. If the commissioner has concerns about the constitutionality of an apportionment method, the commissioner shall notify the union district board and shall offer a model or models of apportionment that should comply with constitutional requirements.

(c) The commissioner shall prepare a report on or before January 15, 2003 with respect to the status of union school district compliance with proportional representation requirements.

Approved: May 25, 2001