Dear Superintendent:

The Attorney General ruled today that Texas Education Code Section 11.051(a-1) did not alter the common law standard for determining the number of votes necessary for a school district board of trustees to act in its official capacity.

This issue originally arose out of a school district north of Dallas. More specifically, there was a question about the number of votes necessary to fill a vacancy on the Board of Trustees. The vote was a 3 for, 2 against, and 1 abstention. An upset member of the community believed Section 11.051 altered the common law majority vote standard to require a majority of those present. Since 3 was not a majority of those present, a citizen believed there was not a valid appointment. The citizen did not file a lawsuit, but did successfully lobby TEA to request an Attorney General opinion.

The Attorney General held that Section 11.051(a-1) did not modify the common law standard. A ruling to the contrary would have tossed into question the legality of actions taken by a school district where there was not a majority of those present in favor of an action, such as 3 for, 2 against or 3 for, 2 against 1 abstain.

We have been waiting on an answer to this question since July 2008. This issue will likely be addressed during the current legislative session. If you have specific questions regarding the opinion or any other legal matter, please feel free to give us a call at 214-257-8818.