Community College Board Member May Not Become Part-Time Instructor

The California Attorney General recently opined that a board member of a community college district may not become employed as a part-time or substitute instructor for the district. AG Opinion No. 01-112 August 3, 2001 [WL 881823].

Community colleges are under the control of the board of trustees of the community college district in which a college is located. Under Education Code section 72533 and Government Code section 1090, community college trustees may not become employed by the community college district in any capacity. This prohibition is based on Government Code section 1090, which prohibits members of districts from becoming financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members. Accordingly, a community college district trustee may not become employed as an instructor since he or she would thereby be deemed to be "financially interested" in the employment contract as an employee of the college.

Similarly, the California Legislature has specifically prohibited community college employees from serving on the boards that employ them. Pursuant to Education Code section 72103, an employee must either resign his or her employment before being sworn in as a trustee, or the employment will automatically be terminated upon the employee being sworn into office.

As an exception to this rule, an instructor is not prohibited from serving as a member of the board if the employee is (1) employed primarily in an occupation other than teaching; and (2) is employed part-time by the community college district to teach no more than one course per semester or quarter in the subject matter of his or her occupation.

NOTE: This opinion would apply to K-12 districts, as well (see Ed. Code § 35107), except that the prohibition against employees being board members applies to all K-12 employees, including those with only limited part-time employment.

If you have any questions about this Legal Alert, please contact Bob Rundstrom or any attorney in the Education Department at (916) 321-4500.