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Election of Parent Representatives to Board
Parents elect two Board members. The outgoing Board of Management should arrange for the election of Parent nominees. To be eligible for election, a parent must have a child attending the school at the time of the election. [Ref. Deed of Trust, First Schedule, Instrument of Management, 3(a)(iii)]
One of those elected must be a mother. "Parent" is not defined in the Deed of Trust, but the Board could reasonably assume that the person/s exercising parental control over the child, either as natural parent/s or legal guardian/s, can be deemed, for the purpose of election, to be the parents. Boards are advised that a reasonable effort should be made to inform all parents/guardians in writing of the proposed election.
It should be noted that the electorate for nominating candidates for election and for electing parents on to the Board of Management includes all parents/guardians of children attending the school at the time, whether they be members of the Parents Association or not.
It is a matter for each Board to decide how to arrange for the nomination and election of parents. The Board may decide to hold a special general meeting of parents for the purpose of nominating candidates, or may decide to send a nominating paper to all parents with the letter of notice setting out the procedures to be followed. When nominations have been made, official pre-numbered ballot papers are prepared, if there are more than two candidates.
In Community Schools, if there is only one female candidate, she must be declared elected, even if there are a considerable number of male candidates. Since one seat is reserved for a mother, the election is then confined to the filling of the other seat, which is open to either a mother or a father.
When issuing the ballot papers to the electorate short election addresses from each of the candidates may be circulated, if that procedure is agreed by the Board.
It is up to the individual school to decide on the method of voting. Some schools hold an election meeting and conduct the ballot in the school over an hour or two in one evening, and other schools find a postal ballot more suitable.
Whether to opt for a straight vote, with the option of voting for one or two people, or to use a P.R. system is a question for determination by each Board. What is important is the maintenance of high standards of fairness. This can best be guaranteed by putting the election and count under the control of an independent presiding officer and by providing her/him with the support and resources to prevent abuses such as impersonation.
It is important (especially if a straight vote system is being used) that there is a tie-breaking system, such as the toss of a coin, announced in advance of the elections. This is advisable as, with a relatively small electorate and the likelihood of a low poll, it is possible that two candidates may be tied on the same vote.