Casual vacancies

Advice to boards

Schedule 23, clause 12 of the Education and Training Act 2020 provides information on filling casual vacancies of elected trustees (parent, staff or student) which occur during a board’s three-year term of office.

  • Note:
    Where a casual vacancy for a parent or staff representative trustee occurs during any period of six months commencing on the first day of October in a year before an election year, the board may, not later than 28 days after it occurs, resolve not to fill it, and in that case, it shall not be filled. This exemption does not apply to years in which a mid-term election is held.
  • Where a student representative position is not filled at the annual student elections the board is not required to fill it, there is a casual vacancy, but the board can choose to hold a by-election to fill the position.

How does a casual vacancy occur?

A casual vacancy occurs (that the board must fill)  when an elected or selected parent representative or an elected staff or student representative:

  • dies, or
  • resigns in writing to the board, or
  • is absent from three consecutive board meetings without the prior leave of the board, or
  • is no longer eligible to be a trustee (schedule 23, clause 9 of the Education and Training Act 2020), or
  • staff representative ceases to be a member of the board staff or a student representative ceases to be enrolled full-time at the school
  1. How does the board fill a casual vacancy?
  • A board of trustees must decide how to fill a vacancy for an elected trustee (known as a casual vacancy) within eight weeks:
  • Casual vacancies for staff and student representatives (except for the above example) must be filled with a by-election
  • The term of office for the person elected or selected to fill a casual vacancy will be for the remainder of the vacating trustee’s term of office.

Parent representative casual vacancy

  • The board fills a parent representative casual vacancy by either:
    • holding a by-election.  The by-election must follow the procedure set out in the Returning Officers’ Handbook 2019-2022 OR
    • selecting someone, but the board must still have more elected parent representatives than selected ones Note: there is a special selection process the board must follow (details below)
  • A board must not fill a casual vacancy for an elected parent/staff/student representative by co-option.

Reimbursements for by-elections

To receive reimbursement, all claims for actual and reasonable costs for by-elections must be submitted as soon as possible to the Ministry, by furnishing detailed invoices and completing the appropriate form. The claim form is available on the Ministry’s website

By-election procedure

  • With by-elections for staff and student trustee casual vacancies, and if the board decides to (or must) hold a by-election to fill a parent trustee casual vacancy it must appoint a returning officer and set an election date. Use the Election planner tool to set the Election Date.
  • The returning officer must follow the short election timetable set out in Schedule 1, page 31, of the Returning Officers’ Handbook 2016-2019.

[OR] (for a parent representative vacancy):

  • If within eight weeks of the vacancy occurring, a board has decided to fill it by selecting someone, the following procedure applies:
    • Within 14 days of making the decision to select someone, the board must give notice of the vacancy and of its proposal to fill the vacancy to its school community and the wider local community in the manner that best meets the needs of the school community and the wider community..  Sample notice here.
    • If within 28 days after the notice is published, fewer than ten percent of eligible voters have asked the board not to make a selection but to hold a by-election, then the board may fill the vacancy by selecting someone.  This selection must be made within six weeks of the end of the 28-day notification period and the person selected takes office on the day of selection by the board. An eligibility attestation must be filled out and submitted to the board by the prospective trustee before selection. The eligibility declaration form can be printed from here.
    • If ten percent or more of eligible voters ask that a by-election is held, the board must set the election date either on the tenth Friday after the end of the 28-day notification period or earlier date (the board must set this, at least, six weeks out from the election).
    • If a by-election is to be held a returning officer must be appointed.
    • Sample noticefor filling a casual vacancy by selection - Sample Notice (docx):

If ten percent or more of eligible voters on the school roll ask the board, within 28 days of this notice being published, to hold a by-election to fill the vacancy, then a by-election will be held.

Any eligible voter who wishes to ask the board to hold a by-election should write to:

Board of Trustees

by: (relevant date)

  • After selection the board notifies both NZSTA and the Ministry of Education of the new trustee by using Appendix 2
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