What are the powers and duties of a school district?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A school district is a group organization that has the power and duty to put into action, and carry out, various plans designed to meet the district’s educational objectives. Typically the legislature of the state will create certain goals and requirements for its public education system, and the school districts of each area are responsible for coming up with plans to achieve those goals, and then taking the steps necessary to do so.

In more specific terms, the following is just a partial list of the responsibilities of school districts. Keep in mind that, depending on the size of the district and the particular requirements of the state in question, these responsibilities will vary.

School districts may be responsible for:

  • Selecting curriculum materials (textbooks, films, etc.)
  • Assigning, hiring, and dismissing staff (teachers, principals, secretaries, counselors, etc.)
  • Monitoring finances and ensuring budget requirements are met; choosing how to spend funds
  • Ensuring that all activities of the schools in the area comply with state and federal laws, such as those dealing with the length of the school day, school lunches, special education facilities, and more
  • Keeping track of, maintaining, and supplying the school buildings with necessary equipment such as computers, physical education equipment, etc

The organization of a school district is not a particularly regulated system. Each district may be organized in the way the administrators choose, and typically the larger the school district, the more complex the hierarchy and structure will be. In general, the principal and the school superintendent are considered the heads of, and responsible parties for, each of the schools within the school district, and communication between a school and its district will take place through these individuals.

As a student in a school district, or the parent of a student, you do have certain rights. If you are concerned about the duties of a school district in your area or about your legal rights, consult with a lawyer for help. 

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