OSBA’s legal division recently updated its Parliamentary procedure fact sheet. This fact sheet is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions about parliamentary procedure and can serve as a resource for board members, superintendents and treasurers as they prepare for or run the district’s school board meetings.

Parliamentary procedures are guidelines, not hard-and-fast laws. Neither the Ohio Revised Code nor the Ohio Administrative Code require Ohio boards of education to follow a system of parliamentary procedure. However, many boards have adopted board policy language identifying which system the board will use to conduct its meetings. Robert’s Rules of Order is the most commonly used system of parliamentary procedure in Ohio schools.

With that said, Robert’s Rules of Order was not written with school boards and other governmental entities in mind and there may be times when matters of procedure are specifically governed by Ohio law or the board’s policies. For example, in certain instances, Ohio law requires a board of education to conduct a roll call vote or mandates a specific voting majority before the board may act. (See OSBA’s “Voting Makes a Difference” fact sheet for a summary of these statutes). These specific requirements must be followed even if Robert’s Rules of Order authorizes a simpler procedure.

The updated fact sheet contains information on the following topics:

  • Agendas – whether a board of education is required to use an agenda, the process for amending agendas, and the use of a consent agendas
  • Motions – the correct way to make and adopt a motion, inappropriate or out-of-order motions, and frequently misused motions

The last page of the fact sheet also includes a motion cheat sheet that provides information on more than 20 motions and whether those motions require a second, are debatable and amendable, and the vote required to pass the motion.

Formal rules of procedure usually become more important as issues become more controversial or complex, or the stakes involved become more significant. If there is an issue with your board meetings you would like to try to resolve, or you would like to improve your parliamentary procedure skills, there are many resources to help you. OSBA’s bookstore offers a handy “Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance” guide that explains key parliamentary procedures and when to use them. OSBA also sells Robert’s Rules of Order. OSBA’s division of legal services also frequently offers trainings on parliamentary procedure and walks through how to correctly use some of the most frequently used motions. If you think your board would benefit from a customized training, please contact us.

Posted by Sara C. Clark on 3/3/2023