Indiana State Representative Bob Morris (R-IN) is considering sponsoring a bill making all school board races in the state partisan.
The bill would be sponsored in the next session of the General Assembly and require school board candidates to declare their political party on the ballot.
“I’ve had a number of constituents call me and express concerns with the way their school boards are functioning and currently operating,” Morris said. “I’ve been elected for 11 years and it seems all too frequent that people call me with their kids’ school districts.”
Morris, who serves the 84th District in the Indiana House of Representatives, said the “reality” is that school boards are political in nature.
“I think it’s all too fair to ensure that the constituents and the people of Indiana know which party these school board members affiliate themselves with,” he said.
Busing issues, athletic issues and funding issues as a whole are some of the topics Morris said he receives phone calls about when it comes to school boards.
“It’s no different than the Indiana House of Representatives, the Fort Wayne City Council or the Allen County Council,” he said. “The reality is, in life, we all have our beliefs and what we align ourselves with. Why is the school board any different?”
Morris said he has received “hundreds” of calls thanking him on this endeavour and wondering why it hadn’t been done before.
He said the next step is to file a piece of legislation during the next legislative session in January 2022. Morris said he’s also exploring whether or not the school board races have any conflicts of interest.
“ … whether someone’s job interferes with their right to serve on the school board,” Morris said. “At the Indiana State Capitol, we are a part time legislature but many times people will recuse themselves from voting because they have a conflict of interest.”
Morris said he has spoken to active board members about this bill and he said “they can’t believe we’re making these races partisan.”
“The school board members I’ve heard from have run for a political office that carries a declaration of what party they align themselves with,” he said.
Morris said he thinks with the climate of the world that many people are struggling with the decisions their school board is making.
“These school boards are decided every four years and they want to make a difference in their child’s education and the way you can make a difference is to support a candidate that shares your same ideals,” he said.