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Del. Lopez back with bill requiring student reps on school boards

Measure died in Republican-led subcommittee last year

It didn’t get very far in 2023, but a local member of the General Assembly has brought back a proposal requiring all school systems across the commonwealth to have a student representative.

The bill, HB 958, is patroned by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), and is similar in scope to one he introduced in last year’s session.

That bill died in a House of Delegates subcommittee.

Like the 2023 measure, Lopez’s bill, if it were to become law, leaves in the hands of individual localities many of the implementation details, including whether the student position would be elected or appointed; the term of office; whether the student representative would have voting power; whether there would be term limits; and whether the student would draw a salary.

Currently, school districts across the commonwealth have the option of having a School Board representative. Locally, Fairfax for more than a half-century has had one (selected by the countywide Student Advisory Council), while Arlington never has. Initially, the Fairfax student member had voting powers, but they later were stripped.

Under Lopez’s bill, the student representative would not need to be 18 years or older, or a U.S. citizen, unless the position is popularly elected.

Where the bill goes, nobody knows – last year it was killed by Republicans, who then controlled the lower body of the legislature. While Democrats now are in control, the measure is likely to run into under-the-radar opposition from the more than 130 local school districts across the commonwealth.