District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) recently changed the way school board vacancies are filled in Guilford County.

Now that that’s done, he’s exploring spearheading a move to make that change apply to all partisan school boards across the state.

After successfully changing the law in Guilford County with House Bill 88, Hardister said he may put forth another bill that would eliminate the need for a vote by any partisan school board in the state to fill a vacant seat.  Instead, a party’s pick would automatically be seated.

In February, Hardister introduced his local bill after the Democratic majority on the Guilford County Board of Education repeatedly voted not to seat teacher Michael Logan in a vacant District 3 seat – despite the fact that Logan was the pick of the Guilford County Republican Party.

The passage of House Bill 88 now allows the local parties in Guilford County to seat the candidate of their choice regardless of what any school board members think.

Hardister said that, though House Bill 88 was a local bill, it makes sense to extend the change to the rest of the state.  He said this would preserve the original intent of state law when it comes to filling seats on partisan school boards and help prevent a situation like the one in Guilford County from coming up again in other parts of the state.

The local party of the person vacating the seat should get to choose, he said.  While previously there has been a vote by the board to seat the selected person, Hardister said legal experts say that is merely a “procedural” or “ministerial vote” and add that the board is compelled by law to seat the selected person.  Now that vote is not required in Guilford County.

Hardister said it was important to go ahead and get the local bill passed first because District 3 had not had representation school board representation since late last year when Republican Pat Tillman stepped down to become a Guilford County commissioner.

Hardister got the local bill through in quick order, but it will be more complicated and take more time to get the change implemented statewide. A local bill, such as House Bill 88, does not face the possibility of a veto by the governor as a statewide bill does.