The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)
STATE OF MICHIGAN
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM, ATTORNEY GENERAL
PUBLIC OFFICES AND OFFICERS:
SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS:
Eligibility for office after leaving School Reform Board
The term "election" as used in section 374a of the Revised School Code refers to the date of one's election to the subsequent office and not to the date on which a person may become a candidate for that subsequent office, nor to the date on which a person may actually assume the duties of that subsequent office.
Opinion No. 7050
March 30, 2000
Honorable Irma Clark
Section 374a of the Revised School Code provides that members appointed to the Detroit School Reform Board, as well as other specified officers of the Board, are ineligible for "election" or appointment to certain school or city offices for a period of one year after leaving the Board. You have asked whether the term "election," as used in this section, refers to the date of one's election to the subsequent office, the date on which a person may become a candidate for that subsequent office, or the date on which a person may actually assume the duties of that subsequent office.
The Revised School Code (Code), 1976 PA 451, MCL 380.1 et seq; MSA 15.4001 et seq, establishes, regulates, and controls public school districts, public schools, and public school academies. Under section 372 of the Code, the Mayor of the City of Detroit is empowered by the Legislature to appoint six of the seven members of the School Reform Board, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction serving, ex officio, as the seventh member, for the ensuing five years. On March 31, 1999, Detroit's Mayor appointed the six members of the School Reform Board. Upon appointment of these individuals to the School Reform Board, the powers and duties of the elected Board of Education of the Detroit Public Schools vested in the School Reform Board until that board appointed a chief executive officer. Section 373(3). On May 12, 1999, a chief executive officer was appointed by the School Reform Board, at which time all the powers and duties of the elected board of education of the school district vested in that officer. Section 373(4). Members of the elected board of education may, for the balance of their unexpired terms, serve on an advisory basis, without any remuneration. Section 373(1).
Section 374a of the Code restricts the eligibility of the appointed members of the School Reform Board (as well as that of the chief executive officer and certain other school officers) for certain other school and city elective offices. It provides:
For a period of 1 year after leaving office, a member of a school reform board appointed under this part or a chief executive officer of a qualifying school district or another officer appointed under section 374 is ineligible for election or appointment to any elective office of the qualifying school district or of the city in which the qualifying school district is located.
Section 374a expressly refers to "election or appointment" to the subsequent office as the critical event in determining the ineligibility period. The statute makes no reference whatever to any limitation on when a person may become a candidate for office, nor to when a person may actually assume the subsequent office. Rather, the one-year ineligibility applies to "election or appointment" to certain offices.
The purpose of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. If the language employed in a statute is plain and unambiguous, the statute must be applied as written and there is no room for judicial construction. Dussia v Monroe County Employees Retirement System, 386 Mich 244, 248-249; 191 NW2d 307 (1971); Donajkowski v Alpena Power Co, 460 Mich 243, 248; 596 NW2d 574 (1999). Michigan law "recognizes clear distinctions between qualifications for candidacy, for election, and for serving in office." OAG, 1997-1998, No 6946, p 51, 52 (July 25, 1997). Because section 374a of the Code expressly describes the ineligibility period as running for one year after leaving office up to the time of "election or appointment," it is clear that the ineligibility period was intended to apply to the date of one's election or appointment to the subsequent office, not to the date one becomes a candidate1 for that office, and not to the date one assumes that office following one's election.
It is my opinion, therefore, that the term "election" as used in section 374a of the Revised School Code refers to the date of one's election to the subsequent office and not to the date on which a person may become a candidate for that subsequent office, nor to the date on which a person may actually assume the duties of that subsequent office.
JENNIFER M. GRANHOLM
1 A person who runs in a primary election is a candidate for office. City of Grand Rapids v Harper, 32 Mich App 324, 329-330; 188 NW2d 668; lv den 385 Mich 761 (1971).