The duties and powers of Trustees are defined by Provincial legislation
The legislation in each province gives very different powers to School Boards and Trustees. Some Boards have very little ability to oversee whether policies are being implemented in ways that support students (eg. Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland/Labrador) while in other provinces the legislation gives meaningful powers of oversight to School Boards (eg. Ontario, Alberta, and PEI). In many cases, even when the legislation permits, Boards/Councils do not exercise their full authority, leaving the oversight of the implementation of policies to the Director/Superintendent.
- Ontario’s Education Act (as of Oct 2015). The most relevant sections are 169.1.1 (which definces out the duties of the Board) and 218.1 (which defines the duties of individual Trustees). These give the Board considerable powers of oversight and control of procedures implemented in schools, and require Trustees to collect information that will assist in this oversight.
- Alberta’s Education Act (as of Oct 2015). The most relevant sections are 33 (which defines the duties of the Board) and 34, 51, 52, & 53 (which define the duties of Trustees), and 222 (which defines the role of the Superintendent)
- BC’s School Act (as of Oct 2015). The most relevant section is 65 which is extremely general and gives little guidance to Trustees (there is considerably more detail on other areas, for example Conflict of Interest rules laid out in sections 55 through 64)
- Saskatchewan’s Education Act (as of Oct 2015). The very detailed, and very limited, powers of School Boards are laid out in section 85 & 87.
- Manitoba Public Schools Act (as of Sept 2015). The act seems to be unclear as to who has responsibility to set policies and procedures that apply to school operations, and what power of oversight the Board has regarding the implementation of Board and Provincial policies. The relevant sections are 48 and 52,
- New Brunswick Education Act (as of Oct 2015). The “District Councils” have very limited powers to provide oversight of the implementation of procedures intended to support students (see 36.9) and the Superintendent (CEO) of the Council can act with considerable independence of the elected members of the Council (section 48)
- Nova Scotia Education Act (as of Oct 2015). School boards, although made up of elected members, are “accountable to the Minister”, and have very limited powers of oversight (sections 63A and 64).
- Newfoundland and Labrador School Act (as of Oct 2015). The Board has almost no ability to provide oversight of whether its policies, and those of the Minister, are being implemented in a way that meets the needs of students, parents, and staff. (sections 75 & 76 set out the powers of the Board and its members, and section 80 sets out the powers of the Director of Education)
- Prince Edward Island Education Act (as of Oct 2015). 39 49 50 School Boards are given the power to monitor the effectiveness of schools and to provide direction to the Superintendent, providing the Board with a meaningful oversight and governance role (see sections 39, 49, 50 & 61)
- Quebec Education Act is undergoing a significant review, with the government having stated its intent to eliminate elected Councillors (Trustees).