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Public Officers
School Board

Members of board of free high school
districts who wilfully neglect to levy tax
for maintenance of school, where such tax has
not been provided for by electors, are guilty
of violations of Section 4550, Stats.

Facts necessary to show violation of law may
not be sufficient to secure conviction.

June 12, 1923.


District Attorney,  St. Croix Falls,

Your inquiry of March 14 and the
succeeding one of April 17 have
just reached my desk for reply.

Under the provisions of Subsection 40.52(4),
Section 40.52, Stats., if the electors of
any free high school district at the annual
or at a subsequent special district meeting
held prior to the third Monday of November
following; shall not vote a tax sufficient
to maintain said free high school for the
term of at least nine months including the
current year, it is the duty of the free
high school board, on or before the Wednesday
next following said third Monday of November,
to determine the sum necessary to be raised
to maintain such school and to furnish
additional necessary equipment and certify
to the proper town, city or village clerks
the amount so fixed, and it then becomes
the duty of such clerks to assess the
same as other taxes are assessed.

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Under Subsection (1), Section 40.59, Stats.,
no election for the dissolution of such a
district can be held within four years after
the date when such district was organized.

Section 4550, Stats., provides that any
officer of any school district who shall
wilfully violate any provision of law
authorizing or requiring anything to be done
in his official capacity or employment, or
who shall refuse  or wilfully neglect to
perform any duty in his office required by
law, shall be punished as therein prescribed.

It seems perfectly clear to me that under the
facts as stated by you the members of the
board of the Centuria union free high school
district have wilfully neglected to perform
the duties imposed upon them by law of
levying a tax for the maintenance of
such school and of maintaining such
school, and are liable to the
penalty imposed by Section 4550.

Whether you could secure such a conviction
of the members of such school board is an
entirely different question and one as to
which you are in a much better position
to judge than I am.

To make a case you should prove the
several things that are necessary
elements of the offense.

Again, I cannot state whether the proving
of such facts would secure a conviction,
because there is very often quite a
difference between proving the facts
necessary to show a violation of the
law and liability to punishment and
showing facts necessary to secure
a conviction.

In my opinion, If there is a prosecution, the
members of the board should be prosecuted
jointly, as it is their joint action that
constitutes a violation of the law.


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