The California School Boards Association Golden Gavel is awarded to both an individual school board member and governance team who exemplifies best practices in effective governance and boardsmanship.

  • Each nominee must be a current California public school board member from a district or county office of education
  • The nominee’s Local Education Agency (LEA) must be a current CSBA member at all times during the nomination and award process
  • Current CSBA Officers and Directors are not eligible to apply
  • Each LEA can nominate only one individual from a board for the award per year
  • Former Board Members of the Year are not eligible to apply again

Nominees may be subject to disqualification at any time during the nomination submission or judging process for the following reasons:

  • Nominee is or has been the subject of an internal or external investigation conducted by or on behalf of a CSBA committee.
  • Nominee is or has been the subject of a local jurisdiction investigation.

In addition, Board Members of the Year who are found, during the year of designation, to be in violation of the attributes of this award will be disqualified and removed from the Hall of Fame.

In furtherance of these objectives, CSBA, in its discretion, may revoke any nominee’s application or Board Member of the Year title.


The nomination narrative should address significant contributions made by the nominee within the last five years, with an emphasis of work accomplished within the last twelve months of service. Nominations will be judged on the information provided by the nominator in the Nomination Entry form.

The criteria below identify attributes of an effective individual trustee as outlined in the CSBA Professional Governance Standards for School Board Members, which is available at this link, from districts and county offices of education.

Nominees will be judged on their ability to:

  • Understand their role and follow through on their responsibilities
  • Focus on learning and achievement for all students
  • Value, support and advocate for public education
  • Participate in local, CSBA, state and/or national education activities
  • Support the board’s adopted Bylaws and Policies
  • Recognize and respect differences of perspectives and style on the board and among staff, students, parents and the community
  • Act with dignity, and understand the implications of demeanor and behavior
  • Adhere to established communication protocols and keep confidential matters confidential
  • Participate in CSBA professional development and commit to ongoing education to be an informed and effective leader
  • Understand the distinctions between board and staff roles, and refrain from performing management functions that are the responsibility of the superintendent and staff
  • Understand that authority rests with the board as a whole and not with individuals


  • An LEA can submit one (1) nomination per year
  • Nomination materials must have approval by a majority of Board members
  • Nomination materials are submitted through the CSBA online system
  • Nomination materials must have the following three signatures: the nominator, the Board President or Vice-President, and the Superintendent
  • Nomination materials must be complete and include all required documentation to be considered; incomplete nominations will not be judged
  • Nomination materials must be submitted by the published deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted


Nominations will be judged on the information provided by the nominator in the Nomination Entry.

Each CSBA region will have a Regional Judge panel identify the top two nominations from the respective region (for a maximum of 42 nominations statewide)

Regional nominations (for a maximum of 42) will be submitted to CSBA for a second round of scoring, to be judged by the Statewide Award Panel which will select the Board Member of the Year

The Board Member of the Year, will be notified by CSBA of the award and will receive the Golden Gavel Award and be inducted into the Golden Gavel Hall of Fame

*CSBA reserves the right to bypass the regional judging and proceed straight to the state-wide judging process based on the number of applications received.


Induction into the Golden Gavel Hall of Fame
  • The Board Member of the Year will be recognized and presented with an award at CSBA‘s Annual Education Conference (AEC), first General Session
  • The Board Member of the Year will be featured in the CSBA California Schools magazine, the monthly California School News publication, on the CSBA website and social media
  • The Board Member of the Year may be asked to participate in speaking engagements throughout the state at the request of the Regional Directors or CSBA
  • Golden Gavel Hall of Fame inductees are eligible to score nomination materials at the state-wide level