The commissioner of education was asked to decide whether a school district has the authority to lease property to a third party. Although the law does not explicitly give a school district the right to lease property, an implied right to do so has been inferred by school districts for many years.

The property in question was undeveloped land that belonged to the school district, but was not being used for any educational purpose. The school district entered into a lease that permitted the tenant to use the property as a multi-sport park. Under the terms of the lease, the school district originally had no right to enter the property. However, the lease was later amended to state that the district had the right to use the improvements to the property on scheduled school days during school hours. A dispute arose between the school district and the tenant and the tenant filed a grievance, arguing that the school district had to let her out of the lease because school districts were not permitted to lease property. The board of trustees denied the grievance and it was appealed to the commissioner of education.

The commissioner of education ruled that school districts do have the authority to lease property, so long as the lease does not interfere with the district’s use of the property for school purposes. In this case, because the school district’s ability to use the property was actually enhanced when the lease was amended, the tenant was not able to prove that the lease interfered with the ability’s to use the property for school purposes.