Skip to main content

Merit System


The Merit System is a system of rules and procedures similar to civil service, which governs classified school personnel. Its fundamental purpose is to insure that employees are selected, promoted, and retained without favoritism or prejudice, on the basis of merit and fitness. In merit system school districts in California the system is administered by the Personnel Commission, an independent body composed of three persons appointed for three-year staggered terms.

Merit systems have come to mean a broad program of personnel management activities. 

The Principles of the Merit System

  • Recruit from all segments of society and select and advance on the basis of relative ability, knowledge and skill under fair and open competition.
  • Fair and Equitable treatment in all personnel management, without regard to politics, race, religion, national origin, gender, material status, physical ability, age, sexual orientation and with proper regard for individual privacy and constitutional rights.
  • Equal pay for equal work of equal value, considering rates paid by private employers, with incentives and recognition for excellent performance.
  • High standards of integrity and conduct and concern for the public interest.
  • Efficient and effective use of the workforce.
  • Retention of employees who perform well, correction of the performance of those whose work in inadequate and separation of those who cannot or will not meet required standards.
  • Improved performance through effective education and training.
  • Protection of employees from arbitrary action, personal favoritism or political coercion.
  • Protection of employees against reprisal for lawful disclosures of information.

What the Merit System can do for Classified Employees:

  • Assures selection of qualified job candidates solely on the basis of merit and fitness through competitive examining.
  • Removes appointments to positions from the political arena or personal favoritism.
  • Assures basic stability and continuity in conditions of employment.
  • Provides for an ongoing system of classification, ensuring that employees are not normally and continuously required to perform duties outside of those required for the job without compensation.
  • Ensures that employees doing like work are classified the same and receive like pay.
  • Protects employees from arbitrary disciplinary actions through the right of appeal and a formal hearing before a non-biased body (The Personnel Commission).
  • Provides the classified employee with a great opportunity to resolve personnel problems since the Personnel Commission concerns itself solely with classified personnel.
  • Promotes equitable treatment for all classified employees, as individuals and as a group.
  • Provides for fair and impartial rules and consistency of administration of the rules.
  • Protects employees against coercion for partisan political purposes.
  • Provides for an open and neutral forum for classified employees' concerns.

What the Merit System can do for the Governing Board

  • Relieves elected officials of pressure group influence on appointments.
  • Provides centralized control of the salary structure, relieving the board of constant pressure for reclassification or individual negotiations of salary relationships.
  • Relieves the board of important details of personnel administration.
  • Allows board members to concentrate their efforts on educational issues such as class size, curriculum, policies, funding, etc.
  • Eliminates the questionable procedure of the board conducting appeal hearings on its own disciplinary actions.
  • Promotes good morale - thus interest and efficiency - among the classified work force.

What the Merit System can do for the District Administration

  • Provides a list of qualified job candidates based on merit and fitness for filling vacant positions.
  • Assures a sound professional personnel administration program.
  • Ensures accurate and up-to-date job descriptions for classifications.

What the Merit System can do for the Public

  • Ensures the most efficient use of taxpayer funds by providing the best qualified employees, selected solely on the basis of ability and knowledge.
  • Ensures that all applicants for positions are provided a fair and equitable opportunity to compete for positions by testing.
  • Provides for procedures whereby candidates for positions may review and protest any part of an examination.

MeritSystem page last updated on: 07/17/09