Boards of Review: An Overview for All Ranks
This section first covers board of review procedures for all Boy Scout ranks. It is followed by "Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)," 18.104.22.168; and "Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank," 22.214.171.124.
Procedures for Sea Scout bridges of review, and several related topics, are much the same as those for Boy Scouting. There are some exceptions, however, as noted in the sections beginning with "The Sea Scout Bridge of Review," 126.96.36.199, and ending with" Appealing a Quartermaster Bridge of ReviewDecision," 188.8.131.52.
184.108.40.206 Purpose and Timeliness of Boards of Review
After a Scout has completed the requirements for any rank or Eagle Palm, he appears before a board of review. Its purpose is to determine the quality of his experience, decide whether he is qualified to advance and, if so, encourage him to continue the quest for Eagle or the next Palm. Because the board of review date becomes the effective advancement date, boards should be scheduled at least monthly so Scouts are not delayed in beginning time-oriented requirements for the next rank.
220.127.116.11 Boards of Review Must Be Granted When Requirements Are Met
A Scout cannot be denied this opportunity. When he believes he has completed all the requirements, including a Scoutmaster conference, it is up to the unit leader and committee to assure a board of review is held. Scoutmasters, for example, do not have authority to expect a boy to request one, or to "defer" him, or to ask him to perform beyond the requirements in order to be granted one.
18.104.22.168 Composition of the Board of Review
A board of review must consist of no fewer than three members and no more than six. For further specifications, see "Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)," 22.214.171.124, and "Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank," 126.96.36.199. Unit leaders and assistants may not serve on a board of review for a Scout in their own unit. Parents or guardians may not serve on a board for their son. The candidate or his parent(s) or guardian(s) shall have no part in selecting any board of review members.
Note the exception in Varsity Scouting. See "Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)," 188.8.131.52.
184.108.40.206 Wearing the Uniform-or Neat in Appearance
It is preferred a Scout be in full field uniform for any board of review. He should wear as much of it as he owns, and it should be as correct as possible, with the badges worn properly. It may be the uniform as the members of his troop, team, crew, or ship wear it. If wearing all or part of the uniform is impractical for whatever reason, the candidate should be clean and neat in his appearance and dressed appropriately, according to his means, for the milestone marked by the occasion. Regardless of unit expectations or rules, boards of review may not reject candidates dressed to this description; neither may they require the purchase of uniforming, or clothing such as coats and ties.
220.127.116.11 Conducting the Board of Review
Most adults would admit to nervousness if told they were to appear before a "board of review." Imagine how a boy must feel. A certain level of formality and meaningful questioning should exist, but it is important the atmosphere be relaxed. It may help if the unit leader introduces the candidate, and if a few minutes are spent getting acquainted. The unit leader may remain in the room, but only to observe, not to participate unless called upon. The Scout's parents, relatives, or guardians may not be in attendance in any capacity-not as members of the board, as observers, or even as the unit leader. Their presence can change discussion dynamics.
In cases where parents or guardians insist on attending a board of review (or in Sea Scouts, a bridge of review), they should be counseled on why this is not permitted. Their presence can change how their son addresses questions, and the opportunity to further self-reliance and courage may be lessened. However, if parents or guardians insist on being present, they must be permitted to attend.
In situations where—before a board is held—the members are of an opinion the Scout should be rejected, they should discuss their reasoning with the unit leader or others who know the Scout. Generally, a Scoutmaster is closer to the youth; he or she may be able to present a different perspective and prevent an uncomfortable or unfair scenario.
18.104.22.168 Not a Retest or "Examination"
Though one reason for a board of review is to ensure the Scout did what he was supposed to do to meet the requirements, it shall become neither a retest or "examination," nor a challenge of his knowledge. In most cases it should, instead, be a celebration of accomplishment. Remember, it is more about the journey. A badge recognizes what a young man is able to do and how he has grown. It is not so much, a reward for what he has done. See "Mechanics of Advancement: In Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting," 22.214.171.124.
126.96.36.199 What Should Be Discussed
During the review, board members may refer to the Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and other references. The Troop Committee Guidebook, No. 34505, has examples of appropriate questions. A Scout may be asked where he learned his skills and who taught him, and what he gained from fulfilling selected requirements. The answers will reveal what he did for his rank. It can be determined, then, if this was what he was supposed to do. Discussion of how he has lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in his home, unit, school, and community should be included. We must remember, however, that though we have high expectations for our members, as for ourselves, we do not insist on perfection. A positive attitude is most important, and that a young man accepts Scouting's ideals and sets and meets good standards in his life.
A board is not required to record "minutes," but it is a good idea. Any such notes must remain confidential to the members of the board or to administrators with a need to know. They may be used in preparing a follow-up letter, should a Scout be turned down, and they can be helpful in an appeal process. In any case, once a review or appeal is completed, all notes must be destroyed.
188.8.131.52 How Boards Can Lead to Program Improvement
Periodic reviews of members' progress can provide a measure of unit effectiveness. A unit might uncover ways to increase the educational value of its outings, or how to strengthen administration of national advancement procedures. For example, if it is discovered troop leaders are not assuring that all requirements have been met before Scouts present themselves for the board of review, then process improvements can be recommended. A board can also help by considering the style of leadership best suited to current circumstances and ways to adjust it to different needs. Note that boards of review may also be held for Scouts who are not advancing. Much can be learned from them, as well.
184.108.40.206 Board Members Must Agree Unanimously on Decisions to Approve
To approve awarding a rank or Palm, the board must agree unanimously. Every effort should be made to deliberate with careful consideration of each member's perspective, and in sufficient detail as to avoid factual misunderstanding. It is appropriate to call the candidate back if additional questions may provide clarification. Still, if any member dissents, the decision cannot before approval. In the case of such disagreement, the Scout shall not be informed about the specifics of the conversations or any arguments taking place. As indicated below ("After the Review," 220.127.116.11), he is told only how he can improve.
18.104.22.168 After the Review
If the members agree a Scout is ready to advance, he is called in and congratulated. The board of review date-not that of a subsequent court of honor-becomes the rank's effective date.
If a board decides not to approve, the candidate must be so informed and told what he can do to improve. Most Scouts accept responsibility for their behavior or for not completing requirements properly. If it is thought that a Scout, before his 18th birthday, can benefit from an opportunity to properly complete the requirements, the board may adjourn and reconvene at a later date. If the candidate agrees to this, then if possible, the same members should reassemble. If he does not agree, then the board must make its decision at that point. In anycase, a follow-up letter must be promptly sent to a Scout who is turned down. It must include actions advised that may lead to advancement, and also an explanation of appeal procedures. (See "Appealing a Decision,"22.214.171.124, or-if applicable-"Appealing a Quartermaster Bridge of Review Decision," 126.96.36.199.) The council must keep a copy of the letter.
After any board of review, the unit leader is informed of the decision.
188.8.131.52 Particulars for Tenderfoot Through Life Ranks (or Palms)
The preceding applies to boards of review for all ranks, but there are a few differences for the ranks other than Eagle, and for Eagle Palms:
- The board is made up of three to six unit committee members—no more and no less. In units with fewer than three registered committee members available to serve, it is permissible to use knowledgeable parents (not those of the candidate) or other adults (registered or not) who understand Boy Scouting's aims.
- For a Varsity Scout team, the committee member responsible for advancement, the advancement program manager (youth), and the coach serve on the board.
- One member serves as chair. The unit committee decides how he or she is chosen. The chair conducts review meetings according to BSA procedures and reports results to the unit advancement coordinator.
- The location should be comfortable, such as the unit meeting place, a camp, or a leader's home.
- The review should take approximately 15 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes.
- Ranks and Palms may not be presented until the advancement is reported to the local council through the BSA's Internet Advancement or on the official Advancement Report form.
184.108.40.206 Particulars for the Eagle Scout Rank
The particulars below pertain only to the Eagle Scout rank.
- Council advancement committees must determine—and make known—method(s) for conducting Eagle Scout boards of review: whether unit committees or the council or district advancement committees administer them, and also how board chairpersons are selected.
- If conducted at the unit level, at least one district or council representative must serve as a member. If the unit requests it, more than one may do so.
- There shall be no fewer than three and no more than six members, all at least 21 years old. They need not be on an advancement committee or registered with the Boy Scouts of America, but they must have an understanding of the rank and the purpose and importance of the review.
- A board of review may not occur until after the local council has verified the application.
- The chair works with all involved parties to schedule the date, time, and place. Eagle boards are often held in more formal settings than a home or troop meeting site.
- A board of review cannot be denied or postponed due to unresponsive references.
- If a unit leader or unit committee chair fails to approve an application, the candidate is still granted a board of review, but the lack of approval may be considered in the decision. See "Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances," 220.127.116.11.
- To go over the application, references, and service project workbook, members should convene at least 30 minutes before the scheduled board of review.
- Eagle boards generally last 30 minutes or somewhat longer. This is the highest rank a Scout may achieve; there should be a discussion of his successes, experiences, and future plans, but rarely should one last longer than 45 minutes.
- An Eagle candidate may have only one board of review. Subsequent action falls under the appeals process. (See "Appealing a Decision," 18.104.22.168.)
- The Eagle Scout medal or patch must not be sold or otherwise provided to any unit, nor should the court of honor be scheduled until after the certificate is received at the council service center from the national Advancement Team.
22.214.171.124 Eagle Scout Board of Review Beyond the 18th Birthday
- An Eagle Scout board of review may occur, without special approval, within three months after the 18th birthday. Local councils must preapprove those held three to six months afterward. To initiate approval, the candidate, his parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member attaches to the application a statement explaining the delay.
- To hold a board beyond six months after the 18th birthday, the candidate, his parent or guardian, the unit leader, or a unit committee member must petition the national Advancement Team for authority to do so. The request must explain the delay and how it was beyond the Scout's control. This must be processed through the local council and sent to the national Advancement Team with a copy of the application. A position statement from the Scout executive, designee, or council advancement committee must be included.
- It is possible for those who completed the requirements for the Eagle Scout rank in their youth, but never received it, to obtain credentials necessary for acquiring it. If a board of review was not held, one may be requested. In any case, all requirements must have been completed before age 18. Using the Belated Eagle Scout application, No. 512-076 (see 126.96.36.199), evidence of completion must be submitted to the national Advancement Team through the local council where the individual resides. An Eagle Scout Rank application signed at the time work was finished can serve as evidence of requirements such as active participation, Scout spirit, or positions of responsibility. Blue cards, advancement reports, or troop records may be used for merit badges. Because of their availability on the Internet, actual merit badges or sashes are not normally accepted. Once documentation is verified as complete and compelling, credentials can be released or permission granted for a board of review. Requirements in effect at the time of membership are used, but regardless the practices of the day, all must have been accomplished by age 18.
188.8.131.52 Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances
An Eagle Scout board of review under disputed circumstances is held at the district or council level. Volunteers from the candidate's unit are not involved. It is indicated when a unit leader or committee chair does not sign the application, if a Scoutmaster conference is denied, if it is thought a unit will not provide a fair hearing, or if the unit leader or project beneficiary refuses to sign final approval for what might be considered a satisfactory service project. See "Evaluating the Project After Completion," 184.108.40.206.
If a unit leader or committee chair does not agree a Scout has met the requirements, then before a board of review is held, he or she should confer with the Scout and his parents and come to an understanding of all viewpoints.Guidance should also be sought from the district or council advancement chair to assure expectations are not more than are actually required. If the leader or chair remains unconvinced, then they may deny approval of the Eagle Scout rank application. In this case, the application is returned to the Scout or his parent or guardian, who may then choose to request a board of review under disputed circumstances.
In any case, if a Scout or his parent or guardian has legitimate concern that a unit cannot deliver a fair hearing, one of them may write a letter explaining the reasons and request a board of review under disputed circumstances. The letter is attached to the completed Eagle Scout application and sent with the service project workbook to the council service center. The council advancement chair or staff advisor, or other designated volunteer or professional, then guides the process through the council or district advancement committee according to local practices.
It should be rare that a council or district would deny a request for a board of review under disputed circumstances. However, the request may be denied if it is deemed frivolous, or any concerns about the unit's inability to deliver a fair hearing are deemed invalid. In that case,the initial board of review must be held according to local council practices (not under disputed circumstances). If that board decides not to approve, the Scout may appeal the decision (see "Appealing a Decision," 220.127.116.11).
Procedures for a board under disputed circumstances are the same as for any Eagle Scout board. The members should be well versed in related policies and organized in advance so they can research background and facts. Written statements or telephone interview summaries must be obtained from the unit leader, knowledgeable committee members, a representative of the service project beneficiary (if applicable), and others familiar with the case. Every effort should be made to have balanced representation. Only review-board members and administrators with a need to know may see the evidence. The review is like any other for Eagle, but with extra attention to the concerns at issue. Afterward, all statements, summaries, or notes are sent to the council and then destroyed once any appeal efforts are concluded.
If a board of review under disputed circumstances approves a candidate, his application goes through the process as outlined under "The Eagle Scout Rank Application Process," 18.104.22.168. The board must attach a letter to the application indicating it may be processed without the signature of the unit leader or unit committee chair, the date of the Scoutmaster conference if it had been denied, or the date of the final Eagle service project signature if that was at issue.
22.214.171.124 Appealing a Decision
If a board of review does not recommend a candidate for rank advancement, only the Scout or his parent or guardian may appeal the decision to the local council. Cases in which a unit leader or unit committee chair refuses to sign approval on an Eagle Scout Rank application are no longer appealable. See "Initiating Eagle Scout Board of Review Under Disputed Circumstances," 126.96.36.199.
Adverse decisions for Star and Life ranks can be appealed to the local council. Should this occur, the national Advancement Team is available for advice. The National Council reviews appeals only for Eagle Scout rank. The lower ranks and Eagle Palms are not appealable.
All interviews, deliberations, conversations, and related details in summaries and statements are kept confidential to appeal-board members and those assigned oversight, such as the designated appeals coordinator or staff advisor. Others' knowledge should be limited to overview information as required for reports to advancement committees.
188.8.131.52 Filing and Processing an Appeal
- The Scout should have received communication from the board of review advising actions that could lead to advancement and explaining appeal procedures. To initiate the appeal, the Scout or his parent or guardian prepares a letter notifying the local council of the appeal. It should detail the reasons it is believed the Scout met all the requirements and should not have been denied. The letter is sent to the council service center, to the attention of the council advancement committee. The communication from the board of review mentioned above, should be attached.
- To assure all appeal requests are handled consistently throughout the council, they are first routed to the council advancement committee.
- The council advancement committee, through its chair or a designated member or its staff advisor, coordinates the appeals process. This designated appeals coordinator's primary role is to get the paperwork in the right place and orient and guide those who will hear the appeal.
- The council-designated appeals coordinator routes a copy of the request to the district or council advancement committee according to local practices. It is recommended that appeals of a unit decision go to the district, and those elevated from a district go to the council. This allows an additional step before the national Advancement Team is involved.
- For appeals heard by a district, the district advancement chair and district staff advisor (usually the district executive) must agree on appeal-board members. The council advancement chair and staff advisor have the authority to approve them (or to call for different members) should they believe this action will lead to more equitable appeals consideration.
- If the appeal is to be heard by the council, then the council advancement chair and staff advisor must agree on appeal-board members.
- There shall be an odd number of appeal-board members—either three or five. A board chair may be one of these voting members, or serve additionally with no vote. All must be objective volunteers with thorough knowledge of advancement and appeals procedures. The council-designated appeals coordinator may be present and provide advice. No other guests, including the candidate's parents or guardians, are allowed. If the Scout is being interviewed, and the parents insist on attending with him, see "Conducting the Board of Review," 184.108.40.206.
- An appeal board is not another board of review.It focuses only on the issues that brought about rejection at the lower level(s). A majority is sufficient for a decision.
- If an appeal is rejected at the district level, the Scout or his parent or guardian may appeal to the council advancement committee.
- If a council-level Eagle Scout board of review or appeal board rejects a candidate, then he or his parent or guardian may appeal to the national Advancement Team.
- A decision at any level, finding in favor of a Scout, shall be final. Units, districts, and councils may not appeal them. Decisions of rejection delivered through the national Advancement Team are final and may not be appealed.
220.127.116.11 Appeal Board Must Research the Case
To allow time to research background and facts, appeal-board members must be organized in advance. Written statements or telephone interview summaries are obtained from those with pertinent knowledge of the case. These individuals might include the unit leader and assistants, parent(s) or guardian(s), unit committee members, and, as applicable, a representative of the chartered organization or Eagle service project beneficiary. Every effort should be made to have balanced representation. Only appeal-board members and administrators with a need to know may see the evidence. If a face-to-face meeting with the Scout is impractical, extra care should be taken to collect information from his perspective. After the meeting, any notes are filed with the council and destroyed once the appeal is resolved. A written report setting out the details of the appeal and the reasons for the decision shall be prepared and forwarded to the council Scout executive. A copy is sent to the Scout who brought the appeal.
Appeals to be forwarded to the national Advancement Team are processed through the local council. A designated appeals coordinator combines, into a packet, the Eagle Scout application and service project workbook (if at issue); all letters, statements, and interview summaries; and any reports or minutes from the original board of review and appeal board(s) held. The packet is covered by a letter from the Scout executive (not designee) briefly summarizing the facts and stating the council's position.