Before submitting the question of combining districts to the voters at a referendum, the cooperating districts must submit the proposed combination to the commissioner. The commissioner shall determine the date for submission and may require any information it determines necessary. The commissioner shall disapprove the proposed combination if it is educationally unsound, will not reasonably enable the combined district to fulfill statutory and rule requirements, or if the plan or modifications are incomplete. If disapproved by the commissioner, the referendum shall be postponed, but not canceled, by the boards.
A referendum on the question of combination must be conducted during the first or second year of cooperation for districts that cooperate according to section 123A.35, or no more than 18 months before the effective date of combination for districts that do not cooperate. The referendum must be on a date called by the boards. The referendum must be conducted by the boards according to the Minnesota Election Law, as defined in section 200.01. If the referendum fails, the same question or a modified question may be submitted. If the referendum fails again, the districts must modify their cooperation and combination plan. A third referendum may be conducted. If a second or third referendum is conducted after October 1, the newly combined district may not levy under section 123A.39, subdivision 3, until the following year. Referendums shall be conducted on the same date in all districts.