The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public School System (CNMI PSS) was created pursuant to Article 15 of the CNMI Constitution, effective January 11, 1988, and 1CMC SECTION 2251 et.seq. of 1988. The CNMI PSS is the state education agency for pre-school, elementary, and secondary education programs for students ages six to sixteen, including special programs in early interventions for birth to three years old and children ages three to four in Head Start.

The Board is composed of five (5) voting members elected at large from the three senatorial districts of the CNMI and three (3) non-voting members appointed by the Governor. The five voting members consist of one (1) from the first senatorial district, one (1) from the second senatorial district and three (3) from the third senatorial district. The three (3) non-voting members consist of one (1) student from a public secondary school, one (1) teacher representative and one (1) non-public school representative.

The general education philosophy of the CNMI State Board of Education is to provide the opportunity to help children develop into happy, self respecting, understanding and contributing members of society and the highest quality education permitted by the system’s financial resources. The State Board of Education affirms the right of all students and staff, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or disability, to be treated with respect and to be protected from intimidation, discrimination, physical and harassment.

Prior to 1988 the CNMI PSS known as the Department of Education was under the Executive Branch of the central government. The first principal and superintendent of Education was William S. Reyes, followed by Jesus Concepcion, Issaac Calvo, Loran Kaprowski, and Henry I. Sablan. Beginning in 1989, the tenure of the Commissioner of Education began with Dr. Elizabeth D. Rechebei, followed by William S. Torres, Dr. Rita Hocog Inos, Dr. David Borja, and Dr. Rita A. Sablan.

The CNMI Public School System consists of twenty (20) school campuses: twelve (12) elementary schools; four (4) junior high schools and five (5) high schools. Kindergarten is offered at all elementary schools. The CNMI Public School System is sub-grantor of the Head Start program through the US Department of Health and Human Services. There are seven (7) Head Start Centers on Saipan, two (2) on Rota, and one (1) on Tinian that serves children age’s three to five. The CNMI Public School System also provides services to infants and toddlers (0-3) through its Early Intervention Program under Part C of the Special Education Program.