Through the month of December, we’re looking at the most common scenarios in which an incoming board member may have a conflict of interest.  Last week, we discussed individuals currently working and volunteering for the district (you can read that blog entry here).  This week, we’ll take a look at board members that have family members working for the school district.  In the coming weeks, we’ll look at board members that are employed by or own a company that has an active contract with the district, and board members that hold more than one public office.

Remember: OSBA attorneys cannot provide a legal analysis of the specifics for a board member, but we can provide legal information to help you determine whether you should speak with board counsel about a potential conflict.

Board members-elect with family members working for the district

Board members may not vote on certain family members’ employment contracts.  R.C. 3319.21 specifically prohibits a board member from voting on the contract of a parent or sibling.  Ohio Ethics Law casts a wider prohibition:  R.C. 2921.42 prohibits a public official from using their influence to secure authorization of a public contract for the public official’s family.  Under the ethics law, “family” includes parents and stepparents, grandparents, spouses, children and stepchildren, siblings, and anyone related by blood or marriage that lives in the same household as the public official.  Both statutes automatically void any contract a board member votes on in violation of the statutes.

While they may not vote on employment contracts for family members, board members are permitted to vote on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that includes a family member so long as the following criteria are met:

  • the board member’s family member is not a member of the negotiating team,
  • the board member’s family member is not an officer in the union, and
  • the board member is not covered under health insurance provided by the CBA.

You can read more detail about these restrictions in Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC) Opinion 2010-03.  The OEC's fact sheet on nepotism is also a helpful resource.

Learn more at the New Board Member Academies

Ethics is among the many topics that will be covered at OSBA’s New Board Member Academies around the state in January.  OSBA staff will be presenting sessions on Sunshine laws, boardsmanship, media relations and social media, policy, lobbying, finance, transportation, and labor management issues during the two-day workshops.  You can register new board members here:

Posted by Shadya Yazback on 12/11/2015