In the April OSBA Journal, the ‘According to Law’ article discussed nepotism restrictions. The article’s focus was on Ohio Revised Code (RC) Section 2921.42(A)(1), which prohibits any public official from authorizing the employment of a family member or using his or her position to secure authorization of a family member’s employment. However, we’ve received some questions since then on superintendents making employment recommendations for family members.
While the Journal article was directed at Board members, employees are also subject to restrictions. As the article noted: “Practically, if his or her family member has applied for employment with the school district or ESC, a school district or ESC official or employee cannot take any action to get the job for the family member.” Legally, family members of ESC officials/employees can apply and be hired by district/ESC, provided the official does not hire family member or otherwise participate, in any way, in authorization of employment process. But, how can a district/ESC employ a superintendent’s family member since the superintendent has to make the recommendation (or nomination) to hire?
The Ohio Ethics Commission has concluded that a public official’s family members cannot work for the agency if the official is required, by statute, to participate in the employment process for his or her public agency. RC 3319.07(A) states that no person shall be employed as a teacher unless nominated by the superintendent and RC 3319.02(C) states that no person shall be employed or reemployed as an assistant superintendent, principal or assistant principal, or other administrator, unless nominated by the superintendent.
However, RC 3319.07(A) does allows a school or ESC governing board to designate another person, other than the superintendent, to make the nomination of a teacher for employment “in the event that the superintendent’s nomination would be a violation of [RC] 2921.42.” In other words, if a candidate for a teaching position is the superintendent’s family member, the board can designate someone other than the superintendent to manage that employment process. The designated person can then make the nomination of the teacher, if the successful candidate is the superintendent’s relative. However, the superintendent must take extra care not to intervene in the hiring process in any manner.