Earlier this week, Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office announced that an Ohio grand jury had indicted a former school superintendent for numerous violations of law. Among the violations were 13 counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract for securing contracts for a family member.
As new school board members prepare to start their term, inevitably the question arises as to when/if it is permissible for former board members to be employed by the district they served. Unlike more familiar situations which involve retired public employees seeking to be re-employed, board members are elected public officials.
Many board members question if they have a conflict of interest whether due to relationships, attempting to sell goods or services to the public agency they serve, or seeking employment with the agency they serve. Also, candidates for boards of education question whether they will have a conflict of interest if elected because of their current job or another public position they hold.
It has been said many times: 2020 has been an extraordinary year. Given the multitude of unique challenges that schools have met since the beginning of the year, it is sometimes difficult to focus on those laws that were in place before March 2020 and still affect school board members and staff.
On Tuesday, thethat it has made more than 400 , issued between 1988 and 2013, available on its web site.
The Commission issues three kinds of advisory opinions:
In January, the ESC of Lake Erie West (ESC), which was the sponsor of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), voted to suspend the operation of the community (charter) school. ECOT suspended operations and closed shortly afterward.
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.
On June 10, 2016, the Ohio Ethics Commission (OEC) issued Advisory Opinion No. 2016-01, considering whether a city council member can be employed as director of a nonprofit corporation that receives financial support from the city. While the opinion specifically discusses city officials, its conclusions also apply to elected and appointed school board and educational service center (ESC) governing board members.