Does our board member elect have a conflict of interest? (Part 2 of 4)

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 d

Question of the week: Does our board member elect have a conflict of interest?

Hundreds of new individuals will begin serving on school boards in Ohio next month.  The legal hotline has received several questions about conflicts of interest for incoming members.  (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.)

While it can arise in many contexts, we most commonly receive the question as one of four basic scenarios:

Can we offer our board members free admission to school-sponsored events, such as sporting events and music concerts?

Boards are generally permitted to adopt a resolution to grant board members free admission to school-sponsored events, but should be cognizant of the relevant ethics laws and the potential for appearances of impropriety. The Ohio Revised Code prohibits public officials, including school board members, from using their office to solicit or accept things of value from those parties they regulate or with whom they do business.

Financial disclosure deadline approaching

We're back from our brief technology-induced hiatus and, according to the calendar, it's almost time for financial disclosure statement filing. The Ohio Ethics Laws require certain public officials and employees to file annual financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission. The deadline to file the forms is April 15th. Who needs to file? All district treasurers, superintendents, and business managers must file the forms. School board members in districts with ADM in excess of 12,000 must file as well.