Wednesday, June 30, 2010

School Board Policy and New State Rules Weak on Board Member’s Sales

One of our regular contributors has done a little research and come to a conclusion that is not surprising — our school board ethics policies are very weak on all fronts.  Below is the text from the actual policy regarding conflicts of interest.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

In order to avoid conflict of interest, the following guidelines for Board members shall apply:

  1. No Board member shall sell supplies or equipment to the Board.
  2. The Board may not employ one of its members for any position in the school system.
  3. The Board shall not do business with a partnership or corporation partially owned by a Board member.
  4. A Board member shall not sell insurance to the Board.
  5. School book publishers and their agents are precluded from Board membership.
  6. No Board member may have a financial interest in school buses, bus equipment or supplies, provide services for buses owned by the Board, or sell gasoline to the Board from a corporation in which the Board member is a shareholder.
  7. No Board member shall serve on the governing body of private educational institutions.
  8. No Board member shall hold another county public office.
  9. No Board member may be employed by the State Department of Education or serve concurrently as a member of the State Board of Education.
  10. The Board may not do business with a bank or financial institution where a Board member is an employee, stock holder, director or officer when such member owns 30 percent or more stock in that institution.

To elaborate on item #1 - Here's the state code: (Which prohibits selling equipment or supplies not necessarily selling pizza or uniforms, etc. It still seems a bit vague.)

20-2-505.
(a) No member of any county board of education in this state shall sell to any county board any supplies or equipment used, consumed, or necessary in the operation of any public school in this state.
(b) Any member of any county board violating subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

For more Georgia code click here.

New School Board Policies approved April 12 by DCSS BOE—Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policies
--There were no changes to the Ethics Policy or Conflict of Interest Policy pertaining to similar sales to nonprofit organizations, schools, classes or teachers. The policy stands as stating that board members basically cannot do business with the board (interpreted to mean "schools").  However, there is no mention of booster clubs, PTAs, etc and no mention of other employees doing business with those groups.

Applicable items SB 84—Passed This Year

(3) No local board of education member shall solicit or accept or knowingly allow his or her immediate family member or a business organization in which he or she has an interest to solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment, or other thing of value based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise, or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing that board member in the discharge of his or her official duties.
(8) No member of a local board of education may also be an officer of any organization that sells goods or services to that local school system, except as provided in Code Section 20-2-505 and excluding nonprofit membership organizations.

Proposed Levitas Bill (not pursued by the DeKalb Delegation)

Pertinent prohibitions sronger, but relatively weak:

(1) Engage in any business or transaction with or have a financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect, in the affairs of the DeKalb County School System which would result in a financial benefit, except for a financial benefit of a nominal or incidental amount, to the official, appointed officer, employee, or relative of such person or which would tend to impair the independence of judgment or action in the performance of official duties;

Advertise business and professional services to the school system or its employees for personal gain;

===

So, as you can see, the fox may be guarding the henhouse. We need to pressure our school board candidates to create and enforce a strong ethics policy. In fact, they need to rework and revamp all of their policies, which I believe the new legal counsel is already working on.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jay Cunningham, probably under the advice of the slimey Dwight Thomas, changed ownership of his company to his sister or sister-in-law. Wanna bet that Jay still runs the operation exactly as he did before? Of course he did. He doesn't have the personal ethics to not do business with DCSS, and with changing the ownership to a family member, he may legally be in the clear too. Sad stuff.

Anonymous said...

This is wrong. Board policy BHA prohibits board members from selling "supplies or equipment" to the board. This prohibits board members from selling to the school district as a whole (including schools), because all money flows from the board. Second, policy BHA prohibits the board (and hence the entire school district) from doing business with a corporation or partnership partially owned by a board member. Whoever "researched" these policies did not to a very thorough job.

Cerebration said...

Sorry. Guess this wasn't clear. There is old policy and I have found it and you are correct Anon. (FWIW, we all try to support each other here, and appreciate your input.) I will add the policy to the post. I think what our researcher was focused on with the board is that they did not pass new policy at the April meeting.

Insider said...

It's 5:00 PM on June 30. The Pat Pope era has officially ended! :-)

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Board policy and issues, did anyone go to the called meeting this morning? I tried to watch it on the internet but Channel 24 was not streaming it? Does anyone know if they have stopped the live stream?

Anonymous said...

They have never streamed called meetings, as far as I know.

I wasn't there but heard from someone there, so this won't be a complete report. They talked through the SACs stuff. Not much fuel for the fire, SACs is trying to help the board get their house in order. Policies need to be changed and the board will do it.

Talked through the steps of what is needed to find a new superintendent. Zepora would like to hire one in the next few weeks. (I am guessing she wants to make sure that whoever is hired will protect her children.)

Redovian said it must be an outsider and there was consensus from the board members who spoke.

Anonymous said...

If they aren't streaming meetings, what does DCSS staff and Philandra Guillory do all summer?

Anonymous said...

TO JUNE 30, 5:01 ...
PAT POPE GONE. Thank God. How could one person do so much damage? One day when it REALLY counts, she'll stand before the ultimate Judge for her deeds.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who actually knows Jay Cunningham knows he is a hard working parent who owns a small pizza business. How can you get rich off a pizza business. Jay has probably given away more pizza than pizza hut and dominos combined. Let's get some facts straight. Not all money come from the board. The school gets it's money from partners in education, booster club, pta, etc. Why whould they bypass a local business to go miles away for pizza. We are talking about pizza! Also, the word board does not imply schools. Someone is trying to make it imply schools but it does not. Jay Cunningham did nothing wrong. He has been a great community leader for those who actually has had the pleasure of meeting him. He owned that pizza store before he decided to run for school board. He is a great school board member and I support him. Keep your head up Jay you did nothing wrong.

Cerebration said...

That's exactly why the policy needs to be re-written to be absolutely clear, Anon. When the policy is vague, we will always have people who push the envelope and then create disagreement among those who are left to evaluate if it's right or wrong.

BTW - So far, no one has qualified in District 3 (Jay Cunningham's district), and Sarah Copeland-Wood has not yet qualified in her district (5).

Qualifying ends Friday, July 2 at noon.

Anonymous said...

Ella has qualified for Eugene Walker's seat. You go Ella!!!

Cerebration said...

Yes - and we have posted Ella's announcement letter on the Candidate's Link (Click on the VOTE box) -

If anyone else would like their letter or bio published here, please send it to us at

reparteeforfun@gmail.com

Good luck everyone!

Anonymous said...

Here's what Corey Wilson posted on the Candidate Page: But he hasn't qualified. Does anyone know if he's still running? I hope and pray to God that he is. He sounds fabulous!!

An announcement from Corey Wilson, District 3 --

Hello Concerned Citizens of Dekalb County, My name is Corey Wilson and yes, I am running for the seat for District 3. I am a product of Dekalb Co. School System and presently the PTA president of Oak View Elementary (past 3 years). I understand your concerns for our children and their future. My interest in a better Dekalb not only stems from my being a product but also because I have two young men that will be in the system for a long time to come. I look forward to talking to you and expressing my views to you in the months to come. Andi is correct; I did start the FBI (Fathers Being Involved) program at Oak View and will continuously work on implementing this program in other Dekalb county school. Back in Oct 2009, I filed my DOI (Declaration of Intent) with the Board of Registars of Dekalb County. I look forward to your support this Nov 2, 2010.

Ella Smith said...

It cost $540.00 to qualified. This is a great deal of money for individuals who are starting out and running for school board. I hope each of these individuals do qualify. It was painful to pull this money out of my savings account but I did it.

It is difficult for these young polticians starting out. I probable need to give them some guidance. There are also many forms that have to be filed out and you have normally a week from the deadline or you get fined. Celeb. when they all have qualified and we have their emails maybe I need to send the news ones an email and try to keep them updated on dates. Of course some old timers forget also about filing dates. It is easy to forget.

One form was due on the 30th and we have until the 8th to get it turned in.

Cerebration said...

This just came in from the Yahoo group -

Good Day to all Yahooer's: It is official, at 2:40 p.m. today, I (Corey E. Wilson) qualified to have my name placed on Nov 2010 General Election. I am looking to hold the seat on the Board of Education for the South Dekalb area. My campaign rest on 3 pillars: TEAMWORK, PROFESSIONALISM AND LEADERSHIP. All of these qualities are neccessary for our children to successed. I am a product of DCSS since 6/24/79 and am now bringing up two young men in the same area. I look forward to having your support in the upcoming months. Please feel free to e-mail me @ CEUUILSON@GMAIL. COM

Corey E. Wilson

Dist 3 Nov 2010

Anonymous said...

"Momstaxidp" you have given so much to the students of DeKalb. Someone is going to win your District's seat... is that person better than you?

Valerie said...

I am not understanding how hard everyone is coming down on Mr. Cunningham. I am a Parent of a 3 students in dekalb county school system. I have met Mr. Cunningham and have seen all that he has done for the students and schools in his district since he has been in office. Is he suppose to put a sign out in front of his business that says you can't buy from me is you are affiliated with any dekalb county school. I think we should stick to only pointing the finger at it if he is not doing right by the students and parents. He really cares for the system.
Mrs. Thomas