CEO 76-83 -- April 16, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE SEEKING ELECTION TO BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
To: Audrey Jackson, Co-Ordinator of Volunteer Services, Dade County Public Schools, Coral Gables
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
A public employee is prohibited from holding office as a member of the governing board which is his employer while concurrently continuing as an employee of such employer. Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(10)(1975). Thus, a county employee is prohibited from sitting on the board of county commissioners, and an employee of a school district is barred from membership on the school board of that district. A district school board, established pursuant to s. 230.01, constitutes the governing body of a political subdivision separate and distinct from the board of county commissioners existing under provisions of s. 124.01. Accordingly, the above-referenced provision of the law would not be violated by a school district employee's being elected to the board of county commissioners.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, an employee of a district school system, to be elected to the board of county commissioners of the county in which the employer school district exists?
Your question is answered in the negative.
We understand, from information submitted in your letter of inquiry, that you serve as Co-Coordinator of Volunteer Services for Dade County Public Schools. You contemplate seeking election to the Dade County Board of County Commissioners and wish to know whether, if you are elected, the holding of such office would conflict with your current employment.
The relevant provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees is as follows:
EMPLOYEES HOLDING OFFICE. --
(a) No employee of a state agency or of a county, municipality, special taxing district, or other political subdivision of the state shall hold office as a member of the governing board, council, commission, or authority, by whatever name known, which is his employer while, at the same time, continuing as an employee of such employer. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(10)(1975).]
The above-quoted provision prohibits an employee from holding office as a member of the governing board which is his employer. Thus, a county employee is prohibited from sitting on the board of county commissioners, and an employee of a school district is barred from membership on the school board of that district. In the instant case, however, the district school board which is your employer, established pursuant to Florida Statute s. 230.01(1975), constitutes the governing body of a political subdivision separate and distinct from the board of county commissioners, existing under provisions of Florida Statute s. 124.01(1975). Consequently, the above-cited prohibition is not applicable to the circumstances at issue herein.
The Code of Ethics further provides:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties . . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975).]
Inasmuch as the board of county commissioners, to which you seek election, does not regulate the school system by which you are employed, the above prohibition also is inapplicable to your situation. Furthermore, the holding of either position would not, in our view, impede the discharge of duties related to the other.
Accordingly, no conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would be created were you to hold office as county commissioner while concurrently remaining an employee of the district school system within that county.