CEO 79-60 -- October 17, 1979
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER SELLING PRODUCTS TO SCHOOL FUNDRAISING GROUPS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.313(3), F. S., prohibits a public employee from selling realty, goods, or services to any agency of the political subdivision he serves. In CEO 75-196, it was determined that this provision would not prohibit a school board member from selling to school-related organizations which received no financial support from the school board or from individual schools and were not directly controlled by the school board or by individual schools. In CEO 78-22, s. 112.313(3) was determined to permit a teacher to sell to schools other than his own and to the school board which employs him so long as the materials sold did not directly relate to his public employment. Accordingly, a public school teacher would not be prohibited from privately selling products directly to schools in the district other than his own or to groups which would be controlled by or funded in part by schools other than his own.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were I, an elementary school teacher, to sell products to fundraising groups at schools other than the one at which I teach?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are employed as a librarian-media specialist at a public elementary school in Dade County. You also advise that you are a partner in a distributorship of household and cleaning products and that you would like to sell these products during nonworking hours to school-related organizations, such as P.T.A. groups, band patrons, and school clubs, to offer for sale in their fundraising activities. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that the distributorship would make a profit on products sold for fundraising, but the products would not be sold to organizations at the school in which you teach. You further advised that you, therefore, would not be professionally involved with any of the organizations with which you propose doing business privately.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent, or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. . . . [Section 112.313(3), F. S.]
In a previous advisory opinion, CEO 75-196, we found that this provision would not prohibit a school board member from selling trophies to school-related organizations which received no financial support from the school board or from individual schools not directly controlled by the school board or by individual schools. However, in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that since the groups you propose doing business with are not related to your school, you were unaware of whether they received funds from or were directly controlled by the Dade County School Board or individual schools in the school district.
In CEO 78-22, we advised that the above-quoted provision would permit a teacher to sell to schools other than his own and to the school board which employs him so long as the materials sold did not relate directly to his public position. It is apparent that the products which you distribute are not related to your position of librarian-media specialist. Therefore, whether you sell directly to schools in the district other than your own or to groups which would be controlled by or funded in part by schools other than your own, such sales would not be prohibited.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would not prohibit you from selling products to fundraising groups at schools other than the elementary school at which you teach.