CEO 82-63 -- July 29, 1982
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO DISTRICT SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND SUPERVISORS
To: Mr. Robert E. Childs, Superintendent of Schools, Jackson County School District
As found in CEO 77-12 and CEO 80-43, public school principals and other employees of a school district are required to file financial disclosure annually only if they have the authority to make any purchase exceeding $100 for the district or any entity thereof. Therefore, the subject principals are required to file financial disclosure, since they have the authority to authorize purchases exceeding $100 from their internal accounts. However, district-wide supervisors who are authorized only to request a purchase by filing out a purchase order, with final approval being made by the central office of the district, are not required to file financial disclosure.
Are public school principals or district supervisors within the Jackson County School District "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure annually?
Your question is answered in the affirmative as to school principals, and in the negative as to District supervisors.
In previous opinions we have advised that public school principals and other employees of a school district are required to file financial disclosure annually if they have the authority to make any purchase exceeding $100 for the district or any entity thereof. See CEO's 77-12 and 80-43. We also have advised that the power to make requisitions or requests for purchases is advisory in nature and that persons with that authority are not purchasing agents subject to the financial disclosure law. See CEO's 75-115, 75-172, and 77-73.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that school principals and District level supervisors of the Jackson County School District are authorized to sign purchase orders in excess of $100. These purchase orders are processed through the District office and also are signed by the full-time Purchasing Agent. In a telephone conversation with our staff, the Deputy Superintendent advised that principals and supervisors within the District are authorized to fill out a purchase order which then is transmitted to the Finance Department for its approval, and then to the Superintendent for final approval. Thus, principals and supervisors can only requisition or request that a purchase be made; the power to decide whether to make a particular purchase is retained by the District's central office in these cases.
However, the Deputy Superintendent also advised that school principals do have the independent authority to make purchases exceeding $100 from internal accounts at their schools. These accounts consist of public funds raised on campus by school clubs and through gate admissions. Although checks issued from these accounts must be co-signed by one person other than the principal, it is the principal who has the authority to decide whether to make a purchase from these accounts.
Accordingly, as the school principals of the District do have the authority to authorize purchases from their internal accounts, we find that the principals are "local officers" required to file Statements of Financial Interests (Commission on Ethics Form 1, Part 1). However, as the District-level supervisors do not have the authority to make purchases, but can only request that purchases be made through the purchase order process, we find that these Supervisors are not "local officers" and therefore are not subject to the financial disclosure law.