CEO 83-54 -- July 28, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER OWNING PRIVATE, POST-SECONDARY VOCATIONAL SCHOOL
To: Mr. Arthur Keiser, Fort Lauderdale
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were the owner of a private, post-secondary, vocational school to serve on the district school board for the county within which the school is located. Under the circumstances presented, the school is not doing business with, regulated by, or in competition with the school district, and therefore Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, would not be violated.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you to serve on a district school board while owning a private, post-secondary, vocational school located within the county?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are interested in becoming a candidate for election to the Broward County District School Board in 1984. You also advise that you own a small, accredited, post-secondary, private, vocational school located in the County.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
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. [Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes (1981).]
The first part of this provision prohibits a public officer from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is either subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, his agency. However, we do not find that this prohibition would apply to your situation. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that your school is licensed by the State Board of Independent Post-secondary Vocational, Technical, Trade, and Business Schools (under Sections 246.201- 246.231, Florida Statutes). In addition, you advised that your school does not do business with the School District in any manner.
The second part of Section 112.313(7)(a) prohibits a public officer from having any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. In this respect, we note that you advised that your school offers vocational training primarily in the area of allied health programs, such as medical, dental, and nursing assistant training, and medical, and dental laboratory technician training, as well as in the area of paralegal training. In addition, you advised that the School District does not offer any vocational programs similar to those offered by your school, with the exception of nursing assistant training. For this training, you advised, the School District is able to require a much lower fee; as a result there is a long waiting list of applicants for the School District's courses, with your school and other private schools in the area basically taking only the overflow of applicants for the School District's program. Therefore, you stated (and we agree), that your school competes not with the School District but with other private vocational schools in the area.
As there appear to be no substantial areas of competition between your private school and the School District, we are of the opinion that your ownership of the school would not present a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest or impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties were you to be elected to the School Board. Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to serve on the District School Board while continuing to own a private vocational school.