CEO 86-58 -- July 24, 1986
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER EMPLOYED AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION COORDINATING COUNCIL
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a school board member to be employed as the executive director of the county's coordinating council for vocational education, adult general education, and community instructional services. As the coordinating council is not doing business with or subject to the regulation of the school board, but is responsible generally for reviewing and coordinating programs between the local junior college and the school district, Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, would not be applicable. CEO's 84-27 and 81-19 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a school board member to be employed as the executive director of the region's coordinating council for vocational education, adult general education, and community instructional services?
Your question is answered in the negative.
Through your letter of inquiry and additional correspondence, we have been advised that .... is employed as the Executive Director for the Palm Beach County Coordinating Council for Vocational Education, Adult General Education, and Community Instructional Services. You also advise that she is a candidate for election to the County School Board. The Executive Director serves as staff to the Council and is responsible for preparing recommendations for action by the Council, for developing reports for the Council, for preparing annual and five-year plans for vocational education of the Palm Beach County Schools and Palm Beach Junior College, and for reviewing and signing vocational funding requests.
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 (1985).]
Although this provision does not prohibit a public employee from holding public office, it does contain limitations on the employment which a public officer may have. See CEO 84-27 and CEO 81-19. Therefore, we address your question from the perspective of whether employment as executive director of a coordinating council conflicts with the duties of a school board member, rather than from the opposite perspective.
Section 112.313(7) first prohibits a school board member from having any employment with an agency which is doing business with the school board or which is subject to the regulation of the school board. We have been advised that there are no contractual agreements between the School Board and the Council. We have described the powers and duties of the coordinating councils in a previous opinion, CEO 84-38, in which we found that members of the councils are required to file financial disclosure. It is apparent that the Coordinating Council is not doing business with or subject to the regulation of the School Board. Rather, the Coordinating Council generally is responsible for reviewing and coordinating vocational education, adult education, and community instructional programs between the local junior college and the School District.
Nor do we find that employment as Executive Director of the Council would create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict with the duties of a School Board member or would impede the full and faithful discharge of a School Board member's duties, in violation of the second portion of Section 112.313(7). Although an occasional conflict may arise for the Executive Director because of the Council's authority regarding the School Board's programs, as noted above, Section 112.313(7) does not address conflicts of interest from this perspective. As conflicts of interest on the part of the Executive Director arising from service on the School Board are not addressed by the law, this would be a matter within the responsibility and for the consideration of the Coordinating Council.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees would be created were the subject Coordinating Council Executive Director to serve on the County School Board.