CEO 87-31 -- April 23, 1987
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL PRINCIPAL SELLING REAL PROPERTY TO SCHOOL DISTRICT
To: Mr. Pascoe Gibson, School Principal, Santa Rosa County School District
A prohibited conflict of interest would be created under Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes, were a school principal to sell real property to the school district which employs him. In addition, it does not appear that any of the exemptions contained in Section 112.313(12), Florida Statutes, would be applicable.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a school principal, to sell real property to the school district which employs you?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are the principal of an elementary school within the Santa Rosa County School District. You also advise that your residence is located near the school property, and the School Board would like to acquire adjoining property to expand the school facilities. It is your understanding that unless additional property is obtained the Department of Education will not permit additional State funds to be used for improvements at the school. Therefore, you question whether you may sell your property which adjoins the existing school property to the School District.
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. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes (1985).]
This provision prohibits an employee of a political subdivision from acting in a private capacity to sell real property to the political subdivision which he serves. Were you to sell your property to the School District, you clearly would be acting in a private capacity to sell real property to the political subdivision which employs you.
There are several exemptions to this prohibition which are contained in Section 112.313(12), Florida Statutes. In particular, we note that Section 112.313(3), Florida Statutes, would not be violated if:
An emergency purchase or contract which would otherwise violate a provision of subsection (3) or subsection (7) must be made in order to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state or any political subdivision thereof. [Section 112.313(12)(d), Florida Statutes (1985).]
The business entity involved is the only source of supply within the political subdivision of the officer or employee and there is full disclosure by the officer or employee of his interest in the business entity to the governing body of the political subdivision prior to the purchase, rental, sale, leasing, or other business being transacted. [Section 112.313(12)(e), Florida Statutes (1985).]
You have not indicated any basis from which we can conclude that the purchase of your property must be made in order to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the School District, or that your property is the only property available to the School District for the expansion of this school. Therefore, it does not appear that either of these exemptions would be applicable here.
Accordingly, we find that a prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to sell your property to the School District which employs you.