CEO 90-51 -- July 27, 1990
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SERVING AS EMPLOYEE OF CITY
POLICE DEPARTMENT WHERE POLICE DEPARTMENT PROVIDES
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS TO COUNTY SCHOOLS AT NO CHARGE
To: Mr. Bruce A. Minnick, Attorney (Tallahassee)
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, does not prohibit a school board member from being employed as a city police officer, where the city is providing drug education programs to the school district free of charge. Intergovernmental relationships do not constitute "doing business" within the contemplation of Section 112.313(7)(a). In addition, "doing business" requires some exchange of consideration which is not present in the described circumstances. Finally, although the officer has direct involvement in the programs, she has no authority either as school board member or a police officer to determine whether the program will be funded or to which schools it will be provided. CEO 84-18 and CEO 90-47 are referenced.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a school board member is employed as a city police officer and where the city police department provides educational programs to schools within the county at no charge?
In your letter of inquiry, you advise that Donna Uzzell is a member of the Leon County School Board. She also is employed as a police officer with the City of Tallahassee. The Tallahassee Police Department funds and presents the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in County schools at no cost to the school District. DARE is a State-wide, intensive educational effort conducted under the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the goal of which is to combat drug abuse through education. Local law enforcement agencies are certified under the program to provide drug abuse educational services to the school districts. The program is provided to students at the fifth grade level. The subject School Board member is a sergeant in the Juvenile Unit of the Police Department. Her duties include coordination of the DARE program and supervision of officers assigned as DARE program instructors.
Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, provides:
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.
The first part of this section would prohibit the School Board member from being employed by the Police Department if it were subject to the regulation of the School District. Clearly the police department is not regulated by the school district.
The first part of Section 112.313(7)(a) also prohibits the School Board member from being employed with the Police Department if it is doing business with the School District. In CEO 90-47, we stated that "doing business" requires some exchange of consideration. It appears here that the Police Department is providing the program to the school district at no charge. In addition, in CEO 84-18 we stated that intergovernmental relationships do not constitute "doing business" within the intent of that Section. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the School District and Police Department are not "doing business" within the intent of Section 112.313(7)(a).
The last part of Section 112.313(7)(a) would prohibit the School Board member from having employment with the Police Department if a continuing and frequently recurring conflict were created between her duties as a police officer and her duties as a School Board member, or if she were impeded in her public duties as a School Board member.
You have not provided us with any information which would indicate that such a conflict or impediment exists. Since the School Board is not paying for the program, there is no indication that she could use her position as a member of the Board to benefit the Police Department. Although the School Board member is in charge of the administration of the DARE program, you state that the City Commission has made the decision to fund the program and that the School Board member has no authority to determine which schools will or will not be included in the program. Therefore, based on these facts, we do not perceive a conflict of interest between her position as police officer and her membership on the School Board.
You mention in your letter of inquiry that you are of the opinion that the School Board member is not in violation of the dual office holding prohibition by virtue of being a School Board member and a police officer. As we have no authority to issue opinions on the application of this provision, we refer you to the Attorney General should you desire an opinion on this issue.
Accordingly, under the circumstances described, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where the subject School Board member also is a police officer with a city which is providing drug education programs to District schools.