CEO 93-9 -- April 22, 1993
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
D.H.R.S. EMPLOYEE INSPECTING CHILD CARE FACILITIES AND
TEACHING REQUIRED COURSE TO CHILD CARE PERSONNEL
To: Mrs. Carla J. Meeks, Sr. CYF Counselor, District 6, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (Bartow)
No prohibited conflict of interest is created under Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, were an H.R.S. employee who inspects child care facilities also to be employed part-time by a school board to teach a 20-hour course required of all child care workers. There is nothing to indicate that H.R.S. does business with, or regulates, the school board. Further, while students taking the course may work in child care facilities the employee inspects in her position with the H.R.S. District, the specific circumstances presented do not reveal a situation in which the H.R.S. employee would be tempted to favor her teaching duties over her responsibilities as a CYF counselor. Nor does it appear that she would be imparting information not available to the general public in violation of Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes. CEO 93-5 is referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, a Children, Youth and Families Counselor for a Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services District, to be employed by a county school board to teach a required course to child care workers?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the specific circumstances presented.
In your letter of inquiry and in subsequent correspondence with our staff, we are advised that you are employed as a Senior CYF Counselor with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, District 6, in the Children, Youth and Families Program. In that position you inspect child care centers licensed by the Department in the Polk County area, which you monitor for compliance with State and local regulations applicable to child care centers.
You question whether you may teach a 20-hour course to child care workers through the Polk County School District. This course, which all child care workers must complete within a certain period of time after becoming employed by a child care facility, consists of four modules covering State and local rules and regulations which govern child care; health, safety, and nutrition; identifying and reporting child abuse and neglect; and child growth and development. You advise that some of the persons attending the course could be child care personnel who work at the child care centers you inspect in your position with the Department.
The applicable provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees is Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, which 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 portion of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, prohibits a public employee from having an employment or contractual relationship with a business entity or agency which either is doing business with or regulated by her agency. The second portion of this statute prohibits a public employee from having an employment or contractual relationship which creates a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between her private interests and the performance of her public duties, or which impedes the full and faithful discharge of her public duties.
In your situation, there is no indication that the School Board is doing business with your agency, District 6 of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. Nor does it appear the Polk County School Board is regulated by District 6. Although you have indicated that the School Board contracts with child care providers for after-school programs in area schools, there, the provider, not the School Board, would be subject to H.R.S.'s regulation. Thus, it does not appear that a prohibited conflict of interest is created under the first portion of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, were you to teach the child care class to child care workers employed at facilities you inspect in your position with H.R.S.
Under the second portion of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, the issue to be determined is whether teaching this course would cause a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between your private interests and the performance of your public duties, or impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties. You have indicated that, generally, students sign up for the child care course many months in advance and do not know who their instructor will be until the first class. Further, the School Board employs several different instructors, who rotate to different school sites. You also have indicated that you do not register students for the class and, in performing your H.R.S. inspections, you do not monitor who has or has not taken the required course. Finally, you indicate that you would be paid hourly by the School Board, regardless of the number of students actually attending your class. Thus, it is our view that under these specific circumstances your being employed by the School Board to teach the 20-hour course required of child care workers while you also are employed by District 6 to inspect child care facilities which may employ these students does not create a conflict of interest in violation of the second portion of Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes.
Most recently, in CEO 93-5, we noted that Section 112.313(8), Florida Statutes, prohibits public employees from imparting information gained through their official position and not available to the general public. However, here, it does not appear that you would be providing information to your students obtained through your position with District 6 and not available to the general public.
Accordingly, we find that under these specific factual circumstances, no prohibited conflict of interest exists were you, an H.R.S. child care inspector to be employed by a School Board to teach a 20-hour course required of child care personnel.