Role of Board Members
Your legal role is to do ONLY those things that ONLY the board can do.
Ask: Is this job/task/problem that needs to be solved anyone else’s
job/task/problem? If the answer is YES, then it is not the role of the
board or one or more board members.
ONLY THE BOARD MAY:
? Form contracts with employees
? Act to terminate or non-renew a contractual relationship with an employee
after a fair and impartial hearing (no prior knowledge or involvement)
upon recommendation of superintendent
? Reassign or transfer a teacher laterally, with superintendent
? Create ethics resolutions, as needed
? Enact policy for the school district
? Determine the vision for and mission of the school district consistent with
wishes and desires of parents and the community
? Expel a student
? Evaluate and employ or extend the superintendent
? Hear and resolve those employee grievances advanced to board level
? Approve the budget
? Approve expenditures
? Review the audit report
? Appoint to a school board vacancy
What to say when someone misunderstands the role of the school board,
and tries to involve you in something that is not your job:
“George, let me stop you before you tell me your whole story. My role as a
board member doesn’t allow me to solve problems like the problem you are
having with your son’s teacher. I have a lot of responsibility, but it is more
like being on a jury, and the law won’t le me get involved before then. Sounds like you need to take this problem to the principal, and then to the
superintendent. My role in employee discipline come in when all else fails
and there is a hearing for a termination or nonrenewal before the board.”
Key Ethics Definitions Administrator—superintendent, assistant superintendent, school district treasurer, business manager or other person directly
responsible for entity-wide purchasing
Note: for the purposes of ethics laws, school principals are
usually not considered “administrators” because in most systems
they do not make purchases for the entire district
Contract—agreement or transaction for purchase/lease/use etc. of
real or personal property or services
Note: this definition would include oral agreements or
understandings, as well as formal written contracts between
Family—your spouse; children; step-children; parents; parents-in-
law; your siblings; siblings of your spouse; anyone living in your
household or your spouse’s household; your agent or your spouse’s
Note: this definition does not include your siblings-in-law by marriage or nieces or nephews by blood or marriage or your
grandparents. “Agent” in this sense means someone who has
authority to act or transact business for another person
Financial Interest—5% or greater ownership, or
officer/director/trustee/partner or top level management, or
pay is based wholly or in part from transactions with school district
Note: excludes stock ownership of publicly traded company or
clerical or hourly-compensated employee
Apply the Definitions
1. John is a driver for the Acme Uniform Company, and a
school board member for The Do Right School District.
The Do Right School District rents uniforms for the
district’s maintenance and janitorial workers from Acme
Uniform, and John delivers them each week. John is paid
an hourly wage by Acme, and gets a turkey from Acme at
Christmas. Does John have a financial interest in the
contract between the school district and his employer?
2. Coach Fred is Do Right’s head boys’ basketball coach and
also serves as Athletic Director for the Do Right School
District. It is part of his job to place orders for all athletic
equipment and uniforms used by the Do Right School
District sports teams. Is Coach Fred an “administrator”
for the purposes of Arkansas ethics laws?
3. Marlene is a school board member for the Do Right School
District. Sadly, her husband became severely disabled last
year and has had to move to a nursing home. To make ends
meet, Marlene is considering renting a spare bedroom in
her home to the new youth director at her church, a young
man named Joseph Dunn. Would Joseph be considered a
member of Marlene’s family, for the purposes of Arkansas
4. The high school principal phones Speedy Heat and Air, and
asks them to make a service call on a malfunctioning
HVAC unit in his or her building. Speedy Heat and Air
sends out a service technician right away, and the problem
is fixed. Did a contract form between the school district
and Speedy Heat and Air?
Example: Ethics Resolution
(An ethics resolution is just a list of facts and reasons explaining why it is in the best
interest of the school district to approve an otherwise forbidden transaction or business
relationship, with a few “whereases” and “therefores” thrown in to make it look official.)
WHEREAS, Arkansas law provides that in limited and unusual circumstances, a school board may do business with a local business owned by a school board member, provided that the school board passes an appropriate resolution at a legally held school board meeting, with the interested party, Monica Jones, not present and not voting, and these circumstances and conditions exist and have been met;
WHEREAS, Jones Auto Parts is owned by school board member, Monica Jones, who
was elected in the 2005 school election;
WHEREAS, Jones Auto Parts is the only auto parts store located in Rural County, Arkansas;
WHEREAS, the next closest auto parts store is 30 miles away;
WHEREAS, it is a better use of school personnel time and resources to purchase
urgently needed parts for buses and school vehicles locally than to drive 60 miles round trip;
WHEREAS, historically, the district has made annual purchases of between $3,000 and $4,000 a year with Jones Auto parts, prior to Ms. Jones’s election;
THEREFORE, let it be so resolved by the Do Right School District, that the district may continue to do business as usual with Jones Auto Parts, provided that total annual expenditures do not exceed $4,999.99.
Don Jackson, Board President Mason Richards, Board Secretary
Today’s Date, this year
(kept on file OR sent to Arkansas Department of Education for approval, depending on dollar amount)
Other Provisions of Arkansas Ethics Laws
? Violation: Board members, administrators or employees who
use or try to use their official position to get special
privileges or treatment.
? Violation: Revealing confidential information gained due to
status as a board member, administrator or employee, or
using information for personal gain.
? Violation: Non-employee who seeks to influence board
member, administrator or employee to violate ethics laws.
? Violation: Administrator working for any business entity
that does business with Administrator’s own school district
(one year time limit after employment with district ends).
? Violation: Board member, administrator or employee who
accepts a gratuity or kickback.
? Consequences: criminal penalties and fines, loss of teaching
certificate or reprimand, board position vacant upon
Likelihood of Ethics Approval
? Getting local approval to do business ($5000 or under) with
board member or family member—Excellent ? Getting state approval to do business with board member or
family member (more than $5000)—Good; sometimes
imposes limits or approves for a limited time or for a limited
amount of money.
? Getting state approval to newly hire a board member’s family
member as a school employee—Poor.
o If there are multiple applicants for the position, highly
unlikely to be approved.
o Best situation for approval is unique skills or only
applicant after a good search
? Getting state approval to promote or give a substantial raise
($2,500 or more) to a board member’s family member who is
a school board member’s family member—Fairly good.
o Key here is to be able to present an objective business
case for giving the raise or promotion.