4.5. Board Members' Code of Conduct

  • First Reading: May 18, 2021

    Adopted: June 1, 2021

    Policy Title: 4.5. Board Members' Code of Conduct
    The board commits itself and its members to ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct, including proper use of authority and appropriate decorum when acting as board members.

    1. Members must demonstrate loyalty to the ownership, unconflicted by loyalties to staff, other organizations, or any personal interests as Parents or Guardians.
    2. It is the ethical and legal duty of all School Board members to avoid conflicts of interest as well as the appearance of conflicts of interest. “Conflict of interest” means a situation when a board member’s private interests, as distinguished from the board member’s interest as a member of the general public, would benefit from or be harmed by his or her actions as a member of the board.

    In order to comply with the obligations thus imposed, the Board and its members will adhere to the following standards.

    1. Board members will be familiar with, and adhere to, those provisions of Vermont education law which define School Board powers and govern Board member compensation and public bidding processes.
    2. A Board member will not take any action which is intended to give the impression that he or she would represent special interests or partisan politics for personal gain.
    3. A Board member will not use his or her position on the Board in any manner intended to unfairly promote personal financial interests or the financial interests of family members, friends or supporters.
    4. A Board member will not accept anything of value in return for taking particular positions on matters before the Board.
    5. A Board member will do nothing intended to leave the impression that his or her position on any issue can be influenced by anything other than a fair presentation of all sides of the question.

    Avoiding Conflicts When a Board member becomes aware of involvement in a conflict of interest as defined in state law or this policy, he or she will declare the nature and extent of the conflict or appearance of conflict for inclusion in the Board minutes, and will abstain from voting or participating in discussion of the issue giving rise to the conflict.

    Complaints of Conflict of Interest When a conflict of interest claim against a Board member is brought to the Board in writing and is signed by another Board member or a member of the public, and the Board member against whom the claim is made does not concur that a conflict in fact exists, the following Board procedures will be followed.

    1. Upon a majority vote of the remaining Board members, or upon order of the chair, the Board will hold an informal hearing on the conflict of interest claim, giving both the Board member and the person bringing the claim an opportunity to be heard.
    2. At the conclusion of the informal hearing, the remaining Board members will determine by majority vote to take one of the following actions:
      1. Issue a public finding that the conflict of interest charge is not supported by the evidence and is therefore dismissed.
      2. Issue a public finding that the conflict of interest charge is supported by the evidence and that the member should disqualify him or herself from voting or otherwise participating in the Board deliberations or decision related to that issue, as required by Vermont statute.
      3. Issue a public finding that the conflict of interest charge is supported by the evidence and, the Board member should be formally censured or subjected to such other action as may be allowed by law.
    3. Board members may not attempt to exercise individual authority over the organization. A Board member will do nothing intended to give the false impression that he or she has the authority to make decisions or take action on behalf of the Board or the school administration. As such;
      1. Members' interaction with the Superintendent or with staff must recognize the lack of authority vested in individuals except when explicitly authorized by the board.
      2. Members' interactions with the public, the press, or other entities must recognize the same limitation and the inability of any board member to speak for the board except to repeat explicitly stated board decisions.
      3. Except for participation in board deliberation about whether the Superintendent has achieved any reasonable interpretation of board policy, members will not express individual judgments of performance of employees, volunteers or the Superintendent.
    4. Members will respect the confidentiality appropriate to issues of a sensitive nature.
    5. Members will be properly prepared for board deliberation.
    6. Members will support the legitimacy and authority of the final determination of the board on any matter, irrespective of the member’s personal position on the issue.