School Ethics Commission Issues Advisory Opinions on Conflict of Interest In Negotiation Question

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The School Ethics Commission issued two opinions earlier this week related to conflict of interest questions for School Board Members who may have family that are members of the same union negotiating with the district, in another school district.

In its opinion the Commission found that absent, ‘evidence of additional circumstances’ the Commission did NOT find a Board member who has a relative who is a member of the same statewide union in another district would violate N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b) if the Board member participated in negotiations or voted on a contract in their district.

The Commission, in its opinions A11-15 and A16-15 urged Board Members to consider the following factors, ‘among others’ in determining whether a conflict exists:

  • Is the out-of-district relative an officer in the NJEA or local education association?
  • Is the out-of-district relative on the negotiating team for that district?
  • Does the out-of-district relative have some other leadership role in his or her union or district which may influence the outcome of negotiations in the other district?