The School Board meets tonight in a workshop to discuss some organizational matters, including committee structure. Also on the agenda are MMSD policies pertaining to Board ethics. We’ll consider proposed changes to Board policies 1540 and 9000B.
Copies of the proposals are not currently available on the district’s website and we’ve received some questions about them.
Here is what is proposed as a revised version of Policy 1540:
School Board Ethics
The Board functions most effectively when individual Board Members adhere to acceptable professional behavior. To promote acceptable conduct of the Board, Board Members should:
- Recognize that the Board of Education shall act in the best interests of the community and its students.
- Attend all official meetings of the Board. If a Board Member is unable to attend a meeting, the Board Member will notify the Board President or Superintendent prior to the meeting.
- Review relevant information prior to meetings and be appropriately prepared to positively contribute to the discussion regarding the agenda.
- Exercise judgment in requesting information from the Superintendent and staff by, for example, weighing in mind the potential benefit of the requested information against the likely burden imposed on staff to assemble it, and by expressly indicating the priority/urgency of a request for information when submitting the request.
- Act on behalf of the Board only in quorum with other board members and refrain from speaking or acting for the Board unless otherwise directed by a majority of the Board.
- Base voting decisions on the Board Member’s independent judgment of the best interests of the district and its students, while giving open-minded and fair consideration to the views of other Board Members, and thereafter support the majority decision of the Board.
- Recognize that authority rests with the Board of Education and neither Board Members nor individuals will make any personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the Board.
- Respect the division of responsibilities between the Board as a policy making and monitoring body and the superintendent and administration as those responsible for implementing the Board’s policies and for the district’s day-to-day operations.
- Model the type of respectful, informed, and open-minded discussion and consideration of issues that Board Members would like to see reflected throughout all levels of the district and its schools.
- Conduct themselves at all times in ways likely to engender public confidence in the prudence of the Board’s management of the district and the quality of the education available to the district’s students.
The Board shall be responsible for the Board’s performance and will monitor and regularly discuss the Board’s involvement in continuous improvement and adherence to the Board’s Code of Ethics.
And here is what is proposed as a revised version of Policy 9000B:
Board of Education Code of Conduct
1. School Board members shall uphold their oath of office and comply with all laws and regulations applicable to the School Board and individual members of the School Board including:
a. Understanding and complying with the open meetings law, as set forth in sections 19.81 to 19.98 of the Wisconsin Statutes;
b. Understanding and complying with the Code of Ethics for local government officials as set forth in sections 19.41 to 19.59 of the Wisconsin Statutes;
c. Understanding and complying with the provisions of the criminal code pertaining to bribery, misconduct in public office and private interest in public contracts, sections 946.10, 946.12 and 946.13 of the Wisconsin Statutes;
d. Understanding and adhering to his/her duties as the custodian of the records associated with his/her individual elected office (e.g., communications sent/received as an individual Board Member), pursuant to Section 19.33 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
2. School Board members shall avoid conflicts of interest and should attempt to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
3. Unless authorized by the Board, no School Board member shall disclose confidential or privileged information. This ethical and fiduciary duty shall continue after a Board Member leaves his/her elected office with respect to confidential or privileged information learned during the School Board member’s tenure in office.
The Board may also consider revising the portion of Policy 9000A that requires Board members to file annual statements of economic interest.