A Capehart Scatchard Blog

School Ethics Act

Union Endorsement of BOE Candidate Not an Automatic Conflict

By on October 16, 2018 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

An individual served as a board of education member for an initial term. During his candidacy for reelection, the local education association and statewide education association decided to endorse the individual. The individual was reelected. Is this a conflict of interest and a violation of the School Ethics Act? Not necessarily, said the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) in Advisory Opinion A10-18 issued on June 26, 2018. The local education association (“LEA”) offered financial support to the individual, which he did not accept. On its own accord, the New Jersey Education Association (“NJEA”) circulated printed material endorsing the individual’s candidacy. The […]

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SEC Issues Advisory Opinion on Board Member Who is a Current Student

By on February 13, 2018 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

In January, numerous individuals took the oath of office to officially begin their service as a school board member. Potential conflict of interest issues are never ending. On January 3, 2018, the New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) issued Advisory Opinion 36-17 which addressed questions pertaining to a newly elected board of education member who is also a current student within the same school district. The individual in question is an eighteen year old, twelfth grade student currently enrolled in the school district. The individual also serves as the Senior Class President and is a member of the Principal’s Advisory […]

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Commissioner of Education Upholds Violations of School Ethics Act

By on October 10, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On September 11, 2017, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) affirmed six decisions by the New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) that various board of education members violated the School Ethics Act for failing to timely complete school board member training. These board members received penalties ranging from suspensions to reprimands. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-33 of the School Ethics Act requires, in relevant part, the following for members of a board of education or charter school board of trustees: (a) Each newly elected or appointed board member shall complete during the first year of the member’s first term a training program…regarding […]

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Appellate Division Upholds Findings of School Ethics Violations

By on May 24, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On May 22, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Lowell v. Smallwood affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s decision that a board of education member violated various provisions of the School Ethics Act (“Act”) for her dealings with a potential candidate for superintendent. Specifically, the board member violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (e) for acting beyond the scope of her authority and making personal promises. Felicia Simmons, Geneva Smallwood, and Corey Lowell were members of the Asbury Park Board of Education (“Board”). Lowell initiated a complaint with the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) asserting that Simmons and Smallwood violated the Act. Lowell […]

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School Ethics Act Violated Regarding Disclosure Statements

By on November 29, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

In November 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld three decisions by the School Ethics Commission that various board members violated the School Ethics Act for failing to timely file their Personal/Relative and Financial Disclosure statements. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25 and 26 require school board and charter school board members to annually file with the School Ethics Commission disclosure statements regarding their employment, financial interests, and sources of income. Moreover, these provisions of the School Ethics Act mandate that board members also disclose similar information regarding their relatives. Financial disclosure statements must be filed on or before April 30 of […]

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Interviewing Candidates is Beyond the Authority of the Board

By on April 1, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

Many boards of education have personnel committees in which one or two board members, in a limited capacity, participate in the committee. May a board member be involved in the interview process of a candidate seeking employment with the board? The New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“Commission”) advises no. In Advisory Opinion A31-15 issued on January 26, 2016, the Commission determined that a board member would likely violate the New Jersey School Ethics Act (“Act”) if he involved himself in the interview process of potential candidates. The specific provisions of the Act which would be violated are N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (d): […]

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Clarifying (Maybe) Who Can Participate In Negotiations

By on February 18, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

By: Kelly E. Adler, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Negotiations are a hot topic in New Jersey right now; specifically, which Board members can and cannot participate in negotiating with teachers, administrators and staff is a question Board solicitors are constantly fielding.  In an attempt to clarify this issue, the School Ethics Commission (“Commission”) released three separate Advisory Opinions regarding this very issue. The School Ethics Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24 et seq., governs New Jersey School Board members as well as school officials.  Generally speaking, the School Ethics Act prohibits school officials and Board members from using or attempting to […]

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