For those who have ever been passed over in favor of a boss’ child, spouse or lover, you know how corrosive nepotism is to morale, and Dr. Metzler’s favorite expression, “The climate and culture of Timberlane.” Yes, we all know that nepotism is bad for the sound functioning of any organization, but the Timberlane Regional School Board apparently doesn’t.
On January 18th the board approved a revised Board Member Conflict of Interest Policy. It added a badly needed provision prohibiting board member business dealings with the district, but – despite my strenuous arguments to the contrary – it kept intact a wide open invitation to nepotism.
The board correctly added this prohibition: “A board member shall not have any direct personal and pecuniary interest in a contract with the school district, nor shall he or she furnish directly any labor, equipment, or supplies to the district.”
Let us hope that Kelly Ward, school board member from Sandown, will no longer be awarded any work or contracts with the district, no-bid or otherwise, so long as he serves on the board.
The board should also have prohibited nepotism, but when you hire the superintendent’s wife as a consultant, it is hard to impose common sense on other hires.
BOARD MEMBER CONFLICT OF INTEREST (as of 1/18/18)
As elected officials, school board members owe a duty of loyalty to the general public in protecting the school district’s interest. Therefore, the board declares that a conflict of interest is a personal and pecuniary interest that is immediate, definite, and demonstrable and which is or may be in conflict with the public interest.
A board member shall not have any direct personal and pecuniary interest in a contract with the school district, nor shall he or she furnish directly any labor, equipment, or supplies to the district. [New]
It is not the intent of this policy to prevent the district from contracting with corporations or businesses of which a board member is an employee. The policy is designed to prevent placing a Board member in a position where his/her interest in the public schools and his/her interest in his/her place of employment (or other indirect interest) might conflict, and to avoid appearances of conflict of interest even though such conflict may not exist.
The Board may employ a teacher or other employee if such teacher or other employee is the father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, or brother-in-law of the Superintendent or any member of the Board. Such a relationship will not automatically disqualify a job applicant from employment with the school district. However, the Board member shall declare his/her relationship with the job applicant and will refrain from debating, discussing, or voting on a nomination or other issue. The job applicant is expected to declare his/her relationship with the Board member as well.
This shall not apply to any person within such relationship or relationships who has been regularly employed by the Board prior to the inception of the relationship, the adoption of this policy, or a Board member’s election.
Marsh v. Hanover, 113 NH 667 (1973) and Atherton v. Concord, 109 NH 164 (1968).
Nepotism is a serious problem in Timberlane. So is the hiring of formerly elected district officials. The board should change policy to disallow the hiring of former elected officials in any capacity whatsoever in the district or SAU55 for 3 years after their elective service. Wake up TRSB. The “climate and culture of Timberlane” needs you to steer it straight.