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What is Conflict of Interest for Rockwood Board of Education?

Directors for Rockwood School District's board of education are to assure all transactions of the district are ethical, open and aboveboard, according to the BOE's ethics' code. Potential conflicts of interest are to be handled in the following manner.

In response to an article published about the , one Patch reader, AnneT, posted the following question on Tuesday.

"I’m curious where we hold the line on conflicts of interest in regard to the upcoming Rockwood Board election? If a candidate in the upcoming election has worked for Rockwood or has a spouse that has worked for Rockwood, does that count them out? If a candidate has kids in the district can he or she really be allowed to vote on issues that directly affect their children's particular school? If a candidate or their spouse works for a company that does business with Rockwood, we count them out too, right. Good luck to any candidate running in the upcoming election, guess only those who have nothing to do or know even less about the district are allowed to run."

Smith said he agrees board members who are familiar with organizations from previous experiences do make conflicts more likely. "I have never said that I don't have a conflict, contrary to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial cartoon," he said.

"The problems arise if a conflict is not acknowledged and dealt with legally and openly."

It seems like a good time to clarify the Rockwood board of education policy, No. 0324, which governs these matters. The policy states the following verbatim:

Nepotism, Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclosure Board members shall not debate or vote upon the employment of any person to whom they are related within the fourth degree.* Provided the Board member does not debate or vote upon the employment issue, the Board may employ a person related to a Board member. However, the Board may not under any circumstances employ one of its members.

Members of the Board of Education will conduct themselves in a manner which complies not only with the letter of conflict of interest laws, but also in the spirit of those provisions. Board members will at all times make good faith efforts to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. If a situation arises which involves the potential for a conflict of interest, the individual Board member will declare his interest and will refrain from debating or voting upon the question of engaging or using the business entity in question.

*Conflict of Interest and Financial Disclosure Chart

 

0
SELF
OR
SPOUSE

1
 
CHILD

2
GRAND
CHILD

3
GREAT
GRAND
CHILD

4
GREAT
GREAT
GRAND
CHILD

1
 
PARENTS

2
BROTHER
OR
SISTER

3
NIECE
OR
NEPHEW

4
GRAND
NIECE
OR
NEPHEW

 

2
GRAND
PARENTS

3
AUNT
OR
UNCLE

4
FIRST
COUSIN

 

 

3
GREAT
GRAND
PARENTS

4
GREAT
AUNT
OR
UNCLE

 

 

 

4
GREAT
GREAT
GRAND
PARENTS

 

 

 

 


A husband is related by marriage (affinity) to his wife's relatives in the same way that she is related to them by blood (consanguinity), and she to his in the same manner, but the kindred of spouses are not related to one another. (A brother of the husband is not related to a brother of the wife, etc.)

Half relationship is the same as a whole relationship. Step relationship is the same as a blood relationship.

This policy was last reviewed by Rockwood board of eduation directors Aug. 4.

Additionally, Rockwood has a corresponding Regulation 0342, which dictates the nitty-gritty details straight from Missouri state laws about how board members must conduct themselves day-to-day. The regulation outlines contractual and business relationships; business entities participation; use of confidential information; acceptance of gifts; contact between vendors and board members; and financial interest statements.

For comparison's sake, click here to review the Parkway School District policy governing their potential conflicts of interest.

Smith said no board member has to disclose who calls and tries to influence them. "There are conflicts of interest on many, many boards of aldermen and school boards. They are acknowledged and dealt with by recusal and abstention," he said.  

However Smith emphasizes he disclosed his employment as a program manager with Glenn Construction in the paperwork required by the district when applying for the board of education. "When I was appointed to Rockwood's board in 2010, the board's directors and the teachers asked me about my relationship with the construction company," he said. "They were comfortable with it, and I thought pretty much everybody knew about it. It's part of who I am."

He said he also acknowledged his job during the most recent Rockwood board of education campaign period, and answered questions about it from groups and individuals.

So after all this year's rigamarole, what motivates Smith to still want to be at the Rockwood board of education table? He told Patch he "still enjoys it, believe it or not."

"I believe I have something to add to this board, and I think I'm good at it."

Smith referenced that he has experience with establishing board relationships with new superintendents twice before Bruce Borchers was brought into Rockwood. "Establishing a relationship with a superintendent is different than keeping one. I think it requires a particular set of skills, based on my previous experience with it, I believe I can assist the district and its students, particuarly in this way," he said.

Eileen Tyrrell December 26, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Anne: Please visit RS for RS blog @ rsdstakeholders.org and read the posted articles on a variety of issues beyond Mr. Smith. Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions is about helping Rockwood schools live within OUR means; keeping the focus on students and fiscal responsibility. We are about working towards real solutions and bringing the issues of stakeholders to the forefront. In October, Director Doell received a list of proposed solutions to Y13 budget cuts and we are meeting with Dr. Borchers in January to discuss stakeholder concerns and proposed solutions. Regarding being "anti-bond", to date the RSD Board of Education has yet to vote on putting a bond issue on a ballot in 2012.
Jim Nelson December 30, 2011 at 11:07 PM
The activities of the Rockwood School Board regarding Glenn Construction and former Board President Steve Smith are appalling in the extreme and recent effort to silence critics by Smith becoming a mere Director is laughable. The incestuous relationship between Glenn Construction and the Rockwood School Board has gone on for years and only recently revealed to the general public and the cost in efficiency and to tax payers is substantial. To my knowledge, Mr. Smith has never revealed or been asked to reveal his yearly income from Glenn deals with Rockwood; never revealed his contractual arrangement with Glenn; never revealed his percentage of income derived from Rockwood business. One might think such information is important in evaluating conflict of interest issues considering that Rockwood policy states “Members of the Board of Education will conduct themselves in a manner which complies not only with the letter of conflict of interest laws, but also in the spirit of those provisions. Board members will at all times make good faith efforts to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest”.
Jim Nelson December 30, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Regardless as the whether Mr. Smith recuses himself from certain discussions or votes, he has a long-time ally and supporter in now Acting Board President Janet Strate who has shown an unceasing ability to justify every outrageous act by the Board. One is a fool not to recognize that Strate’s close relationship and support for Smith does not end merely because Smith leaves the room during certain discussions. When recently confronted by concerned citizens about Smith’s conflicts she calmly said she didn’t know specifically what Smith does for Glenn. “It’s really not an issue,” she said. “He’s very knowledgeable, he’s very calm, he’s very thoughtful.” So much for looking out for Rockwood’s interests! Normally one would expect Patch to pursue Strate’s consistent lack of concern for serious mismanagement by the Board except that the Patch reporter on these matters, Julie Brown Patton, is a personal friend of Janet Strate. So much for conflicts of interest!
Julie Brown Patton December 31, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Jim Nelson, the information from Janet Strate provided in this article was what she read to everyone in attendance that night of this meeting. It's a matter of public record, and she appeared to be acting on behalf of the other board members. Feel free to ask others who attended the meeting. The purpose of this article was simply and solely to inform everyone that Mr. Smith's resignation of the board presidency had occurred. Thanks.
Jim Nelson January 02, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Jullie Brown Patton, this Board hired a superintendent who promptly engaged two former colleagues from Minnesota as consultants at $1,800 a day each for 17 days and later hired them as administrators at inflated salaries. The Post-Dispatch reported on the extraordinarily incestuous relationship between Glenn Construction Co. and the Rockwood School Board — no-bid contracts, the board's failure to even open sealed bids of competitors and the then Board president and now mere Director, Steve Smith, working for Glenn Construction as project manager. Glenn Construction has obtained $15.6 million in contracts over two decades. Is this Board asleep at the wheel or incompetent? Neither, they are willing participants and the legal term is "co-conspirators". When are you going to ask Janet Strate some hard questions?

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