Thursday, January 24, 2013

BOE follows code of ethics

Over the last few weeks we have examined the role of the Oconee County Board of Education (BOE).  Board of education policy, along with state law, dictates the standards of action and accountability for our board members.  To further examine these standards, we have reviewed policies dealing with compensation, election, selection of leadership positions, and the role of the BOE as it relates to the role of the superintendent. 

Today, we will examine the code of ethics that board members must follow. This six-page document is known as Board Policy BH and states, “The Oconee County Board of Education desires to operate in the most ethical and conscientious manner possible.” Board Policy BH is divided into seven domains, with two additional sections, and fifty-six specific and direct points or standards.  The domains are governance structure, strategic planning, board and community relations, policy development, board meetings, personnel, and financial governance.  The two additional sections focus on conduct of a board member as it relates to the conflict of interest provisions and to the entire code of ethics. 

As you can tell from the specificity and length of the policy, BOE members take their roles and responsibilities very seriously. While this five hundred-word column does not allow for a comprehensive review of the entire code of ethics, the policy is online for your review at any point.  I would encourage you to read the document.  Each BOE member has done so and has signed a pledge to uphold the code of ethics as written.

Board Policy BH states in part that:  

Each member of the Oconee County Board of Education agrees that he or she will:

Recognize that the authority of the board rests only with the board as a whole and not with individual board members and act accordingly.

Not undermine the authority of the local superintendent or intrude into responsibilities that properly belong to the local superintendent or school administration, including such functions as hiring, transferring or dismissing employees.

Participate in all planning activities to develop the vision and goals of the board and the school system.

Work with the board and the local superintendent to ensure prudent and accountable uses of the resources of the school system.

Seek regular and systemic communications among the board and students, staff and the community.

Maintain the confidentiality of all discussions and other matters pertaining to the board and the school system during any executive session of the board.

Make decisions in accordance with the interests of the school system as a whole and not any particular segment thereof.

Refrain from using the position of board member for personal or partisan gain to benefit any person or entity over the interest of the school system.

The standards shared reflect only a small portion of the code of ethics that must be signed each year by BOE members. Yet, this sampling hopefully illustrates the importance and detail of those ethical standards. 

Let me know your thoughts at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.

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