After months of discussion, accusations and in-fighting, the board finally voted on changes to its nepotism and conflict of interest policies Monday night, adopting both.
The changes to the nepotism policy passed unanimously, and the conflict of interest policy passed 5-2, with board members Terry Pavesich and Julia Beckman voting against it.
The conflict of interest policy reads:
The primary responsibility for knowing, determining the applicability of, and acting upon the conflict of interest provisions of the law rests with the Board member who faces a potential conflict.
It is the policy of this Board that each Board member should look to his or her own conscience and applicable law and regulation at the time a potential conflict arises to decide whether a conflict exists. The Board member should then decide whether he or she needs to declare a conflict or voluntarily refrain from participation on that topic.
When talking about the language of the policy, Nancy Kupka, who was on the policy committee, said lessening the integrity of the policy—a common criticism and concern since the process started—was never the intent.
“It's not the intent of the policy committee to lessen the integrity,” Kupka said. “We've restated there are multiple conflicts we as board members face. Several of us are parents, businessmen...we have multiple conflicts of interest and we're all taxpayers. Simply because I'm a parent [with a kid at ] doesn't mean I have to refrain from participating in a topic involving North.”
Before the board was able to vote on the policy, they first had to vote on an amendment proposed by Beckman, who suggested language be added giving board members the ability to call attention to perceived conflicts of other board members.
Board member Mike Davenport wasn't in favor of the amendment, a sentiment many shared.
“Far be it from me to know what's going on in the heads of others and just because I may perceive there to be a conflict doesn't mean there is one,” he said.
Further, board members, such as board president Bill White, felt the amendment created issues of semantics.
“I don't want to put the language [of the proposed amendment] in because it implies you can't [bring up perceived conflicts] without that language, and you can,” he said.
The vote went against the amendment 5-2 with Pavesich and Beckman voting in favor of it.
With the amendment rejected, the board was left to discuss and vote on the policy itself, and a familiar scene surfaced as the discussion quickly unraveled.
Pavesich and Beckman chided White and asked White to apologize for insinuating they were liars at the last meeting when they said White had spoken to them and voiced concerns Boyle would sue the district and White denied it. Apologies weren't given and White said he wouldn't “participate in debating what people interpret from conversations.”
Boyle, often the focus of the board in-fighting over the policies but rarely a participant, tried to set the record straight from her perspective.
“It would appear someone isn't telling the truth because those words never came out of my mouth,” she said.
The board eventually voted 5-2 in favor of the policy.
Said board member Keith Matune:
“I think the only numbers that count are the voters themselves,” he said. “Boyle ran with the entire public knowing she had a brother [that worked in district]. I ran with people knowing I'm part of a teachers union. I trust in the will of the voters.”
Despite voting against it, both Beckman and Pavesich said they were willing to support the ruling, and Pavesich said after the meeting her vote of “no” was more in protest with how the process was handled and less about the actual language of the policy.
"I'm not unhappy with the end result," Pavesich said.
After spending a decent amount of time on the conflict of interest policy, the board turned its attention to the nepotism policy and in short order voted in favor of it without conflict.
Officially, the nepotism policy now reads:
The Board will not newly employ in any capacity an immediate relative of a sitting member of the Board of Education or of the Superintendent.
No employee of the District, part-time or full-time, will be assigned to a position under the direct supervision of an immediate relative.
For the purpose of this policy, “immediate relative” includes father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, the legal guardian of any such person, or other individuals residing in the household. Immediate relative also includes all individuals who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the individuals listed in this paragraph (i.e brother-in-law, step-son, etc.).