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NYS Comptroller


The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Protecting the Public’s Interest: A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 3 - Case Studies on Conflicts of Interest

Discussion of Situation 10

A member of a board of education of a school district also serves as a member of the board of trustees of a not-for-profit foundation that gives money to the school district. The gifts made by the foundation are formally accepted on behalf of the school district by resolution of the board of education.

Does this individual have a prohibited interest in a contract? Why or why not? Are there any other issues with which the school district should be concerned?

Because a gift is usually a voluntary transfer of property from one party to another without consideration, a gift to a school district generally does not constitute a “contract” within the meaning of Article 18. Because there is no contract, the school board member does not have a prohibited interest in a contract with the school district.

Other Issues to Consider:

The school district’s code of ethics should be examined for any pertinent provisions, such as a provision requiring disclosure, or a provision requiring the school board member to refrain from participating in the discussion and vote on matters relating to the not-for-profit that come before the school board. Even if school district’s code of ethics lacks such provisions, the school board member, to avoid even an appearance of impropriety, should disclose his relationship with the not-for-profit and not participate in school board proceedings involving the not-for-profit.

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