The outside ethics counsel has delivered the first of two or three reports on ethics complaints brought against the superintendent for her failure to disclose her affiliations with non-profits with business with the District in the proper and timely manner required by law.
This first report has to do with the superintendent's seat on the Board of the NWEA, the company that publishes the MAP tests the District bought.
The outside ethics counsel concluded that the superintendent "did not violate the ethics policies of Seattle Public Schools ("SPS") by being a member of the board of directors of NWEA and not disclosing that board membership before the SPS first voted on the NWEA contract." The ethics counsel goes on to write that, as a matter of best practice, the superintendent and School Board members should disclose their non-profit board memberships and refrain from participating in matters related to those non-profits, but that "the current SPS ethics policies do not require such affirmative disclosure."
The ethics counsel basically held that since the superintendent had no financial interest in NWEA or the contract, that she did not have a beneficial interest, as prohibited under RCW 42.23. The ethics counsel specifically chose not to consider whether the superintendent had a remote interest, as defined under RCW 42.23.040 (she did), because the ethics counsel does not believe that a remote interest is a prohibited interest.
The counsel writes "The remote interest statute operates as an exception to the prohibition on beneficial interests, and if there is no beneficial interest to begin with, the remote interest statute is inapplicable."
I simply disagree with that conclusion. I think that the remote interest statute stands as an equal with the beneficial interest statute, not as subordinate to it.
This conclusion is sure to be duplicated in the two following complaints that are so similar and hinge on an exactly analogous set of facts. They are only slightly more complicated because the superintendent included the NWEA on her disclosure and left the Alliance and the Council of Great City Schools off of it. Nevertheless, the counsel is sure to reach the same conclusion, that since the superintendent was not compensated by these non-profits, she has no beneficial interest in them and therefore none of this stuff matters - not the non-disclosure, not the participation in the decision to contract with them, none of it.
Aside from some tongue clucking about "best practices", the outside counsel basically says that the board's policies don't require the superintendent to disclose (apparently neither does the law, according to the outside counsel), so they weren't broken. One policy, F06.00 High Expectations, is held out for special ridicule.
Mr. Treat says that he intends to post these decisions on the district web site. I'm sure he will.