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Saturday, November 20, 2010

We Now Have an Ethics Officer

In response to a recent audit the District has appointed an Ethics Officer, Mr. Treat. This is a new position. The District did not have an Ethics Officer before.

Now that there is an Ethics Officer, people can use Board Procedure F11.01, including this part:
C. Investigation of Alleged Violations

1. Any person may submit a written complaint to the Ethics Officer specifying one or more violations of these Guidelines. Complaints should be signed by the person or persons submitting them, but unsigned complaints will be accepted. If requested, complainant’s privacy will be observed where possible.

2. The Ethics Officer (or his or her appointee) shall be authorized to do any or all of the following: interview the complainant; provide an overview of the complaint to the subject of the complaint; interview and obtain a statement of facts from the subject of the complaint; identify and gather relevant documents; and identify other persons who might have relevant knowledge of the alleged violation.

Upon completion of the foregoing, the Ethics Officer shall prepare a Preliminary Report containing the results of the investigation and a recommendation as to discipline. The final decision with respect to discipline shall be handled like any other disciplinary matter, including the right to a meeting if discipline is proposed.

3. Any employee found to have violated any provision of these Guidelines may be subject to progressive disciplinary action.
So maybe there's somebody out there who wants to submit a written complaint about an apparent ethics violation. Maybe somebody out there knows of a District employee who violated the Ethics Policy F11.00. I'm thinking of a violation such as
It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that no school district employee may have an interest, financial or otherwise, or engage in a business or transaction or incur an obligation of any nature, that is in conflict with the proper discharge of the school district employee’s official duties.
or this part of the Ethics procedure:
District employees who participate in the acquisition of particular goods and services by the District shall not receive compensation for personal services rendered to or for any person or firm seeking to or providing those particular goods or services during the term of their District employment, unless information about the services and compensation is disclosed in writing to the Superintendent's designee and approved in writing by him or her beforehand.
Just in case anyone is considering submitting a complaint about the superintendent's undisclosed role with NWEA at the time of the MAP purchase, I would like to remind that person that when the superintendent disclosed all of her positions with non-profits, she neglected to include her seat on the Board of the Alliance for Education. The Alliance, as we all know, has a lot of financial dealings with the District and, so far as I know, the superintendent is STILL on their board. So is the President of the School Board. Hmmm. Could that be another ethics violation?

I don't know. It isn't up to me to make that determination. It's up to the Ethics Officer to decide that. But, in the absence of a complaint, the Ethics Officer might not act on it.

14 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to point out, the Ethics Officer reports to the Superintendent. Initially that was going to be it which is, of course, laughable. It got amended by Michael DeBell to be both the Super and the President of the School Board.

dan dempsey said...

Please read this:
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=42.23.040

..... As used in this section "remote interest" means:

(1) That of a nonsalaried officer of a nonprofit corporation;

......
None of the provisions of this section are applicable to any officer interested in a contract, even if the officer's interest is only remote, if the officer influences or attempts to influence any other officer of the municipality of which he or she is an officer to enter into the contract.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Apparently an ethics complaint has
been made against the Superintendent
regarding the MAP selection and her
undisclosed position.

gavroche said...

Blogger Melissa Westbrook said...

Just to point out, the Ethics Officer reports to the Superintendent. (...)


You're kidding! Then the "Ethics Officer" is useless, toothless and ridiculous. We need an ethics officer who is independent of and above the superintendent.

What if someone files an ethics complaint against the Superintendent herself? What's Treat going to do? Investigate his boss? How likely is that? (Archibald Cox comes to mind....)

By the way, was anyone else unimpressed with Treat's "tour de farce" legal explanations to the Board before the TFA vote? I think he gave the Board incorrect information which could land them in legal trouble.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

It's a real shame the Ethics Officer
cannot investigate the Raikes funded
gang of four voting for the Raikes
Foundation funded TFA.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Tour de farce", yes I'd call it that as well.

Not a lawyer myself but I wasn't buying what he was selling. He's following the MGJ time-honored "talk fast and say nothing" method of conveying non-information.

The Board is pretty much indemnified from legal action (except maybe for malfeasance or actions that are specific to their legal role) but if district legal counsel gives them a legal opinion, that's an easy "not my fault".

That Arne Duncan is the main culprit in the CA 9th Circuit Court action is of no interest to me and should not be used to wave off legal issues to SPS. Again, not a lawyer, so perhaps Mr. Treat was being very specific as to how this particular case wouldn't work in WA state but he brought in how it's about Arne Duncan and even if it went to the Supreme Court, blah, blah. I missed the point.

Again, the district doesn't do well in big cases. (And, if you heard the lawyer they hired for the Supreme Court case over the racial tiebreaker, you'd know why. First rule of the Supreme Court; answer the question you are asked.)

And also again, I don't care what the other districts are doing. I care what MY district is doing and it better be minding its legal Ps and Qs.

Good One said...

I'd like an ethics investigation around DeBell and MGJ sitting on Alliance For Education's Board of Directors.

The ethics report will be reported to MGJ and DeBell. Good one.

seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Not only the super and the Board pres on Alliance for Ed, but also all the partisan projects that group pushes through in the name of "helping" the District. The staffing. The lunches. The opinion papers. Yuck. The new A4E director, famously of NCTQ, has an agenda just like our super and this group should no longer have unfettered access to district HQ. Someone needs to lodge a complaint and get an ethics investigation going.

-skeptical-

Charlie Mas said...

Every so often I have what I call a "Jesse Jackson moment". They come when I hear myself say "Somebody ought to do this." and "Somebody ought to do that." After I have said these things a couple of times, the Jesse Jackson moment strikes and I realize: "I am somebody."

It is that moment that switches us from being a sympathizer to being an activist. The difference comes when you take action.

Taking action is the most powerful thing in the world and it is in your hand.

dan dempsey said...

Our Shakedown by these various organizations that are not grassroots but pose as such needs to be exposed.

More on the Shakedown

There is definitely a need for activism.

Anonymous said...

There has always been an Ethics Officer. It has always been the general counsel. And apparently, the last general counsel really wasn't very good at it. And of course, this general counsel is a nepotism hire whose whie is a philanthropic corporate ed reformer, so draw whatever conclusions you like.

Skeptical in Seattle

Charlie Mas said...

Could the misrepresentation of data - only 17% of high school graduates having taken the classes needed to meet college eligibility requirements - be the grounds for an ethics complaint?

Don't ask me; ask the Ethics Officer.

mirmac1 said...

I will submit an ethics complaint that the General Counsel misrepresented the facts behind the Ninth Circuit Court ruling at the November 3rd SB meeting. And it's on tape.

The Ethics Officer will get to investigate himself.