GBC - Staff Ethics

Code: GBC
Adopted: Unknown
Re-adopted: 8/13/97, 2/12/14
Original Code: 5660
 

I.  Conflict of Interest

No district employees will use his/her district position to obtain personal financial benefit or avoidance of financial detriment or financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment for relatives or for any business with which the employee or relative is associated.

This prohibition does not apply to any part of an official compensation package, honorarium allowed by ORS 244.042, reimbursement of expenses, or unsolicited awards of professional achievement. Further, this prohibition does not apply to gifts from one without a legislative or administrative interest. Nor does it apply if the gift is under the $50 gift limit for one who has a legislative or administrative interest in any matter subject to the decision or vote of the district employee.

District employees will not engage in, or have a financial interest in, any activity that raises a reasonable question of conflict of interest with their duties and responsibilities as staff members. This means that:

  1. Employees will not use their position to obtain financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment from students, parents and other staff;
  2. Any device, publication or any other item developed during the employee’s paid time shall be district property;
  3. Employees will not further personal gain through the use of confidential information gained in the course of or by reason of position or activities in any way;
  4. No district employee may serve as a Board or budget committee member in the district;
  5. An employee will not perform any duties related to an outside job during his/her regular working hours or during the additional time that he/she needs to fulfill the position’s responsibilities; nor will an employee use any district facilities, equipment or materials in performing outside work;
  6. If an employee authorizes a public contract, the employee may not have a direct beneficial financial interest in that public contract for two years after the date the contract was authorized.

If an employee has a potential or actual conflict of interest, the employee must notify his/her supervisor in writing of the nature of the conflict and request that the supervisor dispose of the matter giving rise to the conflict.

In order to avoid both potential and actual conflicts of interest, district employees must abide by the following rules when an employee’s relative is seeking and/or holds a position with the district:

  1. A district employee may not appoint, employ, promote, discharge, fire, or demote or advocate for such an employment decision for a relative, unless he/she complies with the conflict of interest requirements of ORS Chapter 244. This rule does not apply to employment decisions regarding unpaid volunteer position, unless it is a Board-related position;
  2. A district employee may not participate as a public official in any interview, discussion, or debate regarding the appointment, employment, promotion, discharge, firing, or demotion of a relative. An employee may still serve as a reference, provide a recommendation, or perform other acts that are part of the normal job functions of the employee;
  3. More than one member of an employee’s family may be hired as a regular district employee.  In accordance with Oregon law, however, the district may refuse to hire individuals, or may transfer current employees, in situations where an appointment would place one family member in a position of exercising supervisory, appointment or grievance adjustment authority over another member of the same family.  Employees who are members of the same family may not be assigned to work in the same building except by the superintendent’s approval.

An employee will not perform any duties related to an outside job during his/her regular working hours or during the additional time that he/she needs to fulfill the position’s responsibilities; nor will an employee use any district facilities, equipment or materials in performing outside work.

“Relative” means:

  1. The employee’s spouse, parent, step-parent, child, sibling, step-sibling, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
  2. The spouse of the employee’s parent, step-parent, child, sibling, step-sibling, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

II.  Gifts

District employees must comply with the following rules involving gifts:

Employees are public officials and therefore will not solicit or accept a gift or gifts with an aggregate value in excess of $50 from any single source in a calendar year that has a legislative or administrative interest in any matter subject to the decision or vote of the district employee.  All gift-related provisions apply to the employee and their relatives.  The $50 gift limit applies separately to the employee, and to the employee’s relatives, meaning that the employee and relative can accept up to $50 each from the same source/gift giver.

  1.  “Gift” means something of economic value given to an employee without valuable consideration of equivalent value, which is not extended to others who are not public officials on the same terms and conditions.
  2.  “Relative” means:
    1.  The employee’s spouse1, parent, step-parent, child, sibling, step-sibling, son-in-law or daughter-in-law;
    2.  The spouse of the employee’s parent, step-parent, child, sibling, step-sibling, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

Determining the Source of Gifts 

Employees should not accept gifts in any amount without obtaining information from the gift giver as to who is the source of the gift.  It is the employee’s personal responsibility to ensure that no single source provides gifts exceeding an aggregate value of $50 in a calendar year, if the source has a legislative or administrative interest in any matter subject to the decision or vote of the district employee.  If the giver does not have a legislative/administrative interest, the ethics rules on gifts do not apply and the employee need not keep track of it, although they are advised to do so anyway in case of a later dispute.

Determining Legislative and Administrative Interest

A “legislative or administrative interest” means an economic interest, distinct from that of the general public, in any action subject to the official decision of an employee.

A decision means an act that commits the district to a particular course of action within the employee’s scope of authority and that is connected to the source of the gift’s economic interest.  A decision is not a recommendation or work performed in an advisory capacity.  If a supervisor delegates the decision to a subordinate but retains responsibility as the final decision maker, both the subordinate and supervisor’s actions would be considered a “decision.”

Determining the Value of Gifts

The fair market value of the merchandise, goods, or services received will be used to determine benefit or value.

“Fair market value” is the dollar amount goods or services would bring if offered for sale by a person who desired, but was not obligated, to sell and purchased by one who is willing, but not obligated, to buy.  Any portion of the price that was donated to charity, however, does not count toward the fair market value of the gift if the employee does not claim the charitable contribution on personal tax returns.  Below are acceptable ways to calculate the fair market value of a gift:

  1.  In calculating the per person cost at receptions or meals the payor of the employee’s admission or meal will include all costs other than any amount donated to a charity.

For example, a person with a legislative or administrative interest buys a table for a charitable dinner at $100 per person.  If the cost of the meal was $25 and the amount donated to charity was $75, the benefit conferred on the employee is $25.  This example requires that the employee does not claim the charitable contribution on personal tax returns.

  1.  For receptions and meals with multiple attendees, but with no price established to attend, the source of the employee’s meal or reception will use reasonable methods to determine the per person value or benefit conferred.  The following examples are deemed reasonable methods of calculating value or benefit conferred:
    1.  The source divides the amount spent on food, beverage and other costs (other than charitable contributions) by the number of persons whom the payor reasonably expects to attend the reception or dinner;
    2.  The source divides the amount spent on food, beverage and other costs (other than charitable contributions) by the number of persons who actually attend the reception or dinner; or
    3.  The source calculates the actual amount spent on the employee.
  2.  Upon request by the employee, the source will give notice of the value of the merchandise, goods, or services received.
  3.  Attendance at receptions where the food or beverage is provided as an incidental part of the reception is permitted without regard to the fair market value of the food and beverage provided.

Value of Unsolicited Tokens or Awards:  Resale value 

Employees may accept unsolicited tokens or awards that are engraved or are otherwise personalized items. Such items are deemed to have a resale value under $25 (even if the personalized item cost the source more than $50), unless the personalized item is made from gold or some other valuable material that would have value over $25 as a raw material.

Entertainment

Employees may not solicit or accept any gifts of entertainment over $50 in value from any single source in a calendar year that has a legislative or administrative interest in any matter subject to the decision of the employee unless:

  1.  The entertainment is incidental to the main purpose of another event (i.e., a band playing at a reception).  Entertainment that involves personal participation is not incidental to another event (such as a golf tournament at a conference); or
  2.  The employee is acting in their official capacity for a ceremonial purpose.

Entertainment is ceremonial when an employee appears at an entertainment event for a “ceremonial purpose” at the invitation of the source of the entertainment who requests the presence of the employee at a special occasion associated with the entertainment.  Examples of an appearance by an employee at an entertainment event for a ceremonial purpose include: throwing the first pitch at a baseball game, appearing in a parade and ribbon cutting for an opening ceremony.

Exceptions

The following are exceptions to the ethics rules on gifts that apply to employees:

  1.  Gifts from “relatives” are permitted in an unlimited amount; they are not considered gifts under the ethics rules;
  2.  Informational or program material, publications, or subscriptions related to the recipient’s performance of official duties;
  3.  Food, lodging, and travel generally count toward the $50 aggregate amount per year from a single source with a legislative/administrative interest, with the following exceptions:
    1.  Organized Planned Events.  Employees are permitted to accept payment for travel conducted in the employee’s official capacity, for certain limited purposes:
      1.  Reasonable expenses (i.e., food, lodging, travel, fees) for attendance at a convention, fact-finding mission or trip, or other meeting do not count toward the $50 aggregate amount IF:
        1.  The employee is scheduled to deliver a speech, make a presentation, participate on a panel, or represent the district; AND
          1.  The giver is a unit of a:
            1. Federal, state, or local government;
            2. An Oregon or federally recognized Native American Tribe; OR
            3. Nonprofit corporation.
        2.  The employee is representing the district:
          1.  On an officially sanctioned trade-promotion or fact-finding mission; OR
          2.  Officially designated negotiations or economic development activities where receipt of the expenses is approved in advance by the superintendent.
      2.  The purpose of this exception is to allow employees to attend organized, planned events and engage with the members of organizations by speaking or answering questions, participating in panel discussions or otherwise formally discussing matters in their official capacity.  This exception to the gift definition does not authorize private meals where the participants engage in discussion.
  4.  Food or beverage, consumed at a reception, meal, or meeting IF held by an organization and IF the employee is representing the district.

“Reception” means a social gathering.  Receptions are often held for the purpose of extending a ceremonial or formal welcome and may include private or public meetings during which guests are honored or welcomed.  Food and beverages are often provided, but not as a plated, sit-down meal;

  1.  Food or beverage consumed by employee acting in an official capacity in the course of financial transactions between the public body and another entity described in ORS 244.020(6)(b)(I)(i);
  2.  Waiver or discount of registration expenses or materials provided to employee at a continuing education event that the employee may attend to satisfy a professional licensing requirement;
  3.  A gift received by the employee as part of the usual or customary practice of the employee’s private business, employment or position as a volunteer that bears no relationship to the employee’s district employment;
  4.  Reasonable expenses paid to employee for accompanying students on an educational trip. 

Honoraria

An employee may not solicit or receive, whether directly or indirectly, honoraria for the employee or relative of the employee if the honoraria are solicited or received in connection with the official duties of the employee.

The honoraria rules do not prohibit the solicitation or receipt of an honorarium or a certificate, plaque, commemorative token, or other item with a value of $50 or less; or the solicitation or receipt of an honorarium for services performed in relation to the private profession, occupation, avocation, or expertise of the employee.
 

Legal Reference(s)

ORS 244.010 to-244.400
ORS 332.016
ORS 659A.309
OAR 199-005-0003 to 199-020-0020

OAR 584-020-0040

Or. Ethics Comm’n, Or. Gov’t Ethics Law, A Guide for Public Officials.