James E. Carver
Butler County Schools
P. O. Box 339
Morgantown, Kentucky 42261
Dear Superintendent Carver:
As the Superintendent of the Butler County Public Schools you have requested our
opinion regarding a potential conflict of interest issue involving a School Based Decision Making
Council in your district. Specifically, you ask:
Whether a teacher who is serving as an elected member of a
school's Site-Based Decision Making Council may remain a
member of the Council and vote for her son while he is a candidate
for the position of principal of the school.
KRS 160.345(2)(a) states that each School Based Decision Making Council shall be
composed of 2 parents, 3 teachers and the principal. When the principal position is vacant, the
School Based Decision Making Council has the statutory authority to select the principal from a
list supplied by the superintendent. KRS 160.345(1)(i). The council's decision is binding on the
The Kentucky Education Reform Act contains an anti-nepotism statute for school board
members in KRS 160.180(2)(i) and an anti-nepotism statute for superintendents and principals
contained in KRS 160.380. However, there is no statutory nepotism prohibition in KERA
prohibiting a School Based Decision Making Council member from participating in the selection
of the principal when the member's son has applied for the principal position.
Allowing the council member in question to vote for her son may constitute a common
law conflict of interest. OAG 93-33 contains an in-depth survey of legal authority on the issues
of conflict of interest for public officials. That opinion cites 67 C.J.S., Officers §204:
As a general rule, the term 'conflict of interest' refers to a clash
between public interest and the private pecuniary interest of the
individual concerned, and there is a conflict of interest when a
public officer votes on a matter in which he has a direct personal
and pecuniary interest. The interest which disqualifies is a personal
or private one, not such an interest as the public officer has in
common with all other citizens. According to some authority, in
order to constitute a disqualification, the personal pecuniary
interest of the official must be immediate, definite, and capable of
demonstration, and may not be remote, uncertain, contingent and
speculative . . . .
As we stated in OAG 93-33, the determination of a conflict of interest is a factual matter.
If the parent council member either financially supports her son or if the member is supported by
her son, then the interest would be sufficiently direct to disqualify the member from participating
in the selection process. Each case must be reviewed based on its specific factual situation.
Even if the council member does not have a legal disqualification, we believe that
allowing a school council member to cast a vote to select her son as principal violates the spirit
of KERA and has the appearance of impropriety.
Assistant Attorney General