Times: School District drafts new ethics code to prevent conflicts of interest

The new Seattle School Board has drafted a new ethics policy to prevent that should, among other things, prevent conflicts of interest in school decisions.

Earlier this year, state auditors investigated whether former Seattle School District Director of Facilities Fred Stevens had used his influence to help his church, First AME, win the bid for the MLK Elementary building (now the MLK FAME Community Center). The audit determined he was not involved in the decision, but it also recommended that the district “establish a process by which its employees can document an official recusal for themselves whenever the possibility of a conflict of interest arises, whether that conflict is in-fact or appearance.”

From the Times:

The proposed policy, drafted by new district ethics officer Wayne Barnett, would replace a decade-old policy that officials classified as vague and noncomprehensive. In particular, the new policy would strongly enhance provisions barring conflicts of interest and retaliation for making ethics complaints.

And, for the first time, the policy would apply to School Board members and all district employees.

The policy would be modeled on the city of Seattle’s ethics policy.

Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, pointed to the conflict-of-interest provision as the most important change in the proposed policy.

“(The old policy) did bar you from misusing your position, but it didn’t bar you from participating in a matter in which you had a conflict of interest,” he said. “This does.”

The MLK FAME Community Center gym and auditorium are available to rent for free for youth activities. For more information, see the online list of tenants and space rental options.

4 thoughts on “Times: School District drafts new ethics code to prevent conflicts of interest

  1. darn, too bad this didn’t happen a couple of years ago. that building just sits there half-empty, when it could be thriving if the ENTIRE community were involved.

  2. …or it could’ve been reopened (and reimagined) to serve the “unanticipated” serge of school age children in our neighborhood. Surrounding schools are bursting at the seams. I shake my head at the folly of SPS who hasn’t learned the lesson from closing & selling schools like Queen Anne High school. How could *I*, a layperson, see what they could not?

  3. Agree that it’s too bad this didn’t happen sooner. We’re all paying the price–literally and figuratively–for poor oversight in the past.