SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER ETHICS
The acceptance of a code of ethics implies the understanding of the basic organization of school committees under the Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The oath of office of a School Committee member binds the individual member to adherence to those state laws, which apply to school committees, since school committees are agencies of the state.
This code of ethics delineates three areas of responsibility of School Committee members in addition to that implied above: (1) community responsibility; (2) responsibility to school administration; and (3) relationships to fellow Committee members.
A School Committee member in his/her relations with his/her community should:
- Recognize that stewardship of the public interest must be his/her primary concern, members will work for the common good for the people of the School District and not for any private or personal interest, and they will assure fair and equal treatment of all persons, claims and transactions coming before the School Committee.
- Realize that his/her main responsibility is to the students.
- Recognize that his/her basic function is to be policy making and not administration.
- Recognize that he/she is one of a team and must abide by, and carry out, all Committee decisions once they are made.
- Recognize that the professional and personal conduct of members must be above reproach and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Members shall refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of other members of the Committee, the staff or public.
- Recognize that members shall prepare themselves for public issues, listen courteously and attentively to all public discussions before the body; and focus on the business at hand. They shall refrain from interrupting other speakers; making personal comments not germane to the business of the body; or otherwise interfering with the orderly conduct of meetings.
- Be well informed concerning the duties of a Committee member on both a local and state level.
- Remember that he/she represents the entire community and/or district at all times.
- Accept the office as a Committee member as means of unselfish service with no intent to "play politics" in any sense of the word, or to benefit personally from his/her Committee activities.
- Recognize that members shall not take any special advantage of services or opportunities at Diman for personal gain, by virtue of their public office, that are not available to the public general (ex.: food, car repairs, printing). They shall refrain from accepting any gifts, favors, or promises of future benefits, which might compromise their independence of judgment or action or give the appearance of being compromised. Members shall not use public resources not available to the public in general, such as Diman staff time, equipment, supplies or facilities, for private gain or personal purposes.
A School Committee member in his/her relations with his/her school administration should:
- Endeavor to establish sound, clearly defined policies, which will direct and support the administration.
- Recognize and support the administrative chain of command and refuse to act on complaints as an individual outside the administration.
- Give the chief administrator full responsibility for discharging his/her professional duties and hold him/her responsible for acceptable results.
- Refer all complaints to the administrative staff for solution and only discuss them in Committee meetings if such solutions fail.
A School Committee member in his/her relations with his/her fellow Committee members should:
- Recognize that action at official meetings is binding and that he/she alone cannot bind the Committee outside of such meetings.
- Realize that he/she should not make statements or promises of how he/she will vote on matters that will come before the Committee.
- Uphold the intent of executive sessions and respect the privileged communications that exist in executive sessions.
- Not withhold pertinent information on school matters or personnel problems, either from members of his/her own Committee or from members of other committees who may be seeking help or information on school problems.
- Make decisions only after all facts on a question have been presented and discussed.
NOTE: As an expression of the standards of conduct for members expected by Diman, the Code of Ethics is intended to be self-enforcing. It therefore becomes most effective when members are thoroughly familiar with it and embrace its provisions.
For this reason, ethical standards shall be included in the regular orientations for new Committee members at Diman. Members entering office shall sign a statement affirming that they read and understood the Diman Code of Ethics.
The Diman Code of Ethics expresses standards of ethical conduct expected for members of the Diman School Committee. Members themselves have the primary responsibility to assure that ethical standards are understood and met, and that the public can continue to have full confidence in the integrity of government.
NOTE: All members of the School Committee recognize their duties and responsibilities under Chapter 28A of the Massachusetts General Laws concerning conduct of public officials and employees.