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Unofficial Opinion 99-7

Unofficial Opinion 99-7

October 15, 1999
To: 

Representative
District 158

Re: 

Members of a county board of education may be employed by a separate school system even if the county board of education contracts with that system for use of its middle and high schools.

You have asked whether members of a county school board can be employed in a separate school system where the board contracts with the separate school system for use of its middle and high schools. In my opinion, there is no prohibition on a member of one school board being employed by a second, separate and distinct school board unless a conflict arises by local law or circumstance. Georgia law prohibits a school board from employing its own members. Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 20-2-51(c) provides that “[n]o person employed by a local board of education shall be eligible to serve as a member of that board of education.” However, there is no prohibition on board members working for a separate and distinct school board.

It is possible, however, that dual service as an educator for one school board and a member of another school board could produce a conflict of interest. The test for determining if such a conflict exists is to determine if the duties of the two offices are incompatible. 1976 Op. Att’y Gen. p. 355, 365 “Conflicts of Interest of Public Officers, Employees and Agents;” 1999 Op. Att’y Gen. U99-3; 1997 Op. Att’y Gen. U97-11.

In the situation you have described, the first board of education does have some involvement with the second board of education in that it contracts for use of the second board’s middle and high schools. However, the first school board does not determine the salary or benefits of employees of the second system nor influence how that system is run.

This office examined a similar situation in 1999 Op. Att’y Gen. U99-3. There, the issue was whether a teacher employed by a local board of education could serve as a county commissioner and as chairman of that commission. This office determined that although the commission did have a role in the collection of taxes for the benefit of the schools, “the ability of a county commissioner to affect the salary of any particular teacher is so indirect, it does not appear to constitute a common law conflict of interest.” Similarly, it is difficult to see how a member of one school board could have such influence over the running of a separate and distinct school system that it would create a conflict.

Therefore, it is my opinion that there is no prohibition on a member of one school board being employed by a second, separate and distinct school board unless there is a local law which prohibits such employment or there is some local circumstance which would allow that school board member to directly affect the pay or other conditions of employment at the second school system.

Prepared by:

REBECCA S. MICK
Assistant Attorney General