Conflicts of interest discussed at S'side School Board meeting

With only three Sunnyside School Board members in attendance, and two being new members Miguel Puente and Rocky Simmons, Superintendent Rick Cole made a presentation Tuesday night to the board about their role as school board directors.

Cole outlined the specifics of ethical use of their position within the school district and the community.

According to Cole, board members may not use their position for financial gain, nor may they use their position to help hire family members to district positions.

Puente informed the board after Cole's presentation that his wife is a substitute teacher for the district, and while that's not expressly forbidden, especially now while there is a shortage of substitutes, it may become a conflict in the future, should the substitute teacher pool become larger.

"I really appreciate you bringing this into the public light," Cole said. "Because that's how we should operate."

Simmons, too, disclosed that his wife works as a secretary at Harrison Middle School.

Steve Carpenter, who was acting as the board's chairman due to the absence of Joanne Killian, told the two he was glad they brought those things into the public light.

"I commend both of you for these disclosures," Carpenter said.

After the discussion, Puente offered a motion to change the district's conflict of interest policy.

Puente didn't like the current wording, which did not require the board members to bring known conflicts to the board's attention.

Though the change wasn't on the agenda, the board unanimously approved the change, which will put the policy into a first reading.

The board must again approve the policy change at the January meeting to have the policy change take effect.


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