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DEFINITIONS

For purposes of this policy:

1. "Professional Services" means services within the scope of the practice, as defined by state law, of: accounting; architecture; landscape architecture; land surveying; medicine; optometry; real estate appraising; professional engineering; or professional nursing; or provided in connection with the professional employment or practice of a person who is licensed or registered as: a certified public accountant; an architect; a landscape architect; a land surveyor; a physician, including a surgeon; an optometrist; a professional engineer; a state certified or state licensed real estate appraiser; or a registered nurse.

Gov't Code 2254.002

2. "Consulting Services" means the service of studying or advising a state agency under a contract that does not involve the traditional relationship of employer and employee.

Gov't Code 2254.021(1)

3. "Major Consulting Service" means a consulting services contract for which it is reasonably foreseeable that the value of the contract will exceed $15,000.00.

Gov't Code 2254.021(2)

4. "Other Services" means the furnishing of skilled or unskilled labor or professional work but does not include "professional services" or "consulting services".

Gov't Code 2155.001(2)

APPROVAL FOR AND INFORMATION ABOUT PROFESSIONAL, CONSULTING, AND MAJOR CONSULTING SERVICES

The Board shall approve all professional services and consulting services contracts when the contract cost exceeds $10,000.

In the judgment of the Superintendent, if a consulting or professional services contract that exceeds $10,000 is needed prior to the next regularly scheduled Board meeting when the Board would otherwise approve the contract, the Board delegates to the Superintendent authority to enter into a contract. In those instances where time constraints do not allow prior approval, the Superintendent will present information about the contract to the Board at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the Board.

Information concerning all contracts for greater than $600 but equal to or less than $10,000shall be provided to the Board without the requirement of Board approval.

APPROVAL FOR AND INFORMATION ABOUT OTHER SERVICES CONTRACTS

The Superintendent or designee shall approve all contracts for other services and shall present to the Board any information about these contracts that the Board so requests.

CONTRACTING FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

The Superintendent may not select a provider of professional services or a group or association of providers or award a contract for the services on the basis of competitive bids submitted for the contract or for the services, but shall make the selection and award:

1. on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualifications to perform the services and

2. for a fair and reasonable price.

The professional fees under the contract:

1. must be consistent with and not higher than the recommended practices and fees published by the applicable professional associations; and

2. may not exceed any maximum provided by law.

Gov't Code 2254.003

CONTRACTING FOR CONSULTING SERVICES

The School may contract with a consultant only if there is a substantial need for the consulting services; and the School cannot adequately perform the services with its own personnel or obtain the consulting services through a contract with another state agency.

Gov't Code 2254.026

In selecting a consultant, the Superintendent shall base the choice on demonstrated competence, knowledge, and qualifications and reasonableness of the proposed fee for the services; and if other considerations are equal, give preference to a consultant whose principal place of business is in the state or who will manage the consulting contract from an office in the state.

Gov't Code 2254.027

The School shall comply with the provisions of Texas Government Code, Chapter 2254 in procuring consulting services.

CONTRACTING FOR MAJOR CONSULTING SERVICES

Before entering into a major consulting services contract, the School shall notify the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning that the School intends to contract with a consultant; give information to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning to demonstrate that the School has complied or will comply with Gov't Code 2254.026 and 2254.027; and obtain a finding of fact from the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning that consulting services are necessary.

Gov't Code 2254.028

CONTRACTING FOR OTHER SERVICES

The School shall comply with the provisions of Government Code Chapter 2155 in procuring other services.

Adopted: 6/9/78
Amended: 7/13/79, 11/9/79, 3/7/80, 9/11/81, 1/14/83, 7/17/87, 1/29/93, 11/14/97, 11/22/02
Reviewed:

The Board may from time to time as it deems necessary create committees to facilitate the efficient operation of the Board. 

A committee that includes one or more Board members and has supervision or control over public business or public policy is subject to the Open Meetings Act when it meets to discuss public business or policy.

A committee that includes less than a quorum of Board members is not subject to the Open Meetings Act if it serves a purely advisory function, with no power to supervise or control public business.  However, should the committee actually function as something more than a merely advisory board with the result that it in fact supervises or controls public business or policy, it must comply with the Open Meetings Act to avoid depriving the public of access to the Board’s actual decision-making process.

See Education Code 11.061(c)(3); 30.022(d); Atty. Gen. Op. No. JM-1072 (1989) H-3 (1973); see also Atty. Gen. Op. LO-97-058 (1997).

A majority of the Board must approve the creation of a committee.

The President shall appoint and remove members to committees created by the Board, including a committee chairperson and vice-chairperson. 

STANDING COMMITTEES

The Board shall have standing committees for:

  1. Audit, Compliance, and Management Review
  2. Finance
  3. Programs and
  4. Personnel

Adopted:         1/16/90

Amended:       5/29/87, 9/15/88, 11/17/89, 11/22/91, 5/23/97, 9/26/97, 11/14/97, 1/24/02, 6/2/10, 11/21/14, 4/5/19

Reviewed:       11/13/92, 1/31/14

 

The board secretary may or may not be a Board member selected by the Board, and is charged with the following duties:

  1. Reviewing the minutes of board meetings from the Recording Secretary.
  2. Signing the minutes, verifying that the minutes are a true and accurate summary of the discussion and actions taken by the Board.

DUTIES AND REQUIREMENTS OF RECORDING SECRETARY 

The recording secretary shall be selected by the Superintendent.  The Recording Secretary is charged with:

  1. Taking, recording and maintaining minutes of all meetings,
  2. Providing Board meeting agendas and related materials to Board members in advance of scheduled Board meetings, 
  3. Preparing and posting notices of all proposed meetings, and
  4. Handling necessary correspondence with Board members.

In the absence of the designated recording secretary, an alternate staff secretary shall be selected by the Superintendent.

Adopted:          3/7/80
Amended:         11/13/92, 1/31/14
Reviewed:       11/14/97, 1/24/02

The vice-president of the Board shall act in the capacity and perform the duties of the president in the event of the absence, resignation, or incapacity of the president and perform other such duties as the Board may, from time to time, prescribe.

Adopted: 3/7/80
Amended: 11/13/92
Reviewed: 5/23/97, 1/24/02, 1/31/14

ORGANIZATION

The Board shall be organized to include:

  1. A president, who shall be a member of the Board.
  2. A vice-president, who shall be a member of the Board.
  3. A secretary, who may or may not be a member of the Board.
  4. Such other officers and committees as the Board may deem necessary.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Each Board officer shall be elected, or re-elected, by majority vote of a quorum of the Board members at the January meeting of each even-numbered year and shall serve for a term of two (2) years unless he, or she, resigns prior to the end of the term.

REORGANIZATION

In addition to the biennial election of officers, the Board may also organize at other times.
Atty. Gen. OP. MW-531 (1982)

VACANCY

A vacancy among officers of the Board, other than the President, shall be filled by majority action of the Board. A vacancy in the Presidency shall be filled by the Vice-President, and a new Vice-President shall be elected.

Elected officers shall serve until the biennial election of Board officers at the January meeting of the following even-numbered year.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF BOARD PRESIDENT

The President of the Board shall be the administrative leader of the Board and, as such, shall:

Budget Preparation

1.   Ensure that the biennial budget and other budget documents required by law are prepared in a   timely manner for presentation to the Legislature, or the Legislative Budget Board, as appropriate.

Budget Records and Reports

2.   Ensure that all budget documents and financial statements, forms and reports are submitted in a timely manner, as required by law.

Establish Committees

3.   Propose committees of the Board, for Board approval; and appoint members to committees created by the Board, including a committee chairperson and vice-chairperson. 

Mineral Rights

4.   Execute an oil and/or gas lease or sell, exchange, and convey the minerals, or any part thereof, in land belonging to the School upon terms the Trustees deem advisable and which the commissioner of the General Land Office approves. Chapter 34, subchapter H of Chapter 52 and Section 52.133 of the Natural Resources Code

Deeds

5.   Execute the deed for the sale of property, other than minerals, held in trust for free school purposes, subject to approval by the commissioner of the General Land Office. Chapter 34, Subchapter H of Chapter 52 and Section 52.133 of the Natural Resources Code

Approval for Convention, Conference, Workshop Attendance

6.   Approve or disapprove requests from an individual board member to receive payment or reimbursement from the School to attend a convention, conference, or workshop other than one approved, arranged, or scheduled for the participation of the Board as a whole.

Adopted: 1/29/93
Amended: 11/19/93, 11/15/96, 11/22/02, 1/31/03, 1/30/04, 5/31/11, 1/31/14
Reviewed:

SERVICE WITHOUT SALARY

Members of the Board serve without salary, but are entitled to reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred in carrying out official duties related to their role as members of the Board.

Education Code 30.022(c)

MEMBER EXPENSES

Reimbursement for Board members shall consist of actual expenses for meals and lodging when traveling within or outside the State of Texas on official business.

As a state agency the School may pay or reimburse a travel expense only if:

  1. the expense is reasonable and necessary; and
  2. the purpose or the travel clearly involves official state business and is consistent with the agency’s legal authority. Examples include Board meetings, strategic planning sessions, budget work sessions, and required training topics. 

Gov’t Code 660.003(e)

Cost Effective

The School shall minimize the amount of travel expenses paid or reimbursed by the School. The School shall ensure that each travel arrangement is the most cost effective considering all relevant circumstances.

Gov’t Code 660.007

To reduce travel expenditures for training purposes, the School shall use interactive television, video conference technology, and telephone conferences to the greatest extent possible.

Gov’t Code 660.147

This provision is subject to any other legal provisions governing the meetings and deliberations of the Board.  (See BE)

Board training should be provided in common with the entire board whenever possible.

Board training should be provided by local resources, including School administrators and staff, whenever possible. When external expertise is required, preference should be given to providers from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), Regional Education Service Center 13, and to those providers approved by TEA for training school board members.

Attendance at Conventions, Conference, and Workshops

Payment or reimbursement to Board members for reasonable travel expenses for attendance at regional, state, or national conventions, conferences, and workshops shall be made by the School when deemed necessary or desirable to carry out the official duties related to the governance roles of Board members.

Attendance at a convention, conference, or workshop is related to the role of a Board member if the content addresses:

  1. training required for Board members,
  2. continuing education for governance leadership required for all school board members, or
  3. training topics in accord with priorities and continuing education framework established by the Board (See BBD).

Education Code 11.159; 19 TAC 61.1; Education Code 45.105

A Board member’s attendance at a convention, conference, or workshop primarily intended for educational practitioners does not generally qualify as performing an official duty related to the governance of the School.

Prior Approval for Individual Board Members

Requests of an individual board member for payment or reimbursement for travel expenses related to attendance at a convention, conference, or workshop must be submitted in writing to the Board President in advance of attendance. The request should include information about the conference, including its name, location, approximate travel costs, and a rationale for attending the conference that directly relates to the governance functions of the board member.

This provision of prior approval does not apply to attendance at conventions, conferences, workshops, or other training sessions approved by the Board in a convened meeting.

It is the responsibility of the Board President to approve or deny payment for the travel expenses of an individual board member related to attendance at a convention, conference, or workshop. The President may choose to delegate to the Board in a convened meeting the specific request of an individual board member. (See BDAA)

NONMEMBER EXPENSES

The School will pay for or reimburse a Board member for expenses deemed necessary to assist a Board member with a disability to perform her or his duties. These services can include a travel attendant, a driver, or other task-related assistance.  Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 328 (1990); Gov’t Code 660.143

The School may not pay the travel expenses of spouses and other persons who have no responsibilities or duties to perform for the Board when they accompany Board members to Board-related activities except as provided by Article IX of the General Appropriations Act.  Atty. Gen. Op. MW-93 (1979)

TRAVEL SERVICES

An officer of a school district who is engaged in official business may participate in the comptroller’s contract for travel services.  Gov’t Code 2171.055(f); 34 TAC 20.046(b)(2)(F)

Note:  For guidance regarding board member expense reimbursement and income tax issues, see the TSBVI Board of Trustees Orientation Manual’s Guide for Reimbursement of Board Members’ Travel Expenses.

Adopted:          3/7/80
Amended:         1/16/81, 11/13/92, 1/24/97, 1/24/02, 11/18/05, 1/31/14, 4/6/18
Reviewed:        1/30/04

RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC SERVANTS - PENAL CODE

A TSBVI Board Member is a “public servant” for purposes of the following definition:

"Public servant" shall mean a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the following, even if the person has not yet qualified for office or assumed his or her duties:

  1. An officer, employee, or agent of government; or
  2. A candidate for nomination or election to public office.

Penal Code 1.07(a)(41)(A), (E)

Prohibited activities are covered by, but are not limited to, the following:

Bribery

  1. A public servant shall not intentionally or knowingly offer, confer, agree to confer on another, solicit, accept, or agree to accept a benefit:
    1. As consideration for the public servant's decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant.
    2. As consideration for a violation of a duty imposed on the public servant by law.
    3. That is a political contribution as defined by Title 15 of the Election Code or an expenditure made and reported as a lobbying expense in accordance with Government Code, Chapter 305, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion, if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit.
    4. "Benefit" means anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain or pecuniary advantage, including benefit to any other person in whose welfare the beneficiary has a direct and substantial interest.

Penal Code 36.01(3), 36.02

Illegal Gifts

  1. A public servant who exercises discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions shall not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows is interested in or likely to become interested in any such transactions of a district.
Penal Code 1.07(41)(A), (E), 36.08(d)

A public servant who receives an unsolicited benefit that the public servant is prohibited from accepting under this section may donate the benefit to a governmental entity that has the authority to accept the gift or may donate the benefit to a recognized tax exempt charitable organization formed for educational, religious, or scientific purposes. Penal Code 36.08(i)

Exceptions

“Illegal gifts to public servants” does not apply to:

  1. A fee prescribed by law to be received by a public servant or any other benefit to which the public servant is lawfully entitled or for which he or she gives legitimate consideration in a capacity other than as a public servant; 
  2. A gift or other benefit conferred on account of kinship or a personal, professional, or business relationship independent of the official status of the recipient;
  3. A benefit to a public servant required to file a statement under Chapter 572, Government Code, or a report under Title 15, Election Code,  that is derived from a function in honor or appreciation of the recipient if:
    1. The benefit and the source of any benefit in excess of $50 is reported in the statement; and
    2. The benefit is used solely to defray the expenses that accrue in the performance of duties or activities in connection with the office which are nonreimbursable by the state or political subdivision;
  4. A political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code;
  5. An item with a value of less than $50, excluding cash or a negotiable instrument as described by Business and Commerce Code 3.104;
  6. An item issued by a governmental entity that allows the use of property or facilities owned, leased, or operated by the governmental entity; or
  7. Food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted as a guest and, if the donee is required by law to report those items, reported by the donee in accordance with that law. 

Penal Code 36.10

Honoraria and Expenses

  1. A public servant commits a class A misdemeanor offense if he or she solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept an honorarium in consideration for services that the public servant would not have been requested to provide but for his or her official position or duties. However, a public servant is not prohibited from accepting transportation and lodging expenses or meals in connection with a conference or similar event in which he or she renders services, such as addressing an audience or engaging in a seminar, to the extent those services are more than merely perfunctory.  Penal Code 36.07

Abuse of Office

  1. A public servant shall not, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, intentionally or knowingly violate a law relating to the office or misuse government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value, belonging to the government , that has come into his or her custody by virtue of his or her office or employment.  Penal Code 39.02(a)

"Law relating to the office" means a law that specifically applies to a person acting in the capacity of a public servant and that directly or indirectly imposes a duty on the public servant or governs the conduct of the public servant.  Penal Code 39.01(1)

"Misuse" means to deal with property contrary to:

    1. An agreement under which the public servant holds the property;
    2. A contract of employment or oath of office of a public servant;
    3. A law, including provisions of the General Appropriations Act specifically relating to government property, that prescribes the manner of custody or disposition of the property; or
    4. A limited purpose for which the property is delivered or received.

Penal Code 39.01(2)

Nepotism

  1. Except as provided by law, a public official may not appoint a person to a position that is to be directly or indirectly compensated from public funds or fees of office if:
    1. The person is related to the public official by blood (consanguinity) within the third degree or by marriage (affinity) within the second degree [see below]; or
    2. The public official holds the appointment or confirmation authority as a member of a local board and the person is related to another member of the board by blood or marriage within a prohibited degree.
      Gov't Code 573.002, 573.041; Atty. Gen. Op. JC-0184 (2000) [See DBE]

Definition of Public Official

A TSBVI Board member is a “public official” for purposes of the following definition:

"Public official" shall mean:

  1. An officer of this state or of a district, county, municipality, precinct, school district, or other political subdivision of this state; or
  2. An officer or member of a board of this state or of a district, county, municipality, school district, or other political subdivision of this state.

Gov't Code 573.001(3)

The nepotism law governs the hiring of an individual, whether the individual is hired as an employee or an independent contractor.  Atty. Gen. Op. DM-76 (1992)

A public official may not approve an account or draw or authorize the drawing of a warrant or order to pay the compensation of an ineligible individual if the official knows the individual is ineligible.  Gov't Code 573.083

FORMER BOARD MEMBER EMPLOYMENT

  1. A board member of TSBVI may not accept employment with the School except in accordance with law.

Incompatability Of Office

  1. One person may not occupy two legally incompatible offices. Offices are legally incompatible when the faithful and independent exercise of one would necessarily interfere with the faithful and independent exercise of the other. A person may not serve in one branch of government while exercising any powers properly attached to either of the other branches of government. Texas Constitution, Art. II Sec. 1; State v. Martin, 51 S.W.2d 815 (Tex. Civ. App. 1932); Thomas v. Abernathy County Line ISD, 290 S.W. 15 (Tex. Comm. App. 1927); Turner v. Trinity ISD, 700 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. Ct. App. 1983); Atty. Gen. Op. JM-634 (1987)

Depository Conflict

  1. A board member who is a stakeholder, officer, director, or employee of a bank that has bid or submitted a proposal to become a depository for a district shall not vote on the awarding of a depository contract to said bank.  Education Code 45.204(b)

Instructional Materials Violations - Commissions

  1. A Board member commits a class B misdemeanor offense if the Board member receives any commission or rebate on any  instructional materials or technological equipment used in the schools with which the Board member is associated.  Education Code 31.152(a)

Instructional Materials Violations - Conflict

  1. A Board member commits a class B misdemeanor offense if the Board member accepts a gift, favor, or service that:
    1. Is given to the  board member or the School; 
    2. Might reasonably tend to influence a Board member in the selection of instructional materials or technological equipment; and
    3. Could not be lawfully purchased with funds from state instructional materials funds.

"Gift, favor, or service" does not include staff development, in-service, or teacher training; or instructional materials, such as maps or worksheets, that convey information to the student or otherwise contribute to the learning process.
Education Code 31.152(b)-(d)

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS VIOLATIONS – PURCHASE AND DISTRIBUTION

A Board member commits a Class C misdemeanor offense if the Board member knowingly violates any law providing for the purchase or distribution of free instructional materials for the public schools.  Education Code 31.153

Adopted:         1/26/07
Amended:        9/20/13
Reviewed:

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES BY PUBLIC SERVANTS - STATE LAW

A TSBVI Board Member is a “public servant” for purposes of the following definition:

"Public servant" shall mean a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the following, even if the person has not yet qualified for office or assumed his or her duties:

  1. An officer, employee, or agent of government; or
  2. A candidate for nomination or election to public office.

Penal Code 1.07(a)(41)(A), (E)

Bribery

  1. A public servant shall not intentionally or knowingly offer, confer, agree to confer on another, solicit, accept, or agree to accept a benefit:
    1. As consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant or voter.
    2. As consideration for a violation of a duty imposed on the public servant by law on the public servant; or
    3. That is a political contribution as defined by Election Code Title 15 or an expenditure made and reported as a lobbying expense in accordance with Government Code, Chapter 305, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion, if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit.
    4. "Benefit" means anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain or pecuniary advantage, including benefit to any other person in whose welfare the beneficiary has a direct and substantial interest.

Penal Code 36.01(3), 36.02

Illegal Gifts

  1. A public servant who exercises discretion in connection with contracts, purchases, payments, claims, or other pecuniary transactions of government commits an offense if the public servant solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows is interested in or likely to become interested in any such transactions of TSBVI.

Penal Code 1.07(41)(A), (E), 36.08(d)

A public servant who receives an unsolicited benefit that the public servant is prohibited from accepting under this section may donate the benefit to a governmental entity that has the authority to accept the gift or may donate the benefit to a recognized tax exempt charitable organization formed for educational, religious, or scientific purposes.  Penal Code 36.08(d)(i)

Exceptions

“Illegal gifts” does not apply to:

  1. A fee prescribed by law to be received by a public servant or any other benefit to which the public servant is lawfully entitled or for which the public servant gives legitimate consideration in a capacity other than as a public servant;
  2. A gift or other benefit conferred on account of kinship or a personal, professional, or business relationship independent of the official status of the recipient;
  3. A benefit to a public servant required to file a statement under Chapter 572, Government Code, or a report under Title 15, Election Code, that is derived from a function in honor or appreciation of the recipient if:
    1. The benefit and the source of any benefit in excess of $50 is reported in the statement; and
    2. The benefit is used solely to defray the expenses that accrue in the performance of duties or activities in connection with the office which are nonreimbursable by the state or political subdivision;
  4. A political contribution as defined by, Election Code Title 15;
  5. An item with a value of less than $50, excluding cash or a negotiable instrument as described by Business and Commerce Code 3.104;
  6. An item issued by a governmental entity that allows the use of property or facilities owned, leased, or operated by the governmental entity; or
  7. Food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment accepted as a guest and, if the donee is required by law to report those items, reported by the donee in accordance with that law.

Penal Code 36.10

Honoraria and Expenses

  1. A public servant commits a class A misdemeanor offense if he or she solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept an honorarium in consideration for services that the public servant would not have been requested to provide but for his or her official position or duties. However, a public servant is not prohibited from accepting transportation and lodging expenses or meals in connection with a conference or similar event in which he or she renders services, such as addressing an audience or engaging in a seminar, to the extent those services are more than merely perfunctory. Penal Code 36.07

Abuse of Office

  1. A public servant commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, intentionally or knowingly violates a law relating to the office or employment, or misuses government property, services, personnel, or any other thing of value, belonging to the government, that has come into the public servant’s custody by virtue of his or her office or employment. Penal Code 39.02(a)

"Law relating to the office" means a law that specifically applies to a person acting in the capacity of a public servant and that directly or indirectly imposes a duty on the public servant or governs the conduct of the public servant.  Penal Code 39.01(1)

"Misuse" means to deal with property contrary to:

  1. An agreement under which the public servant holds the property;
  2. A contract of employment or oath of office of a public servant;
  3. A law, including provisions of the General Appropriations Act specifically relating to government property, that prescribes the manner of custody or disposition of the property; or
  4. A limited purpose for which the property is delivered or received.

Penal Code 39.01(2)

Official Oppression

A public servant acting under color of the public servant’s office or employment commits an offense if the public servant intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment.

A public servant acts under color of the public servant’s office or employment if the person acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of such actual or purported capacity.

“Sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, submission to which is made a term or condition of a person’s exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, either explicitly or implicitly.

Penal Code 39.03(a)(3), (b), (c)

Misuse of official information

A public servant commits an offense if, in reliance on information to which the public servant has access by virtue of the person’s office or employment and that has not been made public, the person:

  1. Acquires or aids another to acquire a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise that may be affected by the information;
  2. Speculates or aids another to speculate on the basis of the information; or
  3. As a public servant, including as a school administrator, coerces another into suppressing or failing to report that information to a law enforcement agency.

A public servant commits an offense if with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, the public servant discloses or uses information for a nongovernmental purpose that:

  1. The person has access to by means of the person’s office or employment; and
  2. Has not been made public.

“Information that has not been made public” means any information to which the public does not generally have access, and that is prohibited from disclosure under Government Code Chapter 552 (the

Public Information Act).  Penal Code 39.06(a), (b), (d)

Nepotism

Except as provided by law, a public official may not appoint, confirm the appointment of or vote for a person to a position that is to be directly or indirectly compensated from public funds or fees of office if:

  1. The person is related to the public official by blood (consanguinity) within the third degree or by marriage (affinity) within the second degree [see below]; or
  2. The public official holds the appointment or confirmation authority as a member of a board and the person is related to another member of the board by blood or marriage within a prohibited degree.

Gov't Code 573.002, 573.041; [See DBE]

Definition of Public Official

A TSBVI Board member is a “public official” for purposes of the following definition:

"Public official" shall mean:

  1. An officer of this state or of a district, county, municipality, precinct, school district, or other political subdivision of this state; or
  2. An officer or member of a board of this state or of a district, county, municipality, school district, or other political subdivision of this state.

Gov't Code 573.001(3)

The nepotism law governs the hiring of an individual, whether the individual is hired as an employee or an independent contractor.  Atty. Gen. Op. DM-76 (1992)

A public official may not approve an account or draw or authorize the drawing of a warrant or order to pay the compensation of an ineligible individual if the official knows the individual is ineligible.  Gov't Code 573.083

A member of a board that has delegated to the superintendent final authority for personnel selection is not a public official with appointment authority for purposes of the nepotism prohibitions of Government Code 573.041.  Atty. Gen. Op. GA-123 (2003)

With respect to renewed contracts, however, Board members may be the relevant public officials for nepotism purposes.  Atty. Gen. Op. GA-177 (2004)

FORMER BOARD MEMBER EMPLOYMENT

  1. A Board member of TSBVI may not accept employment with the School until the first anniversary of the date the Board member’s membership on the Board ends. Education Code 11.063

INCOMPATIBILITY OF OFFICE

  1. The common law rule of incompatibility prohibits one person from holding two offices if the duties are in conflict or if one position is subordinate to the other.  Offices are legally incompatible when the faithful and independent exercise of one would necessarily interfere with the faithful and independent exercise of the other. A person may not serve in one branch of government while exercising any powers properly attached to either of the other branches of government.  Texas Constitution, Art. II Sec. 1; State v. Martin, 51 S.W.2d 815 (Tex. Civ. App. 1932); Thomas v. Abernathy County Line ISD, 290 S.W. 15 (Tex. Comm. App. 1927); Turner v. Trinity ISD, 700 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. Ct. App. 1983); Atty. Gen. Op. JM-634 (1987), MW-450 (1982).

DEPOSITORY CONFLICT

  1. A Board member who is a stakeholder, officer, director, or employee of a bank that has bid or submitted a proposal to become a depository for TSBVI shall not vote on the awarding of a depository contract to said bank.  Education Code 45.204(b); Gov’t. Code 2257

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS VIOLATIONS – COMMISSIONS/REBATES

  1. A Board member commits a class B misdemeanor offense if the Board member receives any commission or rebate on any instructional materials or technological equipment used in the schools with which the Board member is associated. 

Education Code 31.152(a)

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS VIOLATIONS - GIFTS

  1. A Board member commits a class B misdemeanor offense if the Board member accepts a gift, favor, or service that:
    1. Is given to the Board member or the School;
    2. Might reasonably tend to influence a Board member in the selection of instructional materials or technological equipment; and
    3. Could not be lawfully purchased with funds from state instructional materials funds.

"Gift, favor, or service" does not include staff development, in-service, or teacher training; or ancillary materials, such as maps or worksheets, that convey information to the student or otherwise contribute to the learning process.

Education Code 31.152(b)-(d)

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS VIOLATIONS – FREE MATERIALS

  1. A Board member commits an offense if the Board member knowingly violates any law providing for the purchase or distribution of free instructional materials for the public schools.  Education Code 31.153

PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES BY PUBLIC SERVANTS – FEDERAL LAW

Bribery - General

The term “public official” includes a person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency, or branch thereof, in any official function, under or by authority of any such department, agency, or branch of government.  The term includes any person who has been nominated or appointed to be a public official, or has been officially informed that such person will be so nominated or appointed.  18 U.S.C. 201(a); Dixson v. U.S., 465 U.S. 482, 499 (1984) (holding that even employees of a private organization that administered federal housing grants for city were “public officials” because they had some degree of official responsibility for carrying out a federal program or policy); U.S. v. Franco, 632 F.3d 880 (5th Cir. 2011)

A public official commits an offense if the public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:

  1. Being influenced in the performance of any official act;
  2. Being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or
  3. Being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person.

18 U.S.C. 201(b)(2)

Bribery – Federal Programs

“Agent” means a person authorized to act on behalf of another person or a government.  In the case of a government, the term includes a servant or employee, and a partner, director, officer, manager, and representative.

“Government agency” means a subdivision of the executive, legislative, judicial, or other branch of government, including a department, independent establishment, commission, administration, authority, board, and bureau, and a corporation or other legal entity established, and subject to control, by a government or for the execution of a governmental or intergovernmental program.

If TSBVI receives, in any one year period, benefits in excess of $10,000 under a federal program involving a grant, contract, subsidy, loan, guarantee, insurance, or other form of federal assistance, an agent of the district commits an offense if the agent:

  1. Embezzles, steals, obtains by fraud, or otherwise without authority knowingly converts to the use of any person other than the rightful owner or intentionally misapplies, property that:
    1. Is valued at $5,000 or more, and
    2. Is owned by, or is under the care, custody, or control of TSBVI; or
  2. Corruptly solicits or demands for the benefit of any person, or accepts or agrees to accept, anything of value from any person, intending to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions of the district involving anything of value of $5,000 or more.

This provision does not apply to bona fide salary, wages, fees, or other compensation paid, or expenses paid or reimbursed, in the usual course of business.

18 U.S.C. 666

Adopted:         1/26/07

Amended:       9/20/13, 11/17/17, 11/15/19

Reviewed:      

BOARD AUTHORITY

Board members as a body corporate have the exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of TSBVI.  Education Code 11.151(b)

The Board may act only by majority vote of the members present at a meeting held in compliance with Government Code Chapter 551 (Open Meetings Act), at which a quorum of the Board is present and voting.  Unless authorized by the Board, a member of the Board may not, individually, act on behalf of the Board.  Education Code 11. 051(a-1)

ACCESS TO INFORMATION

When acting in the member’s official capacity, TSBVI board members have an inherent right of access to information, documents, and records maintained by TSBVI.

“Official capacity” means all duties of office and includes administrative decisions or actions.

TSBVI shall provide the information, documents and records to the board member without requiring the board member to submit a public information request under Texas Government Code Chapter 552 (Public Information Act) and without regard to whether the requested items are the subject of or related to an item listed on an agenda for an upcoming meeting.

TSBVI shall provide a board member with information, documents, and records requested not later than the 20th business day after the date the School receives the request. TSBVI may take a reasonable additional period of time, not to exceed the 30th business day after the date the School receives the request, to respond to a request if compliance by the 20th business day would be unduly burdensome given the amount, age, or location of the requested information.  The School shall inform the board member of the reason for the delay and the date by which the information will be provided.

If TSBVI does not provide requested information to a board member in the time required, the member may bring suit against TSBVI for appropriate injunctive relief. A member who prevails in suit is entitled to recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. TSBVI shall pay the costs and fees from the budget of the superintendent’s office.

Confidential Information

TSBVI may withhold or redact information, a document, or a record requested by a board member to the extent that the item is excepted from disclosure or is confidential under the Public Information Act or other law [see GBA].

A board member shall maintain the confidentiality of information, documents, and records received from the School as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. 1232g) and any other applicable privacy laws. [See FL].

Reports of Requests

TSBVI shall post, in a place convenient to the public, the cost of responding to one or more requests submitted by a board member under Education Code 11.1512(c) if the requests are for 200 or more pages of material in a 90-day period.

TSBVI shall report annually to TEA not later than September 1 of each year:

  1. The number of requests submitted by a board member under Education Code 11.1512(c) during the preceding school year; and
  2. The total cost to the School for that school year of responding to the requests.

Education Code 11.1512(c)-(f)

Access to Student Records

Personally identifiable information in education records may be released, without the written consent of the student’s parents, only to a school official who has a legitimate educational interest in the education records.  34 CFR 99.31 [See FL]

Offenses Regarding Records

A person, including a board member, commits a criminal offense if the person:

  1. Knowingly or intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a TSBVI record in contravention of Government Code Chapter 441. Gov’t Code 441.187; Penal Code 37.10
  2. Willfully destroys, mutilates, removes without permission public information as provided by Government Code Chapter 552 (Public Information Act) or alters public information. Gov’t Code 552.351
  3. Distributes information considered confidential under the Public Information Act. Gov’t Code 552.352

[For information regarding the offenses of destruction or alienation of record and tampering with governmental record, see CPC.  For information regarding misuse of official information, see BBFB(LEGAL).]

VISITS TO SCHOOL CAMPUS

TSBVI shall create a policy on visits to the School campus or facility by a member of the Board.

PROTECTIONS FOR ACTING ON A LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

A public official, including a Board member, may not be subject to disciplinary action or a sanction, penalty, disability, or liability for:

  1. An action permitted by law that the public official takes in his or her official capacity regarding a legislative measure;
  2. Proposing, endorsing, or expressing support for or opposition to a legislative measure or taking any action permitted by law to support or oppose a legislative measure;
  3. The effect of a legislative measure or of a change in law proposed by a legislative measure on any person; or
  4. A breach of duty, in connection with the Board member's practice of or employment in a licensed or regulated profession or occupation, to disclose to any person information, or to obtain a waiver or consent from any person, regarding the public official’s actions relating to a legislative measure; or the substance, effects, or potential effects of a legislative measure.

Gov't Code 572.059

BOARD MEMBER IMMUNITIES

The statutory immunity detailed below is in addition to and does not preempt the common law doctrine of official and governmental immunity.  Education Code 22.051(b)

State Law Immunities

A Board member is not personally liable for any act that is incident to or within the scope of the duties of the trustee’s position and that involves the exercise of judgment or discretion.  Education Code 22.0511(a)

Federal Law Immunities

Except as provided in 20 U.S.C. Section 6736(b), no Board member shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the Board member on behalf of TSBVI if the conditions of the Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001 are met.  20 U.S.C. Section 7943, 7946(a) [See also DGC]. 

Adopted:         3/7/80

Amended:       9/27/90, 1/24/97, 1/30/04, 11/19/04, 9/20/13, 9/29/17, 6/1/18, 9/27/19

Reviewed:       1/13/92, 1/24/02

FRAMEWORK FOR SCHOOL BOARD DEVELOPMENT

Preamble:  The Board is the educational policy-making body for the School.  To effectively meet the challenges of public education, the Board and the Superintendent must function together as a leadership team.  Each leadership team must annually assess its development needs as a corporate body and individually to gain its understanding of the vision, structure, accountability, advocacy, and unity needed to provide educational programs and services that ensure the equity and excellence in performance of all students.  The Framework for School Board Development has been approved by the State Board of Education to provide the critical areas of development for all public school boards.

I. Vision -- The Board ensures creation of a shared vision that promotes enhanced student achievement.

  • The Board keeps the School focus on the educational welfare of all children.
  • The Board adopts a shared vision based on community beliefs to guide local education.
  • The Board ensures that the vision supports the state's mission, objectives, and goals for education established by law and/or rule.
  • The Board ensures that the School vision expresses the present and future needs of the children and community.
  • The Board uses the vision to assess the importance of individual issues that come before the Board and demonstrates its commitment to the vision by using the vision to guide all Board deliberations, decisions, and actions.
  • Individual Board members should not have individual agendas separate and apart from the shared vision.

II. Structure -- The Board provides guidance and direction for accomplishing the vision.

  • The Board recognizes the respective roles of the legislature, the State Board of Education, the Texas Education Agency, and the local Board in the governance of the School.
  • The Board fulfills the statutory duties of the local Board and upholds all laws, rules, ethical procedures, and court orders pertaining to schools and school employees.
  • The Board focuses its actions on policy making, planning, and evaluation and restricts its involvement in management to the responsibility of oversight.
  • The Board adopts a planning and decision making process consistent with state  law and/or rule that uses participation, information, research, and evaluation to help achieve the School's vision.
  • The Board ensures that the School planning and decision making process enables all segments of the community, parents, and professional staff to contribute meaningfully to achieving the School's vision.
  • The Board develops and adopts policies that provide guidance for accomplishing the School's vision, mission and goals.
  • The Board adopts a budget that incorporates sound business and fiscal practices and provides resources to achieve the School's vision, mission and goals.
  • The Board adopts goals, approves student performance objectives, and establishes policies that provide a well-balanced curriculum resulting in improved student learning.
  • The Board approves goals, policies, and programs that ensure a safe and disciplined environment conducive to learning.
  • The Board oversees the management of the School by employing the Superintendent and evaluating the Superintendent's performance in providing education leadership, managing daily operations, and performing all duties assigned by law and/or rule and in support of the School’s vision.
  • The Board adopts policies and standards for hiring, assigning, appraising, terminating, and compensating School personnel in compliance with state laws and rules.

III. Accountability -- The Board measures and communicates how well the vision is being accomplished.

  • The Board ensures progress toward achievement of School goals through a systematic, timely, and comprehensive review of reports prepared by or at the direction of the Superintendent.
  • The Board monitors the effectiveness and efficiency of instructional programs by reviewing reports prepared by or at the direction of the Superintendent and directs the Superintendent to make modifications that promote maximum achievement for all students.
  • The Board ensures that appropriate assessments are used to measure achievement of all students.
  • The Board reports School progress to parents and community in compliance with state laws and regulations.
  • The Board reviews School policies for effective support of the School's vision, mission and goals.
  • The Board reviews the efficiency and effectiveness of School operations and use of resources in supporting the School’s vision, mission, and goals.
  • The Board evaluates the Superintendent’s performance annually in compliance with state laws and regulations.
  • The Board annually evaluates its performance in fulfilling the Board’s duties and responsibilities, and the Board’s ability to work with the Superintendent as a team.

IV. Advocacy – The Board promotes the vision.

  • The Board demonstrates its commitment to the shared vision, mission, and goals by clearly communicating them to the Superintendent, the staff, and community.
  • The Board ensures an effective two-way communication system between the School and its students, employees, media, and the community.
  • The Board builds partnerships with community, business, and governmental leaders to influence and expand educational opportunities and meet the needs of students.
  • The Board supports children by establishing partnerships between the School, parents, business leaders, and other community members as an integral part of the School’s educational program.
  • The Board leads in recognizing the achievements of students, staff, and others in education.
  • The Board promotes school Board service as a meaningful way to make long-term contributions to the local community and society.
  • The Board provides input and feedback to the legislature, State Board of Education, and the Texas Education Agency regarding proposed changes to ensure maximum effectiveness and benefit to the schoolchildren of TSBVI.

V. Unity – The Board works with the Superintendent to lead the School toward the vision.

  • The Board ensures that its members understand and respect the need to function as a team in governing and overseeing the management of the School. 
  • The Board develops skills in teamwork, problem solving, and decision making.
  • The Board establishes and follows local policies, procedures, and ethical standards governing the conduct and operations of the Board.
  • The Board understands and adheres to laws and local policies regarding the Board’s responsibility to set policy and the Superintendent’s responsibility to manage the School and to direct employees in School matters.
  • The Board recognizes the leadership role of the Board President and adheres to law and local policies regarding the duties and responsibilities of the Board President and other officers.
  • The Board adopts and adheres to established policies and procedures for receiving and addressing ideas and concerns from students, parents, employees, and the community.
  • The Board makes decisions as a whole only at properly called meetings and recognizes that individual members have no authority to take individual action in policy or School administrative matters.
  • The Board supports decisions of the majority after honoring the right of individual members to express opposing view-points and vote their convictions.

Adopted by the State Board of Education, January 1996, as authorized by 19 TAC 61.1; revised July 2012.

Adopted:         5/30/86
Amended:        11/13/92, 9/24/93, 3/21/97, 9/20/13
Reviewed:       1/31/03