Farmington Public Schools Officials Approve Board Ethics Code
Board member Dr. Murray Kahn votes against the board policy, citing issues with a provision about using cell phones.
Farmington School Board members during their Tuesday meeting at North Farmington High School approved a Code of Ethics for the board, but the vote was not unanimous.
Dr. Murray Kahn, who is new to the board this year, said he voted against the 16-point policy because of a new section regarding use of cell phones. He initially brought up concerns about the proposed policy during a May 8 study session.
At that time, Kahn explained that he occasionally needs to access his cell phone during meetings because of his position as division head of podiatry with Henry Ford Health System. He explained that his phone has a security code that requires him to type in numbers in order to access his messages.
But board member Priscilla Brouillette said that if an official needs to use his or her phone, "the appropriate thing would be to step away".
Board member Howard Wallach suggested softening the language, to encourage board members to avoid using cell phones unless absolutely necessary. But the final language read, "Refrain from using all electronic communications" among board members or with members of the public during board meetings.
A section of the code that did change deals with conflicts of interest, board member Frank Reid said Tuesday. Kahn suggested the change, which requires board members to disclose any "actual or potential" conflicts of interest and to refrain from voting on issues in order to "avoid even the appearance of impropriety".
Other provisions deal with not succumbing to special interest groups, staying informed about educational issues and all issues considered at board meetings, not using the board position for personal gain, adhering to provisions of the Open Meetings Act and respecting confidential information.
A copy of the policy will be published on the district's website.