2011-858
Created By: Latisha Thomas on 06/29/2011 at 10:24 AM
Category: Ethics Advisory Opinions
Caption:

June 29, 2011

Robin Clark
Louisiana Department of Education
P.O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064

Bernell Cook
Louisiana Department of Education
P.O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064

Re: Board Docket No. 2011-858

Dear Mr. Cook:

The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its June 17, 2011 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether Robin Clark, an employee of the Department of Education, may provide educational consulting services. Specifically you stated that Ms. Clark Robin Clark was recently hired as an Education Program Consultant with the Louisiana Department of Education, Office of Federal Programs Support. She will primarily work with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Monitoring Section. Ms. Clark will be responsible for developing, reviewing, and implementing Performance-Based Monitoring (PBM) related to the NCLB and IDEA programs. She will need to meet with public school districts, charters schools, and non-public schools throughout the State to monitor and collect data on Federal Education Programs.

Ms. Clark may also provide technical assistance on various education programs to Local Education Agencies (LEAs). She will meet with school personnel, including school district superintendents, principals, teachers, and central office personnel. Ms. Clark will also serve as the Department's Regional Service Center representative and will be a resource for LEAs on all aspects of education, including new policies and procedures.

Ms. Clark has not undertaken any outside work since she began her employ with the Department. At this time, she would like to know whether she may perform the following activities:
(1) May Ms. Clark provide educational consulting services through Gateway Consulting Services, Inc.?

Ms. Clark is the sole owner of Gateway Consulting Services, Inc. (GCS), which focuses on consulting and training in education, business, and music. The market for GCS's educational services has been nonprofits, faith-based communities, teachers, parents, musicians, and recording artists. Ms. Clark has been hired to speak on education-related topics and provide other educational related services to teachers and other educators. Ms. Clark has also authored educational books and created educational products that she intends to sell online and at professional meetings.

The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics will prohibit Ms. Clark from providing educational consulting services to any person or entity that may receive similar consulting services through Ms. Clark's agency and her work with the LEAs. Section 1111C(1)(a) prohibits a public servant from receiving any thing of economic value from an outside source for the performance of services which are devoted substantially to the responsibilities, programs, or operations of the agency of the public servant and in which the public servant has participated.

Also, Section 1111C(2)(d) of the Code prohibits a public servant from accepting anything of economic value from a person (1) who has or is seeking to have a contractual, business, or financial relationship with the public servant's agency; (2) conducts operations or activities which are regulated by the public servant's agency; or (3) who has substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the public servant's official duty. Therefore, Ms. Clark is prohibited from providing any services to any person or entity that falls in any of the above-numbered categories.

Ms. Clark may sell her educational products and books online to persons who are not prohibited sources. However, Section 1112 of the Code prohibits Ms. Clark from referring any person, school, or other entity she works with through the Department of Education, to her private company for any services or materials.

Ms. Clark should request an advisory opinion regarding specific services and products she may want to provide so that the Board may determine the propriety of these activities on a case-by-case basis.

(2) May Ms. Clark work as a Louisiana Pathways Trainer?

Ms. Clark is a certified Louisiana Pathways Trainer (Trainer) through Northwest State University. As a Trainer, she provides training in early childhood behavior and development. The target audience for the certified Trainers includes daycare and nursery school workers. These audiences are not generally under the auspices of the Department of Education. In the past, Ms. Clark has been hired as a Trainer through Partnerships in Child Care under Volunteers of America, Greater Baton Rouge. More recently, she has been hired through her company, GSC. She is, however, qualified to be hired individually as a Trainer.

The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics would not prohibit Ms. Clark from working as a certified Trainer. These services do not appear to be within the purview of the Department of Education.

Ms. Clark should be mindful of the restrictions set forth in Section 1111 of the Code. Section 1111C(2)(d) of the Code prohibits a public servant from accepting anything of economic value for or in consideration of services rendered from a person (1) who has or is seeking to have a contractual, business, or financial relationship with the public servant's agency; (2) conducts operations or activities which are regulated by the public servant's agency; or (3) who has substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the public servant's official duty. She may provide these services through a private entity as long as such entity does not have a business, financial, or contractual relationship with her agency, and is not otherwise regulated by her agency.

(3) May Ms. Clark continue to volunteer with Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge?

Ms. Clark volunteers with Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge (FHFGBR). Some of her volunteer work has involved wilting grants, public speaking on child disability topics and participating in outreach programs, such as Autism Walk. Ms. Clark has not been paid for any of her volunteer activities with FHFGBR. FHFGBR receives some funding from the Louisiana Department of Education.

The Board concluded, and instructed me to inform you that Ms. Clark may continue to volunteer with FHFGBR. as long as she does not receive any compensation for her services. If she should receive any compensation, Ms. Clark should request an advisory opinion to determine whether or not her activities would be prohibited by the Code.

This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. Changes to the facts presented may result in a different application of the provisions of the Code of Ethics. The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.

Sincerely,

LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS



Deidra L. Godfrey
For the Board




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