April 1, 2009
9800 Chase Way
Shreveport, LA 71118
RE: Ethics Board Docket No. 2009-202
Dear Ms. Armstrong:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its March 25, 2009 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether your son, Thomas Armstrong, may accept employment in Caddo Parish if he obtains a teaching practitioner’s license. You stated that you are an elected member of the Caddo Parish School Board. Your son, Thomas Armstrong, holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech and a Master's of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. You would like to know whether your son will be able to teach in Caddo Parish if he obtains a teaching practitioner's license from LSU Shreveport or the Centenary College during the 2009 summer.
The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you, that the Code of Governmental Ethics would not prohibit your son from accepting employment in Caddo Parish if he obtains a practitioner’s license. Section 1119 of the Code prohibits an immediate family member of an agency head from being employed within the agency head's governmental entity. However, Section 1119B(2)(a)(i) of the Code provides an exception for a school board to employ an immediate family member of the school board member as a classroom teacher, provided that such family member is certified to teach. The Board has determined in past advisory opinions, that individuals who hold a practitioner teaching certificate are included within the 1119B(2) exception. Therefore, Thomas Armstrong is not prohibited from teaching in Caddo Parish in the fall of 2009 if he obtains his teaching practitioner's license prior to his acceptance of employment.
Additionally, Section 1112B(1) of the Code prohibits a public servant from participating in a transaction involving the governmental entity in which a member of his immediate family has a substantial economic interest. Section 1120 of the Code provides that an elected official shall recuse herself when the vote would be a violation of Section 1112 of the Code. An elected official who recuses herself from voting shall not be prohibited from participating in discussion and debate concerning the matter, provided that the elected official verbally discloses the nature of the conflict or potential conflict during her participation in the discussion or debate prior to any vote taken on the matter. Therefore, as long as you disclose your conflict of interest prior to any vote taken, you may participate in any discussion or debate on a matter involving Thomas Armstrong's employment. However, you shall recuse yourself from voting on any matter that may come before the school board involving Thomas Armstrong's employment.
The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than the Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Aneatra P. Boykin
For the Board