Wake school board looks to beef up ethics policy
Posted June 25, 2013
Cary, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education discussed Tuesday how to strengthen its ethics policy in the wake of details about the board's recent superintendent search being leaked to area media.
Jim Merrill, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools, was named a week ago as the new leader of the Wake County Public School System. But many people already knew he was the school board's choice for the position after information about the board's deliberations leaked out.
"The leak was very disturbing. When you work in closed session, materials should stay in closed session," board member Jim Martin said Tuesday.
Distrust has been common among school board members in recent years, and Martin called the leak the last straw. He insisted that, while the board understands the need for transparency, some things need to remain behind closed doors.
The board already has a code of ethics, but there are no consequences in the policy. Having a systematic approach to deal with ethical misconduct will encourage members to treat each other with respect, take their responsibilities seriously and act with integrity, some board members said.
"We want to be able to hold ourselves accountable to high standards so we can be a strong board," board member Christine Kushner said.
Suggestions Tuesday included adding reprimands and censure to the list of options before the board formally asks the Wake County District Attorney's Office to remove a member for misconduct.
Board Chairman Keith Sutton cautioned fellow members not to use the policy for personal vendettas.
"So it doesn't end up being some partisan deal or witch hunt (and) is fairly applied," Sutton said.
"I'm hoping we never have to use this policy," board member Bill Fletcher said.
The board's attorney will tweak the policy's language before sending it back to the board for discussion at next month's work session.