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We are filling a vacant board position. One of the applicants is related to a current board member. Can the current board member participate in the interviews, discussion and vote?

The current board member has an actual conflict of interest in this situation. He/she must declare the conflict and have it recorded in the minutes. He/she must not participate in the discussion or the vote. ORS 244.177(3)(a) and (b).

This situation is confusing because "board member" is not a paid position. Board members are elected volunteers. It is pretty easy to understand that a situation is a conflict of interest when the board is voting to approve the hiring of a relative to a paid position as an employee, or through authorizing a contract. In general it is not a conflict to vote to approve a relative to a volunteer position. However in ORS 244.177(3)(b), the statutes have specifically identified the elected board positions ("unpaid member of a governing body of the public body") as being included in the conflict of interest. This is a particular situation where the conflict applies even though "school board member" is a volunteer position.

 

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