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 must declare the conflict and have it recorded in the minutes. He 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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