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Novato USD |  BB  9271  Board Bylaws

Code Of Ethics   

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Board Responsibility to Community

The Board of Education recognizes that trusteeship brings with it certain responsibilities and expectations. The community expects its leaders and representatives to uphold high standards in the performance of their duties.

Specifically, BP 9271 will address the Board's legal responsibilities and trustee conduct and behavior.

By adopting this policy, the Board expresses its intention that each member will hold him/herself to the highest standard of ethical conduct.

Trustee Conduct/Behavior

Student/Education Focus

In all actions, a trustee's first commitment is to the education and well being of our youth.

As a trustee I will:

* Protect the interests of students in every decision and assure the opportunity for a high quality education for every student.

* Maintain consistent and vigilant oversight of the district as a policy setting board with emphasis on instructional quality, operational efficiency, and fiscal stability.

Represent Common Good

Trusteeship is an expression of civic leadership and citizenship.

As a trustee I recognize that:

* The Board derives its authority from and is accountable to the community as a whole.

* The Board's primary responsibility is to govern the district with awareness at all times of the needs of all students.

* I am responsible to all residents of the district and not solely to those who elected me; nor solely to any organization to which I may belong, or which may have supported my election.

Board as a Unit

A basic principle of effective trusteeship is the recognition that governing authority rests with the entire Board, not with any individual trustee.

As a trustee I recognize that:

* As an individual trustee I have no legal authority to direct staff, determine programs and procedures, or represent the district.

* The Board's voice is expressed through the policies and actions it takes in its official meetings. Once the Board has decided a policy or position, I must be prepared to support its implementation.

Board Relations and Communication

As a trustee I will:

* Develop and maintain good relations with fellow trustees by recognizing the importance of keeping an open mind and promoting the opportunity to think through other facts and points of view.

* Work with my fellow trustees in a spirit of cooperation in spite of differences of opinion that may arise during vigorous debates of points at issue.

* Maintain an atmosphere in which controversial issues can be debated openly and fairly, protecting the dignity of individuals.

* Work with my fellow trustees to achieve common goals, looking beyond self interest and encouraging compromise and positive change when necessary.

* Set a good example for others by communicating thoughtfully and representing the district well in my interactions.

Advocate/Support District

The Board recognizes that the first and foremost priority of every trustee is to the education and well being of every student in the district.

As a trustee I will:

* Integrate the wide variety of public and community needs into decisions which benefit the district as a whole.

* Use the powers of the office honestly and constructively, communicating and promoting the needs of the community to the district and the needs of the district to the community.

Board/Superintendent/Staff relationship

The Board and Superintendent function best as a team. The Board develops policies that set the direction for the district, while the Superintendent implements those policies and leads the district in the direction set by the Board.

As a trustee I will:

* Respect the delegation of authority to the Superintendent to administer the day to day operations of the district.

* Promote a healthy working relationship with the Superintendent through supportive, open, and honest communication and regular evaluation.

* Support district staff in the appropriate performance of their duties and ensure that they have the requisite responsibility, adequate resources, and necessary authority to perform effectively.

* Recognize that staff time is valuable and is best spent furthering the educational mission of the district. I will avoid making undue demands on staff time and will carefully consider the impact of requests for information on the ability of staff to fulfill their responsibilities to the district.

* Work with my fellow trustees and the Superintendent to establish mutually agreed upon clear descriptions and expectations of roles and responsibilities to ensure open communication, confidence and trust.

Communicating with staff and students

As a trustee I will:

* Refer any student or employee complaints directly through appropriate channels or to the Superintendent.

* Encourage and safeguard open access to the Board while maintaining appropriate and well defined communication and decision-making protocols.

Communicating with community members and media

As a trustee I recognize that:

* As an individual trustee I do not speak for the Board unless specifically delegated to do so.

* The Board President is the lead media contact on behalf of the Board.

Maintaining confidentiality

While most of what the Board does is public, the law defines specific issues that must be discussed in private.

As a trustee I will:

* Maintain confidentiality about issues discussed in closed session, or as otherwise required by law.

Create a Positive Climate

The Board sets an example for the entire District.

As a trustee I will:

* Encourage and support innovation and creativity in district programs and operations.

* Act with integrity and reflect values of trustworthiness, respect, fairness, caring, creativity, and inquisitiveness at all times when performing my responsibilities.

* Focus my commitment to the achievement of all students.

* Support the district by attending school and community events, expressing appreciation for employee's commitment and accomplishments, and recognizing student success and achievement.

Fiduciary Responsibility

As a trustee I will:

* Fulfill my fiduciary responsibility for sound budgetary and fiscal management by reviewing financial reports, asking questions, and making decisions that provide direction to the Superintendent.

* Accurately account for expenses.

* Establish and uphold fair and prudent expense standards and reporting procedures.

Ethics Laws

In addition to ethical standards of conduct, there are many laws and regulations which affect what the Board does and how individual trustees conduct themselves.

Incompatible Activities

Trustees shall not engage in any employment or activity which is inconsistent with, incompatible with, in conflict with or contrary to the Trustee's duty as an officer of the district.

Conflict of Interest Code

Designated employees of the district, including Board members, shall adhere to the district's conflict of interest code adopted pursuant to the provisions of Government Code 87300. (BB 9270)

Financial Interest

Board members and designated employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by the Board or in any contract they make in their capacity as Board members or designated employees. (BB 9270)


Board members and designated employees shall not accept from any single source in any calendar year any gift in excess of the prevailing gift limitation specified in law if the employee would be required to repot the receipt of income or gifts from that source on his/her statement of economic interests. (BB 9270)

Use of Public Funds

Trustees shall not use public funds for personal or political purposes.

(cf. 9270 - Conflict of Interest)


Board members and designated employees shall not accept any honorarium as defined above if the employee would be required to report the receipt of income or gifts from that source on his/her statement of economic interests.

(cf. 9270 - Conflict of Interest)

Fair and Open Decision-making

California's open and public meetings laws (the Brown Act) require that the public's business be done in public.

The Legislature has declared that all meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, except as otherwise provided by law.


Trustees shall maintain confidentiality about issues discussed in closed session or as otherwise required by law.

Procedures for Violations of the Code of Ethics Policy

All board members are expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct and adhere to the Board Code of Ethics. The Board will investigate the factual basis behind any charge or complaint of trustee misconduct.

* Charges by any person that a trustee has violated laws and regulations governing board behavior or the Board's Code of Ethics shall be directed to the Board President.

* The Board President will first discuss the violation with the trustee to reach a resolution. The reasons and motivations for the behavior and of those who have identified the behavior as unethical will be explored.

* If resolution is not achieved and further action is deemed necessary, the Board President may appoint an ad hoc committee composed of two trustees not subject to the complaint. The committee will examine the matter and, if warranted, recommend further courses of action to the Board President. The committee shall be guided in its inquiry by the standards set forth in the Code of Ethics as defined in policy 9721. The trustee subject to the charge of misconduct shall have the opportunity to present information to the committee.

Possible courses of action may include:

* If the alleged behavior violates laws governing board behavior, including but not limited to conflict of interest, open and public meetings (Brown Act), confidentiality, and use of public resources, legal counsel may be sought and the violations referred to the District Attorney or Attorney General as provided for in law.

* If the alleged behavior violates board policy on ethical conduct, the committee will determine the appropriate sanctions, including but not limited to:

* The Board may in a meeting make a public statement of expected board behavior, adopt a resolution about what expected behavior is, and/or publicly reaffirm the ethics policy.

* At a meeting, the Board may issue a public statement in which it expresses concern with an individual trustee's behavior.

* As a last resort the Board may vote to censure the trustee's behavior. Censure distances the Board from the unethical behavior of one of its members and is a clear public statement that unethical behavior is not condoned or tolerated.

* If the Board President is perceived to have violated the code, the Vice President/ Clerk is authorized to pursue resolution.

Legal Reference:


35020-35046 Officers and agents


1090 Financial interest in contract

1098 Disclosure of confidential information

54950-54963 The Ralph M. Brown Act


adopted: February 27, 2007 Novato, California

revised: June 3, 2008