School board members in SC speak out against proposed ethics changes

School board members in SC speak out against proposed ethics changes

SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) - The Senate Education subcommittee heard testimony for the first time since the filing of a massive education reform bill.

The House Education and Public Works subcommittee heard five hours of testimony Tuesday evening. Wednesday, the Senate subcommittee discussed the ethics portion of the 80+ page bill. It is focused on keeping school board members accountable and adding more ethics regulations.

The proposed legislation would require the State’s School Board to create a model code of ethics for school board officials by 2020. This would focus on conflicts of interests, nepotism, and other issues.

The State would also outline discipline and consequences for those not following the regulations. It would also allow the governor to remove any member who isn’t following the code of ethics.

The majority of the testimony Wednesday morning came from school board members from across the state. They say these proposals are not necessary. Since they are elected officials, school board members are already required to follow state ethics laws.

They also say they receive ethics training throughout the year.

Scott Price, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Boards Association said all school boards have anti-nepotism standards.

He was at the subcommittee meeting because he believed some of the provisions in the bill would hold school board members to unfair standards.

He said, “We want the best and the brightest on our school boards. We were concerned some of the elements of the bill as filed could negatively impact that and make school board service less desirable."

Senator Greg Hembree (R-Horry) proposed an amendment to remove a good chunk of the ethics portion of the bill. Other senators said they wanted to read the amendment first before the voted on changing anything.

The subcommittee decided they would vote on it at the next meeting.

The Senate Education subcommittee will meet again Wednesday, Feb. 20 to discuss the first 20 pages of the bill. Some of those topics include the Zero to Twenty Committee and the Student Bill of Rights.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.