Board Ethics-a continous improvement area

My term as your association President is almost over and I have almost reached the conclusion of my board governance discussions. We have moved through the establishment of a board Vision, and built a framework Structure to help support that Vision. Then we discussed how all board members are advocates for the needs of the youths we are elected to educate and protect. How the board lives up to these responsibilities is measured using some type of metric, and the entire board is held Accountable for these results. Now let us look at how the Board and its individual members conduct district business in a fair, respectful, and a responsible manner at all times. Board Ethics may be the last piece of Board Governance for us to review, but that does not diminish the importance of it. Again, before we start looking, at Ethics in Delaware let us look at what is the generic definition of ethics, and then how it relates to education and board standards.
The Encyclopedia Britannica also refers to ethics as “moral philosophy the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. The term is also applied to any system or theory of moral values and principles.” The terms are used interchangeably ethics and morals, but the one knows what the right actions are while the other is about doing the right actions. Although many laws today are based on moral or ethical principles there are many acts still that are morally reprehensible but not against any laws on the books. Like many other professionals and associations educators and boards have detailed and enforceable codes that members must adhere to or risk expulsion and/or sanctions.

School Board Standard 5: Ethics

All boards are expected to perform in a manner that reflects service to the community on behalf of the students. So what does this mean in Delaware? First, all boards should discuss, and adopt annually a set of ethical codes that they will use as they conduct board “business.” In non-technical language, the board members must as a body, not as individuals, decide how they will respect the opinions of each other; respect majority decisions made; and finally respect the duties of the district administration. State and federal laws govern how a board must vote in Public sessions, and what can be done in executive sessions. However, it is the board that must chose to abide by those laws, and keeps the trust of the public while keeping confidentiality issues. To remain on top of what is morally and ethically responsible for board members we all need to make a commitment to continuously work and develop as a board.
As I finish this article, I am looking forward to seeing many of you in Orlando as we attend the NSBA annual conference. I know I do not need to remind you all, but we attend these functions to gain knowledge and training to help us do the job of educating children better. Ethics says we do this on budget, and we abide by behaviors we ask our administration to adhere to when they travel. Come home with new knowledge to share and remember to ask yourself “Is this good for the Kids?” Next Month we will begin looking at setting up assessments for your members and the whole boards.


About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
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