Ethics and Gift Ban
Prohibited Political Activity
The following precepts govern political activities being conducted by District employees and School Board members:
- No employee shall intentionally perform any political activity during any compensated time, as those terms are defined herein.
- No Board member or employee shall intentionally use any District property or resources in connection with any political activity.
- At no time shall any Board member or employee intentionally require any other Board member or employee to perform any political activity: (a) as part of that Board member’s or employee’s duties, (b) as a condition of employment, or (c) during any compensated time off, such as, holidays, vacation, or personal time off.
- No Board member or employee shall be required at any time to participate in any political activity in consideration for that Board member or employee being awarded additional compensation or any benefit, whether in the form of a salary adjustment, bonus, compensatory time off, continued employment or otherwise; nor shall any Board member or employee be awarded additional compensation or any benefit in consideration for his or her participation in any political activity.
A Board member or employee may engage in any activity that: (1) is otherwise appropriate as part of his or her official duties, or (2) is undertaken by the individual on a voluntary basis that is not prohibited by this policy.
Limitations on Receiving Gifts
Except as permitted by this policy, no Board member or employee, and no spouse of or immediate family member living with a Board member or employee, shall intentionally solicit or accept any gift from any prohibited source, as those terms are defined herein, or that is otherwise prohibited by law or policy. No prohibited source shall intentionally offer or make a gift that violates this policy.
The following are exceptions to the ban on accepting gifts from a prohibited source:
- Opportunities, benefits, and services that are available on the same conditions as for the general public.
- Anything for which the Board member or employee, or his or her spouse or immediate family member, pays the fair market value.
- Any: (a) contribution that is lawfully made under the Election Code, or (b) activities associated with a fundraising event in support of a political organization or candidate.
- Educational materials and missions.
- Travel expenses for a meeting to discuss business.
- A gift from a relative, meaning those people related to the individual as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, great aunt, great uncle, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, and including the father, mother, grandfather, or grandmother of the individual’s spouse and the individual’s fiancé or fiancée.
- Anything provided by an individual on the basis of a personal friendship unless the recipient has reason to believe that, under the circumstances, the gift was provided because of the official position or employment of the recipient or his or her spouse or immediate family member and not because of the personal friendship. In determining whether a gift is provided on the basis of personal friendship, the recipient shall consider the circumstances under which the gift was offered, such as: (a) the history of the relationship between the individual giving the gift and the recipient of the gift, including any previous exchange of gifts between those individuals; (b) whether to the actual knowledge of the recipient the individual who gave the gift personally paid for the gift or sought a tax deduction or business reimbursement for the gift; and (c) whether to the actual knowledge of the recipient the individual who gave the gift also at the same time gave the same or similar gifts to other Board members or employees, or their spouses or immediate family members.
- Food or refreshments not exceeding $75 per person in value on a single calendar day; provided that the food or refreshments are: (a) consumed on the premises from which they were purchased or prepared; or (b) catered. Catered means food or refreshments that are purchased ready to consume, which are delivered by any means.
- Food, refreshments, lodging, transportation, and other benefits resulting from outside business or employment activities (or outside activities that are not connected to the official duties of a Board member or employee), if the benefits have not been offered or enhanced because of the official position or employment of the Board member or employee, and are customarily provided to others in similar circumstances.
- Intra-governmental and inter-governmental gifts. Intra-governmental gift means any gift given to a Board member or employee from another Board member or employee, and intergovernmental gift means any gift given to a Board member or employee from an officer or employee of another governmental entity.
- Bequests, inheritances, and other transfers at death.
- Any item or items from any one prohibited source during any calendar year having a cumulative total value of less than $100.
Each of the listed exceptions is mutually exclusive and independent of every other.
A Board member or employee, his or her spouse or an immediate family member living with the Board member or employee, does not violate this policy if the recipient promptly takes reasonable action to return a gift from a prohibited source to its source or gives the gift or an amount equal to its value to an appropriate charity that is exempt from income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Board President and Superintendent shall seek guidance from the Board attorney concerning compliance with and enforcement of this policy and State ethics laws. The Board may, as necessary or prudent, appoint an Ethics Advisor for this task.
Written complaints alleging a violation of this policy shall be filed with the Superintendent or Board President. If attempts to correct any misunderstanding or problem do not resolve the matter, the Superintendent or Board President shall, after consulting with the Board Attorney, either place the alleged violation on a Board meeting agenda for the Board’s disposition or refer the complainant to Board policy 2:260, Uniform Grievance Procedure. A Board member who is related, either by blood or by marriage, up to the degree of first cousin, to the person who is the subject of the complaint, shall not participate in any decision-making capacity for the Board. If the Board finds it more likely than not that the allegations in a complaint are true, it shall notify the State’s Attorney and/or consider disciplinary action for the employee.
Unless otherwise stated, all terms used in this policy have the definitions given in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, 5 ILCS 430/1-5.
Political activity means:
- Preparing for, organizing, or participating in any political meeting, political rally, political demonstration, or other political event.
- Soliciting contributions, including but not limited to the purchase of, selling, distributing, or receiving payment for tickets for any political fundraiser, political meeting, or other political event.
- Soliciting, planning the solicitation of, or preparing any document or report regarding anything of value intended as a campaign contribution.
- Planning, conducting, or participating in a public opinion poll in connection with a campaign for elective office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes or for or against any referendum question.
- Surveying or gathering information from potential or actual voters in an election to determine probable vote outcome in connection with a campaign for elective office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes or for or against any referendum question.
- Assisting at the polls on Election Day on behalf of any political organization or candidate for elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Soliciting votes on behalf of a candidate for elective office or a political organization or for or against any referendum question or helping in an effort to get voters to the polls.
- Initiating for circulation, preparing, circulating, reviewing, or filing any petition on behalf of a candidate for elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Making contributions on behalf of any candidate for elective office in that capacity or in connection with a campaign for elective office.
- Preparing or reviewing responses to candidate questionnaires.
- Distributing, preparing for distribution, or mailing campaign literature, campaign signs, or other campaign material on behalf of any candidate for elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Campaigning for any elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Managing or working on a campaign for elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Serving as a delegate, alternate, or proxy to a political party convention.
- Participating in any recount or challenge to the outcome of any election.
With respect to an employee whose hours are not fixed, compensated time includes any period of time when the employee is on premises under the control of the District and any other time when the employee is executing his or her official duties, regardless of location.
Prohibited source means any person or entity who:
- Is seeking official action by: (a) a Board member, or (b) an employee, or by the Board member or another employee directing that employee;
- Does business or seeks to do business with: (a) a Board member, or (b) an employee, or with the Board member or another employee directing that employee;
- Conducts activities regulated by: (a) a Board member, or (b) an employee or by the Board member or another employee directing that employee;
- Has an interest that may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the official duties of the Board member or employee;
- Is registered or required to be registered with the Secretary of State under the Lobbyist Registration Act, except that an entity does not become a prohibited source merely because a registered lobbyist is one of its members or serves on its board of directors; or
- Is an agent of, a spouse of, or an immediate family member living with a prohibited source.
Gift means any gratuity, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other tangible or intangible item having monetary value including but not limited to, cash, food and drink, and honoraria for speaking engagements related to or attributable to government employment or the official position of a Board member or employee.
Complaints of Sexual Harassment Made Against Board Members by Elected Officials
Pursuant to the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/70-5), members of the Board and other elected officials are encouraged to promptly report claims of sexual harassment by a Board member. Every effort should be made to file such complaints as soon as possible, while facts are known and potential witnesses are available. If the official feels comfortable doing so, he or she should directly inform the individual that the individual’s conduct or communication is offensive and must stop.
Board members and elected officials should report claims of sexual harassment against a member of the Board to the Board President or Superintendent. If the report is made to the Superintendent, the Superintendent shall promptly notify the President, or if the President is the subject of the complaint, the Vice President. Reports of sexual harassment will be confidential to the greatest extent practicable.
When a complaint of sexual harassment is made against a member of the Board by another Board member or other elected official, the Board President shall appoint a qualified outside investigator who is not a District employee or Board member to conduct an independent review of the allegations. If the allegations concern the President, or the President is a witness or otherwise conflicted, the Vice President shall make the appointment. If the allegations concern both the President and Vice President, and/or they are witnesses or otherwise conflicted, the Board Secretary shall make the appointment. The investigator shall prepare a written report and submit it to the Board.
If a Board member has engaged in sexual harassment, the matter will be addressed in accordance with the authority of the Board.
The Superintendent will post this policy on the District website and/or make this policy available in the District’s administrative office.
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