While the April 30 deadline for school officials to file their Financial and Personal/Relative Disclosure Statements (collectively “disclosure statements”) has come and gone, please be reminded that if you missed the deadline you must file immediately to avoid sanctions under the School Ethics Act (“act”).
Specifically, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25, -26 and N.J.A.C. 6A:28-3.1 require that all school officials file both a Financial Disclosure Statement and a Personal/Relative Disclosure Statement annually before April 30 of each year. For newly appointed or hired officials, the act requires that both disclosure statements be filed within 30 days of appointment or taking office.
Recently, on May 3, 2018, the N.J. Acting Commissioner of Education upheld the removal of a school board member from the Pine Hill School District for failure to file his Financial and Personal/Relative Disclosure Statements within 30 days of taking office. In the Matter of Thomas McPherson, Jr., Pine Hill School District, Camden County, School Ethics Commission Docket No. D06-07 (March 28, 2018), aff’d Commissioner of Education Docket No. 95-4/18 (May 3, 2018).
The respondent was sworn in as a school board member of the Pine Hill Board of Education in October of 2017. Thereafter, on February 5, 2018, the respondent was advised in writing that he had failed to file his disclosure statements, and was given one week to do so. The respondent failed to file the disclosure forms within that week and, as such, the School Ethics Commission (SEC) issued an Order to Show Cause as to why it should not find him in violation of the act. The respondent did not respond, and on March 28, 2018, the SEC found that the respondent had violated the act and recommended his removal as a school board member.
The SEC allowed that if the respondent filed the disclosure statements prior to the penalty being finalized by the acting commissioner, it would only seek a 30-day suspension. Once again, the respondent failed to act and on May 3, 2018, the acting commissioner upheld the respondent’s removal as a school board member.
Perhaps, most importantly, the acting commissioner admonished the school board member for “failing to honor an obligation placed upon school officials by law, since such failure has resulted in unnecessary expenditure of administrative and adjudicative resources at both State and local levels.”
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding 2018 Disclosure Statements are available on the Department of Education’s Website.
Instructions for filing 2018 Disclosure Statements are available online as well.